"Malcolm in the Middle" - the Death Throes of Traditional Brokerages

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

Back in the Heydays of ActiveRain, many lasting friendships were forged. One such friendship that I enjoy to this day is with Jay Thompson. Jay was one of the founding members of ActiveRain and had the distinguished honor of publishing the very first blog post here. He also did the honor of installing me as the President of our local REALTOR association.

One of the things I so appreciate about Jay is his ability to cut through all the bullcrap and noise, and get to the root of an issue/problem. His background & experience as a Broker-Owner and former Director of Industry Outreach with Zillow affords him a unique & valued vantage into the RE space. And such a vantage is reflected in his recent article over on Inman entitled, "Not If, but When: Why You should be preaparing for Commission Compression Now!"

This is one of the best, most timely articles that Jay has penned of late. One of the most astute observations he makes is that "the primary factor in commission compression will be the consumer."

As I frequent the myriad of real estate Facebook groups, I see the constant blame-shifting for the dillution of commissions ascribed to the likes of Zillow, Redfin, Clever, Homie, or whatever the current VC-funded flavor of the month may be. In the same breath, many lay fault at the doors of our local, State, and National associations, for selling us out, and allowing these 'evil' companies to infiltrate our industry and steal our data! (Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my!)

In the days ahead, the death of the tradtional real estate brokerage model won't be at the hands of companies like Zillow or Redfin, but because we were too busy arguing over logos, complaining how NAR screwed us over, or bellyaching because a client had the nerve to ask us for a rebate! The entire industry will change right before our very eyes, while, with our dying breath, we continue to utter some incessantly tired broken record script of why we're worth every penny of our commission!

Several years ago, then CBO of Zillow, Greg Schwartz, gave a very powerful and sobering take on the future of real estate. He predicted that only 3 market segments would be left in the days ahead, and the segment you most definitely DID NOT want to be caught in was the 'Middle' - the traditional real estate brokerage model.

Let me pose a challenge on the tail end of Jay's great article:


"What are YOU doing NOW to prepare yourself so you don't become "Malcolm in the Middle?"


Are you adequately positioned and prepared to remain relevant, competitive and profitable in the days ahead?

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Rich Jacobson is a REALTOR® and licensed Broker with Fathom Realty. He's a Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, skilffuly vanquishing anything in a shell! He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.

Comments (4)

James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR

Morning Rich.

By the time that happens, I'll be long gone.  I hope I have another 10 years left in me, but who knows? 

Nov 05, 2020 12:50 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Rich. I for one am glad I am retired. If not, this issue may be a more meaningful thought. Enjoy your day! 

Nov 05, 2020 04:37 AM
marti garaughty
garaughty.com - Montreal, QC
a highly caffeinated creative type...



Nov 05, 2020 04:38 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Rich - cleverly written and any mention of lions, tigers and bears makes it highly readable as well as worthy of extra attention.

Discussions definitely have a place but so often the important things are "missed".  Is it unintentional or just a way of steering a conversation?  I wonder.

Carol Williams - a candidate for SCS Second Chance Saturday.  

Nov 05, 2020 06:30 AM