The Money that Powers ‘Free’: When a Discount Costs you More

By Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CEO Chris Stuart

There’s a 130-year-old giant whose been largely “napping” for the past 40 years. But, it appears that the D.C. machinery is gearing up to poke the old giant into action. And who is this giant? It’s the FTC’s antitrust laws born in 1890. The Wall Street Journal’s Jacob M. Schlesinger, Brent Kendall and John D. McKinnon address the escalating situation that could put some of the world’s largest tech companies in the antitrust spotlight in their article, “Tech Giants Google, Facebook and Amazon Intensify Antitrust Debate.”

Here’s what interests me and, I believe, what should interest all of us: To what extent will these companies’ ownership of consumer data play a role in the antitrust outcome? What portion of the antitrust opinions of regulators will be based on ownership of consumer data? And, what do regulators believe those companies’ ownership of that data would entitle them to do in terms of squashing competition, increasing prices or negatively influencing markets (to the detriment of consumers)?

What fascinates me is this: It could turn out that the overwhelming mountains of personal data these companies have compiled are the tipping point “asset” that turns the antitrust giant into their biggest nemesis. And they didn’t pay a dime to get it! For the most part we, the consumers, have been willing participants in this exchange of the world’s newest, and potentially most valuable currency, “data!”

We naturally understand that our time is worth money, our skills are worth money, our working output is worth money. But so, too, is our personal data, our behaviors, where we like to eat and shop, and the amount of time we spend reading posts on social media. This information is incredibly valuable. So, just because it doesn’t “COST” you anything, doesn’t mean there isn’t value in protecting it.

As it relates to the real estate industry, understand that a company’s desire to give you a “discount,” or offer something of value for “free,” could be tied to the company’s ability to capitalize on something else you’re giving it that’s worth a whole lot more.

Make sure you’re dealing with companies and professionals that trade on the world’s oldest, and most valuable currency, TRUST!

7 responses to The Money that Powers ‘Free’: When a Discount Costs you More

  1. I could not agree with you more if I hadn’t made that same statement 13 years ago. Real estate companies possess the most valuable currency in today’s market, but we have been squandering it for years and today we still fail to adequately harnessing it for our own survival as well as the growth and development of our own agents.

    Shinny trinkets have been dangled in our faces under the veil of client services, when in reality it has only served to make us codependent on the same companies that portrayed themselves to be our friends.

    We have our work cut out for ourselves as an industry, but under the guidance and power of BHHS I am confident we will prevail.


  2. Barbara Sutton

    The cost a Realtor pays to Zillow to buy leads back that the agents own listings created is still amazing to me. Zillow has no listings yet makes millions from agents……


  3. Frank May, Jr.

    Very valuable insights, Chris. Thank you for your leadership and vision for our company. As you ‘ve said before, it’s time we take control of the real estate industry narative. Understanding the truth about our own value, from the data we produce to the service we provide, is a critical component of that story.


    Frank May, Jr.
    Vice President, Sales Manager
    BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
    Bryn Mawr, PA


  4. Miriam Einhorn

    I did not see your segue from the content of the article to the final “Make sure you’re dealing with companies and professionals that trade on the world’s oldest, and most valuable currency, TRUST!”
    Not the same topic.


  5. Kaye Matthews

    This article is so timely. Data is becoming a huge factor is world financial markets. Was
    In Europe recently where it was a hot topic of conversation


  6. Joel F Martinchek

    Hi Chris great article. Nothing is free so to speak and our data is a rich commodity that will be fought over in courts across the nation in years to come. Once the anti trust cases become real and the dollars add up only then will the consumers get in on the court action.
    Challenging times are coming. Those that choose to keep on top will have the edge in the future of business.


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