OpinionIndustry News

Fear still rules real estate industry

Perspective: Defenses go up when new entrants come in

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At the 2003 National Association of Realtors annual convention in San Francisco, an industry trade publication showed a spoof video that morphed media mogul Barry Diller's face into Saddam Hussein. The video was intended to be humorous, but it speaks to the recurring theme of fear when a new entrant comes into the real estate industry. Speakers during the conference used phrases like "waging war on real estate commissions" and "tariff models" to describe Diller's well-capitalized foray into real estate with the purchase of LendingTree that year. Industry muckety-mucks said Diller's plan to be the first point of contact for consumers was a direct aim at Realtor commissions. The hyperbole fueled fear among the Realtor troops. Last year and again this year, banks are the enemies for Realtors to fear. Before Diller, Microsoft and AOL were the "lions coming over the hill." In the 1990s, Cendant scared the industry, and in the 1980s, the industry warily watched Sears and Merrill Lynch, w...