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2007-04-01 14:51:00

Saul Klein Speaks Out on the Real Estate Industry -- April 1, 2007

Once again, it is April First. Time sure flies. A quarter of the year has passed ... and we have so much real estate industry breaking news to report to you ... let's not waste any time:

International speaker, trainer, coach and marketing Guru, Jerry Rossi (known as Rossi to his friends), is retiring from speaking and coaching and opening an Italian restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC. Says Rossi: "Since there already is an Italian restaurant named Rossi's in Myrtle Beach, I should be able to cut my marketing and advertising expenses in half."

Joel Singer is retiring as California Assn. of REALTORS Executive Officer to go to work selling sewing machines for the family business (Singer, of course).


Bob Hale has accepted a position as the President of REALTOR.com. His first Move as president of REALTOR.com was to sign a deal with Google for listing content. He next Move will be to contract with InternetCrusade to link all the public MLS sites under a single map of the U.S. eliminating the need to aggregate the data in one spot. This will immediately make REALTOR.com profitable. Bob's next Move will be to slash the costs to REALTOR'S advertising on REALTOR.com by 95%! Keep up the good work Bob and say, "Hi" to Susie for us!!!

The Appraisal Institute has added a fourth Approach to Value. In addition to the Market Value, Income, and Cost Approach, the Zest Approach (or Zestimate) is now recognized by the Institute as the method upon which all others should be measured. MAIs (Member Appraisal Institute) are now required to take a continuing education course called "Understanding Value the Zillow Way" to renew their designation.

In a related story, Proctor and Gamble, makers of Zest soap, has filed suit against Zillow for trademark infringement of the term Zest, claiming that the term Zestimate infringes upon their trademark of their brand, Zest. Zillow, not Moved by this legal action says it just wants the real estate industry to come clean with property pricing.

Brad Inman has sold his new home in Berkeley and purchased the town of Inman, NC and will Move not only the staff of Inman News, but also his newest venture, TurnHere.

Stu Siegel, president of eNeighborhoods, has hired John Travolta as his personal pilot. Travolta has lots of flight experience and Stu has lots of money after the recent sale of eNeighborhoods to Dominion. Denise Whitty will serve as the senior flight attendant.

Bob Goldberg Senior Vice President of Marketing for NAR, has purchased all of the stock in RIN from NAR and is now putting together his management team to take on the Lion coming over the Hill. What Lion ... What Hill? Goldberg says even his Chihuahua knows the answer to that question. It is speculated that he has hired Billy Chee as a consultant.

Jody Lane and Blanche Evans of RealtyTimes have decided to give up the news business and pursue their life long dream of being country western singers. Jody has changed his first name to Frankie and Blanche has changed her first name to Dale. The Duo will call themselves Frankie Lane and Dale Evans.

And for you Legal and Agency buffs, this is BIG news:

At a joint news conference today, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities Exchange Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the IRS, the Comptroller of the Currency, and the 50 individual state real estate divisions and commissions announced the filing of an anti-trust and conflict of interest lawsuit against the National
Assn. of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA), also naming an assorted number of EBAs across the country. The basis for the action is the practice of denying a buyer client the opportunity to negotiate on a property currently under consideration by another buyer client -- the so-called FIFO rule of First In First Out. The DOJ and co-complaintants assert that what many EBAs offer is limited agency and not the full representation they claim in their marketing. DOJ wants to force EBAs to only work with one buyer at a time, taking the position that consumers are best served if their broker only represents them and no other buyer until a property is located AND closing takes place.

The Federal Trade Commission recently concluded a two-year study of buyer broker practices which reveals EBAs are often involved in undisclosed limited agency relationships, bordering on undisclosed dual agency, representing competing parties without the knowledge and consent of the parties. It seems "knowledge and consent" is a missing element in many EBA practices.

West coast attorney David Barry has been retained to defend the action and the EBAs based on his extensive history of participating in 100's of anti-trust actions brought against the real estate industry. As the plaintiff's attorney on the losing side of most all of those actions, Barry has observed the techniques of many successful anti-trust attorneys and the EBA community feels that it just has to be his time to win one. Say's Tom Early, one of the spokespersons for the EBAs, "the law of averages says he is due for a win."

Chicago Area Brokers have finally gotten their act together and working in concert with the Illinois Assn. of REALTORS, have created a statewide MLS. Terry Penza, Executive Officer of the North Shore Barrington Association has been hired to handle the Public Relations for the new MLS. Terry is already working on the best way to spin the merger talks with Peter
Shuttleworth of the Milwaukee Area MLS and Carl Demuz of the Northern Ohio Regional MLS (NORMLS ... back in the day, NORMLS was the acronym for another organization, and it might take some of what that organization promotes to get all parties to the table on this merger deal!).

RealTown, home of InternetCrusade and NAR's e-PRO has been purchased from the "Three Amigos" for 1.85 Billion Dollars and three homes located on Coconut Avenue in Honolulu by Internet companies Google and Zillow. Saul Klein, President of InternetCrusade said the Amigos were only expecting 1.25 Billion, but the Zestimate value came in at 1.85 Billion, which they gladly accepted. "Who are we to argue? The three of us only have 100 years combined experience as real estate brokers." RealTown will be renamed ZilGooTown.com and long time broker Lee Bowman (AKA the Duckman), will be brought in to run the venture (if Betsy will let him).

Last but by no means least ... due to over use, the Internet will be closed on Sundays until further notice.And that's the way it is, April 1, 2007. Let's hope the rest of the year is not as eventful!

(Saul Klein is CEO of Real Estate Electronic Publishing Company, home of RealTown.) 

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