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A Few Thoughts on the Parker Principles

A manifesto, the “Parker Principles“, came from Inman’s Disconnect conference last week in Palm Springs. There’s been a fair amount of chatter already in Facebook groups (and likely on Twitter too, but I’ve dropped off in terms of Twitter engagement recently), Rob’s already penned a post on “open data”, and I wasn’t there — so not sure I have too much to add to the discussion. That said, a few comments about several of the 12 principles:

Transform our industry from a sales profession to a service business (#1)
Incentivize real estate agents to focus on quality and service over volume and sales by obsessing over the needs of the consumer to drive innovation and best practices.

This sounds like Disconnect’s attendees believe Redfin (and similar models) are the future of the industry. I wouldn’t disagree. That said, commission models do work quite well to incentivize great people to go above and beyond for their clients (because those people want word of mouth referrals from clients). I’m not sure the path that’s going to lead to a broad shift by consumers away from commissioned agents (see here for a long discussion on the topic of commissions).

Create a transparent chain of industry accountability to benefit the consumer (#3)
From associations/MLSs to brokers, brokers to agents, and brokers and agents to consumers, we must hold the industry to a higher standard of service, transparency and responsibility. The core of accountability is transparency across the industry.

What about a “receipt” of who made how much for every deal? Tell the consumer in simple terms that the agent made X, the broker made Y, the franchise made Z, the title company made XZ, etc.

Free up property data feeds and remove barriers for innovators  (#7)
We should create a world where property data can be used, reused and broadly distributed. Remove artificial and overly protective barriers to property data access and utilization via a universal licensing agreement. Remove artificial barriers to new ideas, inventions and business models that improve the real estate experience.

Having consulted on several projects requiring MLS data and experienced the pain first hand (and spoken to countless founders who dealt with similar data issues) — this is a great aspirational goal. That said, as long as MLS data is owned by agents/brokers, I’m not sure this issue is going to change anytime soon — at least not willingly. The established players have all the MLS data figured out already (years of pain and lots of $$), and they view it as a moat other startups/products will have to overcome to compete. They are not incorrect. Beyond that, take the “remove artificial barriers to…improve the real estate experience” quote. The question is whose perspective? As long as we’re not defining who is determining what a reasonable barrier or, or who is defining what an improved real estate experience is — we’re not going to arrive at any real solutions.

I’d love nothing more than to be proved wrong for my skepticism.

Fight for more “available” housing (#9)
We must bring key stakeholders to the table including builders, policymakers, associations and real estate professionals to build more entry-level units and mixed-housing projects to create more balanced, affordable markets and bring relief to the many Americans on the verge of homelessness.

Make our communities better places to live and work (#10)
We should use our influence as real estate leaders to give back and advocate for and support education (even if it means higher taxes), marginalized communities and policy that will promote affordable housing and access to homeownership in the long term.

Selflessly give back to the world through service  (#11)
We must recognize the importance of building service into our companies, organizations and our brand to authentically give back to the world beyond our own community.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know giving back and service is near and dear to me. It’s why I’m such a huge fan of Giveback Homes, New Story, socially conscious agents/brokers, and it’s why we recently launched Stay a Night, Give a Night (PS a huge thanks to longtime readers City Bldr and Rentalutions for sponsoring). You know I’ve written about affordable housing (most recently in a weekly mastermind newsletter). You know community is what makes me tick, and what I believe the world needs more than ever before. Point being, I’m a huge fan of principles 9-11, and will do whatever I can to help anyone advancing those goals. If you believe deeply in community, giving and service, I’d love to have you as a member of the mastermind group alongside passionate founders like Caroline working day in, day out to create a larger “do good” community in real estate.

That’s all I’ve got. All that said, props to Brad and the Inman team for helping guide us forward with aspirational vision for a better future for our industry.

I’m curious, what principle do you like the most? Which one is the most clear? The least clear?

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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