There’s a case buried somewhere under a big “W” containing a large cache of real estate fortunes, with a cast of some racing to locate it. Executive offices point left, brokers and Realtors go right. Franchises affiliate one way, franchisees go another. We have up markets, down markets and bizarre markets. Interlopers, outerlopers, discounters and for-sale-by-owners. Pretty soon a business model will launch that pays home sellers for their listings.

It’s a mad mad mad mad real estate world.

There’s a case buried somewhere under a big “W” containing a large cache of real estate fortunes, with a cast of some racing to locate it. Executive offices point left, brokers and Realtors go right. Franchises affiliate one way, franchisees go another. We have up markets, down markets and bizarre markets. Interlopers, outerlopers, discounters and for-sale-by-owners. Pretty soon a business model will launch that pays home sellers for their listings.

It’s a mad mad mad mad real estate world. What’s the real story?

San Diego, March 22, 2007: “Trulia, Zillow shown the door at Prudential Real Estate convention.

I await the follow-up — commentaries, blogs. The sheer word count on ActiveRain.

Within minutes after the Inman News PM Edition arrived, I began receiving e-mails inquiring whether I had seen the story. What was my take? Theories and speculation ranged from the lawsuit that could result to suggesting that it’s time “these interlopers got what they deserved.”

I read all the messages and universally disagree. This isn’t about Zillow’s arrogance or Trulia being a competitor. It’s not about Russ Capper or corporate politics. Jeez, it wasn’t that long ago Capper was viewed as the enemy, cut from the same garment as Sami Inkinen and Rich Barton. The only difference today is in the Yahoo label that designs his suits.

But this isn’t the real story. It’s just the stuff that makes it sensational — as will the follow-up story covering those who get hit with the backswing.

Choice

One industry friend of mine got it right. Good for you, Chris. He noticed it halfway down the article where Prudential Realtor Rory Siems says, “Prudential guards their affiliates because it’s the only way they can make money. There’s nothing wrong with it … but I think choice just makes the whole thing better.”

Choice. It’s deeply imbedded in our psyches like marriage vows.

“Marc, do you take Lori to be your lawfully wedded wife in sickness and in health?”

“Yeah, I do, I’ll take both,” I said.

“What about for richer and poorer?”

“Mmm, I’d prefer richer, but what the hell, I’ll take both, your honor. I do.”

“For better or worse?”

I paused. Multiple choice. I glanced at Lori and back at the justice of the peace. “I’ll take ‘C,’ your honor. Both! Final answer.”

Rory Siems said, “The worst thing would be for Prudential to say we don’t want brokers to have a relationship with Trulia. … When it comes to choices, I like having both.”

The real story is told through Rory Siems and a burgeoning new breed of smart Realtors. They’re a growing army taking stock of what’s available in the marketplace beyond corporate brands, back-office deals, MLS restrictions and the spectrum of staid tradition and old practices.

Today, Realtors interview brokers and they decide where they dock their licenses, which vendors and affiliates they need to align with to achieve their number one objective, which is representing their clients, staying ahead of the competition and earning a solid income. These days, they read, they blog and they virally spread their interpretation of events throughout their masses.

Real estate isn’t about treasure. It’s not about a race. It’s about expression. Career. Choice. The Rory Siemses of today care little about what’s going on in executive suites, affiliate deals or trying to corral forces bigger than their corner offices.

The real story is about where the power may be shifting to, and who will be calling the shots in this industry in the near future.

Marc Davison is vice president of OnBoard, a real estate data provider based in New York. Davison previously served as vice president of VREO, a provider of electronic signature and Web site software for the real estate industry. He can be reached at mdavison@onboardllc.com.

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