April 2008

Social Networks, Fad or Future in Real Estate?

by THE WAV GROUP on April 21, 2008

As reported here,Chase International was the first known real estate company in the world to launch a Social Network tying a community of consumers, agents, and service providers together.  Given the number of brokers who have created accounts on the Chase site, I suspect that broker social networks will have a future in real estate.  Here is why. Ning, the company that provides the social network technolgoy to Chase International and more than 250,000 other social networks is growing at a rate of 1000 social networks a day. Recently, Ning closed a round of venture financing on $60 Million at a pre-money valuation of $500 Million, $560 Million post funding.  The funding came from institutional investors, also known as Smart Money, indicating that companies believe that Social Networks have a role to play across many industries to foster relationships between companies, partners and consumers.  With that level of funding, Ning will not be going away anytime soon. Real Estate Brokers, Realtor Associations, and MLSs should plan to create a social network sooner rather than later.  Like many things online, the early birds get the best fruit and will have the most success.  If you look at the marketplace for Chase, although larger competitors Dickson and Coldwell Banker could launch their social networks today, they would need to advertise them aggressively to gain traction.  Chase is getting a lot of adoption and lift through PR that others will not enjoy with their ˜me too status.  Many web 2.0 analysts are joining the WAV Group on this perspective because of the issue of Social Network Fatigue. There has been a lot of discussion about Social Network fatigue, and it is a real concern.  If you are a member of youtube, linkedin, facebook, gmail, twitter, flickr, blogger, inman, naymz and plaxo today (as I am), the thought of joining another social network is burdensome.  However, help is on the way in the form of Open Social – it will allow you to manage your profile across dozens of social networks seamlessly – make updates to one and they populate to all. Here is our best guess for successful Social Networks in real estate. One Broker will lead all others in their marketplace, and usually it will be one of the top 4 brokers in terms of agent population and transactions who is first to market – they bring a lot to the party with […]

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Property Search TV, using your Clicker!

by THE WAV GROUP on April 17, 2008

Local TV Stations are setting their sights on attracting the best online consumer, people looking for real estate. Buckeye CableSystem announces the launch of HomeFinder Channel 100 and companion web site http://www.HomeFinder100.com as a new 24 hour digital real estate channel and powerful real estate search engine. TV Advertising is now affordable for Realtors. This marriage of Cable TV advertising with an integrated web site ad represents a nationwide first in real estate – or any category for that matter. Toledo, OH (PRWEB) April 17, 2008 ’ HomeFinder Channel100 will launch on Television on Thursday April 17th. The website is currently up and running in beta test mode for consumer searches and neighborhood blogging, at www.homefinder100.com. HomeFinder Channel 100 is billed as ˜A Better Way To Find A Home and was created and founded exclusively by Buckeye CableSystem. The channel and web site were designed to be the most powerful and most advertised real estate marketing platform in Greater Toledo in Spring of 2008, says Lonn Dugan, Real Estate Manager at Buckeye CableSystem, High tech system builds tv commercials from web interface: New technologies allows local real estate agents who are member of regional MLS groups to log on to www.HomeFinder100.com and build a television ad. Agents upload 6 high resolution photos. Photos are converted to video ads in a highly automated process designed to make television advertising more affordable than ever before. Customized audio is added by HomeFinder Channel 100 writers and voice talent. The entire process depends on matching photos with data from the MLS, and is therefore available to homes listed with participating Realtors. About The Television Station: Channel 100 will be available exclusively to Buckeye CableSystem Digital TV subscribers. Programming will consist of Realtor sponsored shows featuring homes for sale in the Greater Toledo area, organized by neighborhood, in half hour programming blocks. Shows rotate throughout the day and repeat every 4 to 8 hours so that each show will be on at several different times each day. Shows will also be offered on Buckeye VOD or Video On Demand, which viewers can watch whenever their schedule permits. Homes shown include those for sale in Toledo as well as nearby areas of N.W. Ohio and S.E. Michigan. Each sponsored home spot will offer 6 photos, price and details, as well as professional narration. Broker logos are shown, along with Realtor name and photo, as well as […]

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Map based home search on Steroids Faster map loading nationwide will serve to enhance the consumer expereince when searching for a home using maps. MEDFORD, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–KEMP Technologies, a leading provider of affordable server load balancing and SSL acceleration solutions, today announced that WolfNet Technologies, a real estate technology innovator, selected KEMPs LoadMaster to maximize its services on the Internet by securing and improving delivery of web content. Using KEMPs LoadMaster, WolfNet Technologies offers users a wealth of new value-added features – including valuable technical support and ease of configuration. WolfNet Technologies provides IDX solutions, high end property searching utilities, and client management tools for real estate brokers nationwide. When making the decision to implement a load balancer onto its network, WolfNet researched several providers – ultimately selecting KEMP for its diverse feature-set and affordability. KEMPs LoadMaster includes several methods of load balancing, SSL offloading and easy configuration. “After extensive research, we selected KEMP based on its value-added services and its ability to deliver the highest value in Internet traffic management seen in today’s market,” said Ryan Bethke, system administrator for WolfNet Technologies. “The LoadMaster has given us the opportunity to provide a greater level of availability to our users while also allowing us to better scale out our web based applications. To top it off – KEMP has the best customer support. I wish we had such a great working relationship with all of our other vendors.” “WolfNet Technologies is an ideal candidate for our LoadMaster product, due to its high volume of users and its need for enhanced web based applications,” said Kevin Mahon, CEO of KEMP Technologies. “WolfNet once again helps firm our position as the go-to leader in providing high-functioning, affordable load balancing appliances.” About KEMP Technologies KEMP Technologies is a leader in providing affordable load balancing to the small and medium sized Internet transaction-based businesses. Every KEMP LoadMaster includes Layer 4-7 content switching, content management, and SSL acceleration – regardless of the product price. The KEMP Technologies product line is able to ensure the SMB has a high functioning load balancer without the need of a fully-staffed IT department. About WolfNet Technologies Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, WolfNet Technologies specializes in Internet technology and consulting for real estate companies located throughout North America. WolfNet’s services include award-winning web site design, company Intranets, Industry leading IDX/VOW search solutions, online marketing strategy formulation and implementation, lead management and tracking, custom application […]

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How to scope out a MLS Consumer Website

by THE WAV GROUP on April 10, 2008

Part of the effective MLS Consumer Website Effectiveness Series   Once you have gotten through the tough stage of selling your membership on the concept of a MLS Consumer Website, it is time to build the site. There are several steps to go through to be sure you will have a cost-effective, timely and optimized website. Here are the steps WAV Group recommends to go through in building a consumer website. Review MLS Consumer Websites and other websites you like The first step to a successful website development effort is to look at other websites. When you find a site you like, make notes about what you like about it. Is it the look and feel?  Is it the usability of the site?  Is it a particular feature or function?  Jot down all of these notes next to the web address/URL of the site.  WAV Group would suggest that you take a look at HAR.com and Metrolist.com as two public websites to start with. If you would like to look at other MLS Consumer Websites you can go to Realtown.com and click on the link http://publiclistings.realtown.com where there is a listing of all of the public websites currently available. In addition to MLS Consumer Websites, check out other websites that you frequent. See if you can figure out what it is about them that attracts you to them.  Make notes next to each of these URL’s as well. Third, you can check out other popular consumer real estate sites and consumer websites. Trulia, Zillow, Oodle, and Edgeio are good places to start. Pay very close attention to the property search and divide your comments into three categories:  Search, Search Results pages, Listing Detail Pages.  Based upon har.com and other websites evaluated by WAV Group, 90% of all traffic to MLS consumer websites spend 90% of their time looking at listings. Compile all of your notes into one place so that you can give them to the web designer when you start the project. Creative Brief One of the most important steps to building an effective website is to clearly define what you would like to achieve with your website.   WAV Group strongly suggests with their clients that they prepare a “Creative Brief”. A creative brief asks you to answer several questions about what you are trying to achieve with your website. You will answer questions like “who is your target […]

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Forms Advisor™ GPS for the Real Estate Transaction

by THE WAV GROUP on April 9, 2008

Forms AdvisorTM went live to the California Association of REALTORS® members on April 1st, 2008 extending an already outstanding array of member benefits aimed at risk mitigation. Forms AdvisorTM helps  C.A.R. members navigate their way through the forms available to choose which forms to use for any given transaction by walking the real estate agent through a series of questions about their transaction. In a world where new rules for complex transactions come at REALTORS® fast, Forms AdvisorTM is the best possible way for professionals to know what documents are required for any real estate transaction. By using Forms AdvisorTM, a new agent can get a list of the exact forms that are needed for a transaction.  An experienced agent can participate in a new type of transaction they may not be involved with confidently. In California there are 150 forms used to process real estate transactions.  There are also 200,000 members with about a 30% churn rate.  The task of training each member on which form to use in every type of transaction is daunting.  Forms AdvisorTM ensures that every member of C.A.R. has a tool which will help them choose the correct forms to use regardless of their experience levels. Forms AdvisorTM will help brokers ensure every one of their transactions is complete and comprehensive, supporting their risk management initiatives.   Top 10 Reasons for Forms AdvisorTM 1.    90% of CAR members use WINForms® 2.    Right Form every time for every transaction 3.    Instructions to complete forms correctly every time 4.    No need to go back to client to correct a form 5.    Advise the other side of the transaction on required forms 6.    Create forms checklist for each transaction type 7.    Always using the correct form version 8.    Supported by the Legal Hotline 9.    Only for CAR members 10.   Legal Q & As at your fingertips For the past year and a half, CAR has been working on a patented system and method to derive what many in the industry considered to be impossible.  The Forms AdvisorTMsystem will provide the forms required for any real estate transaction in the State of California with legal confidence.  The advisor evaluates more than 500 California legal rules governing more than 150 forms in the WinForms® Online and WinForms® Desktop library. The usability of the system was outstanding during our overview.  Every question came complete with mouse over tool tips, there […]

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How to sell a MLS Consumer Website to your subscribers The first in a series of articles about how to host a successful MLS Consumer Website   Many MLSs have told us that they like the idea of a MLS consumer-facing website or that they would like to take their existing consumer-facing website to a whole new level, but they have run into resistance from some brokers in their region. There are several programs that can be used to help sell brokers on why a MLS Consumer Website is an effective tool they need to support.  If you need hard copies of the study for your board of directors we will be happy to provide them to you.   1. Review the WAV Group MLS Consumer Website Effectiveness Study. The report we published recently about MLS Consumer Websites is a good place to start. It looks at the validity of consumer-facing websites from three perspectives.   Consumers appreciate MLS Consumer Websites Consumers who responded to a survey about HAR.com said the public website is a great tool that provides them with more comprehensive and up to date listings than any other online listing aggregator. They appreciate the REALTORS who provide this valuable service to them.   REALTORS® get business from MLS Consumer Websites REALTORS understand the marketing value of MLS Consumer Websites REALTORS interviewed in Houston appreciated the fact they received hundreds of thousands of leads every year from their MLS. The estimated value of leads delivered to them in 2006 was $5,660,000.  The cost to the agents to receive these leads was nothing other than their normal MLS dues. This value, particularly in a time when brokers are trying to tighten their belts can be very well-received.   Dramatically increase listings exposure The study also showed how successful MLS Consumer Websites can dramatically increase exposure to listings and provide an opportunity for consumers to connect directly with listing agents to learn more about a property and to schedule an appointment.   2. Involve local Real Estate Clients One of the most compelling arguments in favor of launching a MLS Consumer Website is the opinions of real estate buyers and sellers. Conduct a survey with local real estate consumers and find out how much they value the concept of an objective, comprehensive, up to date, advertising-free, website for their use. If your market is similar to Houston, consumers will create a […]

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Palm falls in smart phone usage

by THE WAV GROUP on April 6, 2008

According to a study released recently by ChangeWave Research (no relationship to WAV Group), as the Palm looses market share, Blackberry and iPhones are experiencing growth.  Palm has long enjoyed a leadership position in real estate due to integration with the GE Supra product, but the winds of change are blowing. The ChangeWave study says the battle for leadership in smartphones today is between iPhone and Blackberry as Palm takes a backseat.. The BlackBerry line of products from RIM maintain a leadership position with 42 percent of consumer smartphone user market share – Palm is down to 16% Palm’s market share has dropped in the past seven consecutive consumer user surveys. “Future reports will likely show some changes later in the year, as one in three surveyed plan to buy an iPhone in the next three months – a 12-point jump since the January survey. ChangeWave attributes the iPhone surge to the recently announced iPhone Software Development Kit and the new 2.0 OS.” “We won’t see dramatic changes right away, and the planned iPhone purchases don’t necessarily bode negative for RIM. It indicates that the iPhone will continue rising,” Paul Carton, research director, ChangeWave Research, told InternetNews.com. RIM should remain confident with their dominance in the business sector. A previous ChangeWave survey reported that the vendor accounts for 73 percent of corporate purchases. iPhone has attained the leadership position in user satisfaction – users gave it a 79 percent “very satisfied” rating, while RIM got 54 percent, and Palm just 22 percent. “Customer satisfaction is the gold standard and strong indicator of future growth,” Carton said. “The story here is that this is a two-way race between RIM and Apple in the consumer market and it’s the story of Palm’s collapse,” Carton said.  

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LAKE TAHOE, Nevada (April 2, 2008) – A known leader in the world of real estate, Chase International has once again taken the reins of cutting edge technology with www.ChaseNation.com, a social networking website for people interested in Reno-Tahoe real estate. Unlike Chase International’s comprehensive Website, www.ChaseInternational.com, which supplies viewers with a plethora of information, ChaseNation.com is an interactive site allowing clients and agents to take part in discussions, make comments and ask questions. This is an interactive venue to share information. This is the first social networking website created by a real estate brokerage as a vehicle for direct interaction with consumers online. ChaseNation was designed to actively convey information about the real estate market to the general public through blogs and comments created by experienced Chase International agents. It’s also a place where the consumer can have a voice.    Blogging, which continues to grow exponentially in today’s society, is proving to be a successful business-building tool for agents. “Our goal is to create a conversation with the rest of the world about Reno-Tahoe real estate, and this conversation will undoubtedly start online,” says, Shari Chase, president and CEO of Chase International. With the booming popularity of Facebook and Myspace Websites, social networking sites specific to industries and professions are becoming more common. Search engines are also prone to retrieving information about such sites, boosting their usage and visitation. With 80 percent of real estate consumers beginning their search online, ChaseNation will only further the company’s outreach.  ChaseNation will host a property search for customers to find properties as well as engage in conversations. “Social networking is huge right now and it gives us another avenue to capture the clientele that frequently uses the Internet,” Chase said. “Our original Website is easy to use and all-encompassing, but today those who frequent the Internet are looking for more. They want frequently updated market information. They want to know the people behind the information and they appreciate the opportunity to interact online when they have questions, comments or concerns.” Chase International agents will be able to post professional profiles, photos and other general information about the community, as well as discuss timely and relevant real estate topics. ChaseNation discussions include market and regional trends, information about current sales, architecture, legal issues, new developments, financing, recreation and neighborhoods. Headquartered in Lake Tahoe, Nevada since 1986, Chase International has seven offices in the region (Zephyr […]

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