February 2008

Blogging in Real Estate

by THE WAV GROUP on February 28, 2008

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a leading industry speaker about Web 2.0. I have heard him speak many times and his message is delivered simply and clearly.  In his view, the audience hears what he is saying, but they are not able to ingest it very well. Simply stated, Web 2.0 has killed traditional marketing in real estate.  If you are marketing real estate today, you need two things; a blog to communicate with customers, and a great property search solution to inform them about what is on the shelf. In an effort to generate some buzz, I did some research on what leading advertising men throughout history have said about advertising, and rewrote those quotes to talk about blogs. Here are a few of my favorites. Blogging is what you do when you want to tell somebody something, but cannot call them or go seem them right now. Blogging is the very essence of capitalism.  Product and Service selections go on every minute of the business day across the screens of hundreds of thousands of consumers where customers state their preferences, and determine what company will be the leader today, and which shall lead tomorrow. As it relates to Search Engine Optimization, Blogging is Black Art. Blogging is salesmanship, mass produced.  No one would bother to blog if he could talk to all of his prospects face-to-face.  But he can’t. Blogging is “the lubricant for the free-enterprise system” Blogging is the poetry of Capitalism. Newspaper advertising is the cave art of real estate marketing. Blogging is ideological striptease for a world of abundance. Blogging is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket. This is a direct quote by Chester L Posey, Senior VP & Creative Director, McCann Erickson “Advertising is “(a) ten billion dollar a year misunderstanding with the public.”  That quote is too perfect to rewrite.  

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Adobe Air for Real Estate MLS Application

by THE WAV GROUP on February 26, 2008

The race is on to provide a seemless MLS desktop, again.  But this time – no painful data sync. MLSs seek Service providers/technology leaders to blur the differences between the connected and unconnected computer – code once, deploy on desktop and online. If you have not heard the story, Kevin Lynch, a software developer on sabbatical from Macromedia in 2001 wanted to be able to use his computer to see online information offline, so he built a prototype called Kevincloud. Macromedia was purchased by Adobe, and now Kevin is the CTO of that company.  He had a meeting with himself and decided that the time had arrived for Kevincloud to become a product for Adobe.  It launched yesterday under the product name Adobe Air. What does this mean for real estate? With Adobe Air, rich Internet applications can run on the desktop without going through a web browser. Perhaps the best example of this technology working today is eBay.  You can download free at eBay.  Rather than monitoring items on the eBay website or getting attacked by email notifications, eBayers can simply be notified via their eBay desktop application whenever there is a price change or new product made available. Wouldn’t that be great for real estate?  No need to check e-mail or log into the MLS to search for information that is time sensitive to the success of your business?  Not only would the agent be notified locally, the data for the listing can be automatically loaded locally into Air.  p.s.  It will also work on a MAC. Another brilliant advantage of Air for real estate is that it will make secure data sets available on the desktop without “exporting it” to the desk top.  The MLS will still remain in control of the data within the Air application.  For example, a data set like the MLS agent and office roster can be made available locally for the agent to access and search, but the data will be limited from use for nefarious behavior, like spamming everyone about a new listing or price change. Additionally, because Adobe Air uses Flash programming at its core, data scraping is severly hampered. WAV Group is excited about working with MLS vendors in the adoption of this product.  Who will be first to market?  

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Belize National Association of Realtors® (“BNAR”) and Point2 Technologies Inc. (“Point2″) today announced BNAR’s new MLS system, based on the Point2 NLS (National Listing Service) platform. BNAR® selected Point2 NLS for its unique opt-in / opt-out reciprocal listing advertising functionality, enabled by Point2’s patent pending technology, HandshakeTM. The technology allows real estate brokers and agents to instantly and selectively share listing data, including listing distribution to Point2 NLS-based peer websites. Key benefits include the ability for users to advertise listings on hundreds or thousands of websites for maximum visibility and leads. Point2 NLS’s listing syndication functionality, Exposure EngineTM was another key factor behind the selection. The system enables users to automatically distribute listings for free to high traffic real estate consumer search sites, at the user’s discretion, including Google, Point2 Homes, Craigslist and Vast. Built-in reporting and analytics provide traffic results and statistics to support more effective, fact-based decision making. “We are proud to continually set new standards for real estate practices in Belize, with everyone involved in the home buying and selling transaction at the heart of everything that we do,” said Macarena Rose, President of the Belize National Association of Realtors®. The new system will now also enable BNAR® to provision advanced technology tools to its members, easily and cost effectively, including Point2 NLS websites and blogs. “60 percent of real estate brokers and agents in Belize will now have access to highly advanced technology, including world class Point2 NLS websites and lead management systems, which will allow our members to represent and market properties professionally, both within Belize and in International markets where a significant number of our buyers originate. This is an exciting time for those who are Members of the Belize National Association of Realtors®,” added Rose. “With the application of Point2 NLS, not only has BNAR® accomplished an important, relatively complex initiative quickly and easily, but they have also demonstrated solid understanding of the critical value that wide distribution of listings on the Internet brings to Realtors® today,” said Saul Klein, Chief Executive Officer, Point2 Technologies. “While Point2 NLS is strictly an online listing marketing platform and works in concert with existing legacy MLS systems, Associations that do not have such systems in place can also capitalize on Point2 NLS to drive critical reciprocal listing advertising and marketing for their members. From a cost and ease of implementation point of view, it’s an easy decision.” […]

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Take Great Photos

by THE WAV GROUP on February 24, 2008

This video is all over the web. It made me think of two things. 1. Realtors could use this as a tip. 2. Social Media and blogs are very effective when good information is shared. $1 Image Stabilizer For Any Camera – Lose The Tripod – video powered by Metacafe

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Property not mapped by Microsoft, Google or Mapquest

by THE WAV GROUP on February 24, 2008

What do you do when the map is wrong? There are many instances when mapquest, google, or Microsoft maps are wrong. This ongoing problem is getting better now that companies are filtering property rooftop locations against multiple databases. Recently I was asked to get a mapquest location fixed and I was able to do it very easily after a few hours of research. To save you the time, for mapquest, here is the link. For google maps, here is the link – this is particularly cool because it allows you to move the marker for your home. For Bing maps – here is the link – this works similarly to mapquest maps – you send an e-mail and hope for the best.

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Real Estate Lead Generation News

by THE WAV GROUP on February 20, 2008

Most Home Real Estate Services Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Most Home Corp. (OTCBB: MHME), today announced the launch of an all new Online Lead Conversion Program designed exclusively for Keller Williams.     The Program, which will enable Teams and Associates to effectively manage and convert their Internet leads, offers proven processes for customer acquisition, response, and cultivation, and call center services provided by a highly skilled, licensed team of lead conversion specialists.  Launched at the KW Family Reunion in Atlanta, GA on February 9, the Program is immediately available to all 75,000 Keller Williams Associates across the United States and Canada. The Most Home – Keller Williams Online Lead Conversion Program includes: –    Proven customer acquisition techniques designed to convert consumer inquiries into leads –    Consistent and professional customer service for all Internet leads including web, email, and chat –    Rapid response and qualification services, six days per week including evenings and most holidays, by a highly trained eTeam of lead conversion specialists –    Instant phone transfer and email notification of all sales-ready inquiries –    Brand reinforcement at every step of customer engagement including customized action plans for hot prospects, and branded monthly email campaigns for every lead in the pipeline –    Continuous program feedback and valuable insight into the lead pipeline including real time reporting on the status of all leads, a complete view of all eTeam activity including calls made, notes taken and emails sent, as well as the ability to view email campaign results “The challenge around Internet Marketing is creating a relationship with online consumers,” said David Therrien, chief technology officer for Keller Williams Realty International.  “Home buyers are often starting their research months in advance of making a purchase. It’s a long process and requires more than just an auto-responder or generic drip-email campaign. There has to be a whole system in place to effectively respond to and manage Internet leads.  Some associates have the staff and tools to be able to manage that, but for those who don’t, a call center affiliate might be a viable solution. A call center can provide a premium solution that will ensure an exceptional experience for consumer inquiries, and the opportunity for Associates to convert more leads into buyers and sellers.” Jim Secord, president of Most Home Real Estate Services, said, “We’re very excited about being a Keller Williams Approved Vendor and having the opportunity […]

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – (February 19, 2008) – Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (FIS) today announced that LandAmerica has signed an agreement to implement FIS’ SoftPro Select, a title and closing production package that will power LandAmerica Link, LandAmerica’s enterprisewide title and escrow system. Built on Microsoft’s .NET platform, SoftPro Select is a technologically advanced real estate solution that can easily scale to serve LandAmerica’s more than 8,000 users in more than 800 direct offices nationwide. LandAmerica researched more than 40 alternatives before settling on SoftPro Select as the foundation for its single title and escrow system. “Having studied all the options, SoftPro was our absolute first choice,” said Melissa A. Hill, president for Residential Services at LandAmerica. “We are excited about the opportunities FIS and SoftPro Select bring to LandAmerica.” “LandAmerica’s decision to deploy SoftPro Select solidifies our position as the industry’s gold standard in closing and title applications,” said Joyce Weiland, chief operating officer of SoftPro. “Our partnership with LandAmerica is a defining step for SoftPro.” SoftPro is now the product of choice for two of the nation’s largest underwriters, LandAmerica and Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company that began deploying SoftPro’s closing and title solutions in all of its direct operations more than two years ago.

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Speed re-finance the Fidelity way

by THE WAV GROUP on February 14, 2008

Consumers are desperate to refinance and lenders are overwhelmed with workouts. Fidelity National Information Services just launched a web-based loan-modification and electronic-signature utility for their ClosingStream e-mortgage platform that make the process painless for everyone. Mortgage may be the leader in Transaction Management The benefit to lenders is a reduction in costs associated with servicing the new loan agreements. The benefit to consumers is that they can cut down a 10 day process to a few minutes on a website. “The e-sign feature provides benefits to both the customer and lender by providing an effective and efficient method to present, review and sign most document types. By using our technology, most documents are signed within hours, sometimes minutes vs. the days that it traditionally takes.” “It’s specifically designed for changes in interest rate only that do not have to be notarized or recorded,” said Al Verkuylen, chief strategy officer for the LSI division. He noted that the results thus far have confirmed that workout agreements previously mailed out to consumers that formerly would take seven to 10 days to get back “are being signed the same day 50% of the time and within two days 80% of the time.” He said the new loan modification utility has made significant workflow improvements because “lenders can upload documents from a computer desktop or by fax cover sheet.” From a consumer-experience perspective, he said the improvement has been phenomenal. “Consumers can come online, view the document and come back two days later, click to sign it online. We can provide the lender a copy and an audit trail, and provide the consumer a signed copy, all from the website. Now that Paine Webber is a bi-gone brand, perhaps consumers will begin to say “Thank you Fidelity!”  It is clear that banks will.  

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Speaking in Tongues

by THE WAV GROUP on February 12, 2008

Multi Language Property Search   If you drive through the rust belt of America stretching from New York State to Michigan, you cannot help but to be dismayed by the dilapidated plants that line our state highways – specifically Highway 90, but there are many others.  Somehow we lost touch with manufacturing, and many factories went abroad. Now they are coming back. Along the country roads of Alabama, little more is seen than farm land and grazing cattle, gently rolling hills and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.  If you look closely, however, you will see change. Mobile, Alabama is a hotbed of growth attracting multi-national corporations like Hyundai and Germany-based ThyssenKrupp Steel.  In an important way, Immobel technology participated in welcoming those businesses and many executive families to Alabama. Immobel.com is a technology company that translates property listings into 13 different languages.  The impact of their technology is inspiring. Everyday I read about technology in real estate, and rarely do I see references to Realtors as Community Ambassadors.  I hear a lot about neighborhood specialists, but not ambassadors. The good folks at the Mobile Area Association of Realtors made an excellent decision to translate their MLS data into many languages.  In doing so they helped the community to attract cultural diversity, new business growth, and extended the famous Alabama hospitality. Try to find a website in San Francisco that translates property search into Spanish, Portugese, Russian, Korean, Chinese…..despite huge populations of people living in those neighborhoods. If America wants to remain culturally diverse, and welcoming to the world, our Realtors and MLSs need to support the efforts – as Ambassadors to all languages

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Why Newspapers are like Nursinghomes

by THE WAV GROUP on February 3, 2008

Advise to REALTORS – Budget your online advertising first and make it 50% of your total marketing budget. Advertising in newspapers is overly expensive, few people under 50 use them, and many who do are just a little out of it. Professionals today are reading their Blackberries iPhones and iPads every waking hour of the day and consuming news in real time, shopping for summer homes, and waiting for business opportunities to ping them from somewhere. Print does not attract people who want to own a fine watch, let alone a half dozen of them – sitting in an automatic Swiss winder in their walk-in closet.  By the time a newspaper makes it to the desk or door of today’s business person, the news in the paper is already beginning to rot on the page. What does this mean for real estate?  If your leading marketing tool is newspaper advertising, you’re setting fire to money and missing the consumer. Are we being a little harsh on this venerable (read: antique) information source? We don’t think so. This obsolete technology sucks millions of dollars away from more cost-effective marketing tools, while delivering less every year. There are better uses for your budget, especially if you market goods and services to people who don’t remember the Truman Administration. Way back in the 20th Century… The answer to “What homes for sale?” used to be “check the newspaper.” Newspapers were the distributors of up to date local and national information.  Not anymore!  The only ones who continue to read them are people who fell into the habit years and years ago. Today, if you want news, you go to 3 or 4 websites.  Want a job, go to monster.com or careers.com.  Want housing or a date, or a job, or just about anything – go to craigslist.com Not only is the information faster to get, but it is fresher – updated every 3 seconds. Pull the stakeholders in your business together.  Define your brand image.  Define your service offering. Then discuss the best way to tell that story.  Think in terms of building a brand that will be on the lips of anyone even thinking about real estate in your area.  Make sure they can articulate the difference between your brokerage and the one next door. Tell that story everywhere your customer is – magazines, search engine rankings, your website, other real estate websites, […]

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MicroYahooSoft

by THE WAV GROUP on February 1, 2008

There may be a landslide shake up happening in the search engine industry which could form a company to rival Google’s 50% marketshare of search. This consolidation could lead to disapated competition in pay per click, and drive up costs for real estate online marketing.

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