Collaborating with housing & real estate labs to save BILLIONS annually!


Concept Drawing:  reVRM2020 Ecosystem

Concept Drawing: reVRM2020 Ecosystem. Open ecosystem in real estate will be informed by personal data and create unprecedented money-saving opportunities for DIY homebuyers and sellers. Concept drawing shows one of 22 idea starters included in reVRM-Minifesto.

This morning, NPR listeners in Boston were greeted with news of one of the largest gifts ever given to MIT — a $118 million gift to MIT’s Center for Real Estate (MITCRE) to “advance socially responsible and sustainable real estate development.” MITCRE calls the gift “transformative” because it addresses inter-disciplinary challenges and presents an opportunity for existing academic initiatives to co-create solutions.

For decades, MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP) has championed citizen participation, so hope this gift also seeds a ripple effect in local communities. Here are four idea starters that could begin immediately in Greater Boston and beyond:

1.  Headlines from the annual Consumer Electronic Show say a race has begun to control the data from SmartHomes:  Why not extend the buzz from SmartHomes to SmartNeighborhoods by seeding a network of local user groups through sites like

2.  When it comes to personal data, MIT’s Media Lab is a global thought leader.  Why not give academics there an opportunity to field test their work by using real estate as a use case? Pointing to Sandy Pentland’s article in the Harvard Business Review, this post extends his call for a New Deal on Data to a new deal on real estate data.

Invitation: Using Real Estate as use case for Personal Data (share

3.  Finally, when one in four homes sells for $100,000 over asking price, think it’s time for a Bidding War Lab? That’s what happened last June in Cambridge, MA, and price distortions in other cities caused the New Yorker to write about the negative impact global real estate is having on local markets — including making homeownership IMPOSSIBLE (emphasis added) for much of the city’s population..

Will Bidding Wars trigger local regulation or global reformation? (share

4. Finally, Boston’s new mayor Marty Walsh is fond of asking what will Boston look like in the year 2030.  Before too many of the proposed 53,000 new housing units break ground, why not ask what will the real estate ecosystem look like in 2020 and co-create ways to reduce housing transaction costs?

When a representative from Zillow was asked where the real estate industry would be in five years, he predicted a “completely open ecosystem.” As that happens, consumers — both buyers and sellers — will save billions of dollars annually as diagrammed in the concept drawing above. Those savings will dwarf the $118 million dollar gift MIT just received. Respecting the extraordinary generosity of MIT’s donor, perhaps a generation of DIY homebuyers and sellers should crowdfund their own innovation lab to work on the ideas above.

How realistic is that? Here’s some math that might surprise you. Last quarter (4Q2014), approximately 15,600 residential properties failed to sell across MA, so those MLS listings were canceled or expired. If those properties were sold “for sale by owner” (or FSBO), that would save nearly one quarter billion dollars or twice the gift to MIT. If sellers used new money-saving real estate business models to reduce commission by half, they would still save an estimated $127M.

With such a large payback in one state, during one quarter alone, why aren’t money-savings real estate business models attracting more attention in the media and marketplace? (link)

With Bloomberg Philanthropies $1.35M to fund Boston’s new Housing Innovation Lab over three years and Samuel Tak Lee donation of $118M to fund MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab, what would happen if a generation of DIY consumers, tech innovators, and real estate consumer advocates collaborated with those new labs to transform the real estate industry?

If you’d like to join or follow that conversation, using hashtag #RE2020 on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.  Glad to meet anytime on short-notice to address this question:

Reform or disrupt? Where will real estate be in 5 years? #RE2020 (share

And invite tech innovators and consumer advocates to meet during MIT’s IAP to discuss these game changing idea starters:

reVRM-Minifesto: 22 Game Changing Idea Starters (share

What’s your vision of the future of real estate?

Posted in Bidding wars, Commission Reform, Crowdfunding, Disrupt Real Estate, FSBO: For Sale By Owner, IntentCasting, RE2020, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance, reVRM, VRM

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