April 2020

AI is Still Evolving


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a highly used term in proptech these days. Its implementation, its uses, and its decision-making processes remain a mystery to many, so I need to clarify a few things before starting.

It is important to understand that an automated process is not artificial intelligence. An automated process is a program based on a set of rules to complete a task and is reactive, whereas, AI is based on analytics, and for AI to work, it needs a lot of data. AI makes an automated process intelligent.

All of this talk about AI reminds me of the mid-2000s when I was starting my FEDGOV cyber operations company, ISHPI. While many of my competitors were operating in the information assurance (IA) space, my company was operating in a highly specialized cyber space within IA and was growing exponentially. To compete, these companies started to market themselves as full-scale cyber companies – cyber sold better! It did not take long for clients to realize these companies were making false claims about their capabilities.

I mentioned cyber because I see a similar thing happening with AI in proptech. Companies are claiming to use AI when they are using automated processes instead – AI sells better! There are companies like Restb that use AI, but look at the iBuying platforms like Opendoor, Zillow Offers, Offrs, Redfin, Realogy, and others that all use AI-backed algorithms in their pricing models. Where are they now? They are out of the market because their AI-backed algorithms hit a speed bump. For these AI-backed algorithms to work properly and efficiently, they need a lot of (good) data. COVID-19 disrupted that good data.

How do I know? One of the ventures I am involved in, launched into alpha in early March after eighteen months of AI, systems development, training, back-testing, and an alpha pre-launch test. Everything was working flawlessly. We were happy. Our investors were excited. Three days later, COVID-19 was announced as a global pandemic and our model had to be shutdown. Models did not have COVID-19 built into them, but as the pandemic passes and the data begins to normalize, AI will be ready for the next disruption (whenever that may be).

There is a lot to learn about AI and its uses in real estate. Using MLS data as an example, our trained models and AI discovered that Multidimensional Seasonality™ exists in these enriched datasets, which has made our best-in-class CMA solution even better. Unfortunately, some companies are using AI to develop shiny objects that do not solve any problems or create any efficiencies. Many of these companies are spending a lot of money without fully knowing the ROI. If it solves a problem and brings value to the client, then build it – they will buy it. We implemented AI to create a better solution for our product.

Not all AI has been affected by the pandemic.



AI is Still Evolving2020-04-17T10:12:54-04:00

Innovation is Not for Everyone


Innovation comes from within.  Innovation should be in-house, a part of the corporate culture, and continuous.  Innovation comes from clients in the form of comments, concerns, and complaints.  Some of the best ideas and enhancements come from the clients who use the product daily.

Before I became a hardcore software geek, I was an administrative end user on a US Navy, mission critical system. After years of working with this system 12 hours a day, I became the so-called subject matter expert (SME) for the system and was later named the Lead Engineer during Y2K.  I understood the system intimately inside and out. When the system went down, I knew why and what needed to be done to get the system back online. The combination of my “user-based knowledge and intellectual capital” made it easy for me to read code and learn faster.  End users are keys to innovation.

What I learned in the military has proven pivotal to the successes of the companies¹ I own or co-own. It is important for businesses to engage their clients and to let them know that they care. Tell them about you and your company and what your product can do for them. Let them know who to contact if they have a problem or need assistance. Listen to their comments and/or recommendations.  Maintain a channel of open dialogue between the business and the client. It’s invaluable! You will never hear, “What’s next?” at APC.  We maintain a pipeline of innovative ideas.  We use strategic advocates throughout the country to help us refine and perfect our product(s). We are constantly seeking feedback from the end user.

A question I hear often while presenting at business schools is, “Why don’t they innovate all the time?” It’s a great question and there are a lot of varying opinions on this topic. Below are mine:

  1. Most companies start out with an innovative idea or product or else why do it
  2. Companies that consistently innovate “are always looking over their shoulder”
  3. Not all company leadership can lead innovation
  4. Not every company is motivated to innovate

Innovation creates a competitive advantage. Innovation also leads to change and threatens the status quo. Those who fail to innovate will be disrupted by those who can! Look no further than Zillow,, and iBuyers.

APC Data Analytics, LLC’s entrance into proptech is not a coincidence. APC is owned by a franchise brokerage owner and agent, another agent, and a techie (me) who listened to the pain points of the agent, the broker, and MLS associations as they relate to today’s CMA tools.

From the end user to the MLS, APC listened and developed a product that fills a VOID that no one will honestly admit exists: the need for a true CMA that accurately prices and analyzes the market activity in proximity to a specific property in real-time.

APC solved today’s CMA (including RPR) because we listened. It’s about them, not us.

Continuous innovation is an attitude and a culture to survival, stability, growth, and profitability. That is APC Data Analytics.

¹,,, and

Innovation is Not for Everyone2020-04-03T13:54:38-04:00

March 2020

Stop Garbage in; Garbage out – Why Not Have A New Day?


Zillow doesn’t use its own Zestimate. Need proof? Zillow Offers (iBuyers) stopped buying houses suddenly this week, but their unproven and somewhat unchallenged Zestimate is still available for the general public to use.

Did you know that Zillow’s Zestimate relies on an agent’s listing and closing information to be posted on the Internet in order for them to use their Zestimate? Yes, they use public tax records and other sources (old data and possibly incorrect data) to power their Zestimate AVM. In some markets, Zillow may have access to MLS data, but their AVM is still flawed.

When a new listing hits the Internet, Zillow scrapes the Internet to find these new listings and updates their Zestimate to reflect a new Zestimate. After the property closes and the closing price is public knowledge, Zestimate deletes its previous history leaving no trace or history of its original Zestimate. Is that transparency? No.

Zillow recently announced that they plan to be licensed as a broker in all 50 states by the end of 2020. Up until last year, Zillow was a marketing company selling leads to hundreds of thousands of agents.

Enter Zillow Offers:

May 22, 2017: Zillow begins testing instant home sales, the predecessor to Zillow Offers, in Las Vegas and Orlando. Consumer demand is strong for an easier and more certain way to sell a home.

April 12, 2018: Zillow launches Zillow Offers and begins buying and selling homes directly in the Phoenix and Las Vegas markets.

Mar 13, 2020: The day everything changes in the US, the following Monday everyone finds out, and the markets’ crash begins. This is the day the models started to die (Is this somehow related to the Knights Templar?).

Mar 23, 2020: Zillow will temporarily stop buying homes through its Zillow Offers in the 24 US markets it was operational in.

Zillow has access to a lot of data. Legally or illegally, nobody has yet been able to prove either (Inman 2015 Zillow Whistleblower

Our APC Residential Pricing & Analytics Tool™ (APC-R)™ has access to MLS data – legally. We are an internal solution for the MLS, broker, and agent to combat this two-timing (double-dipping) company, Zillow. We use APC-R™ whenever we do anything related to residential home pricing and we openly and proudly stand behind our pricing product.

What happens when there is a sudden shift in the market like the 2008-2009 financial crisis and today’s pandemic? There tends to be a shift or reset in the real estate market, which could have a profound effect on pricing. It’s akin to market corrections in the financial markets. Do you know how AVMs work? They are powered by predictive historical data. When there is a big economic swing, these AVM models are exposed. At this moment, these models are useless.

Opendoor, Offerpad, Zillow Offers, RedfinNow, and Realogy’s RealSure have all stopped using their AVMs in the past week. Did they all decide to shut down their iBuying efforts because there were no agents available or because they put agents at risk? No!

In today’s proptech, if you are building a company or developing a product that is human capital-centric (meaning more employees to scale) and your company or product doesn’t empower the client/customer (agents, brokers, MLS associations), it is going to be difficult to survive.

If you are a brokerage that thinks that providing your agents an AVM as an input to your products is a good idea, I understand. You are likely doing what your clients ask; you need to provide a price from somewhere and your agents and clients expect professionals to be able to price homes fast and accurately.

APC Data Analytics™ has a similar challenge. We have been asked to add off-market properties to our APC Residential Pricing Algorithm™, which is +/- 2.2% accurate – no matter the dataset (MLS). Demonstration after demonstration, our software continues to surprise non-believers (I love the look of shock on their faces during a Zoom demonstration).

Anytime an agent adds an off-market property to our pricing model, a disclaimer will be provided stating that the data has been manually manipulated – manual manipulation affects the true accuracy of our software. Agents have been known to add off-market properties to over-inflate a clients’ market value to “win a listing” which, as a salesman and businessman, I can see the need for, however, using it to validate an emotional driven pricing strategy would be flawed.

There is a big disconnect between proptech innovators and users of their products: agents, brokers, and MLS associations. It’s okay if you don’t know what you don’t know. What if you went to the “front lines” and actually listened to your end-users needs? Build an innovative product to help them succeed instead of telling them, “You need this product or else!”

At APC Data Analytics™ that is exactly what we did. We built an innovative product using 30+ top producing agents input and feedback. As we grew to more agents and added more MLSs in more states, we listened to them. We are still listening and innovating. It’s constant here. It’s in our DNA, not a response. We are ready for global scaling. We are the only solution TO PRICE in REAL-TIME using your MLS data.

Agents, Brokers, National Franchise Brokers, and MLS Associations: If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “NAR sold out with and Zillow,” I’d be a wealthy man.

Take your industry back from NAR, the unsupportive vendors, and “disruptors” trying to replace you. Stand up and take a stance. Stop using and supporting these companies and their useless AVMs. Stop Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Average price per square foot and average days on market are irrelevant. It’s a perfect time to introduce a solution to fix what has been broken industry-wide for too long, pricing a home correctly: DOMx™

Welcome to a new day! You are in control. Just be in control.

Stop Garbage in; Garbage out – Why Not Have A New Day?2020-03-27T13:46:40-04:00

Pricing homes these days is a crapshoot, but it doesn’t have to be


Ask a thousand real estate agents how to price a home, and you’ll get a thousand different responses, methods, and prices. It sounds like a joke, but it’s essentially the truth.

In fact, team leads, brokers, and MLSs spend inordinate amounts of time and money training their agents on how the CMA process is conducted to produce a “price.” Then, agents can choose one of the various CMA presentation tools out there and put that “price” in it. Even scarier is that agents are taking averages of price per square feet, plugging that into an AVM, and BOOM…a “price.” Might as well use some bones, ruins, or smoke rings to make a price. Wonder if the public really knows this, or understands it?

These challenges create plenty of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Clients aren’t sure what price to believe, as every CMA, AVM, and pricing method will get them a different result. Even Zestimate, designed by so-called industry leader Zillow, has been proven inaccurate.

Here in Charleston, we needed a house sold and went to Anton Roeger, our founder and CIO, to sell for us. As an experiment, he said, “Check the Zestimate for your house. But don’t get too excited.” So, we did just that, and were astounded by the results. Zestimate was 23.6% overpriced! The home would never sell at the Zestimate price in that market. And how do agents address this with their clients? Clients who want to sell for as much as they can, and who trust companies like Zillow when they show sellers a high price. As an agent, if you come to them with a different price, and no concrete evidence to back it up, you might lose your client.

Our house closed, and we got a great price, even though seasonality wasn’t in our favor and it was a serious buyer’s market at the time. We used Anton to sell, and he used APC Residential to price. We trusted Anton’s price because he was supported by a visual & interactive pricing report that explained the market into which we were trying to sell. Our agent explained seasonality and used real-time MLS data to validate market conditions.

Agents, Teams, Brokerages, and MLSs need new tools!  Pricing, including Rental, is solved, with APC Residential.  This is the tool agents can use to create trust in pricing. Home pricing doesn’t have to be a crapshoot anymore. Become the pricing expert.

Pricing homes these days is a crapshoot, but it doesn’t have to be2020-03-23T16:34:28-04:00

Using Today’s AVMs to Price Is Too Risky


One of the challenges with AVMs is that the analytical profile used to determine the market value of a property is buried in the data. Many AVMs only provide a dollar amount for the home price, and nothing else. As a result, the agent has no opportunity to explain to his or her client how the AVM pricing was achieved. Distrust of the AVM property valuation turns into distrust of the real estate agent and you lose the client. Trouble is, anyone trusting Zestimate, or another AVM, is likely to take this with them into the next transaction with the next agent. The people that believe these AVMs are the issue, and they need to be brought back down to earth.

Why do we distrust these AVMs so much? Because AVMs cheat in order to say they are closer than they actually are.  We have nearly 200, and growing, examples of Zestimate changing all the pricing once the house is put on the market.

For example:

  • Zestimate is $800,000, backed up by the supposed pricing history.
  • True and accurate price on market is $640,000
  • 6 Hours Later: Zestimate is $606,080.00, with totally new pricing history. How is a pricing history changed? It’s history! Right?
  • House sold at 100% of list price, far and above the standard 94.7% sales to list price.

In this case, the seller’s goal was to sell immediately. They believed if they wanted out now was the time based on market conditions.  The house sells in 14 days at asking price.  They were able to sell fast using an agent, not an iBuyer. Everyone else? Still sitting in the market, not sold. Looks like their agents used the CMA/RPR/AVMs averaged magic to price their homes.  Good luck!

Wonder if an iBuyer will end up getting those properties?  It’s a shame that Zillow screws up the pricing and then, because nothing moves, they sweep in and iBuy it all. Crazy.

Where are the tools for agents? APC Residential is the full-service pricing solution agents need, because it was built by agents for agents.

Using Today’s AVMs to Price Is Too Risky2020-03-23T16:34:25-04:00

Agents in the Crossfire!


In a world with Uber and Amazon, a world of easy and instant gratification, we all want everything that way now. It’s expected: speed, ease of use, and simple to understand. Who even waits on a web page to load anymore? No one. On to the next one.

As a technologist who has disrupted a few things in my time, I am surprised by the lack of useful innovation for agents for things they need to do every day. If I was an agent, I would want 1) to find houses to buy or sell for clients and 2) price those houses quickly and easily.

As an agent, the sooner the transition from selling to sold, the more valuable I am to my clients. Agents today are caught in the crossfire since property technology (proptech) giants like Zillow have taken their message directly to the consumer. They are by-passing the agents, telling sellers they are real estate market experts and their Zestimate® is the accurate house price. Not only do agents have to contend with a completely misinformed consumer but count yourself lucky if you are still getting clients with the advent of “iBuyer” platforms. These are now eating anywhere from 5 to 20% of an area’s inventory.

Real estate agents, their teams and brokers are left with CMA tools, Realtors Property Resource, and online AVMS. These are mostly static presentation tools, and if they are new, they are built of the same antiquated technology. Additional complications occur because CMAs and AVMs each use different data sets and methodologies. As a result, they rarely agree on the same price for a property. This leaves real estate agents trying to explain discrepancies of two flawed pricing tools. Once again, the conflicting price signals—which might also contradict the agent’s valuation of the property—can lead to mistrust, and in turn, damage the client-agent relationship.

We need effective tools that demonstrate and complement our market knowledge. CMA tools handing out static PDF presentations and AVMs only giving single number outputs; this is not enough in today’s world of online solutions and mobile apps. Not to mention that their mathematical concepts are flat out wrong most of the time. The programs and tools currently available to agents today just don’t cut it. We will continue to lose market share if we don’t change and change our tools.

Agents in the Crossfire!2020-03-23T12:43:33-04:00