March 2008

Social Networks for building Real Estate Communities

by THE WAV GROUP on March 29, 2008

Social Networks for Broker and Agent Websites. – create your own. Today real estate Brokers are struggling to understand how Web 2.0 applications like Online Social Networking can impact their business. Online Social Networking refers to online website communities of people who share interests and activities or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.  Communications between members can be chat, instant messaging, email, video, file sharing, discussion groups, etc. For real estate brokers, online social networking can create online communities for agents to share information with each other, and with prospective buyers and sellers of real estate in a controlled environment. For real estate agents, online social networking is similar to offline networking whereby they may connect with other real estate agents, friends, and buyers and sellers of real estate in a meaningful and transparent way. When we review the elements of broker and agent websites, one key area that lends itself nicely to Social Networks is the company biography page and agent pages. Potential Benefits:  Theoretical Drive a lot of traffic to your website Already have high levels of search engine optimization Will enable your company to connect to the consumers that are most likely to engage your company as a result of social networking Would not compromise the needs of your traditional customers. Provides more transparency for your company Humanizes your agents Makes agents more approachable. There are 2 ways to manage the creation of a Social Network to replace biography pages – populate agent biography pages on your favorite network like Linkedin, or  “white label” social network software and create your own social network.  To make this determination, you will need to carefully consider the effects of each choice. How to get started – Using a Favorite Social Network Using your favorite social network is an easy path to creating a social network with your agents.  These popular social networks are very easy to use, have mass appeal and wide ranging adoption among real estate agents and consumers alike. Because the social network pages connect to your website, you will generate more inbound links to your website, which is a key component to search engine ranking today. Social Networks are effective at search engine optimization.  If you google “Victor Lund,” you will find that the many social networks I have tested show up on the first page of the results.  One social reputation […]

{ 0 comments }

Real Estate Consumers Demand Listing Accuracy

by THE WAV GROUP on March 25, 2008

Why shoot for listing accuracy?  Because real estate consumers expect it! Just about every MLS we work with tells us that they would like to improve the quality and accuracy of their data. Historically the concerns about data accuracy were generally voiced by REALTORS® because data accuracy problems hindered their ability to do business effectively. Now with the advent of MLS consumer websites, concerns about data accuracy have been expanded to consumers as well. For many MLSs around the country, missing photos consistently rank as one of the most prevalent problems with MLS listings. Not only does it create the potential for a subscriber to receive a fine, it significantly limits the ability to market a property. Consumers Expect Photos on Every Real Estate Listing In the recently released study WAV Group MLS Consumer Website Effectiveness Study, WAV Group found that consumers get extremely frustrated when a listing does not have a photo.  In fact, one respondent said: “I don’t know why an agent should be allowed to put a listing on a website without a photo. I will never click on a listing unless it has not only one, but multiple photos for me to view” Digital Cameras for Real Estate are a requirement now Now that digital cameras are included in just about every cell phone and digital cameras cost as little as $29.95, it does seem like the time has come for all MLSs to require a photo before the listing can go live. Upload photo while you’re setting up the property listing Kudos to Mid-Florida Regional MLS in Orlando, Florida who is instituting a policy which will not allow a listing to go live until it has a photo included and joining other MLSs like the Houston Association of REALTORS®.  This is just a small part of MFRMLS’s aggressive effort to improve data accuracy. They installed data quality control software and have seen an almost 70% increase in data quality in just a few short months. Real Estate Listing Data Quality Control Software Options If your organization would like to investigate data quality control software, check out iCheck from http://www.imapp.com,  Marketlinx Data Checker from http://www.marketlinx.com and Listing Checker from http://www.stewart.com.

{ 0 comments }

Reduce your marketing budget AND sell more real estate – Capture leads from all of your marketing programs Wherever I go these days I am asked the all-important question by agents and brokers. What can I do to make the limited marketing dollars I have available much more effective? In order to thrive, REALTORS® need to find breakthrough ways to unleash the power of the localized marketing tools available to them, beyond using the internet. How do you know if your real estate advertising is working? Many “offline” marketing tools like newspaper ads, magazine ads, real estate TV shows and even yard signs are used by many REALTORS®. Unfortunately most REALTORS® have no method for measuring the effectiveness of these tools. Tracking the response rates of off-line media has always been more of an art than a science.  Both “impressions” in the off-line world and “hits” in the on-line world suffer from the same problem of anonymity.  An agent may know the circulation of a real estate magazine or the click through rates of a banner ad, but they have no idea who has read their ad and may be interested in the property. Which real estate marketing programs are working hardest for you? Agents also have choices of different publications.  Knowing stated circulation and number of distribution locations is not necessarily an accurate measure for tracking response.  Often racks don’t get refilled or they are in mass market locations that are not very targeted.  A method to track actual responses (with name & phone number) from offline marketing channels can help real estate professionals execute more effective marketing campaigns to build their brand, invest marketing wisely, as well as sell more real estate. Without any market intelligence about which tools are working hardest, many agents continue to use ALL of the marketing tools they have always used, employing expensive marketing budgets to sell a listing. If a real estate professional knew which advertising tools were working hardest she could potentially eliminate some of her marketing programs and still generate significant interest in their listing. New Method for tracking the effectiveness of real estate advertising Thanks to a new concept called Mobile Search, REALTORS® now have a much better method for measuring the effectiveness of each of their advertising programs. By employing Mobile Search, an agent can track the leads being generated by each of the marketing tools they use. They […]

{ 0 comments }

Twitterstate: Twitter for Real Estate Professionals

by THE WAV GROUP on March 23, 2008

twitterstate

I started using Twitter again recently because of some blog posts that I read by some pretty influential people. What is twitter? Twitter is a very easy to use, real time messaging system for groups and friends. Another way to think of it would be text messaging (or instant messaging) from one person to many people at the same time. The length of each message is about 1 sentence (140 characters). Twitter is free and easy to use. When I got started with Twitter in June of 2007, it was a relatively new thing. The company launched in March of 2006. My first reaction was “interesting waste of time.” Now Twitter has grown up, but is still in the early adopter phase, and can still be a waste of time. Those using it “bend” toward technology professionals, and it is popular among real estate bloggers. Today, I see the following uses which can make twitter valuable for real estate professionals For real estate technology companies Twitter allows you to tune into activities among your peers, competitors, and industry thought leaders. It is good to stay tuned to what they are doing, and share what you are doing to this group of highly influential personalities. And, it can be very entertaining. For real estate brokers Twitter is a method that allows you to communicate en masse to all of your agents about business information in real time. Announce important reminders, price changes, rate changes, new listings, sold listings, trainings, meetings, events, etc to all of your agents with one message. It can, in effect, act like a company “Intranet” that delivers messages to each of your agent’s phones in real time using text messaging. It is a very engaging system that can be used but hopefully not abused. 2 or 3 messages at most a day would be tolerable (my guess). For real estate teams Twitter is a way to connect the daily activities and movements of team members. Twitter showings for the day, price changes, team meetings, task accomplishments, etc. Teams can currently communicate through transaction management systems and other platforms, but they usually require each team member to have a smartphone. Twitter works on any phone with text messaging capabilities. If you think this might be of value to you, sign up and try it. Here is how you get started. 1. Go to twitter.com and sign up 2. Input all […]

{ 0 comments }

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 20, 2008 – Most Home Real Estate Services Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Most Home Corp. (OTCBB:MHME) and a leading provider of wireless solutions to the North American real estate industry today announced the launch of Wireless RealtyTM CE (Consumer Edition), an innovative consumer wireless service that enables home buyers to search Multiple Listing System (MLS) information from the convenience of their mobile phone. Wireless Realty CE debuted at MarketLinx’s Tempo Users Group Meeting in Laguna Beach, California on March 18, 2008. The new on-demand mobile service is available to consumer markets through real estate boards, associations, and MLS’s across North America. “We’re incredibly excited to be launching our new consumer wireless service,” said Jim Secord, president of Most Home Real Estate Services. “The cell phone is quickly becoming tomorrow’s desktop PC. It’s the most interactive and frequently used device of all time. We’re in the infant stages of a mobile revolution called mobile search and it’s fueled by a growing consumer appetite for on-demand information. Consumers want information fast and they want results that matter, from wherever they are. Wireless Realty CE provides a mobile consumer gateway to real estate information direct from the most complete and up-to-date source, the local MLS.” Powered by the real estate industry’s most widely adopted mobile search platform, Wireless Realty CE allows consumers to search all active listings – anytime, anywhere – from their web-enabled phones and quickly retrieve real-time MLS data. Searches can be initiated by location, street address, agent name, or MLS number. With a single click, the home buyer can connect instantly with the listing agent via phone or email, generating a source of market-knowledgeable, high-value prospects for real estate professionals. By providing a convenient and intuitive service for consumers to access property data and connect with REALTORS®, real estate boards and associations can empower the new mobile consumer to take more control over the information gathering stage of the real estate transaction and have more focused and productive interactions with their REALTOR®. In addition, Wireless Realty CE provides a dynamic new marketing channel for listing agents that further strengthens their listing presentation and allows them to bring more advertising value to potential home sellers.  

{ 0 comments }

CHICAGO, March 17  /PRNewswire/ – Catylist Inc., the nation’s leading provider of marketing-based commercial information exchange (CIE) technology for commercial real estate communities and brokerage firms, announced that Vast.com (http://vast.com/), a leading vertical search platform for real estate (as well as autos and travel), has been added to the Catylist distribution network. Subscribers of the Catylist Network, which includes the premier National commercial listing exchange, Commercial IQ, http://www.commercialiq.com/, and nearly 40 local Catylist-powered commercial information exchanges, can now send their commercial properties listed for sale or lease to Vast.com without re-entering the data.  Listings will automatically update on a nightly basis. Catylist subscribers will also have the ability to monitor traffic activity generated at Vast.com for each listing. According to Ron Marten, CCIM, Catylist’s CEO and President, “This alliance further demonstrates our commitment of providing members of the Catylist Network with an efficient means of marketing their listings through as many different marketing channels as possible.” Other distribution partners include Google Base, Lycos/Oodle, CIMLS, REBusinessOnline, Heartland Real Estate Business, Southeast Real Estate Business, Northeast Real Estate Business, Western Real Estate Business, and the Zana Network.  Catylist expects to add additional channels in the near future. About Catylist, Inc. Founded in 2002, Chicago-based Catylist, Inc. is a commercial real estate marketing company.  Catylist developed the premier National Listing Exchange, Commercial IQ,http://www.commercialiq.com/, and is the number-one service provider of local-national commercial information exchanges in the country. Catylist’s web-based marketing platform allows commercial real estate professionals to market properties to a broad network of industry professionals, investors, owners, and users, on both a local and national basis. For more information, visit http://www.catylist.com/. About Vast.com Vast.com (http://vast.com/) is the leading vertical search platform for autos, travel, and real estate, with millions of users a month making purchasing decisions through Vast.com’s network of partner websites. Vast.com improves the online shopping experience with the largest selection, sub-second search times, and intuitive auto, real estate, and vacation rental search that helps users find the best match on the Internet for their needs. Founded in 2001 and backed by Clearstone Venture Partners and Leapfrog Ventures, Vast.com is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Belgrade, Serbia. For additional information, visit http://www.vast.com/.  

{ 0 comments }

MLS Consumer Website Research Released

by THE WAV GROUP on March 13, 2008

For many years there has been an on-going debate about whether MLS consumer websites were supportive of REALTORS® or competitive with them. A comprehensive study of using Houston Association of REALTORS® consumer website was conducted to address this issue. This report will demonstrate conclusive evidence that a MLS consumer website is one of the most valuable tools an MLS can offer its members.  The MLS has technical expertise and advantages to support their members to compete collectively effectively for traffic against even the most well funded listing portals on the Internet today. This report is unique in that it provides a consumer counterpoint to industry perspectives about MLS consumer websites which can help the industry be more well-informed when making decisions about whether to launch or reactivate a MLS consumer website. Now with concrete study evidence available, this would be an excellent topic for discussion and of great interest to your subscribers. Please download the study results and provide us with feedback.

{ 0 comments }

MLS Vendor Selections

by THE WAV GROUP on March 12, 2008

A factor that tends to be considered when choosing an MLS service provider is how many customers they have won or lost recently – particularly when some of those customer losses are large, costly, and well-publicized. And if that is not a formal consideration, when an MLS vendor looses a major customer, it is often on the mind of sourcing MLS organizations. In fact many companies that I have spoken with over the past 12 months have actively excluded some MLS vendors from their short list due to rumors or reports of customers lost. These types of metrics tend to work against the large players as they have more contracts and therefore, if they run at an industry average failure rate, they are most likely to have more failures. Large companies that probably do the most MLS projects, are likely to have the most failures (assuming that their failure rate is the same as that of their competitors) – and this works against them. I have actually heard people say that they would never have one of their systems because of this!  And this does not only refer to those companies – you could switch in any MLS services vendor’s name here as the sheer number of projects they work on means that they are likely to have more problems too (as very few MLS projects go perfectly). If the failure rate is 1 in 10 (and this is just a guess) then a vendor that has undertaken 100 installations will have more failures than one who has undertaken 10… In my humble opinion, focusing on failures or project problems is a short-sighted view. Project failure is rarely the fault of your MLS services vendor – even if it is, it is your fault for not managing the process effectively and pulling them up before it turns into a failure. The only time when the partner is to blame is when they promise to do something that simply is not possible – and again, they are probably just responding to your impossible requests. The hidden factor that seems to separate the average from the excellent in MLs implementations is not their ability to avoid failure, but how they respond to failures and issues when they invariably do happen. So therefore when you speak to client references (which you should do before undertaking a major project or outsourcing a large chunk […]

{ 0 comments }

SentriLock goes public with major anouncemnt

by THE WAV GROUP on March 10, 2008

SentriLock, provider of lock box products to REALTORS is making a major stir in the lockbox category with their announcement of NXT Wireless lockboxes, as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer. With expected release this year, Sentrilock will be throwing a lifeline to real estate agents who do not embrace the Palm series of smartphones or eKey required to open the GE Supra lockboxes. By targeting technology that is more widely adopted in the marketplace, Sentrilock looks to grab market share by deploying lockboxes with enhanced usability and access from any computer or wireless device.  “Being cross-platform is clearly going to be an advantage for Sentrilock,” cites Scott Fisher, CEO of Sentrilock. Secondary Effect In the WAV Group Smartphone study, REALTORS overwhelmingly selected Blackberry as their preferred productivity tool.  The Blackberry hold-outs still using Palm smartphones cited compatibility with GE Supra Lockboxes as their primary reason for continued use of the Palm devices.  This will clearly have an effect on Blackberry adoption in real estate.  

{ 0 comments }

2008-03-10 Jessica Swesey of Inman TV and Editor of Inman News interviewed Bob Hale of the Houston Association of Realtors. In this interview, Mr. Hale outlines the upcoming release of the WAV Group Whitepaper on MLS Public Facing Websites.

{ 0 comments }

Free Real Estate Technology

by THE WAV GROUP on March 5, 2008

Yes, that is right!  REALTORS who look around can get some high quality technology for Free. But is free really Free? One of the more successful business models on the Internet today is making money by giving things away.  Much in the same way that Newspapers and Television have done for years.  Unlike those counterparts, the cost of distributing digital media is so cheep that 1% of people paying for premium services is usually enough to justify giving it away to 99% of the user group. In researching the cumulative effects of the NAR strategy to dole out blogs to agents for FREE, it became apparent that the value lies in aggregating content by agents to bolster organic search engine traffic and expand the realtor.com footprint.  This allows realtor.com to get more eyeballs, and sell agents more advertising. This is a great strategy.  In fact, the New York Times deployed a similar strategy in September when they released their archived stories written after 1987 or before 1923.  In a move that I do not completely understand, they still sell the stories between 1923 and 1986??  (If you have any thoughts on this, please chime in and leave a comment). What makes the New York Times strategy especially wise is that now, anyone can refer to those articles and link to them.  It will create a huge data footprint for The Times and generate millions of inbound links for SEO. Other technologies that are free – Listingbook – contact management and CMA Trulia Voices – more blogs Homegain – more blogs Your MLS – property search. What’s next – Sold Data In our industry, making archives available would be tantamount to making sold listings available.  That would be a tremendous asset for anyone in the real estate industry to pursue.  Of course, there are many areas where this behavior is not permitted either by law or by rule.  In some way, Zillow has done this for some of the sold data available from their feed sources.  But the mother-load of sold information would be MLS archived data – whereby complete listing information and multiple photos could be made available along with historic days on market information and CMAs of relative value to other inventory of the period.  This would definitely not be a zero-sum game. But are these things really free? There are a few critical items to consider when you […]

{ 0 comments }