May 2008

New Results from broker using VoicePad

by THE WAV GROUP on May 31, 2008

A brokerage (120 agents, 1 office in Louisville Kentucky), was looking for more than just another AVR (automated voice response) solution. Hotlines where you can call in and get recorded information about properties have been around for years. They choose VoicePad, and after 8 months here are the results… The ‘benchmark was to compare results from an Automated system to simply putting a cell phone number on a rider. Which brings more leads? In terms of ease of use (needed to get enough agents using it), mobile IDX cannot be beaten. Users do NOT have to record their own voice or even have to do anything (the data comes nightly from IDX data and is converted to voice files)  Currently over 2/3 of the agents actively use the product and promote it to their clients. The last 3 months they have averaged 1,200 leads to their agents (from about 300 listings with signs in front of them). Agents get a text message while the person inquiring is in front of the house calling. The prospect can click through to the agents cell phone and one in five times they do. This is encouraging for brokers.

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Fidelity launches Cyberhomes 6.0

by THE WAV GROUP on May 8, 2008

Fidelity launched a redesigned cyberhomes.com website today, bolstering their effort in the property search portal marketplace and putting pressure on realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia. Like most property search portals, they welcome the consumer with a quick search in the middle of the home page.  The designers also choose a rotating background so the site looks fresh with each unique visit. I found the site very easy to use with deep levels of information in areas such as schools, neighborhood statistics, sold properties, automated home valuation, and property listings. Like all third party listing portals, there are gaps in some areas of the country where they do not have a significant number of listings.  However, in Southern California the data was excellent. Aside from the property search information, another interesting feature was the Good Reading section.  Fidelity is breaking new ground here by hiring professional writers to provide homebuyer and home seller information rather than relying on “community contributions” like Trulia Voices. When you leave cyberhomes and come back to the site, you are in for a big surprise.  The site remembers you and presents some of the information it recalls from your last visit.  It presents them like widgets. WAV Group was advised by Fidelity recently that their property search solution and their School/Neighbrohood information is available to be licensed by MLSs, Brokerages, and real estate technology companies through their DAGG group, managed by Larry Ross  

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Here are my notes from his excellent presentation Change is Inevitable, Growth is optional. Leadership in developing agents is critical for brokers today. The 80 20 rule is alive and well in our industry today.  Our top agents produce 80% of our revenue.  Growth lies in developing the 80% of our agents that are not producing or representing the brokers brand and service up to the standards of the company.  As brokers continue to recruit heads rather than skills, this will continue. The problem facing our industry is that only 1 in 5 consumers meet our best agents on their first encounter with our company. Shift your strategy from recruiting to developing agents with truly remarkable skills in Marketing, Technology, and Negotiating. Top producers are not taking desk calls or cultivating internet leads.  This undermines the efforts of all of our marketing and branding strategies.  Since the top producing agents are unlikely to change this pattern of behavior, in an effort to effectively build your sales, it is critical for brokers and managers to train the agents who do. Aside from agent development and training, brokers need to focus on the basics. Reduce office sizes to insure that each desk is profitable.  NRT has 935 offices and only 55% have effective desk occupancy (profitable desks). Embrace Transaction Management electronic transaction management is an absolute requirement in our business today to leverage the intellectual property residing in the files collecting dust in our basements. Internet technology marketing build a listing distribution partner list, rebuild your websites for Search Engine Optimization, invest in paid search, educate agents about your strategy and most importantly conduct consumer research and focus groups to understand who your customer is, and what their experience is with your firm. Expand Services make sure that you are offering mortgage, title and insurance services. Think in terms of Customer for Life in nurturing your relationships with every customer you do business with.  

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The newswire reported today that SentriLock,  a leading provider of electronic lockbox solutions for the real estate industry, has entered into agreements with the Honolulu Board of REALTORS®, the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and six neighboring suburban associations, as well as six boards and associations in the greater Denver area. As a result of these agreements, more than 50,000 real estate professionals will begin using SentriLock electronic lockboxes over the next 90 days. SentriLock’s lockbox solution is built upon smart card technology (like a hotel key) rather than the e-Key technology used by compeitior GE Supra. Interestingly enough, agents will now be able to diverisfy their cell phone handsets away from the Palm Treo in these areas and begin to adopt the superior Blackberry or iPhone product.  The Treo had been the smart phone of choice for REALTORS because it opened the Supra Lock Boxes. Agents using Sentrilock can also program a ‘one-day code’ feature to allow non-SentriLock users – such as agents from outside the area, contractors, and appraisers to name a few — to have limited but secure access to the lockbox when a one-day code is authorized by the listing agent.  All lockbox settings and showing information are Web based and can quickly and easily be managed online by agents.  

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