The past 12 months have seen wave after wave of news about new technology, the struggles Realtors are facing in a changing market, lawsuits, and even crime. Here are Inman’s 18 must-read, most popular posts from 2018.
1. Gary Keller slams real estate startups, refuses to sit down
Inman’s most-read story of 2018 was all about the clash of old and new business models — and about drama. The piece describes a somewhat intense interview between Keller Williams co-founder Gary Keller and Inman founder and publisher Brad Inman. During the conversation, Keller accused real estate startups such as Redfin and Zillow of wanting to reduce agent incomes, or eliminate agents altogether.
2. Zillow will begin buying and selling homes using agents
Zillow announced the expansion of its Zillow Instant Offers program in April. The company revealed that it would move into the Phoenix market, and that it would begin buying and selling homes with its own money. The expansion put Zillow in direct competition with iBuyers like Opendoor and OfferPad — and indicated how important the iBuying sector generally would be in 2018.
3. Keller Williams debuts AI virtual assistant and referral platform
Keller Williams’ second appearance in the top three stories of the year, this piece detailed the company’s February debut of an artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant and referrals platform. The system, called Kelle, was designed to perform a variety of tasks and help agents run their business from a mobile device.
4. What’s hot and what’s not in 2019 kitchen trends
This fun piece from October looked at how homeowners are remodeling their kitchens into health oases that reduce stress and boost wellness. The trend includes purchasing appliances that enable healthier cooking, creating blended spaces with glass, and using serene colors.
5. 10 hidden Facebook features all real estate agents should know
Social media behemoth Facebook has worked its way into just about every industry, including real estate. That means industry professionals who want to stay competitive are going to need to harness the social network, using tools such as file transfers, Facebook Notes, and 360-degree pictures and videos.
6. Compass reinvents the real estate sign for the smartphone era
In July, Compass unveiled a potentially groundbreaking new customizable real estate sign that its agents can control from their smartphone. The sign is a metal circle with a customizable informational board. When prospective buyers with the Compass app come within 20 feet of the sign, they will receive a notification on their smartphone.
7. Keller Williams agents fired from local brokerage over Alexa skill
David Bramante and Kayla Horwat launched their Alexa skill — Amazon’s term for app-like programs — in September, but in October they were fired by their franchise, Keller Williams Silicon Beach. The Realtors told Inman that things got “weird” at their brokerage after they launched the Alexa skill. The franchises’ principles said in a statement that the pair were marketing the product under false pretenses.
8. 11 reasons for sale by owner is a terrible idea
Agents can save sellers time and hassle, according to Redefy Real Estate co-founder Chris Rediger. Writing in July, Rediger said that real estate agents can also be helpful in avoiding scams and understanding the market.
9. Agent income plunges by double digits despite record high home prices
A harrowing report from August, this piece delved into the ways that the affordability crisis and housing supply shortage are hitting Realtors. The story is based on the 2018 NAR Member Profile report and showed that the median gross income of Realtors was $39,800 in 2017, down from $42,500 in 2016.
10. Lawsuit accuses realtor.com of defrauding agents
Back in January, Move Inc. — a News Corp. subsidiary and the parent company overseeing realtor.com — was sued by a former employee. Brian Bobik accused the company of defrauding agent clients by charging them for services they never ordered or received.
11. What the Facebook news feed change means for real estate pros
Facebook’s changes to its newsfeed, announced in January, offered a reminder that real estate is a relationship business. The best way to use a personal Facebook account as a real estate professional, then, is to be interested in others and interact with them in positive ways.
12. Building a better bathtub: the pros and cons of 9 bathtub materials
Bathtubs come in a plethora of different materials and the best one for any particular space ultimately comes down to a combination of looks, comfort, ease of maintenance, and, of course, cost. This piece from July explores many of the most popular options on the market today.
13. 7 cheap and effective ways to generate leads as a new agent
Leads are the lifeblood of any successful real estate agent’s career. Successful agents use special events, blogging, social media marketing, email marketing, neighborhood farming, networking and open houses to generate leads.
14. It’s time to stop ignoring the crisis at NAR
In May, MLSListings CEO Jim Harrison explored grievances with recent NAR actions and outlined circumstances that he said would negatively impact hundreds of thousands of Realtors. He concluded that it was time for Realtors to demand accountability and transparency from NAR.
He later apologized for the op-ed, writing in part, that ‘The opinion piece, while intended to prepare our leadership for the NAR meetings with new information, was in hindsight, not a fair presentation, nor was it truly reflective of my sentiment and an appropriate representation of MLSListings.'”
15. ‘Disenchanted, shocked’ agents leave Pacific Union after Compass acquisition
Earlier this month, a highly productive Bay Area real estate team defected from Compass-owned Pacific Union to join Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. The defection of the husband and wife duo came just three months after Compass announced its acquisition of PacUnion.
16. Douglas Elliman sues Taylor Swift for breach of contract
Douglas Elliman agent Andrew Azoulay sued three companies owned by Taylor Swift in January. Azoulay alleged that Swift had agreed he would represent her, but then breached that contract and used a different agent to close a deal in 2017. As part of the suit, Azoulay asked for nearly $1.1 million.