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There’s always something to howl about

Jay Thompson takes leadership role at Zillow.com.

Witness:

Thompson joins Zillow’s growing partner outreach team, which includes Sara Bonert (director of broker services), Brad Andersohn (industry outreach manager), and recent addition Bob Bemis (vice president of partner relations). Together, the team advances Zillow’s goal of helping real estate agents grow and market their business.

Grow and market whose business?

This is precisely the kind of leadership I have come to expect from Jay since 2008 or so: The goat takes a left when the cattle take a right. If you don’t know what that means, you’ll probably be taking the right turn.

I’m killing comments on this post, because I don’t want you to soil yourself in public just because I’m the only person in this benighted industry who will tell you the truth.

 
More:

Table talk from my email: A Judas Goat- yes? Got it.

Me: What’s the point of having friends if you can’t sell ‘em out?

Andersohn = ActiveRainiers

Bemis = MLS systems

Thompson = TwitBook losers

Coming soon: Project FUD at REBarCamp: Can you afford to be WITHOUT Zillow?

The window on integrity in real estate seems to be closing…

 
Still more…

Our business is corrupt, so it’s no surprise that this is the only place on the net where you can find the other side of this story. This is me from a comment at Real Estate Industry Watch:

Whatever job they end up giving him, Jay Thompson has already delivered everything Zillow is paying for: His endorsement of their brand. Now they get to make the fallacious “Even-Jay-Thompson” appeal: Even Jay Thompson thinks you should piss away your money on Zillow’s advertising. Jay has yearned to be the Head Lemming of the RE.net since the passing of Joe Ferrara, but, as we saw in the Denise Lones fiasco, he lacked that sad little man’s taste for blood. Luckily, Zillow has provided him with an even better cliff off of which to drive his credulous “followers.” It’s sad to say, but they deserve each other.

We’ve seen this kind of self-dealing posturing from Jay Thompson before — and not just from him, alas. But eighteen months from now — when you finally wake up and say, “Wuh happened?!?” — this post will still be here, one of many warnings you chose to ignore.

 
And still more…

These are two comments I posted in response to a comment from Jeff Brown in his post on social media in real estate marketing:

Wow. I can’t think of a single observation in this comment that I can endorse as bearing some relation to fact. As we discussed in November of 2010, Jay Thompson tells some pretty big whoppers about his brokerage.

> a 1% conversion rate via their IDX leads

Those aren’t leads. Those are names — a lot of them fake names, I expect. Decent inquiries should convert at 50% eventually.

> 2011 produced around 7,000 leads

Somewhere a nose is growing.

> That’s around 70-75 closed sides

That is, two per head per year.

> I do suspect that in his market, Phoenix, a full time agent would probably need to close a side a month.

Because Starbucks only pays minimum wage.

Seriously, an agent closing fewer than 20 houses a year, on average, should find another job. He can do a lot better, hour for hour.

> I’m assuming a $150,000 price at 3% commission.

Much more likely to be quite a bit lower on price, with a sales commission of 2.5% being very common, often less. Most of Thompson Realty’s listings are short sales, so I would expect 2.5% to the listing broker to be very common.

> 34 X 12 = 408 closed transactions

237 for 2011, split across 31 licensees as of today. Shar Rundio, the pick of the litter by far, accounted for 55 of those. For the rest, that leaves about 6 closings per head, on average, half your estimate — but a 150% improvement over 2010. Why isn’t someone telling cloying lies about this remarkable growth in productivity?

(Nota bene: There may be some transactions closed outside the MLS. I do a few that way now. Note also that the Phoenix real estate market is 100% a Federated Govco basket case. These agents might do better in a market with actual real estate fundamentals in play.)

> Jay and the exceedingly high quality of agents he hires

Jay has one good agent — and it ain’t him.

> I’d love to know what they’re doing on SM

Schmoozing, like everyone else on TwitBook. They’re not making money.

> Russ Shaw closed 401 sides last year[....] I strongly suspect most of those were generated by sources other than SM.

Certainly not much more than 99%.

> I may be seeing Jay in Georgia next month[....] I bet he’ll have plenty to say.

No doubt. It will just be the product of elaborate fantasies.

Here’s my take, an impression that hasn’t changed much in a long while:

1. Jay Thompson is all hat an no cattle. He doesn’t know much, and much of what he claims to know is undefended gibberish.

2. TwitBook schmoozing is a terrible real estate marketing strategy. Anyone who says otherwise needs to post real numbers, not impressive-sounding bullshit.

3. By leading so many agents down the TwitBook path, Jay Thompson has contributed to the destruction of hundreds or thousands of real estate careers.

And, of course, that’s why he’s bailing on real estate sales.

As icing on the cake, he can come back to screw up the careers of the lingering survivors with a big Z on his chest.

The second comment:

I’m coming back to this, Jeff, because I think it’s important.

There is nothing personal about this for me. This is business, and this particular item of business — vendors and their shills deliberately leading the grunts on the ground into error — has always been the business of this blog. It’s been your shining grace here, and Russell’s when he wrote here, and it shows up everywhere in our archives.

Agents and brokers have always told bullshit stories about their results — always. But the impact of their fabrications were limited, both because the meme-stream was local and ephemeral and because any claims that mattered could be easily checked.

This is what the internet has changed — particularly TwitBook. All the vendorsluts are having a heyday, of course, buying virtual cocktails and signing ironclad contracts. But by now water-cooler exaggerations are turned into Holy Writ by the amplifying power of the echo chamber.

That much is very bad just by itself, but the whole point of this exercise, from the very beginning, has been to DISINTERMEDIATE THE BEE-HOTCHES!

I wish Jay and Francy nothing but the best as people, but becoming an old-school Big Promises broker, becoming the NAR’s technology shill, and now selling out his TwitBook following to Zillow — these are all the polar opposite of the kinds of actions we should be taking, encouraging or applauding.

And with that I move on. I feel like the get of Sisyphus and Cassandra, and I’ve got better things to do with my time. This is my argument to the RE.net: Jay Thompson is now beyond all doubt a vendor. If schmoozing with him puts a warm place in your heart, I hope you don’t come to discover a corresponding empty place in your wallet.

By now I think I might be beating a dead horse. My objective is to have everything I have written on this topic in one place. Among the many ugly side-effects of the TwitBook phenomenon are back-biting, back-stabbing, clique warfare and broadcast whispering campaigns. I stand, not high it may be, but alone. There is nothing I have to say about anything that I am not willing to say in public, in full view, at full voice — and then stand behind forever. I am sick to death of all of these smarmy games, but I am also more than happy to show you how to oppose them.

Related posts:
  • And not only that, when he’s wearin’ his cowboy hat, Jay Thompson is just about the tallest guy around!
  • Jay Thompson at the Southwest Real Estate Blogging Conference: Honesty, integrity and absolutely incredible search engine results
  • Jay Thompson in U.S. News & World Report: “Do You Need an Agent?”

  • 26 comments

    26 Comments so far

    1. [...] OK with Jay going to work full time at Zillow. Others see it as an attempt to hire someone with the blogging street cred to lead REALTORS to the slaughterhouse. At first glance you may think that the posts have nothing in common. Except this.Almost everyone [...]

    2. lenny schwartz March 17th, 2012 3:05 pm

      as above… so below….
      your thoughts about our industry just need applied to “life as we know it”… it’s all a scam… gurdjieff

    3. Gabe Sanders March 17th, 2012 5:06 pm

      Zillow has been hiring some pretty bright folks of late. It will be interesting to see what develops.

    4. Greg Swann March 17th, 2012 7:00 pm

      > Zillow has been hiring some pretty bright folks of late.

      They’re not hiring for brains.

    5. Brad Andersohn March 19th, 2012 1:32 pm

      Well, with the addition of Bob Bemis & Jay Thompson joining Sara Bonert and myself at Zillow, we’re really excited and looking forward to working with them and doing great things for our industry and company.

      Tom Ferry being on the team is another added bonus and I expect some pretty awesome things to be happening in the days ahead…

    6. Greg Swann March 19th, 2012 2:37 pm

      > Tom Ferry being on the team

      That says it all for me.

    7. Carmen Brodeur March 19th, 2012 3:57 pm

      Wow…you say it isn’t personal, but that is exactly what this post it. Sounds like a pretty big chip on your shoulder.

    8. Greg Swann March 19th, 2012 8:08 pm

      > Wow…you say it isn’t personal, but that is exactly what this post it. Sounds like a pretty big chip on your shoulder.

      1. This is simply false. I have nothing to gain or lose in this matter. I don’t care about it at all, except to help agents and lenders understand that they have been badly misled for years, this in the hope that they will be better defended going forward.

      2. Your comment is a personal attack in the sense that it is the fallacy ad hominem — an attempt to sway other readers by maligning my character. It is useful in this context to note that we have never met, nor spoken on the phone, nor even traded email, and my remarks are concerned with nothing by matters of meticulously documented fact. And, of course and obviously, a fallacious argument is always an invalid rhetorical move, since even if we concede the claim — Greg Swann has cooties! — the original argument is not addressed in any way at all.

      3. When I posted on Thursday, I said this:

      I’m killing comments on this post, because I don’t want you to soil yourself in public just because I’m the only person in this benighted industry who will tell you the truth.

      Why did you go to all this trouble to validate my pre-suppositions?

      If you want to impress me, refute me. If you want to put on a show for your friends by spitting at me in public, do it on your own property, not mine.

      Everything I said is factual. Even looking at these matters in the best posible light, Jay Thompson has been shining you on for years. If you’re looking for someone to scourge, you’re looking in the wrong direction.

      I cannot be dominated, not by anyone. I’m amazed that anyone still tries to pull these stunts on me. For the benefit of inlookers: If people try to shame you into silence for telling truths they would rather didn’t hear, this is how you go about defending your sovereignty.

    9. Drew Meyers March 19th, 2012 8:58 pm

      “Wow…you say it isn’t personal, but that is exactly what this post it. Sounds like a pretty big chip on your shoulder.”

      Totally agree with Carmen. Truly Greg, I don’t understand what the point of writing this post is other than to take a shot at Jay.

      This type of post is exactly why I never read this blog anymore.

      Delete this comment if you wish. I could care less.

    10. Greg Swann March 19th, 2012 10:32 pm

      Drew Meyers:

      Totally agree with Carmen. Truly Greg, I don’t understand what the point of writing this post is other than to take a shot at Jay.

      This type of post is exactly why I never read this blog anymore.

      Delete this comment if you wish. I could care less.

      When you come into my home to spit on me, it is not my self you are scourging.

      As I explicated for Carmen, this is display behavior contrived to establish your status in the mob. I’ve called you on it before.

      For inlookers: The general process is described in How you came to be enslaved. I wrote about it briefly in the midst of the Denise Lones savagery:

      The real destruction, on the part of each individual mob-unit, was the willful submersion of that person’s own ego. The objective was not to scourge Denise Lones. That was a smokescreen. The objective was to communicate to the other mob-units that the person acting is also a good and faithful mob-unit.

      It amounts to publicly rubbing blue mud into your navel so that all the other monkeys will be able to tell that you are a monkey, too.

      This is anegoism in action.

      I love to be lectured about my behavior, because I think about good and bad behavior all the time. I don’t think these displays are to your credit, Drew, but I have watched you undertake them again and again over the years.

      Now, as you savor your indignation about being called out yet again for things you have done in the time I have known you, call to mind who it was who stood up for Zillow.com when it was being shaken down by the CRA thugs — and when the Zillovians were literally weeping at their desks? Who was it who fought for Zillow against the state of Arizona, when it wanted to put AVMs out of the state? Who is it standing against one howling mob after another, damn the consequences? Who is it who will speak up for you, in all probability alone, when the mob turns on you for telling it a truth it doesn’t want to hear?

      > This type of post is exactly why I never read this blog anymore.

      Expressed mathematically, you said: 1 = !1

      That’s cognitive dissonance. You prize the mob above your self. It leads you to soil yourself in public even when I warned you not to.

      Repeating myself:

      I cannot be dominated, not by anyone. I’m amazed that anyone still tries to pull these stunts on me. For the benefit of inlookers: If people try to shame you into silence for telling truths they would rather didn’t hear, this is how you go about defending your sovereignty.

      Moreover: When someone says, “Greg Swann is mean!” what that person is actually saying is, “Greg Swann is right, and I can’t refute his arguments.” You are invited to read the archives with that lens in your mind. You’ll learn a whole lot about who your friends are.

    11. [...] Jay Thompson takes leadership role at Zillow.com. [...]

    12. Greg Swann March 20th, 2012 6:03 am

      Meanwhile: Is there anyone who wants to dispute what I have actually said in this post, rather that trying to divert attention from the facts?

    13. Drew Meyers March 20th, 2012 6:20 am

      Are the “facts” that you refer to that anyone who spends money with Zillow is wasting their money and will utterly fail in their business as a result? And Jay will lead them over that cliff?

      As I wrote on re industry watch (still awaiting moderation), Zillow advertising is really quite a simple decision & calculation for agents.

      Zillow ROI = Total $$ Earned from Deals originating from Z / Total Spent on Zillow Advertising program

      If the ROI doesn’t make sense, walk way. If the ROI does make sense, stay signed up.

    14. Drew Meyers March 20th, 2012 6:27 am

      “I’d love to know what they’re doing on SM

      Schmoozing, like everyone else on TwitBook. They’re not making money.”

      Please do not tell me Jay has not made money from his social media efforts. Anyone that knows what it takes to do well with SEO knows that’s a totally false statement. Jay’s social media efforts are massively boosting his SEO…and his sites are driving hundreds of leads as a result. I wrote about this awhile ago on Geek Estate – http://www.geekestateblog.com/where-the-real-money-is-made-with-social-media/

    15. Jim Klein March 20th, 2012 6:27 am

      I find it amazing—all this yapping, and it’s about everything EXCEPT the relevant facts. Not a word about the industry, social media, agency, business, clients, efficiency, profits, scams…nothing like that, only talk about how everyone FEELS about the tone of it all.

      “Awesome…in the days ahead.” What a thoroughly modern approach to business. Can it and sell it to the White House.

      Agents are dyin’ out there and Greg–and Brian and Eric and Jeff and a bunch of others–are explaining why, in simple, clear and accurate terms. The refusal to hear would be comical were it not so sad. It’s like these guys are throwing life rings from the boat and the drowning people are yelling back, “No! I’ll go further into the ocean because it feels good to me.” And then, to top everything off, Greg is even willing to explain WHY those people are making such foolish decisions. I don’t know what more anyone could ask.

      What do you expect to find when you finally get there? Duh, you’ll find what you’ve been finding…more water to drown in. But you’ll be able to tweet your gurgles. That’ll be nice; goal accomplished.

      Greg may be wrong alright, but not about what everyone’s complaining about. He’s got the facts right, he’s got the issues right, he’s got the principles right. If there’s anything wrong he’s got, it’s that he bothers at all.

    16. Greg Swann March 20th, 2012 6:31 am

      I told you why you came here, Drew, why you have come here again to put on these Kabuki shows of deep resentment. It ain’t because Zillow advertising is a waste of money, though it is.

      Again: Is there anyone who wants to dispute what I have actually said in this post, rather that trying to divert attention from the facts?

      Honest people quote. Demagogues emote. Quote any claim from this post that you think you can dispute. If you can’t, go pout on your own property.

    17. Greg Swann March 20th, 2012 6:39 am

      Bless you, Jim. I knew you’d enjoy this exchange.

      > If there’s anything wrong he’s got, it’s that he bothers at all.

      What’s funny to me is that, if all of these knuckleheads would stop trying to shout me down, there are amazing things I could teach them. One of the things I love about the time I spend with Brian Brady is his willingness to let me be me. I can’t promise that everything I have to say is perfectly true; in the long run, my error rate surely approaches 100%. But absolutely everything I have to say is interesting, and all of it comes from a perspective most people have never seen before.

    18. Drew Meyers March 20th, 2012 6:43 am

      “There is nothing I have to say about anything that I am not willing to say in public, in full view, at full voice — and then stand behind forever.”

      IMO, standing behind a view forever is a dangerous stance. Essentially, that means you aren’t free to change your mind about anything upon learning new facts, or if business environments change in the future. Am I misreading your statement?

    19. Jim Klein March 20th, 2012 8:32 am

      “IMO, standing behind a view forever is a dangerous stance.”

      And standing behind that view, is the most dangerous one of all.

      This ain’t rocket science. Facts are facts, and you don’t have one good reason not to stand behind facts forever. How do I know that? Simple—that’s what reason IS.

      Waste of life rings, if you ask me.

    20. Drew Meyers March 20th, 2012 8:37 am

      100% agreed facts are facts. And facts will stay the same forever. But I don’t see many facts in this post.

      I said a “view” – meaning opinion. It’s dangerous to not be opening to changing one’s mind about a particular issue down the road.

    21. Drew Meyers March 20th, 2012 8:37 am

      100% agreed facts are facts. And facts will stay the same forever. But I don’t see many facts in this post.

      I said a “view” – meaning opinion. It’s dangerous to not be open to changing one’s mind about a particular issue down the road.

    22. Jim Klein March 20th, 2012 10:31 am

      Stop diverting. You’ve already written 6 comments on a blog that you supposedly never read.

      Greg is nearly begging for a dispute of the facts upon which his view is based. If you’ve got one, then offer it and you’ll be doing everyone a good deed.

      Everything else is noise; tweet the gurgles.

    23. Greg Swann March 20th, 2012 8:51 pm

      > Am I misreading your statement?

      You know you are. Stop evading. You have no rational objection to this post. You were posturing for the mob, you were caught out, and now you’re trying to count coup on me as you run away and hide.

      No one can state an objection to this post for the precise and perfect reason that it is both true and important.

    24. Jim Klein March 21st, 2012 7:17 am

      “And then, to top everything off, Greg is even willing to explain WHY those people are making such foolish decisions. I don’t know what more anyone could ask.”

    25. Wayne Long March 24th, 2012 5:14 am

      >>>But eighteen months from now — when you finally wake up and say, “Wuh happened?!?” — this post will still be here, one of many warnings you chose to ignore.

      I guess I wonder if people will even wake up 18 months from now… When it comes to Trulia and Zillow the Real Estate community just seems to be in a fog….

    26. [...] From hisself’s own comments: No one can state an objection to this post for the precise and perfect reason that it is both true and important. [...]