The National Association of Realtors is in talks with three of Silicon Valley’s major technology giants, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg has revealed.
At a live event in New York City last month, Goldberg said the 1.3 million-member trade group was in “active discussions’ with three of the four “FANG” companies: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.
“I can’t disclose who we’re talking to, but I can tell you three of the four, we’re talking to. And they’re interested in wanting to talk to NAR because of the presence that we have with our members in this industry,” Goldberg said at the event.
“So if we can do something to help bring them in to help our industry and our members, that’s a good thing.”
Note: Goldberg talks about the FANG companies at about minute 33.
NAR declined to comment on which of the three companies Goldberg was referring to, what NAR is discussing with the companies, what the trade group hopes will result from the discussions, and when and how Realtors can expect to hear outcomes from the discussions.
“We are actively conducting meetings with many third-party companies, including several of the FANG companies, through the normal course of NAR’s business, and we don’t plan to comment on the specifics of any of those discussions,” said NAR spokesperson Sara Wiskerchen in an emailed statement to Inman.
“As part of Bob Goldberg’s vision as NAR CEO, he created a new team within NAR, the Strategic Business, Innovation & Technology Group, led by Senior Vice President Mark Birschbach to ensure that NAR remains at the forefront of business and technology. This new group has been and will continue to be very active in the real estate and technology communities to promote innovation in our industry in a way that best serves our members.”
NAR announced the new strategic business group in January as part of a larger organizational reshuffling.
Inman reached out to the four companies and Amazon, Netflix and Google did not respond. Facebook declined to either confirm or deny that it was in talks with the trade group.
“We regularly speak with industry bodies, but have nothing to share in terms of specific conversations with the NAR at this time,” said Facebook spokesperson Scott H. Shapiro via email.
Facebook began letting real estate agents post property listings to its “Marketplace” in October 2016 and released its first real estate ad product in August 2017. The social media giant expanded its Marketplace to include “hundreds of thousands” of rental listings from sources such as Apartment List and Zumper in November 2017.
At the time, Facebook said it would be working with brokerages, agents and property managers to add more listings to its housing section. “Marketplace will continue to explore a variety of new opportunities to partner with businesses, in addition to optimizing the consumer-to-consumer product experience,” the company said in a statement at the time.
Amazon appeared poised to debut a real estate referral service in July in which consumers would have the option to hire real estate agents through its professional services marketplace, but Amazon removed a placeholder webpage that offered users the option to “Hire a Realtor” in its Home and Business Services section after Inman published an article about it. That section currently does not offer the ability to find agents, though that feature is likely on the online shopping behemoth’s radar.
Google has been circling real estate for awhile, acquiring smart-home firm Nest Labs launching an incubator for housing-related tech, and investing in Auction.com, HomeLight and CommonFloor, among other moves. Google also rolled out a mortgage comparison tool in November 2015, but shut it down a few months later after it failed to gain traction.
Since the beginning of his tenure last summer, NAR’s Goldberg has emphasized bringing those thought of as “disrupters” into the “tent” of organized real estate in the hopes of turning them into Realtor advocates. He re-iterated that sentiment at the trade group’s live event.
“Knowing that the power of a $5 billion dollar brand — Realtor — allows us the opportunity to go out to find those great companies, great innovators and even the disruptors, and bring them to the table and say, ‘Look, what can we do with you to help influence our members and our industry in a positive way?'” Goldberg said.
“Trying to put our head in the sand thinking that ‘Well, if we don’t pay attention to them, maybe they’ll go away’ is not going to be a success. We need to actually go out and embrace the disruptors, embrace the innovators, embrace the competitors, embrace those that support us, put them all under our tent to help for the betterment of our industry.”