#117: Mail-Right With Special Guest Gregory Hague We Interview The Founder of The Stop Zillow Campaign
We interview a man who is very misunderstood in this “bonus” episode of our Mail-Right Podcast:
Greg Hague is known for his STOP ZILLOW Campaign and now his www.plantosaverealestate.com
Many of you have heard of this, but may not know the full story. This is about reclaiming our industry as entrepreneurs and agents; an industry we naively gave away over the last 10 years. NAR, CAR and our local boards have their head in the sand, it’s up to us! Too many agents are like a frog sitting comfortably in the warm water of the pot. Zillow is gradually turning up the heat and going to boil you if you do not get off the pot!
It’s not coming folks, it’s here….right now. If you are a licensed agent, your business is under attack. It’s our fault, we gave it away. We gave our listings to Zillow, we gave our adverting dollars to Zillow and now we’re shocked that Zillow has created a wedge between us and our clients.
NAR sold Realtor.com…huh? They sold our own brand? All the state and local Realtor boards are taking a neutral, dare I say ostrich position on the matter.
So it’s up to us. The enemy is not at the gate, it’s in the city walls and it’s setting up shop right next door to you!
That is why Greg Hue has asked us to band together and reclaim what is ours; our industry. I’m the first to admit when I heard of Greg Hue and www.StopZillow.com I thought he was just a sour grapes agent. After meeting him today and spending 4 hours with him, I discovered he’s an attorney with a broker’s license and a luxury market legacy he’s leaving his family whom are ALL REALTORS too.
Greg has been in Real estate since 1968 and has a sincere passion for real estate and protecting our industry. He’s funded this movement with his own money and I think he’s created a fantastic opportunity for us to collectively keep the Zillow’s of the world in check.
See it’s great when agents compete with each other, but your doomed to go the way of the travel agent, the taxi driver and the agent that relies 100% on buying leads when you compete against the big machine that is Zillow, Amazon and Redfin.
Here’s a Full Transcript of Our Interview With Greg Hague
Thomas: Well, welcome back my friends to the Mail-Right Real Estate Agent Podcast show and we’re going to call this a bonus episode because I was so inspired to get our next guest on that we’re actually inserting this in between our regular programming. I’m welcoming to the show today Mr. Greg Hague who some of you may know from the Stop Zillow movement and many of you may not know. And that’s why I want Greg on here because this is truly a movement. This is not about sour grapes, just shaking our fist at Zillow.
There’s much more behind this and I felt Greg needed a platform to discuss this with our audience so that you had a better understanding. Greg welcome to the show.
Greg: Hey. My absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Thomas: Greg, before we get started on our discussion, maybe give people a little background about who you are, what you do, your qualifications. You’re certainly much more than I was expecting when I first met you. So please share a little about yourself.
Greg: Well, that’s very kind of you to say. I grew up in the business in Cincinnati Ohio because my dad was in real estate and was successful in real estate from nowhere. He was a fighter pilot instructor in World War II. Got out of World War II, had absolutely no money, no connections, had grown up. His father died when he was young and so he was looking for opportunity. Married to my mom before I was born and he got a job with a, got his real estate license which, back then, I think it was either no test or a short test and you picked it up at the local drugstore kind of a thing. And he got his real estate license and just worked, you know the cliche, worked like a dog and had a lot of success. Started his own real estate firm and because of that, I mean real estate was everything to him. It just gave him and our family a life that he had never even imagined. So the reason I tell you that is because every night at the dinner table, it started when I was like 7 or 8 years old, conversation real estate. And my Dad was intent that I would learn everything starting with the definition of real estate.
I mean like word for word if you don’t get it perfect you say it again. It amazes me sometimes so many people in real estate you say, “Well, what exactly is real estate? Can you describe what real estate is?”. They don’t really have it down pat. So I grew up in that environment, was fortunate because of my Dad’s success and I also worked to be able to go to college, go to Law school, become an attorney. But I stayed in real estate.
And over the last many years I started selling real estate. Worked very hard. Had very good training from my Dad and other people. Became number one in my state in selling. Then built a series of several real estate firms over the years, one with 121 offices and 4,000 agents and built those firms. And then I went into coaching and training over the last 5, 7, 7 years. And I’ve just loved my, real estate has given me and my family a life of freedom and a life of opportunity. And quite frankly, the reason I’m doing what I’m doing is I fear that in the years ahead, in the very few years ahead that that may go away.
Thomas: I can relate to your story because I myself, I’m a third generation Realtor. I grew up in it too, although I resisted it in the early days. I didn’t want to go into the family business. It eventually just captured me and I fell in love with the business and been doing it for about 18 years. So I agree with you in the passion for it because it’s more than just a job. This is a career that has given my family opportunities that we’ve never realized in another industry. So what I want to start off by talking about here is, okay, and I’m going to admit something to you and to our listeners. When I first heard of Greg Hague and the Stop Zillow movement, I thought, “Oh. Another agent that’s just railing against the big Zillow machine. Good luck with that”. Having done no research on you, not bothered to even investigate it, just made up my mind. Then I met you. Then I heard what you were doing. Then I went on the website. Now, I might sound like a convert. But I got behind the movement.
Greg: Good. I love that. All right.
Thomas: Yeah. I contributed to it.
Greg: Thank you.
Thomas: And here’s why and I want to set this up for you to talk about. Because first of all, it’s not just about stopping Zillow. It’s about reclaiming what we inevitably gave away through a series of unfortunate events over the last few years as Realtors and as an association NAR. And it’s just about taking back and taking ownership of what we once had ownership of in my mind and it’s beyond Zillow. This is also addressing the Redfins of the world and the PurpleBricks and all the other discount brokerages that are showing up and typically do show up in a market like we’re in right now. But let’s talk about it. How did you get started and how did it go from this idea to you actually, to inception?
Greg: You bet. Well, first of all, it isn’t, we do have the URL and the movement Stop Zillow. And that has been often misinterpreted because it really, as you said isn’t about stopping Zillow. What it’s really about is having an alternative to Zillow so let me talk about that. First of all, what got me started with Stop Zillow is kind of a one minute story is I’m doing my thing. I own two real estate firms here in the Phoenix area. I’m partners in one and own the other on outright. It’s my luxury home firm that I’ve had for 15 years. I’m teaching my son, my youngest son, who’s also an attorney how to sell real estate in the luxury firm and help build that. I have an amazing team. So my life is good. I love my life. And then Zillow came out with Instant Offers. I mean, I just saw the news. They came out with Instant Offers.
Greg: Now, most of your listeners probably know, but if they don’t, Instant Offers is a program that Zillow launched on May 22nd of this year where they lined up 15 institutional investors. And the program that they push out, they started it in two markets, Las Vegas and Orlando, and that is that, hey, they were marketing to home sellers now. Home sellers, “Hey. If you’re thinking about selling your home check out our Instant Offer. Go online, put in your name, put in your address. put in some information on your home and you’ll get a quick Instant Offer from Zillow, from a Zillow investor”. And so, with Zillow’s power, we gave Zillow this by giving Zillow our listings, we gave it enormous power, I thought, “My gosh. I don’t believe this”. We give Zillow our listings. That is what empowered it. It would be nothing more than a little zestimate website where you go in and get some corny AVM, Automated Valuation Model. It’s all it started. That’s all it would be without us and now it’s trying to take our listings away.
Greg: I mean, I’m thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me”. Because right away, when I looked at the program, I said, “OfferPad does this. Opendoor does this. HomeVesters does this. Good for them. This isn’t what that is. This isn’t really Zillow offering to buy in the homes. Zillow lined up these 15 investors and they are buy low sell high investors. That’s what they do. Fair enough.
Greg: It’s a free world. It’s a competitive world. But the idea is, how many home sellers have you ever listed who said, “I want to take a wholesale price and oh, by the way, I want to pay an 8 or 9 percent commission on top of it and I don’t want you to do a thing”. Because that’s what Instant Offers is.
Greg: You get an offer. It’s obviously wholesale. They have to pay closing costs, pay carry cost and do a risk cost and make a profit. So they’re not going to pay you retail. They obviously have to pay you profit spread risk, closing costs both ways, everything. And there’s an 8 to 9 percent, typically, I understand 9 percent, but it’s always 8 to 9 percent service fee on top of that and you get no help from an attorney, appraiser or a real estate agent. So I’m thinking, “How many sellers are going to take this?”. This is a charade.
Greg: This is just a sham to get people to put in their information so Zillow can start selling off those leads and monetizing sellers, diverting sellers to agents who pay. Sellers who would have otherwise called you, called me, called somebody who has built their brand in the community and built their reputation in the community. And I just thought, “This is just”, excuse me for saying it, “This is just crap. This is not right”. This is a firm who every day we support. We empower with our listings. It’s made, I think, the statistic I saw was it brought in 6 to 700 million dollars in lead generation fees, essentially using our listings to attract buyers that it sells back to us. And I’ve never liked that because I thought, “Those buyers would have come to us anyway without Zillow”. I mean, if we had our own website, they would have just come to us.
Greg: And yet, we as an industry, paid 6 to 700 million dollars to have buyers that prior to Zillow would have come to us, call on our sign, call on our Ads, call on the Internet, whatever. So I never liked that, but never said anything. But when they went after the sellers and I thought, “This is, I see the plan”. The plan is that Zillow realizes that without our listings it’s in bad shape.
Greg: And therefore we, even though it talks nice, we are its Achilles heel. If we, and a lot of realtors have been really upset at Zillow for a very long time, if we pull our listings and I don’t mean get together in some illegal boycott. I just mean if you and me individually get ticked off and pull our listings, which we’re totally allowed to do if our sellers say, “We don’t want our home up there”. Then all of a sudden Zillow has real problems. So I believe that this, to cut to it, I’m over talking it. To me, the program really wasn’t like an OfferPad, Opendoor program where it’s really trying to give people an alternative if they really want to sell quickly and at a lower price fine. It’s really just capturing their lead information to sell off and the statistics have shown that. If you look at some of the statistics that Zillow’s released on this program, released a lot, it’s clear that very very, last thing that I saw, only like of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who have given Zillow their information only one or two or three have accepted the offer. So it’s clearly just a lead generation strategy. And I’ll say one more thing about it. I also believe that’s an intrusion into brokerage. Because what do we typically do. What we typically do is have a seller and we look for buyers, right?
Greg: We list a home and look for buyers. All Zillow’s doing is they have buyers and now they’re out looking for sellers.
Greg: It’s just brokerage, connecting buyers and sellers. And the way they’re avoiding being under the licensing authority and having a license is they’re saying “Well, we’re taking nothing”. All the licensing laws say that you have to take compensation. You can connect buyers and sellers no problem. As long as you’re not compensated. Well, it’s true. They’re not compensated directly from these institutional investors. I suppose that’s what they say. And they’re not compensated by the sellers who sell into the program or at least give up. But if they generate more leads, they are compensated because they’re being compensated by the agents who pay for leads. So they’re clearly increased revenue coming in from the program. It’s just not coming in directly from the sellers or buyers. Most state licensing laws don’t address that. They never thought of that specifically.
Greg: So again, I’m maybe over talking it, but that’s what’s got me going. It just ticked me off. So I went to GoDaddy and I mean, just one morning I’m having breakfast. I go into GoDaddy and type in and see if Stop Zillow is available. First one I type in and there it is for $8.43. So I say, “Well, that was kind of dumb of them to let stay available”. So I buy it. In an hour I write this little petition thing to NAR. “NAR, what are you doing? You need to get in Zillow’s face”. No boycott or anything. Everybody misinterpreted this what I was doing.
Greg: I simply said, “On behalf of us would you go to Zillow and tell them were ticked off. And that a lot of us are going to start pulling advertising”, of course, I never advertised with Zillow, “And pulling listings. Not boycott. Not collective. But we’re ticked off and we’re your membership. You represent us. Would you go tell Zillow that, I think it knows this, but if you went, it might have a little more clout, that Instant Offers is an intrusion? It’s a slap in the face. It’s a wrong thing to do to the industry that supports you to try to now take the sellers and resell them back to us which is all it’s about”. And NAR came out with statement, “For trust reasons we can’t touch this with a 10-foot pole”. Well, that’s not correct. Yes. That would be true if any of us were asking NAR to go and say, “Collectively we’re going to boycott you, collectively anything. I just wanted NAR to go on our behalf and reflect what a lot of realtors felt about the Instant Offers program. But I get it. I don’t have any with NAR. They’re just kind of governmental, being careful.
Greg: I get it. It’s all right. I mean, I understand. And so, I’ll stop there. We get 40,000, within a matter of weeks, I get 40,000 signatures on this petition that’s online. It’s all organic. I gave one webinar, few hundred people on it and boom, it just goes out and spreads. So that’s how it got started. As you know and I’ll talk about it when you’re ready, I’ve taken it from a negative to a positive. Because it does no good to just continue to moan, groan, complain, “Zillow’s bad. Horrible Zillow”, all this stuff. I don’t live my life that way and never have, not going to. But that’s how it got started in answer to your question.
Thomas: Well then, let me let me make a couple comments on that. I agree with what you’re saying because I have always said to my clients that Zillow’s not in the business of selling homes. They’re in the business of selling leads and selling advertising. And what is the cheese they put on the trap? It’s Zestimates and now these Instant Offers. And as you alluded to it’s more or less a way of capturing more contact information that they just resell the lenders and realtors.
Thomas: They themselves have agreed that their information’s not accurate. And I think we can all agree that 10 years ago if you said the word Zillow, nobody knew what the heck you were talking about. Now, the problem as an agent, for me, is that they take Zillow as Bible and verse.
Thomas: They think Zillow’s more accurate than anything else that we do as agents. I want to stop myself and just say, what you were stating too is, there’s room in this industry for Zillow and we’re not saying kicking Zillow out. It’s just more taking back control of what we’ve given too much away of to the Zillows of the world. And we’re not limiting this to Zillow. They’re just the big elephant in the room that we’re talking about.
Greg: If I could this comment on that.
Greg: See, I think that when we gave up our listening feeds to these third-party companies, we did it. I wasn’t in the room when those decisions were made, NAR, MLSs. But I’m sure that the tech companies like Zillow came to our leadership and said, “Look. You’re real estate guys. We’re tech guys. We can build platforms that will help you sell your homes, generate more buyers, be good for your agents and oh, by the way, we won’t charge you to upload those listings”. And I get that. Had I been in the room, maybe I would have gone for it too. So I’m not even going to throw the people who made that decision under the bus. But in retrospect, I believe that was one of the biggest mistakes in business history. Because what these companies did, not just Zillow, is they really didn’t build platforms. As you correctly pointed out, they really didn’t build platforms designed to sell homes as much as used homes to generate buyer leads that they sold.
Greg: I mean, any platform, think about this. Take one example. If you’re building a platform really designed to sell a home, would you really next to a seller’s asking price, would you really post an automated valuation that is less than the seller’s asking price?
Greg: You think about this. If you listed a home or I listed a home and we ran a magazine Ad on it and we said, “Here’s the seller’s asking price and oh by the way”, let’s say it’s 1.2 million, “I think it’s worth a million”, and I posted that next to it.
Greg: “I’m the listing agent now. I think my seller’s out of line. I think it’s worth a million”. I’d lose my license. That would be just no-brainer.
Greg: Here’s when the Department of Real Estate would up and pick it up off the wall and say, “You don’t even get a hearing. That’s so stupid”. And yet, Zillow’s platform, as everyone knows, does that. In addition to, of course, posting pay for leads agents next to properties. And you can ask buyer after buyer. Two of my team members are going to be first time home buyers. They didn’t understand when they look at homes, that are looking at homes on Zillow, that those agents posted next to those homes have never even seen those homes. They don’t know that.
Greg: So my point is, not is really dinging on Zillow, as much as if you were designing a website to sell homes, truly designed to service our sellers as professionals, you’d design that website.
Greg: And so, that website, Zillow has every right to do what it’s doing.
Greg: But so do we in a competitive context.
Greg: And consequently, I believe in retrospect, giving that data up was an enormous mistake. So what do we do? Well, I don’t think it’s fair. The number one thing we have to think about is our sellers, is our clients. And I get literally hundreds of emails a week from agents basically saying, “Greg, it’s simple. The answer’s easy. We just need to stop feeding the beast. We need to stop feeding Zillow”. That’s easy to say.
Greg: But it’s actually, you can’t really do that at this point in a lot of cases if that’s not in the best interest of your seller. Because it could be that having your home on Zillow would be in your sellers best interest. And consequently, we’ve got ourselves in kind of a handcuff situation where the number one website that buyers go to search for homes is really, hurts our sellers in many ways, but helps our sellers in that they’re the buyers. I simply advocate that we need a better platform to sell homes. And then, we have an alternative.
Greg: And we can put our homes on Zillow or not. But at least we’ll have a platform that is frequented by buyers and we’ll have a choice. Right now, in many cases, we don’t have a choice.
Thomas: And we’re going to come back from a commercial break and talk about that. Because what we are talking about is that alternative. There’s nothing that says Zillow has to be the big machine. We could create a new big machine that’s a better big machine. At one time Myspace was the greatest place in the world to go to social media. And then all of a sudden this little company called Facebook came along. I remember when we used to Yahoo things and now we Google things.
Thomas: We can build a better machine that serves both the realtors and the clients that we serve. We’re going to come back from our commercial break here. I neglected to, I was so excited to get into the conversation with Greg. I should ID myself. This is Thomas Nelson. You know me. You’re on here every week with me. Jonathan’s off this week dealing with some stuff. So he allowed me to do a couple shows here on my own and bring on some guests that I felt were important for our community, hear from. We’re going to pause for a quick commercial and come back and talk more about this new platform with Greg Hague. We’ll be right back.
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Thomas: We’re coming back from the commercial break and we’re going to dive right back in with our special guest Greg Hague on this special edition of the Mail-Right Real Estate Agent Podcast show. Greg, let’s talk about the platform. As you said, let’s talk about the positive.
Greg: Agreed. And that’s really what it’s all about. And when you heard me speak, I think you would agree that most of what I talked about was the positive.
Thomas: That’s right. Honestly, had you just stood there for an hour and a half and railed against Zillow, I would have walked out because it’s like okay, we all have our Zillow stories, but what’s the solution?
Greg: Exactly. And so, what I believe and what I’m doing is that we, as a profession, need our own website. I mean, think about this. This is a profession that sells homes.
Greg: That’s how we get paid. I know we represent buyers and do a lot of things. But the people who pay us are the ones who own homes and have asked us to sell those homes and that’s how buyer agents even get paid. So at its core, we are a profession that sells homes. We list and sell homes. And yet, think about this. As a profession, we don’t even have our own online presence, our own website, one collective website that we all come together under to sell homes.
Greg: And I always that Realtor.com would be that.
Greg: But Realtor.com, as you know, was sold, I think in 2014 to News Corp for $950,000,00. I won’t even comment on that.
Thomas: Don’t get me started.
Greg: I don’t know who was in the room on that one. But that is gone and I doubt that Rupert Murdoch is anxious to give it back.
Greg: So I believe we need to do this. As this got going and I could see that it was just a lot about railing on Zillow, I thought, “Well, you know. I’m not going to live my”. All the agents who send, I mean, thousands of emails and comments in Facebook, I feel your pain. But the bottom line, I could clearly see that we could do that for the next 2 years and all Zillow would do is get bigger and more powerful and particularly, roll out Instant Offers nationally and end up putting us in a position where if we want sellers, we have to buy them from Zillow as well.
Greg: And then, we’re toast. I mean as a profession we’re toast. Zillow rules. We’re out.
Greg: So my thinking was this. I thought, “We should put, number one, we should design a website”. And now, this is going to sound crazy, but not even that hard, a better website than Zillow.
Greg: So it was all, “Well how do you design a better website than Zillow. They get like a billion dollars and all this stuff”. Come on. Are you kidding me? I mean, a first-year person in real estate could look at Zillow’s website, see the things it does that aren’t really good for selling homes and just get rid of those.
Greg: And the tech is there. What’s interesting about technology is as these new tech things come out, then once they’re out, they’re not even that expensive to incorporate into websites, apps, and things.
Greg: First of all, we designed a website that is purely, which honestly, I’ll admit, we spent a lot of hours on it and I spent a lot of money with consultants and I talked to a lot of real estate agents about it, but it wasn’t that hard. I mean, we’re real estate people for gosh sake.
Greg: I would think we would know better what would be good for our sellers and buyers than the people who founded Zillow, Spencer Rascoff and Rich Barton. By the way, Rich Barton founded Expedia which knocked out the travel agents prior to getting involved in Zillow. Just a little if you have any illusions about what he might have in store for us. But the bottom line is that we designed that. Then, I thought, “That really is good, but it’s not good enough”. Because there are probably a lot of websites out there like that. We need something. We need something different, something creative that would give us an edge.
Because the whole idea of the website is to attract the buyers. If we have the buyers, collectively as a profession, if our website that we own and I’ll talk about that in a minute how we collectively would own this, not NAR, we. That is we have a website, that we collectively own as a profession. Where I mean, you’re an owner, I’m an owner. We all have stock. We’re owners. We have a Board of Directors. We have a Board of Directors that hires the employees that run it so that the owners and the Board and the Managers are all real estate people.
They understand real estate. Because what we’re doing now, probably we’d be doing different things in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 50 years when I’m long gone. But it should be overseen by real estate people who make those decisions. But I thought, “In order to make this the number one website and not have it take forever and not have like billions behind, which we don’t have, how do we do that?”. So I really spent a lot of time and worked with a lot of people. What could we do? What could we do that no website’s ever done that would make buyers say, “Oh my gosh”, when they heard about it? “I’ve got to check that out”. And we came up with that. And what I hate about saying what I just did is, for obvious reasons, I can’t tell you what it is. So it makes people say, “Oh, well. Yeah, sure. Of course, you’ve got a secret sauce. Right”.
Greg: I mean it just is so non-credibility sounding in today’s world. But I can’t. There’s no way until we launch it on February, we going to introduce in on February 17th. That’s the hard date when this will be unveiled at the website launch party at my home in Scottsdale. We’re going to stream it out nationally. Then we’re going to go live with the website on the 19th, February 19th, which is a Monday. It’ll be then, but then we’re. We’re also filing a provisional business methods patent on this, it’s so good. So we really do, in addition to having a wonderful website to sell homes that doesn’t have the pimples and blemishes that many of them do, not just Zillow, that many of these third-party websites do because they’re lead generation websites.
Greg: We have something that when buyers hear it, they’re going to be all over this. So the plan is to, we have a crowdfunding campaign going. And you can look at that at plantosaverealestate.com. Just plantosaverealestate.com. We’ve raised a little over $200,000 in a few weeks. And the goal is $1.1 million. But I want to be crystal clear. I’m building the website. And crowdfunding, every day we bring in more money.
On February 16th, that’s when the crowdfunding campaign ends. Whatever we’ve brought in well defray expenses, but I’m putting the rest in. I’m going to build out the website, going to build out the marketing. I’m going to do this because real estate has given me the great gift over the last 50 years, this is my 50th year in real estate, has given me the freedom and the networth to be able to do something and give back. And I believe in this so deeply. I’d love to have everybody’s help, love to have you contribute 50, 100 bucks, 200 bucks. You get some amazing perks, amazing trainings up there. All kinds of things.
Love to have that. But I want to be clear so that there’s no illusion here. This website’s being built. This website will be launched on February 19th and introduced on February 17th. And when you see what it is and when you see what buyers are going to see when the Ads go live on Monday, well, I think you’re going to say, “Wow. This really was something special”. So the goal then is to roll it out on the 19th on a test market basis. All the crowdfund contributors will be the first to be able to demo it, try it, see it, see the commercials, use it, do some marketing on it, show and prove that it attracts buyers for per dollar spent on marketing, that it attracts buyers 2 to 3 times better than any website out there. So we don’t need as much as a Zillow or a Realtor.com or a Trulia. That we can generate more buyers on less money.
Then once everybody’s kicked the tires, tried it, sees it working, then we plan to do a, what’s known as a Regulation A-Plus securities offering. It’s an expedited kind of, I’ll say in layman terms now. It’s like an expedited IPO where we can raise up to 50 million dollars a year right on the website, sell ownership. And that’s where you come in. Every licensed agent broker in the country will be allowed to go in and 100 bucks, 200 bucks, 10,000, I mean whatever, it doesn’t matter, to be an owner, to become an owner.
But nobody has to. It’s not like somebody should have to be an owner in order to use the website. I would think those who are owners get to use it for free. And those who don’t probably pay a small subscription fee only when they see it working and they say, “Oh my gosh. This is generating so many buyers for me”. I mean, paying a few bucks a month is like totally worth it and it’s the subscription fees from the non-owners that would continue to drive the marketing. But I believe we raise 50 million dollars. I think that will be a no-brainer.
I mean, if 1 out of 10, 1 out of 12 realtors invest a few hundred bucks, there’s 50 million. And launch the national marketing. And essentially, over a period then of time, turn it over collectively controlled to the real estate industry. I mean, I’ll finish by saying I’m 69. I’m not doing this for me. I don’t need this in my life. I don’t need to be working night and day like I am. I feel like though, I don’t know, some confluence of events. Have you ever felt like something was and I mean this sincerely, bigger than you that you just kind of got in the middle and all of a sudden there you were? How do you not do this? I haven’t flown my plane, ridden my motorcycle, played the drums, done any of the things that I enjoy doing.
I’ve done nothing since this started but work, 7 days, not looking for hearts and flowers. But I just believe that this is something that maybe it was my calling. Growing up in the business, starting with my Dad, kitchen table. Maybe this is just, I was destined to do something that will make a long-term impact positive on this industry. I’ll finish simply by saying, once we get that going, if it does everything I really believe it will. It’s not about stopping Zillow or killing Zillow. It’s simply a matter of then you. Every real estate agent in the country will have an alternative to Zillow. Will be able to talk to their sellers about, “Do you want your home on Zillow too?”. Obviously, we’re going to put it on our website.
Greg: But do you want your home on Zillow too? And then it’s the seller and the listing agent’s decision and what happens, happens.
Thomas: And it’s a good dialogue to have too because that’s been a dialogue I’ve had with a lot of my sellers. Zillow’s never sold any my listings. Either I have, or another agent has, as a result of the MLS or my own internal marketing. But there are sellers that panic if they don’t see it on Zillow because Zillow’s done a brilliant job of marketing.
Thomas: I want to make a couple comments here. Just to kind of let people in. I did not know Greg a month ago. So I’m not a paid endorsement here. But I want to say, number one, when I donated to the crowdfunding, Greg matches every dollar that you donate. He’s all in, in that sense. And just to be clear, there’s a crowdfunding to get the website going and then there will be a stock offering essentially for the website once it’s a proven and accepted product in the market if you will.
Greg: And if I could interject. The reason for that is it’s just not even fair to ask anyone to invest in something that they can’t see, touch, feel and know that it works. So that’s why we’re doing the crowdfunding and the seed money and why I’m throwing in so much money is because we need a product.
Greg: Before we should as real estate agents across the country, “Would you like to invest?”, they need to see that, “Wow. That’ll be a good investment”.
Thomas: And that’s kind of a great Anti-Zillow method because Zillow asks you to invest before you’ve got a proven leads system. So it’s kind of funny. And the other thing and you were modest about this. And that’s another thing that people should realize is, I mean, you could not sell another house the rest of your life and be just fine in your lifestyle. So this is not something you’re doing to get rich off of.
Greg: No. No.
Thomas: You’re already a wealthy man.
Greg: Because of real estate. Because of entrepreneurialism.
Greg: And this, by the way, my wealth has come from grassroots, selling real estate and owning real estate firms, teaching real estate agents how to sell real estate, not through buying and selling and flipping and land and development or building or any of that. My wealth has come through grassroots, selling real estate and helping agents sell real estate. And that’s so what I don’t want to see go away. Think about this. Travel agents had great businesses. Many of them thriving, wonderful businesses. They could have preserved that if they had come together under one umbrella before Expedia took them out.
Greg: They had the travelers. They had the loyalty and they had the knowledge. What they didn’t have is someone to bring them together.
Greg: No one brought them together. Same with bookstore owners. Are you kidding me? They had the books and they had the list of everybody who loved books. I used to love going to bookstores. The big ones like Barnes and Noble and the little college bookstore.
Greg: When Amazon got started, it was like, “Oh, no. That’s never”. Their big move was that Barnes and Noble sued Amazon saying, “You can’t call yourself a bookstore because you don’t have brick and mortar”. I mean, that’s the way they approached it. How ridiculous? To get themselves all caught up in like, “You’re not allowed to say you’re a bookstore”.
Greg: So if they’d come together and that’s all I’m really suggesting is that it’s bigger than just doing a good job for our sellers. Doing a good job for our sellers is the biggest part of this. We owe it to our sellers. We owe it to the people who pay us what they’re paying us and to have a website that is truly designed to sell homes. Put yourself aside. You owe it to your sellers to do this. But on top of that, we are facing challenges from PurpleBricks, Redfins, Zillow’s Instant Offers. These major corporations who have millions in marketing. When I gave that talk and I think it was the one you were at Thomas. I think that was the one where an agent stood up in the room and said, “I’ve just lost two listings to Redfin”.
Greg: You see, what I talked to her about after the meeting, I said, “Have you ever competed against an agent who charged less than you?”. And she said, “Oh, yeah. All the time over the years”. And she said, “I’ve generally won because I have such a good value proposition”. I said, “That’s my point. You didn’t really lose to Redfin’s 1 percent commission, list commission. You lost to their marketing power”.
Greg: That’s the problem that we better see and better see it fast.
Greg: We’re not going to lose to PurpleBricks, Redfin and Zillow’s Instant Offer because of those programs. There’s always been those kinds of programs around. There’s always been people that’ll buy your home for wholesale, for gosh sake.
Greg: There’s always been realtors who charge less than other realtors. That’s competition and that’s good. But what there hasn’t been is we’ve always individually, the way this business has always been is we have individually competed with ourselves for listings, then once somebody gets a listing, we help each other sell it.
Greg: We come together and help each other sell it. Such a cool business. Now it’s no longer that. We’re not just competing against each other for listings. The playing field is no longer level. I’m going out and you’re going out and competing against a company like PurpleBricks in LA out of the UK with 60 million dollars in marketing to push their $3,400, I think it’s $3,400 flat fee commission. My point is, it isn’t their $3,400 flat fee commission, it is their 60 million dollars that is the problem. And we need to collectively come together under one umbrella website so that we, I guess the best way to say it is that we come together collectively which gives us each more strength individually. I, when I’m out on a listing appointment competing against Redfin. I respect Redfin. I know they’re a lot of. Those guys are smart. They’re a real estate firm. They didn’t use our listings like Zillow to turn around and take advantage of us. They’ve built that firm from grassroots. I talked to one of their founders when they first got it started. The bottom line is and notice a lot of, not the model I’d be doing. But my point is, “Okay. Good for them”. We need to learn to compete with the Redfins of the world.
Greg: We shouldn’t grouse about them. We need to learn to compete with them. But we will lose if it’s me or you competing with them, with Redfin individually. So it’s seller’s choice is, “Should I list with Thomas or should I list with Redfin?”. Because they don’t think about it like an individual agent. They think about it, Redfin.
Greg: You’re going to start losing more and more. But if we come together under one umbrella so that when I go in on a listing appointment, I point out that I am part of this, not Redfin and I’m not PurpleBricks and I’m not this. I’m part of a group of independent real estate professionals under the website that generates more buyers and has more buyer activity than any other website. When you list with me, you get that. And if you list with Redfin, you don’t get that. All of a sudden, it levels the playing field.
Thomas: Well said. Probably the biggest challenge we have right now is communicating our value and doing it in a way that collectively makes an impact the way Zillow and Redfin can make an impact. So that’s why I’m behind your movement. I’m behind this site getting built. I hope people listen to this and investigate it on your own. We’re not trying to make up your mind for you folks. We’re just trying to give you a vehicle in which to explore this and make up your own mind. But if you’re a licensed agent, you may want to consider this. And if they do want to learn more about it, Greg, what’s the best way to get a hold of you or to find out more about this movement?
Greg: So, first, I want to make my pitch, my plea. Go to plantosaverealestate.com, plantosaverealestate.com. That is our crowdfunding site. For example, if you contribute $50, you get the perk, towards this website, the perk you get is my luxury home course that is one of the most popular courses in the country. It’s the most recommended real estate course on LinkedIn. It’s “How to List and Sell Luxury Homes”. And what you learn by the way is enormously helpful at listing and selling other homes. It’s been my most popular course. You can’t buy it anymore. I didn’t want anybody to ever think that what I was doing was to cross benefit my training company. So you can’t buy my training anymore. I’m not doing that. I’m just doing this. But if you contribute $50, you get that $297 course for free. So it’s $50 bucks and it helps this good cause. If you contribute $100, you get that plus Kevin Ward’s new, “How to have a Personality it Real Estate” course. And if you know Kevin, he’s amazing. He’s so cool. It’s his newest course. So the point is plantosaverealestate.com. Make a contribution and you get amazing perks. And here’s the thing, I’m not asking for a lot of money from anyone. I don’t want this to be that. I would like everyone to just pitch in a little to basically say, “Greg, yes. I care. I believe in it. I love the cool perks. 50 bucks, 100 bucks. I can afford that. I can give up one dinner out. I can make that work in the budget. That’s what I’m looking for is for a lot of you to go to the website today, whenever you see this and then leave a comment and say, “We’re behind you. I’m behind you. I’ve got to go back and sell real estate. You get this done”.
Greg: That’s what we want to see.
Thomas: And if they click the Stop Zillow it takes them over to . . .
Greg: Same place.
Greg: Stopzillow.com. Same place. I am no longer going to rail negatively against Zillow because it’s a waste of time.
Greg: So if you go to stopzillow.com, stopzillowtoday.com, plantosaverealestate.com, it all takes you to the crowdfunding because all I’m going to focus on, which is what I’ve done most of my life, is something positive, is a solution, not to sit and continue to complain about the problem.
Thomas: And you get to contribute to a game changer for our industry. As Greg said, he’s at the helm. So it’s not like you have to do a ton of extra work. You get some great perks when you donate. I can vouch for that. I got them when I donated. And again, Greg matches you dollar for dollar. So he’s in for a penny and for a pound on this. I hope you join us on this movement folks because it is the future of our industry at stake here. I hate to sound doom and gloom, but I’m taking it that seriously. And I appreciate you Greg for being our leader on this. And I hope a lot of people get behind you as I have. And a lot of the people at my company at Big Block support you.
Greg: I really appreciate being on the show. Thank you, Thomas.
Thomas: And one more time, just give yourself a plug. How can people reach out to you?
Greg: If you’d like to communicate with me, greg, G – R – E – G, @realestatemavericks, that plural .com. So just email@example.com. If it takes me a couple days to get back to you, I do get a couple 300 emails a day which I take as a gift and a treasure, but it is also a burden. But firstname.lastname@example.org. And then plantosaverealestate.com to see what we’re doing in the crowdfunding.
Thomas: All right. Fantastic. You can also find Greg on Facebook and LinkedIn folks, if you’re on those sites. We’re going to thank you for joining us on this special edition of the Mail-Right Real Estate Agent Podcast show. Greg, thank again and all the best to you in this movement. You’ve got my support and a lot of other people behind you. I’ve been blogging about you on Active Rain. So I’m trying to bring more attention to this. And hopefully, this Podcast will do the same for you. I know you’ve got to go because you’re going to meet with the powers that be at my company. So I’ll let you go. Thanks for being here folks. And we’ll see you again on the next episode of the Mail-Right Real Estate Agent Podcast show.
Greg: Thank you, Thomas