Thanks to Pat Kitano, I saw the cute YouTube ad that San Francisco based Rofo.com produced. Pat already discussed the video itself, and how it shows that smart, creative people can product TV-quality advertising on a fraction of the budget. I agree with him on all points there.
All I want to do is wish the boys and girls at Rofo all the luck in the world. They’ll need it. And then some. And quite possibly some sort of deus ex machina on top of that. They are swimming in a pond that bears only the most superficial resemblance to residential real estate, and it’s a pond that is populated by a couple of great whites.
Commercial real estate is definitely a space that is in dire need of technological innovation. Rather, the technology is fine; it’s the business processes leveraging technology that is in need of an update. The profusion of MLS systems and lack of listings standards in residential real estate create problems… but compared to commercial, the residential real estate industry looks like futurama. Off-market “pocket listings” are not only the norm, but actively encouraged. The industry feeling is that any listing that is on the Web “has hair on it” — i.e., something’s really wrong with it. And with the overwhelming dominance of Loopnet and CoStar, it’s unclear that a web play based really on nothing more than a friendlier user interface has any room for survival.
I wish them the best, in case Rofo ends up being the catalyst that CRE needs. But I can’t help but feel as if I’m applauding someone in a drag car heading towards a large brick wall.