Quick Take – November 22, 2019

Happy Friday, everybody. Has it really been almost a month since I did one of these? It sure does look that way, since my last real Quick Takes was on 11/1.

Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!

My only excuse is that I made poor choices as a young man, which led to becoming a consultant with the airport-and-hotel-room lifestyle. The last few weeks have been more than a bit crazy. Mama, don’t let your boys grow up to be consultants.

The other excuse is that I’m trying a new system for writing and emailing these Quick Takes to you, and I think we have it mostly worked out. This is the first live use of the new system, so here’s hoping!

In any event, let’s do this.

Notorious TL;DR

Since the last Quick Takes was on 11/1, and then earnings week hit, which led to a flurry of writing… I’ll just list the VIP posts on real estate public companies:


The gist of RE/MAX’s Q3 earnings to me is that they really don’t want to look back at a fairly pedestrian to somewhat negative Q3, but look forward to the future. There’s also a possible leadership change in the works there, judging by the importance of their newest senior manager, Nick Bailey.


Redfin had a very strong Q3: great performance pretty much across the board. But I remain mystified by Redfin’s performance in Redfin Now, which is exacerbated by a lack of transparency. Plus, I’m detecting hints that Redfin might be converging towards the more traditional model, which bears all kinds of watching moving forward.


Zillow turned in an interesting performance: enormous jumps in revenue, and enormous jumps in losses. I think this is going to be a pattern for a while, until the new Offers business really settles down. However, IMT turned in its best performance… like, ever. My big takeaway is that Flex is not a test, as Zillow executives keep saying, but more like a test kitchen where they know they’re going to do it, but don’t quite know the perfect recipe.


The headlines for Realogy’s Q3 are the changed competitive environment driven by something changing at Compass, and the sale of the relocation business out of Cartus. But I just can’t get around the fact that they still haven’t solved the profitability dilemma, which I go into in the post. Making agents more productive is counterproductive from a profitability standpoint, and as yet, I have heard nothing to suggest Realogy has an answer for that.

I didn’t do a writeup for EXP, but I may in the future, along with a look at Realtor.com and HomeServices of America, both of whom are divisions/units of public companies.

Other than the Q3 earnings analysis, there have been a flurry of activity as well.

On 11/4, I wrote a post about MLS Policy 8.0 and three of my favorite MLS executives from the Austin Board of REALTORS discussing it.

On 11/5, I talked about the post from Zillow where they revealed that the difference between a Zillow Offer and the final price for those sellers who turned them down and went the traditional route is a mere 0.22%.

On 11/6, I dropped a bombshell which has turned out to be one of the most trafficked posts in recent history: Compass and Coming Soon, Not About the Client. I got my hands on a Compass Independent Contractor Agreement, published my thoughts on some of the terms, and then had Compass reach out with additional information, explanation, etc.

On 11/10, I wrote a heartfelt plea to the NAR Board of Directors to pass Clear Cooperation Policy (MLS Policy 8.0) but to address the gaping loophole that is the Office Exclusives Exemption. As we all know by now, NAR passed Policy 8.0 but did nothing about the loophole, so I guess I’ll be the glass-is-half-full guy? Probably not, because that loophole is a doozy.

On 11/13, there was a Notorious Interview with Jared Kessler of EasyKnock, a really interesting company that is kind of a blend between iBuyer and bridge financing. That also kind of describes Knock and Flyhomes, but they do it differently in an interesting and unique way. I know at least one of you VIP readers already reached out to Jared from that Interview, so… I guess at least one person listens to those? 🙂

Then on 11/18, I published the Notorious Interview with Skylar Olsen and Kathryn Coursolle of Zillow Research about their fantastic 2019 Consumer Housing Trends Report. But really, we talked about Millennials and housing, because that’s kind of my pet concern and has been for a while now. They were fantastic, really knowledgeable, and just an awesome conversation.

And finally, although I really didn’t have time to write it, nor the desire to write it, I had to write something about the Newsday investigation and expose of racial discrimination in Long Island real estate. So I did: Time for a Housecleaning – Racism in Long Island Real Estate. It’s more personal than most of my work, but you’ll see why. I remain profoundly disturbed by that whole episode, and you know, it isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.

Quick Takes

Well, I’m going to try to focus on this past week because otherwise, it’s not really a quick take. It’s more of a slowish take. So what happened this week, while I was in Houston and elsewhere?

Greg Schwartz Leaving Zillow.

Inman broke the story, and the Greg posted on LinkedIn and elsewhere about his decision to step down after 2019. Honestly, I’m a bit shocked about this because Greg just turned in the best quarter that IMT has had… like, ever. But maybe he got tired of the grind and wanted to go out on top, like Peyton Manning. Either way, it’s a fairly significant change in leadership over at Zillow, and we’ll see how the others step up. Jeremy Wacksman gets most of the Premier Agent portfolio, while Arik Prawer gets Mortgages, and Errol Samuelson gets Display and New Construction.

Political Fallout from Long Island

Obviously, the Long Island real estate story from Newsday… but in the last couple of days, the dominoes have started to fall:

I fully expect this to emerge as an issue in national races as well, as politicians are very, very good at rushing to take advantage of news like this for political gain. If the Democrats running for President aren’t talking about this in the next week, I’ll be shocked.

I’m afraid that the industry has not gotten ahead of this one, and will now be bending over to eagerly comply with whatever new regulations will be imposed from on high.

Rich Barton on CNBC

I’ll have to watch this one tonight or over the weekend, because at least one Wall Streeter appears to have gotten just about everything wrong about iBuyer. One day, people will realize that iBuyer is as similar to house flipping as wolves are to poodles: they’re both canines, but otherwise, they’re completely different animals.

Housekeeping Notes

I didn’t know where to put this so, I’ll put it here. I was at the Stephens Investment Conference in Nashville last week with host John Campbell (VIP Member). John wrote a recap of the event, which you can email him to get if you haven’t already. I may do a recap, or I may not, as my involvement was fairly limited. But fairly interesting. 🙂

I moderated a panel with John of four private companies in real estate: HomeSmart, NextHome, BrightMLS and Remine representing brokerage, franchise, MLS and technology company respectively. John and my thought was that there are only five public companies in real estate, and real estate is the most exciting sector for investment today. If you really want to know what is going on in real estate, however, it isn’t enough to look at the five public companies, especially because two of them are such outliers: Zillow and Redfin.

We wanted to provide some insight into the innovation and the thinking that is going on with private companies, and I think we did that. We hope to do more of that in the future, but I just wanted to mention that happened, and that I would like to thank John and Stephens Inc for the opportunity, and those four private companies for their participation.

Keep your eye out for some additional news on that front. I’m working on stuff related to it. 🙂

Reminder: I do private telephone calls, in which we can get into greater depth about topics and issues, and VIP Subscribers get $250 off my regular hourly rate. So instead of $750, it’ll be only $500 for VIP Subscribers. If we met through an expert network, let’s keep using that, but mention that you’re a VIP member to the representative of said network and I’ll discount my rates accordingly as well.

Also, please join the Notorious VIP Lounge on Mighty Networks if you haven’t done so already. This is an entirely free online community for VIP members, as I wanted to create a place for serious people to have serious conversations about real estate and industry issues.

If you like this, if you like the VIP experience, please recommend it to your friends and colleagues. I’d like to grow this community as much as possible.

Next week is Thanksgiving, so I thought I would get a head start by thanking each and every one of you. I appreciate your support and your attention, as they give me the motivation to keep doing this. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And have a wonderful and warm Thanksgiving.


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Rob Hahn

Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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