Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner brought it notoriety with their coverage of real estate commission practices in freakanomics. You have companies like one percent realty trying to get rid of the inefficiencies in the market without alienating their brotherhood. You have companies like zillo and zooven try to create user friendly web sites using "web2.0" tricks but not really going all the way.
Finally Redfin decided to bite the bullet and challenge the brotherhood. It is covered in this write up by mister web2.0 himself (sorry for the sarcasm *grin*). Some of the quotes are interesting, for instance...
Everything isn’t rosy for Redfin, though. They’ve been operating in Seattle for a number of years and have numerous war stories to tell about threats, stalkings and other disturbing behavior towards their employees and some customers from, apparently, angry real estate professionals. Hopefully things won’t get out of hand as they continue to disrupt this stubbornly inefficient market.
This stinks of "last resort" behavior from a caged beast. Whatever happens to Redfin, the real estate agents better wake up and realise that things will never be the same again and as a prospective home buyer all I have to say to that is Amen :-)