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Category Archive: ‘Revolution’

Private Club for Realtors

There is one solution that would solve everything – start a new club.

It was probably no accident that Mauricio ran this again on his Instagram yesterday, and it is a fantastic idea:

They are advertising it as a pocket-listing website, but it could go big and offer the industry a viable alternative to the current MLS system.

A wanted and needed alternative!

It might take a few months to catch on, but think of the effects:

  1. Privatize the marketplace, and force consumers to work with agents who are club members.
  2. Privatize the market data, so only the club members have the comps.
  3. No listing feeds to Zillow or other real estate website, resulting in no public access to listings.
  4. Brokers could only charge agents a reasonable admin fee, instead of big splits because all agents need is to be in the club.
  5. The N.A.R. and all other blood-suckers are eliminated.
  6. Club members in full control of market, with no rules or ethics.

Only agents can join, and let’s make club membership extremely expensive so only the top agents could afford it, which would eliminate the lousy agents. If the cost was $2,000 per month, it would cull the herd immediately.

The only reason there are so many pimps making millions off agents is because we let them. We should take back our listings, and control our own destiny!

All it would take is a celebrity realtor to create it, and off we go!  Revolution!

Posted by on Aug 9, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Revolution, The Future | 8 comments

Sandicor Divorce


The paperwork has been filed to dissolve Sandicor, our local MLS company.

A bitter fight among the three partners has been brewing all year.  Two of the three associations of realtors, NSDCAR and PSAR, want to join the efforts of CRMLS and their 80,000+ agents and help create a statewide MLS.

Why join forces with CRMLS?

  1.  Their MLS listings have more/better features.
  2.  Their consumer-facing website is superior.
  3.  Agents can have their listings uploaded to Zillow automatically.
  4.  They have the size and power to fight Zillow if needed.

But the third partner, the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, doesn’t want to join up with CRMLS, and instead wants to create their own consumer-facing portal.  Earlier this year they filed a lawsuit against NSDCAR and PSAR in order to gain full access to Sandicor’s listing data.

It’s a mess.

Like with most divorces, the people involved decide to part ways, rather than to keep bickering when there are fundamental differences in place.

What will the dissolution of Sandicor mean for consumers and agents?

There might be some uncertainty about having reliable access to the MLS over the next 6-12 months.  For now, the plan is to keep Sandicor up and running while a data-share agreement is implemented with CRMLS, which will give agents access to a second MLS.

As long as SDAR cooperates with that effort, everything should be fine.

However, the SDAR lawsuit is likely to linger.  According to their complaint, they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building their own consumer-facing website, only to be denied access to MLS data.

The courts are being asked to find a solution.

The biggest problem – which was solved by the creation of Sandicor in 1991 – is to have all of the San Diego County MLS data in one place.  If Sandicor is dissolved, and SDAR won’t join CRMLS, then SDAR will be left to create their own MLS.  Agents will have to go back to joining two associations, and working two different MLS systems, which isn’t the ideal solution.

What would I do if I were the judge?

I’d dissolve Sandicor, make SDAR join CRMLS, and then give them the data feed to create their own consumer-facing portal.

It might sound too simple, but in the long run, it is what’s needed.

One fear is that the access to the database of sold properties gets interrupted. If that happened, agents would be forced to find their comps at Zillow – wouldn’t that be a fine kettle of fish!

But we would survive.  Agents would migrate to the CRMLS – the only alternative solution – and within six months we would have a new database of sold comps.  Today there are over 300 active San Diego listings in CRMLS, so it is already happening.

I commend Raylene Brundage and other leaders for taking this dramatic step. It will probably get messier over the next few months, but in the long-term, agents want and need one solid, reliable MLS with a collective voice that is powerful enough to take on the outside disrupters.

Buying and selling homes is a big deal for the consumers.  They deserve to have the option of hiring agents who can guide them through the process in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Having a robust statewide MLS with a voice will help agents do just that.

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Jim's Take on the Market, Revolution, Zillow | 6 comments

Shop Talk

I took in a good portion of the big realtor conference this morning via livestream.  They had some big hitters on stage too.

Rupert Murdoch delivered a 7-minute speech, and did some Q&A. He comes off as a proper gentleman, and he’s a good speaker for a guy who is 83 years old. But he didn’t deliver any bombshells, or make any big promises about taking on Zillow/Trulia:

Mauricio Umansky, the #1 agent in Southern California, also made an appearance.

He was asked about his experience with Zillow, and he said they did spend some advertising money, but found little benefit.

The average sales price in his Beverly Hills office is $2,800,000.  At that price point, he surmised that buyers and sellers would get referred to a top agent, rather than selecting a realtor who advertised on Zillow.

His office does all marketing in-house (he has 20 people in his marketing division), and agents in his office can pay an extra 5% from their split to have the company produce the marketing for their listings.


Tom and Mike Ferry were both there too, on stage together for the first time in eleven years.  Tom is Mike’s son, and the two of them worked together for 16 years in building Mike’s realtor training company.

Tom recalled the time he came to Mike with a multiple-choice proposal; to either a) sell the company to Tom (for a good price), b) create a partnership together, or c) Tom to leave the company to go start his own.  Mike chose c), and they have been competitors ever since – and you can sense that it’s still a little chippy between them.

If you are new in the business, check out both trainings – they’re good.


Zillow and Trulia were brought into many of the discussions, but no new insights really. will be working hard to put out a better product, and a group of major brokers back east are secretly creating their own portal.

I think the consumers use the portals to get free information about homes, not to hire a realtor.

It’s why Zillow will likely create their own set of ‘preferred agents’ and heavily advertise the benefits of hiring them.  The realtors will gladly pay to receive those warmer leads – throw in some special ‘listing enhancement’ kits and Zillow will have the complete package to sell to agents.

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Realtor, Realtor Training, Realtors Talking Shop, Revolution, Speaker Panel, The Future | 0 comments

Proposed Tax Changes

From Forbes:

In an effort to simplify the nation’s unwieldy tax code, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is socking it to homeowners.

income taxes and housingHis proposal as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, The Tax Reform Act of 2014, hits first-time home buyers, jumbo mortgage seekers, homeowners who have ratcheted up big gains in their primary residence, and even homeowners who are aiming to green their homes by making them more energy efficient. Of course, the proposals aren’t law – yet— but here’s where his plan would hit home. The context is streamlined individual income tax rates and an outsized standard deduction. But if you’re a homebody, you’re likely going to be paying more in taxes.

Drastic limit to mortgage interest deduction. Today you can deduct mortgage interest on up to $1.1 million in debt ($1 million in acquisition indebtedness and $100,000 in home equity debt) on a principal and second residence, but under Camp’s tax reform proposal that is reined in big time.

The maximum amount of indebtedness on which you could take the mortgage interest deduction would be $875,000 in 2015, $750,000 in 2016, $625,000 in 2017 and $500,000 in 2018 and later. Interest paid on home equity indebtedness would not be deductible after 2014. Special rules apply in the case of refinancing as long as you aren’t taking out a bigger mortgage.

Tightening of exclusion of gain from sale of principal residence. Camp’s proposal tightens the rules for excluding gain from the sale of your home. Currently you can exclude $250,000 ($500,000 for a couple) of gain if you’ve owned and used the residence as your principal residence for at least two of the five years before you sell.

The proposal changes the rules so that it only applies if you’ve used the residence as your principal residence for at least five of the eight years prior to the sale. It also limits the exclusion so it only applies once during any 5-year-period (up from 2 years). And it phases out the exclusion by one dollar for every dollar a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income exceeds $250,000 ($500,000 for a couple).

Read full article here:

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Local Government, Market Conditions, Revolution | 7 comments

Traditional Realtors And The 6%

Bloomberg has an article on the traditional real-estate-agent model, and the upstarts trying to change it.

Why has the traditional-agent model been so resilient?

It’s because the upstarts won’t pay the money to attract great agents.  A new model could work if the upstart company would hire the great realtors to implement it.

Redfin has an opportunity primarily because they offer the only alternative (no offense to the zippers), and none of the big corporate realty firms seem to mind (you don’t see Prudential or Coldwell Banker going for mega VC money to build a slick website, etc.). 

But the Redfin method of having part-timers show houses to the buyers is flawed, and when the market is so intense like it is now, it seems unlikely that enough clients would endure. 

They might get away with it though, in a rising market – if they can win the bidding wars, and/or adopt the old Century 21 model and just hire every licensee who can fog a mirror, and hope to make it on sheer numbers.  The article points out that Redfin may IPO in 2014, which should put the squeeze on profitability.

Regardless of which upstart poses the threat, traditional agents can always cut a similar commission deal, if necessary, to stay in the game. 

The agent’s competency should play a bigger role in who gets hired – these are huge transactions for the consumer, and they want quality help.

An excerpt from the article:

So far, Redfin hasn’t convinced many people that brokers, or their 6 percent take on most deals, are in any real danger. Last October, at a Seattle technology conference, an audience member asked Spencer Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, if sales commissions were ever going to decline. “There are other startups that are trying to break down those agent commissions, and I think most of them will fail,” he said. Rascoff said later in an interview that “consumers don’t really care about commissions. They say they care, and they talk a big game in the off-season. But when push comes to shove and it comes time to sell their home, the transaction is so infrequent and so highly emotional and expensive—and consumers are so prone to error—that they turn to a professional.”

Economists, like the University of Chicago’s Syverson, watch and wait for a real change in the market. “The Chicagoan in me says there is so much money on the table that someone will figure it out eventually,” he says. “But I will admit, I’ve been impressed with the resilience of the old model.”


Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Commission War, Realtors Talking Shop, Revolution, The Future | 1 comment

Occupy Y’all Street

Hat tip to jpinpb for sending this along, from

‘Occupy’ protesters and housing rights activists are planning to help families resist eviction from foreclosed homes and take control of  vacant properties in some 25 U.S. cities on Tuesday,  an effort aimed at focusing attention on the ongoing housing crisis and giving the movement a new focus after the dismantling of many of its encampments.

The protesters have been crafting proposals – often quietly to prevent police from learning about their intentions beforehand — to defend families facing eviction or return others home. In Minneapolis, for example, they plan to help a Vietnam War veteran stay in his home, in New York, protesters will try to help a family get back into their house, and in Chicago, two sisters and their seven children will be moved into an abandoned single-family home, activists said.

“It’s part of a national day of action that we hope will kick off a wave of defenses and home re-occupations,” Max Berger, 26, told the Occupy Wall Street General Assembly late Thursday while requesting $6,400 in funding to buy tools for the project. “This is not just about one event; this is a huge frontier for us. We can do these kinds of actions all the time, and we should. And it doesn’t have to be just us. We got to do this one right so we can inspire people to do it theirselves.”

“This movement is about taking back this country for regular people and that’s exactly what we’re doing with these actions,” he later added. “We’re not going to let the power of the banks keep people from having what they need.”

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Another here:

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Protest, Revolution | 7 comments

Occupy Foreclosures

Hat tip to jpinpb for sending this in, from

Occupy Wall Street is promising a “big day of action” on Dec. 6th that will focus on the foreclosure crisis and protest “fraudulent lending practices,” “corrupt securitization,” and illegal evictions by banks.

The day will mark the beginning of an Occupy Our Homes campaign that organizers hope will energize the movement as it moves indoors as well as bring the injustices of the economic crisis into sharp relief.

Many of the details aren’t yet public, but protesters in 20 cities are expected to take part in the day of action next Tuesday. We’ve already seen eviction defenses at foreclosed properties around the country as well as takeovers of vacant properties for homeless families. Occupy Our Homes organizer Abby Clark tells me protesters are planning to “mic-check” (i.e., disrupt) foreclosure auctions as well as launch some new home occupations.

This is a shift from protesting Wall Street fraud to taking action on behalf of people who were harmed by it. It brings the movement into the neighborhoods and gives people a sense of what’s really at stake,” said Max Berger, one of the Occupy Our Homes organizers and a member of Occupy Wall Street’s movement-building working group.

Posted by on Dec 1, 2011 in Protest, Revolution | 5 comments

More Squatting To Come


The Occupy Oakland group is starting a new wave of occupations. They intend to occupy vacant properties.

The Occupy Oakland group announced on Twitter earlier this week that its general assembly “just passed a proposal to encourage the occupation of bank-owned/foreclosed and abandoned properties across #Oakland.”

On Wednesday, a group of Occupy Oakland members took a first step in this direction by entering a vacant building formerly used by the Traveler’s Aid Society.

The group “hoped to use the national spotlight on Oakland to encourage other occupations in colder, more northern climates to consider claiming spaces and moving indoors in order to resist the repressive force of the weather,” states a blog post on the Occupy Everything! Blog.

“None of this should be that surprising, in any case, as talk of such an action has percolated through the movement for months now, and the GA [General Assembly] recently voted to support such occupations materially and otherwise,” states the blog post.  “In solidarity with the global occupation movement, we encourage the transformation of abandoned spaces into resource centers toward meeting urgent community needs that the current economic system cannot and will not provide.”

Posted by on Nov 7, 2011 in Revolution | 8 comments

Protesting Foreclosures

Hat tip to daytrip for sending in a youtube of a demonstration over foreclosures in a NY courtroom. I don’t think this is the answer, and doubt that it will lead to much. 

But civil disobedience has always had a place in America, can these protesters find a way to channel it in a positive direction?

Posted by on Oct 16, 2011 in Revolution | 5 comments

Is U.S.A. Next?

Hat tip to Daniel for sending this along, from Spiegelonline:

The people who could ultimately give Greece the coup de grace are not the kind to throw stones or Molotov cocktails, and they have yet to torch any cars. Instead, they are people like 60-year-old beverage distributor Angelos Belitsakos, people who might soon turn into a real problem for the economically unstable country. Feeling cornered, he and other private business owners want to go on the offensive. But instead fighting with weapons, they are using something much more dangerous. They are fighting with money.

Belitsakos is a short, slim and alert man who lives in the middle-class Athenian suburb of Holargos. He is also the physical and spiritual leader of a movement of businesspeople in Greece that is recruiting new members with growing speed. While Greece’s government is desperately trying to combat its ballooning budget deficit by raising taxes and imposing new fees, people like Belitsakos are putting their faith in passive resistance.

The group’s slogan is as simple as it is stoic: “We Won’t Pay.”

This business owners’ absolute refusal to pay any taxes resembles an uprising of the ownership class, rather than the working class, a rebellion of the self-employed business owners who have long been the backbone of Greek society. These are not the people who weaseled their way into Greece’s oversized civil service; these are people who put their money in the private sector, working 12-hour days, seven days a week. Or so Belitsakos says.

Standing in his small store, Belitsakos makes a sweeping gesture and says that the people in his movement no longer have a choice. “The state will kill us,” he says. “We’re acting in self-defense.” Then he starts to do the math. Over the last two years, his sales have massively shrunk as 60 of the tavernas and restaurants he used to make deliveries to have terminated their contracts with him. At the same time, the government has raised the value-added tax (VAT) twice while imposing a never-ending series of new fees. He mentions the €300 ($406) one-time fee for the self-employed, a two-percentage-point boost in the VAT, a €180 solidarity levy for the unemployed and a property tax that is “easily a few hundred euros every year.”

The taxes are part of Athens’ last ditch effort to avoid drifting into insolvency and to live up to the promises of austerity it delivered to the European Union. The country’s vast debt means it is already reliant on the steady drip of aid it receives from a €110 billion rescue package passed last year, with a second such package likely to be passed this fall. But each payment from the fund is dependent on progress being made on the effort to clean up the country’s finances.

That progress has been halting at best. In an effort to move the process forward, the government of Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou has recently announced it intends to cut thousands of more civil servant jobs. And it introduced a controversial one-off property tax which has angered many. Several other taxes and fees have also been introduced.

Belitsakos calls them “charatzi,” a word from Ottoman times that can perhaps best be translated as “loot” or “compulsory levy.” The term is meant to indicate taxes levied arbitrarily and without justification, such as the tithe once paid to feudal lords. “But I can’t and won’t pony up. It’s wrong,” Belitsakos says. “Don’t you understand?”

The situation finally drove Belitsakos to write a letter to the head of the local tax authority in the name of his group. “We see ourselves facing a whole series of new taxes,” he wrote. “We are protesting and enraged.” He went on to charge that the only purpose behind the new fees was the “dispossession and impoverishment” of the Greeks and that he was now forced to resist. Briefly put, he wrote: “We won’t pay.”

Belitsakos says the tax official he handed the letter to was understanding and friendly. The fact that the civil servant put on a brave face might have something to do with all the TV cameras that were present. But, in a place like Greece, it is also entirely possible that the official was simply not all that surprised that someone would announce they were evading their taxes.

As well-known analyst Babis Papadimitriou puts it, the average Greek may well love his country, but he views the state apparatus as a power that one can and should plunder. Papadimitriou says that while the European average for VAT taxes that are evaded is 10 percent, the rate in Greece is roughly 30 percent. About a third of the entire economy happens off tax-authority radars.

These days, even communists, unionists and leftists are raising a public outcry against the new taxes. This week, Aleka Papariga, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Greece, said that the only way to stop the complete bankrupting of the people was for them to not pay the “charatzi.” In fact, financial resistance had now become the supreme civic duty, she said.

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Greek Economy Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said: “The question is how we can create a feeling of solidarity. One for all and all for one, that’s what it’s about now.” Still, Chrysochoidis would not answer his own question. For the moment, he said, it doesn’t look like the government can count on many of their fellow Greeks being willing to sacrifice themselves for the interest of the state. In fact, people are abandoning the government in droves.

Belitsakos, the beverage distributor, can’t and won’t play a role in rescuing his country no matter what. The reason has nothing to do with patriotism. Instead, it has to do with his mistrust of the government in Athens and “international financial capitalism” and the fact that, despite having once studied mathematics, he still can’t fathom the amount of money at stake here.

Belitsakos stresses that his plan is to refuse to pay any and all taxes and fees. If he has to, he says he will either go broke, to jail or both. He is convinced that there are thousands upon thousands who think just like he does and that, in the end, the Greeks will win this battle that they never chose.

The only question is what they really have to win.

Posted by on Sep 24, 2011 in Local Government, Revolution | 15 comments