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Turan Tekin and Greg Saxby G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO

Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry, fun included.

This week, we caught up with Turan Tekin, Senior Director, MLS and Industry Relations at Zillow Group, Co-Founder of Bridge Interactive, and former RESO board member. We talked about creating services in a standards-based world and the difficulties associated with innovation inside and outside of the real estate industry. Enjoy!

Q1: Bridge Interactive is one of the quickest on the draw when it comes to becoming certified for Data Dictionary and Web API with each new standards update. Does certification matter to you at Bridge or is it a chore?

Turan: Bridge has always taken pride in pushing the envelope on what is possible with standards-based technology. This answers why we were quick to move and get features and functionality into the product quickly – it’s in our DNA.

The certification question is an interesting one, because you can’t deny the need to secure and maintain certification for your customers, right? It’s a primary reason why MLSs choose their vendors.

It’s important to us, but we see certification as table stakes, not a differentiation factor. It’s part of the rules we have to adhere to – not a primary focus but part of our game plan.

Q2: What’s the difference between a brokerage declaring itself a technology company like Keller-Williams famously did and a technology company declaring itself a brokerage like Zillow did, and why do you think there is a “stay in your lane” reaction to these kinds of announcements?

Turan: It’s still a very conservative industry. It’s also a crowded industry, which is good for providing options for consumers until conservatism stifles innovation, and that’s a place that the industry had been in for a long time.

There is a reason why outsiders look at residential real estate and see it as antiquated and ripe for opportunity and disruption.

We have an abundance of smart and dedicated people in the industry who – when an opportunity presents itself like 3D and virtual tours at the onset of COVID-19 – turn their attention to solving problems for consumers.

People I admire are continually coming up with extraordinary solutions. But there is also a need to focus on innovation before problems become entrenched and difficult to extricate. The alternative is to get run over by an entirely new model from outside the industry.

Q3: Do you think this conservative attitude carries beyond the real estate industry? Like do you think Amazon was mocked for getting into cloud services (and movies), Disney was mocked for getting into theme parks (and movies) or Apple was mocked for getting into telephony and camera quality (and movies)?

Turan: All big ideas start as toys.

Pretty much every new idea and concept is mocked one thousand times by a multitude of dream crushers who can’t or don’t want to see the vision. It’s only when things take off that people accept the brilliance of something innovative.

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