Off-Market Selling

Another disrupter is looking to cut realtors out of the deal, which is fine.

This is similar to Zillow’s Make Me Move, which didn’t go too far. It’s a novelty to publicize a crazy price for your home, but if somebody wanted to take you up on it, would you sell your home to them?

Or would you be more curious about what the open market would bring?

Compass has Private Exclusives, but it is rare that any sales come from it because the sellers want to go on the open market. They have heard the stories about bidding wars and homes selling for over the list price, and they want to see if it will happen to them. It’s as close as you get to winning the lottery!

Nobody needs an agent to sell their house. But virtually all homeowners want to sell for max money, and that’s why agents have a job.

Housing Revolution

Watching the nationwide unrest on television last night made me think of the potential of future conflicts. San Diego enjoys a rather mellow population but we undoubtedly have our concerns about any and all oppressed parties in America – but being physically farther away from the action makes it easier to witness, acknowledge, and then get back to our busy lives.

Great leadership might keep our attention on the topic, but we’re still waiting for it to show up.

As a result, revolutions will likely continue until solutions are created. We could all jump in and create non-violent solutions, but without leadership and resolve, the hard choices and tough decisions will be difficult to accomplish.

How does this pertain to housing?

If physical clashes in the street are perceived as effective, we could see other oppressed groups rise up – and well they should, if that is what it takes to get results.

We have witnessed how the real estate is only for the affluent now, and that there isn’t much being done for those of lesser means.  We used to only put the homeless/poor people in that category, but now the middle-class and above are finding homeownership to be more unreachable every day.

Either we can create housing solutions in advance, or wait for the oppressed to rise up.

Some of the best ideas I’ve heard regarding the possible solutions for last night’s events include a Community Police-Review Board in every town in America, and independent community groups formed to encourage individual involvement in creating solutions.

Likewise with housing, we need to get more involved as a community.  Ideas:

  1. Encourage ADUs as a solution for building lower-cost housing, especially closer to urban hubs.
  2. Press local governments to upzone properties/areas where higher density would be a good fit.
  3. Create communities of tiny houses/manufactured homes and give occupants a stake.
  4. Create places to park/live for those in cars and RVs.

The coronavirus is exposing our weaknesses.  Let’s do something good with the opportunity.

I don’t know what else I can do today besides write this message, but I’m looking for more ways to be involved with creating solutions.  I’ll post every idea I can find – please send along what you see….and think!

The End Is Near

Brokerages are finding new ways to convince sellers to do in-house deals – an excerpt:

According to Charles Williams, CEO of Buyside, “the software we supply to Metro Brokers unlocks the power of their buyer data for agents so they can win more listings, become more profitable and command greater control over their inventory.”

Buyside’s core products include Home Valuation landing pages, which combines multiple automated home valuations with visualizations of real-time buyer intent; Buyer Match™ dashboard, which intelligently pairs homebuyers and sellers within a brokerage; and Real-Time Buyside Market Analysis (BMA), which arms a brokerage’s agents with insights on buyer demand to help them close more listing presentations.

“Our affiliation with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate provides our firm with outstanding analytics and business intelligence tools that are the cornerstone of excellence in any leading real estate firm today,” says McClelland. “We have tremendous success marketing properties for sale and leveraging the Zap platform for maturing homebuyers. Today’s homebuyers are shopping for about 240 days before closing. When securing a new listing, our agents use Buyside to explain that the likely buyer for that property has already been working with a Metro Brokers agent for months. The value proposition of our firm’s listing presentation is not how we will find buyers, but the number of homebuyers that we have looking for their home today. We don’t believe that any other brokerage in Georgia has more home buyers than Metro Brokers.”

Link to Full Article

New Portal Built by Realtors?

The guy who started the StopZillow campaign wants to build a new real estate portal which would be controlled by realtors – he discusses the details here:

An excerpt from the leadership team’s email announcing that the pre-launch of the crowdfunding campaign starts today:

We will use contributions from this crowdfunding campaign to build the best home search portal ever in real estate. This will be a website designed to sell our listings rather than using our listings to take advantage of us. Crowdfunding will also be used to create the national TV, print and Internet advertising we will need to market this website. 

Once the website is completed (projected January 2018) you as a campaign leader will have the first opportunity to demo it. You will also be given an insiders preview of the national TV commercials and blitz marketing campaign we develop to attract buyers to the website. After you have approved the website and marketing, it will then be made available to crowdfunding contributors, followed by other agents throughout the country

Then we will launch a $50,000,000 Regulation A+ securities offering to enable every licensed agent and broker the opportunity to become an owner. This $50,000,000 shouldn’t be difficult to raise… it’s an average of less than $50 per Realtor. I plan to buy at least $100,000 in stock myself. That money will be used for a national blitz marketing campaign to make every buyer aware of our website.

Once we have our buyers back, we will be able to retain our sellers and ensure our future. Recapturing control of our buyers and regaining control of our industry is the #1 goal of this project. Sellers need buyers. If we have the buyers, sellers will need us.

It seems far-fetched that he could get enough realtors on-board and get them to cough up money to build a new portal. But realtors need to do something to save our jobs, and having our own portal would solve everything.

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!

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.

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.

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:

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.”


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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