March 2009

Real Estate Connect Future of the MLS by Inman News

by THE WAV GROUP on March 31, 2009

If you did not have an opportunity to attend the Inman News conference, Connect – you missed a great session titled The Future of the MLS.  The video of that session is reprinted here courtesy of Inman News

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What To Do When Your Hard Drive Crashes – and Before!

by THE WAV GROUP on March 31, 2009

If you have had the fun experience of losing a drive anytime you know how frustrating it is as well as potentially damaging to your business.  I have lost a number of drives over the years on PCs but luckily my data was backed up or the content was not that important.  Then, I lost my drive I was using to back up my PCs and due to needing to free up some space, I didn’t still have a copy of some of the files on my PC.  What to do? Call the Drive Doctor! The good news is there are numerous companies out there that will do everything they can to save the data from your broken hard drive.  They break problems down into terms like “logical” vs. “mechanical” and prices vary depending on the issue.  If they get into the drive and fix software that is keeping the data hidden or inaccessible that is pretty easy and not too expensive to fix.  If they have to go into the clean room, open up the drive and play mechanic it can get pricey but it beats the alternative. Case Study! –  Mine Today, one of my backup drives kicked the bucket, bit the big one…it died!  I was trying to back up some financial records and realized I couldn’t find the drive in the directory tree.  Looking at the drive I saw red…literally, the red light was on instead of the green one.  Red lights are rarely good in electronics.   After some routine double checks of cables and USB ports I decided it really was a problem and shortly thereafter the light went out altogether.  Yep, this drive is toast! Data Recovery Help Looking back over my records I found the company I had used previously.  I also noticed what I had paid, ouch!  My last data recovery cost me between $800 and $900 but that did include the cost of a new drive to put the recovered data on.  The company I used did everything they said they would, they were prompt and polite and I got 90% of my data back.  Based on my earlier experience I decided to use them again and went onto their website to submit a case.  Filling out the form is very easy and the process creates the actual form you send in with your drive.  You can pick how you want […]

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Maintain Long-term Customers with VOW Part Five of a Five part series “Roadmap to using VOWs in your business.” In this fifth of a series of five articles about Virtual Office Websites or VOW’s we are going to discuss the ways to use a VOW to work more effectively with past clients. Many REALTORS fail to stay connected to clients they have already done transactions with. Evidence of this is borne out in NARs 2008 Homebuyer and Seller survey. 9 out of 10 consumers would use their agent in a future transaction but only 1 in 10 use the agent again for buying and only 2 use the same agent for selling! Granted, the opportunity for working with a client in a future transaction must be overcome by circumstances that the agent does not control. But staying in touch with past clients today requires different tactics. Greeting cards, newsletters and an array of other marketing mush are good touch points, but a new form of client engagement on a business level is far more compelling, and can be delivered with a Virtual Office Website. Consumers have an expectation that their stockbroker provide them with a monthly report on the performance of their portfolio. The report is automated, but offers the customer an opportunity to connect with their broker to ask questions about buying, selling, investment strategies and the like. If the client has a concern or is interested in making changes to their portfolio allocation the stockbroker stands at the ready to serve. With a VOW, real estate agents may provide the same level of professional service. Clients will gain an understanding of the marketplace; it will build confidence in your integrity, professionalism, and encourage referrals. Think of your VOW as a relationship enabler. Even if they are not actively planning to sell, homeowners are always intrigued by listing activity in their local market. By farming a neighborhood and using the power of a VOW you can build a relationship with that potential client – who right now is more likely to call the listing agent on the sign to get information about a listing in their neighborhood than they are to call you. With a virtual office website, you can change that cycle of behavior by automatically notifying your prospect or client through your VOW of five key factors: New listings in their area Sold listings in their area […]

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AEI Presentation View more presentations from RealEstateZebra.

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More about Twitter for Real Estate or Twitterstate

by THE WAV GROUP on March 22, 2009

I joined twitter in June, 2007. Here is my first tweet. Trying to figure out why Brad Inman has selected a guy like Hugh MacLeod, a self professed twitter-head to be the key note speaker Connect1:42 PM Jun 26th, 2007 from web In retrospect – I Brad was onto something very early on, but oddly enough he did not post to Twitter until April 18th, 2008. We posted a very successful post here on the blog called Twitterstate: twitter for real estate.  The post is indexed on the first page of google, yahoo and other search engines for the keyword phrase “twitter for real estate”.  http://waves.wavgroup.com/twitterstate-twitter-for-real-estate-professionals Without much effort at all, I have somehow amassed more than 1500 followers on twitter – and my twinfluence – or twitter reach is now more than 4 Million – If you are a twitter user, please follow me at http://www.twitter.com/victorlund or Marilyn Wilson at http://www.twitter.com/marilynwilson or Mike Audet at http://twitter.com/maudet Although twitter does not have a business model yet, they have a velocity of use case sceanarios already deployed in many business applications.  Here is a great video from TED.  TED.com is one of my favorite websites.  We have featured a variety of TED Talks here on the blog.  

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New Problems emerge in mortgage bailout

by THE WAV GROUP on March 21, 2009

This is the beginning of an article found on Blown Mortgage that frames this discussion quite well…. “Stimulus funds need to be infused into the economy as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to stimulate growth,” said David Williams, leader of Deloittes Financial Advisory Services practice. “However, the legislative process as well as the publics desire for transparency surrounding how stimulus funds are allocated do not bode well for getting stimulus funds into the economy quickly.” That isnt happening, according to the Wall Street Journal. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports the largest banks receiving Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, funds actually offered less credit to business and consumer borrowers during February. The culprit may be the public thirst for transparency. “The government is trying to walk a tightrope here, to the extent that they publicly disclose how banks are doing in the bailout they further under mine the publics confidence in the banking industry,” said Victor Lund, senior analyst at WAV Group.    

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As a consultant we are afforded the opportunity to look deeply into the life of technology companies.  WAV Group has structured sales departments, restructured help desks, co-authored product roadmaps and evaluated code bases.  Even with the best product and the best people in the industry, the biggest challenge to running a software company is setting goals and staying on track. Project Management is the cornerstone of this endevor and among the best products is At Task. I read this press release this morning with interest when learning that Real Estate Technology supplier Wolfnet, developers of MLSfinder IDX and other products are premier users of At Task.  Disclosure:  WAV Group does not work with Wolfnet, but I have been a friend to CEO Joel MacIntosh since 9th grade. You may enjoy reading this At Task press release: WolfNet® Technologies Achieves 100 Percent User Adoption of AtTask Project Management Software, Creating an Effective Project Management Methodology WolfNet® Tech Successfully Utilizes AtTasks PPM Solution to Establish Project Management Best Practices, Increase Productivity, Reduce Costs, and Achieve Greater Project Accountability WolfNet® Technologies, an Internet technology and consulting firm that specializes in web-applications for real estate companies throughout North America, chose AtTask, the worlds most popular project and portfolio management (PPM) solution, to increase productivity and reduce costs by effectively managing resources and implementing project management best practices. “AtTask allowed us to successfully implement new project management best practices that make us more efficient and provide greater accountability,” say Jennie Decker and Liz Larsen, WolfNets Project Managers responsible for implementing the PPM solution. “AtTask helps us create a more efficient project management process and is easy to use, making adoption a snap.” “WolfNet Tech chose AtTask because our solution has an immediate impact on cutting costs and ramping up productivity,” says Scott Johnson, CEO of AtTask. “Managers and executives can see whats happening on the front line with real-time, reliable data, along with capabilities that make it easy for project team members to get work done. Thats a big reason adoption has been so successful at WolfNet.” WolfNet Tech was looking for a PPM solution that would help them implement project management best practices and facilitate easy adoption into their workflow. Ease-of-use was an important criterion for WolfNet, and AtTasks user interface was the primary reason they chose the PPM solution. “We liked the interface immediately,” say Decker and Larsen. “AtTask has been very well […]

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Real Estate is a leader in Online Advertising

by THE WAV GROUP on March 17, 2009

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Many people have scorned Real Estate agents for being laggards in relationship to adopting technology and moving offline advertising buget online.  A new study shows that they are actually leaders and probably leaning more toward online spending. Today, our friend Gordon Borrell from Borrell Associates released stunning news regarding how Small to Mid-Sized businesses (SMB) view the internet and what their online spending budgets are like. According to the study, the average SMB spends 11% fo thier ad budget online. Real Estate agents spend 47% of their ad budget online!  Take that! The Borrell report looked at $16.6 million SMBs that are responsible for more than half of all interactive spending.  The full report is $995, but you can download a summary of the report here.  

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Sell Homes More Quickly with a VOW Website

by THE WAV GROUP on March 16, 2009

Sell Homes more Quickly with a VOW Website   Part Four of a Five part series “Roadmap to using VOWs in your business.” In this fourth of a series of five articles about Virtual Office Websites or VOW’s we are going to discuss the ways to use a VOW to work more effectively with home sellers. The value of a home is exactly equal to the amount a willing seller and a willing buyer agree to at a given point in time. It can sometimes be difficult or impossible to convince a seller of the a realistic asking price , especially if they purchased their home within the past few years. Virtual Office Websites can help you work more successfully with a seller by allowing them to watch the local market dynamics along with you.  The pivotal concept is that if both the agent and the seller are looking at the same information, they should derive a similar opinion on how to price a home, or at least have a shared set of facts to enhance their positions.  Here are a few tools that VOW’s offer to help increase the chances of selling a home: Set up Daily Alerts: By using a Virtual Office Website as a sellers tool, real estate listing agents can inform their client on a daily basis about economic factors that will impact the asking price of their home. Sellers can be notified whenever there is price change, new listing, or sale activity that may influence their listing price.  Be sure to watch the inventory with your seller and converse with them about market activity.  This will assure your seller that you are informed and vested in the market impacting their home value. Client CMA Tool: Agents have always been at the center of doing research in the MLS to share with their client as the foundation of developing the opinion of the value of a home. With a Virtual Office Website, the home seller is also afforded access to the same information used by agents. Sellers can build their own CMA by running a search on a broker or agent VOW.  The difference with a VOW is that the CMA is dynamic – it can be updated each day with changes in active inventory and sold inventory.  This dynamic approach to CMA will allow you and your seller to discuss any alterations in asking price […]

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twitter for real estate – wefollow introduction

by THE WAV GROUP on March 15, 2009

Thanks to @bhgre_sherry aka Sherry Chris of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate for sharing a new website called wefollow.com. Following people on twitter has always been a bit random for me.  I mostly follow people who publish inforamtion about all things real estate.  My twitter goal is to stay in touch with new thoughts, new products, and new thinking that supports progress in the real estate industry.  And to a great extent – I am often more likely to only tweet when WAV Group publishes a blog post or whitepaper that I hope folks will enjoy. Thanks to Digg Founder  @KevinRose who launched wefollow.com, I can now search for people to follow by category.  We follow has a list of twitter people that follow real estate, technology, blogging, and many other categories.  Here is a video to get you started with wefollow – it only takes a few seconds.  And a tip – do not put spaces in your hash tags:  so for real estate, type in #realestate.    

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I have always been inspired by TED talks and make a point of watching 6 – 10 a month.  Today I reviewed a TED talk from Tim Berners-Lee – the inventor of the world wide web in 1989.  He drafted the first standards for HTML, HTTP, URL structures, etc. Here we are, 20 years later (incidentially I graduated from Shattuck-St.Mary’s highschool in 1989).  My how things have changed.  Tim’s first vision was for sharing documents (web pages or web paper) on the internet.  His new vision is for sharing RAW Linked Data.  In the wake of the NAR/DOJ settlement that provides a RAW data feed option to Broker Participants, I could not help but to think about how this might change the face of real estate, and certainly the future of the MLS.  Rather than share my toughts, I propose that you watch this video and share your own.

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How to Make Strategic Planning Really Work in Your MLS

by THE WAV GROUP on March 13, 2009

MLS chart

The MLS industry is in an extremely tenuous position today, feeling pressures from 3rd party vendors, state associations, neighboring MLSs and declining membership.  Like any business channel, multiple entities in the MLS world are competing for a finite number of customers and business space.   To make things even more difficult, a percentage of MLS leadership changes from year to year with election of new officers and directors.  MLS staff has to adjust to different leadership styles while often having to re-educate the new regime on where things stand.  It can be a difficult scenario for staff and the elected leadership.  How can an MLS establish continuity and transparency year to year more effectively?  How does leadership insure that everyone on the MLS team knows what the goals are?  How does leadership and staff know how they are doing against these goals at any given time? Test your staff If you want to see how effective your last strategic planning process was test your staff.

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How to Make Strategic Planning Really Work in Your MLS

by THE WAV GROUP on March 13, 2009

MLS chart

The MLS industry is in an extremely tenuous position today, feeling pressures from 3rd party vendors, state associations, neighboring MLSs and declining membership.  Like any business channel, multiple entities in the MLS world are competing for a finite number of customers and business space.   To make things even more difficult, a percentage of MLS leadership changes from year to year with election of new officers and directors.  MLS staff has to adjust to different leadership styles while often having to re-educate the new regime on where things stand.  It can be a difficult scenario for staff and the elected leadership.  How can an MLS establish continuity and transparency year to year more effectively?  How does leadership insure that everyone on the MLS team knows what the goals are?  How does leadership and staff know how they are doing against these goals at any given time? Test your staff If you want to see how effective your last strategic planning process was test your staff.   If you asked a staff member in your MLS what the top five goals for the organization are could they tell you?  If you asked them how the MLS was doing in regards to these goals would they know?  Is their answer opinion or fact?  Would they be able to show objectively how their part of the team is doing?  Do they clearly know what their specific objectives are today and for the year? It has been our experience, when we talk to MLS staff prior to our strategic planning sessions, that if you talk to 10 different people and ask questons like these you will get many different opinions, some blank stares and some “I have no ideas”!  So you have to wonder, if they can’t answer these questions what is the likelihood everyone is really on the same page working optimally toward the strategic goals of the MLS? The good news is there are real tools that can help make this happen in your MLS! One key to making that happen is moving beyond “strategic planning“, which most MLSs and boards do periodically, to something we call “strategic management”!  What this boils down to is taking the goals and objectives identified during the strategic planning process and then creating executable and measurable plans that are used by the entire MLS team? Benchmarking is one Key It has been our experience that many MLSs often do not have specific benchmarks and metrics to actually track the progress of the priorities established by leadership during planning sessions.  So knowing […]

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Introducing htm2pdf.com

by THE WAV GROUP on March 12, 2009

I ran into this application today by chance called htm2pdf.  It converts webpages into pdf documents.   You will note that they do not ask for your contact information – just paste in a url of the page you want converted and they push the pdf to you on the web page.  Please try it. Be sure to open the pdf and click the file links – THEY WORK!

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Using your Virtual Office Website as a Buyer’s Tool

by THE WAV GROUP on March 10, 2009

Using Your VOW Website to Communicate with Buyers Part Three of a 5 part series “Roadmap to using VOWs in your business.” In this third of a series of five articles about Virtual Office Websites or VOW’s we are going to discuss the ways to use a VOW to work more effectively with buyers. Whether you are new to real estate or a seasoned veteran, you must be aware that consumers are using the Internet as the cornerstone of finding a home to buy. Year after year the influence of the Internet is measured by many – including the 2008 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Study which reports: 33% started their home search by looking online for properties for sale – 38% if a Repeat Buyer, 27% if a First-time Buyer 87% claim that they used the Internet as an information source – 89% if a First-time Buyer and 86% if a Repeat Buyer. 81% found the Internet as a useful source of information. It is clear that brokers and agents must meet consumer demand for property information online if they are to have success in marketing homes to today’s homebuyer. Until now, brokers have relied on IDX data feeds that typically update every active MLS listing everyday. The fields that are contained in the IDX feed vary by market, but fall short of displaying all of the information available in the MLS. With a VOW (Virtual Office Website), brokers may now obtain a data feed from their MLS that contains ALL NON CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION AVAILABLE. This represents an enormous opportunity for Brokers and agents to differentiate themselves from other websites by providing homebuyers with the best website listing content available. Google shows 88 Million real estate websites that are available to consumers rising from the wake of buyers going online to view property information. The battle for online superiority rages in every corner of every neighborhood of every city in the Nation between two different types of websites – IDX and non-IDX. IDX or Internet Data Exchange rules allow brokers to display some of the key features of a home on their website. IDX is also commonly referred to as Broker Reciprocity where all brokers are willing to offer their listings for display on other broker sites in exchange for the ability to display all of the listings on their website. This orderly system of […]

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2009 $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

by THE WAV GROUP on March 5, 2009

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$8000 Tax Credit to First Time Home Buyers. – Called The American Recovery Reinvestment Act. There are some interesting details to the plan. Available for purchases made from Jan. 1, 2009 to December 1, 2009. 10% of the cost of the home up to $8000. Buyers claim the credit on thier federal tax return to reduce their liability.  If the credit is more than their total tax liability that year, the buyer will get a refund check for the balance. A first time homebuyer is defined under the tax credit as an individual who has not owned a home in the last three years. If you are married joint filers, both must meet the first-time homebuyer test. Eligible properties include anything that will be used as a principal single-family residence including condo and townhouses. The credit is only available to individuals with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 or $150,000 if filing jointly.  The credit is phased down for those earning more and is not available for those with an income above $95,000 or $170,000 if filing jointly. You must live in the home for 3 years or you owe the money back. My musings…….. I wish they would publish the methodology they used to create these rules.  Who is the target audience? It is interesting to note that if you are married, both couples must pass the test.  I know that the intention is discouraging a segment of the population from double dipping – but the credit is awfully prejudiced against a married citizen who has never purchased thier own home.  Married couples have lower default rates than unmarried borrowers.  If you are planning to get married this year to someone who has owned a home – you may want to buy a home first and get married in 2010. The credit also seems prejudiced against new professionals like ecomomists, engineers, doctors and lawyers who come out of university to high paying jobs, but also carry student loan paybacks.  Demographically, you would think that a stimulus bill would be targeted to this market segment – not regulate away from it. New residents to the United States doing middle management work should benefit hansomely from this credit. Please comment if you feel like this Stimulus package has flaws.

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Job Posting – VP MLS/Association Sales

by THE WAV GROUP on March 3, 2009

POSITION TITLE: VP MLS/Association Sales REPORTS TO: Chief Operating Officer                                          CLASSIFICATION: Exempt Opportunity Previsite is seeking to hire a senior sales manager, for the position of VP MLS/Association Sales to take the lead on developing virtual tour product sales with MLSs, boards and associations. In today’s challenging economy MLSs, boards and associations are looking for opportunities to increase their value to their members while lowering member costs for technology services. Previsite has developed a technology and business model to achieve this goal and is seeking a proven professional to lead their sales efforts nationally. WAV Group Inc has been retained to manage the recruitment process.

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How to use a VOW to Generate New Customers

by THE WAV GROUP on March 2, 2009

Prospect Manager

How to use a VOW to Generate New Customers Part Two of a 5 part series “Roadmap to using VOWs in your business.” Looking for ways to make your website and the Internet work harder for you? A virtual office website, or VOW is a great solution to consider.  It is an excellent way to create and grow relationships with consumers that will lead to future transactions. Why do VOW’s make sense for today’s real estate consumer? According to the Swanepoel 2009 Trends Report, “It’s crucial to make sure that your customers trust you before you try to sell them anything.”  “The goal is to create an on-going, non-pressured dialogue with the prospect.”  “This is best accomplished by “not providing just the basic information they can get from any number of other sites.” VOW’s are a great method for accomplishing this important goal. Historically, in agent-consumer relationships the flow of information was one way – the agent would find the information for the client and send an email or a link.  You can differentiate yourself using a VOW to provide many high-touch services. With a Virtual Office Website, the flow of information is bi-directional.  VOWs can help create a conversation with consumers. Think of your VOW in the same way as you think of your IDX website. The only difference is that it requires registration to get access to the deeper level of information like listing history, tax data, and sold listings.  Virtual Office Websites allow an agent to create a “conversation” with a customer using automated tools.  We know that registration requirement rule is the top “no-no” of a successful online strategy, but access to this deeper level of listing information is the tradeoff for the consumer. According to one agent interviewed by WAV Group: “My VOW helps me build a relationships with a potential customer without lifting a finger.” VOWs keep the real estate broker and agents at the center of the transaction by only allowing the MLS data to be displayed to registered users. With a virtual office website, you may invite potential clients to gain access to the same accurate, comprehensive and timely MLS information that REALTORS® use to provide their services.  This level of information includes everything in the MLS other than confidential information that protect the privacy and security of the seller.  This depth of information is only available through a VOW, and consumers can only access […]

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