Friday, 29 May 2020

The Birth of An Internet Real Estate Search Portal, and the Death of A Big Idea

Written by Posted On Sunday, 13 October 2019 05:00

Knowledge is Power - Knowledge is a Differentiator

Where did REALTOR dot com come from...and where did it go...and whose fault is that?

NAR's first big technology play was the REALTOR Information Network (RIN), a wholly owned subsidiary of NAR. funded to the tune of $13 Million Dollars in 1993. REALTOR dot com was an afterthought and a product owned by RIN.

The idea in forming a subsidiary was that in the new world of technology, things would be moving at light speed, and the old association structure was to slow to keep up and compete in this brave new world.

The first and most important services developed by RIN were the RIN Network Desktop and Geodata. I was hired first as a consultant, and then worked to develop the language and the marketing to take technology to world of REALTORS...Brokers, Agents, MLSs, and Associations. For a short period, I field the role of VP of Marketing for RIN...until RIN found Bob Goldberg (and that is another story). Another of my projects in the creation of RIN and REALTOR dot com was to build the online community components of the platform. We started with RealTalk (which exists today as a Facebook Group...RealTowns RealTalk).

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My explanation to the world when I was socializing the RIN concept in the real estate Industry was that RIN had two sides, a private side...the RND...and the public side, the WWW and what became REALTOR dot com. RIN putting the entire MLS Inventory on the newest technology at the time, the Worldwide Web, was not contemplated when RIN was funded in 1993.

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At first we did not call it REALTOR dot com. Because "Public Access to MLS" was a major Industry fear at the time, I was careful when I named the web project, first calling it NEAP for National Electronic Advertising Program, and then shortening it to RPA, for Real Property Ads.

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I put the emphasis on Advertising. This was going to be a new form of advertising and REALTORS would be the first industry in the world to begin to take advantage of what to me, was nothing less than a miracle...the Internet.

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A great fear of REALTORS was allowing FSBOs to benefit from the Critical Mass of listings provided by our MLSs. It was a big deal and alleviated a lot of fear and anxiety when we stated that we would not allow FSBOs to be part of RPA (REALTOR dot com).

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The Consumer and Consumer Demands were always discussed early in my presentations...Speed, Convenience, Choice, Value Added, Quality, Services, Information, Discounts.

This new product that was to be offered through RIN, the wholly owned subsidiary of NAR, was also going to be a great asset to consumers and help "keep the REALTOR in the center of the Transaction.

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These images are scans of the original acetate overheads I developed on an early version of PowerPoint (some of you may recognize the template design :-)

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Saul Klein

In 1948, doctors told my father that his life aboard submarines on war patrol in the South Pacific and the depth charging he experienced had rendered him sterile. Although controversial and not widely applied, he was treated with an Ayurvedic therapy called “shivambu.” If you are unfamiliar with this term, I recommend you Google it because against all odds, I came to exist.

That was a loony segue into my life but is a fitting precursor to a career that would be just as incredible.

Like my father, I joined the Navy. However, due to a medical inconvenience, I was honorably discharged after 6 years of commissioned service, all on Sea Duty. This was an opportune misfortune that led me down the path to a successful career in real estate. Both my father and grandfather flirted in real estate brokering and flipping part-time, and I followed suit but making a lifelong career out of it.

With over 40 years in real estate, it is impossible to talk about my experiences in this small window. But I can proudly say that I am well-recognized as an industry pioneer, especially in real estate syndication and education, and one of the few luminaries that paved the way for real estate’s transition to the online world.

Some highlights of my life’s work:
● Co-created ePRO, technology certification course that certified 70,000 students
● Created the first online communities for real estate professionals to network, learn, and sell
● Created "Opt Out" Listing Syndication, aggregating over 1.4 Million Listings in 18 months
● Built the #2 National Listing Syndication Service, Point2 Technologies, sold to Yardi in 2010
● Founder of the California Association of Buyer’s Agents
● Member of the first Team, pre-IPO, responsible for obtaining first 500,000 listings
● Helped Zillow and Trulia build up their MLS data inventory

Today I continue to lead efforts that bring new technologies to the real estate industry. Feel free to reach out and learn more.

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