Quick Take – February 2, 2020

Well, I know the date says February 2, 2020 but… that was the Superbowl last night. So it’s going out the day after the historic victory by the Kansas City Chiefs and future Hall of Famer Andy Reid.

Notorious TL;DR

Since last week was Inman week, not a lot of writing or podcasting got done. But the next couple of weeks are going to be busy and interesting.

There is one new public post in case you missed it.

Will A Few Teams Dominate All Markets?

I wrote up this little essay after attending a private forum for investors put together by a global investment bank. I’d name names, but it wasn’t my event and I was attending as an industry expert, not as a blogger/media/whatever.

Basically, I relate one point that a top agent at this forum brought up, and it was a fascinating confirmation of so much I’ve been talking about over the years. But there’s an angle to it in that this agent thought all local markets will be dominated by two or three top agent teams, and everybody else will work for those teams.

It’s an aggressive take, but there’s something to it. So read the whole thing if you want my thoughts.

Quick Takes

There was some news I found interesting.

California’s SB 50 Goes Down in Failure

The LA Times is reporting this with this headline: “California bill to dramatically increase home building fails for the third year in a row.”

The Golden State is not so golden anymore for anybody who wants to live under a roof.

I’ll likely write about this a bit, because it seems plain to me that this failure is a sign that REALTOR Associations don’t quite have the political muscle that they think they do. That’s a larger industry issue worth discussing.

Chinese Coronavirus Lowering Mortgage Rates?

Inman has a story quoting an economist with Zillow that fears over the coronavirus may be pushing mortgage rates down. Maybe.

But then I think about the fact that China holds $1.1 trillion (or 26.7% of foreign-held US debt) in US Treasuries. If the epidemic gets worse, won’t China have to spend some money to deal with it? Especially since the Chinese economy isn’t going to be going gangbusters in the midst of an uncontrolled pandemic. Selling the safe US bonds and not buying anymore seems like a pretty reasonable thing to do then.

Rates have to go up then to appeal to other buyers, no? What am I missing?

Zillow Is Now A New York Brokerage

The Real Deal is reporting that Zillow has acquired a brokerage license in the state of New York.

That would have caused panic and fear a couple of years ago, but now, most people understand that it’s to setup Zillow Flex (a referral payment, which requires a brokerage license in all 50 states), or Zillow Offers.

Seems to me that this is just to advance the StreetEasy Expert program, which changed to a referral fee model back in 2019. The interesting part of this is that we’re all paying close attention to Zillow Flex in Atlanta and Phoenix, but New York City (of all places) might also provide some clues as to the agent’s appetite for referral fees instead of (lower?) up-front fees.

Zillow: For Sale Inventory Drops to Lowest Level in Seven Years

Looks like Zillow’s research team is bullish on home prices due to this report they released recently. Inventory dropped 7.5% nationally, and it’s down year over year in 31 of 35 largest markets.

Looks like 2020 is going to be a strong housing market (for prices at least) but we shall see since it’s hard to have transactions if there’s nothing for sale.

Hey, did I mention California legislature failed to act on SB 50?

Housekeeping Notes

It was great to meet up with some of the subscribers in NYC. Look forward to the next opportunity!

My February is going to be very busy and very road-oriented. I’m heading to Miami, Hilton Head, Toronto. Let me know if you’d like to meet up at one of those places and I’ll see what I can do.

Thank you all!


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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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