Some of the best discussion yet on the

Dec 13, 2008 Michael Wurzer

If you aren’t paying attention to the discussion on the future of real estate sales going on over many blogs the last week or so, you should go read up now and lay down some comments.  This is really good stuff:

  • Start with the my recap of some posts from Brian Larson at MLS TesseractRob Hahn at the Notorious R.O.B. and Danilo Bagdanovic over at Agent Genius — but go read those posts in their entirety as they provide an in-depth introduction to what ensues below.
  • Carrying the conversation forward, check out Russell Shaw on Agent Genius advocating in “Will Real Estate Ever Have a 900-lb Gorilla” that there won’t and cites the lack of brand identity of all the big “brands” today along with the evolution of 100% companies and desk fee agents, especially RE/MAX and independents, as proof.  Rob Hahn then responds to Russell with a post entitled “The 900-lb Gorilla Cometh”.
  • Next up, check out Glenn Kelman on Bloodhound Blog, questioning whether technology will squash the small, independent agent/broker. His questions at the end are key:

    What do you think? Is technology creating new economies of scale in real estate? Are small brokerages able to compete just using the public sites provided by the MLS? Will large brokerages be able to use better data access to build the market-leading real estate search sites?

    And is it the role of the MLS or of the National Association of Realtors to create a level technology playing field? Will the small brokers get priced out of the technology wars? I don’t pretend to know, but it would be great to hear your thoughts.

    The comments to Glenn’s post also are hugely illuminating.

  • I also think Greg Swann’s recent posts on the power of links in his Scenius software praxis are extremely relevant here, for all the reasons I stated here even though I hadn’t yet connected with Greg’s posts.

Though none of these posts contains “the answer”, together they lead the dicsussion toward better thinking about what’s next in real estate sales.  My own thoughts are:

  • I want for agents to control their own destiny, and believe that software can help.
  • We have an IDX solution that needs to get better at link love.  I haven’t figured it out yet completely, but I believe there are multiple ways that an IDX and VOW solution can promote agent and broker sites to improve SEO for all involved.
  • Quality content is key — the Consumer Reports of real estate — and interactive maps with agent-defined neighborhoods and enhanced school information referenced from and back to listings provide the foundation for the excellent search and listing displays consumer crave.
  • The white label brands advocated by Danilo Bagdanovic fit in well with this model.
  • Of course, much of this requires money and the big brands and third party providers have that.  The question I have with these models, though, is whether they can ever get out of the way of the agent enough to empower the agent instead of take from them (see Brian Brady’s comment on Glenn Kelman’s post for more on this (Greg, is there a way I can link to comments on Bloodhound Blog?)).

So, many questions remain that only time and talent will answer, but we’re definitely working our end to play a part in the outcome and we’re excited to see what happens.