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The topic of disintermediation coming to the real estate industry has been bandied about for years, with no one obvious solution.  This author brings it up again, whining about the usual complaints:

http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/04/who-will-disrupt-real-estate/

What has slowed the revolution is that the big players have insisted on playing nice with the old guard – traditional realtors.  But in the comment section of the article above, Glenn left his normal glossy opinions of himself, but wound up with this:

If nothing else, Redfin is a mission-driven company. We will strive and seek and find. We will not yield.

That is stronger public language than usual for Glenn, and he also threw this punch at Zillow:

The reason I love working at Redfin is that we are trying to taking on the whole enchilada: not just showing pretty pictures of houses on the web, or generating leads for agents who haven’t changed much how they serve customers at all.

Hopefully this means that the fight is on.  Who’s in the fight? This is how it could go down:

1.  Redfin continues to develop more whiz-bang gimmicks, even though in the last panel discussion Glenn himself said that buyers only want to know bedroom/bath counts, and square footage when looking at homes on-line.  But because they are a brokerage, at some point the old guard will have to take notice.

2.  Realtor.com is so far behind that they need to make a drastic move, like buy Trulia or visa versa to try to take the lead.  Being the chosen one of the NAR isn’t enough – because NAR might not last.

3.  Zillow will continue to team up with the old guard as a support system, not a competitor.

4.  Corporate titans could square off too; Berkshire vs. Realogy.

The ultimate fight will come down to Zillow/Old Guard vs Redfin/New Age.

For now we will all happily co-exist, but you can’t help but think that the friction between is starting to build.  With the realtor population loaded with old folks, the Old Guard will be faced with severe attrition in the coming years.  The real estate selling business will be in a prime position for change.

But Redfin’s model doesn’t match up with what buyers and sellers have needed most – expert advice.  How the fight turns out will be based on whether the consumer values actual real estate expertise, or if they think they can do without.  For many, they choose a realtor quickly and never experience it anyway, so the difference may not be obvious.

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