April 2009

WAV Group Releases Localism Whitepaper

by THE WAV GROUP on April 30, 2009

localism

For more than two years, WAV Group has been doing research that provides insight for real estate companies to focus on strategies that will accelerate their online business opportunities. We have studied consumer and broker opinions of MLS Consumer Facing websites, Broker websites, the effectiveness of listing syndication, broker lead response and even mobile search. All of these studies were focused on measuring components of online strategies deployed today around the real estate industry. In this new report, titled Localism – WAV Group endaveours to look outward into the future of online effectiveness. We look forward to getting feedback from you on this study. Feel free to comment here or contact any member of the WAV Group for deeper information. Special thanks go out to the industry experts whose interviews and contributions were most valuable in supporting this thought leadership including Monte Cahn, CEO Moniker.com, Scott Freisen, COO McCombs Media, Craig Harrison, CEO of RealEstateNet and our friend Kenneth Jenny, Managing Partner of Mediatise. DOWNLOAD HERE – What follows is an executive summaryExecutive Summary Localism – a fundamental building block of a successful web strategy that includes deploying a network of local websites based on natural type-in keywords location, location, location. This whitepaper seeks to provide an in depth review of localization related to search within website URLs as the foundation of a successful forward-looking website naming strategy that will generate increased online business to real estate websites. A major shift has occurred recently in the way that consumers interact with the Internet and with each other a popular term for this is “Localism”. Consumers are interested in knowing everything going on around them; news, events, friends, resources. As a result, consumers naturally type in city modifiers as anchor text to their search. There are a number of elemental economic strategies that are dovetailing to support how information is organized around location and delivered to consumer audiences. These strategies focus on URL naming structures and tagging of information to allow for and produce location based results. Localism is a departure from the traditional brand-driven online strategy of “brandname.com”. Over time, some brand names die, but the consumer type-in of city and category on the Internet will not. Specifically, as it relates to real estate www.BostonReal Estate.com will long outlive www.BrandName.com. Another example would be the difference between owning Investing.com vs. Lehman Brothers.com. LehmanBrothers.com has deeply declined in value today now […]

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Stop Advertising and start “EDUtising”

by THE WAV GROUP on April 29, 2009

Most of us tune out when we hear companies telling us how great they are in commercials. We have become pretty cynical about advertising. Traditional advertising like radio and TV have gotten slammed as ineffective tools for generating leads. There are whole technologies that have been built to help us zap advertising so that we can get to the content we are really interested in. Well, what if our advertising could become the content viewers are interested in? While in Orlando last week I heard a radio ad that got me thinking about a new way to make advertising relevant again.  I heard three different ads from the same law firm during the morning drive time that were very effective. Instead of talking about their legal services and experience like a typical ad would do, they provided a variety of legal tips.  The ad portrayed the company as an advocate to consumers. The first ad told us how to avoid the tricks insurance companies use to cheat you out of insurance claims. The next ad talked about what to ask an auto body shop when getting an estimate. The third explained that insurance companies passed a law disallowing the courts from telling juries whether clients involved in personal injury cases have insurance or not to limit the amount of recommended payouts. After listening to those three ads I had a great impression of the law firm. They sounded experienced, trustworthy and informed –  exactly what I would want in a law firm. They sold me on their services much more effectively than simply telling me about their experience. I couldn’t help but think how this principle could applied to real estate advertising. What if an agent shared little tidbits of good news about the glimpses of turnaround we are experiencing at the moment?  What if the agent supplied information about the government monies available for first time home buyers?  Or what about a series of articles explaining ways to avoid a troublesome closing? Now theres a simple, easy to understand way to share good news about the marketplace and engage potential new customers with a product called Clarus MarketMetrics.  The agent simply enters in the local market they would like to evaluate. The system can be localized to whatever level the local MLS localizes. For example, if your MLS allows an agent to search by neighborhood, for example, the user do […]

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Virtual Office Website in the New York Times

by THE WAV GROUP on April 25, 2009

If anyone has doubts about the power shift that is taking place as a result of Virtual Office Websites – think again.  Virtual Office Websites are putting real estate agents back into the center of the conversation between consumers and the property information in the best possible way. Check out the fantastic article from Sundays NYT entitled “Brokers Enrich Their Web Tactics.” This is what one broker had to say about Listingbook: Kathy Engel, an associate broker with Re/Max Shores Oceanside and the president-elect of the Long Island Board of Realtors, said that although she had been in real estate 23 years, she had seen the most drastic changes in marketing relatively recently – over the last three to five years. While the response has been weak from print ads, she said, “now I get response from my three Web sites”. “The buying public is more technology-savvy than years ago,” Ms. Engel said. “They prefer to shop online before they buy.” She has found the most success with listingbook.com, a Multiple Listing Service that allows customers to browse local homes “without pressure.” “The best part is Im able to see what theyre looking at, what they like and dislike, and it keeps them in control,” she said. Sellers can see how the competition is priced and “what homes that compare to theirs are selling for.”  

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Luxury Real Estate gets Social in Las Vegas

by THE WAV GROUP on April 23, 2009

Whos Who logo

Victor Lund of the WAV Group will be joining Jim Walberg of Caribbean Islands Realty, Jon Larrance of Perry & Company, Bruce Hiatt of Las Vegas’ Luxury Realty Group, and Michael Marquette of Marquette Turner of Australia to produce a seminar on Social Networking at the Luxury Real Estate Conference in Las Vegas next week. The Seminar topic is titled “The Power of Social Networking: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Blogging Tactics of Top Luxury Professionals” The success that these Luxury Real Estate brokers are having from leveraging web 2.0 social technologies has been outstanding.  It will be a pleasure to gain insight from professionals that have laid the pavement for others to follow in a real estate category that many consider to be an old boy network. Those familiar with real estate blogs will know Jim Walberg as the guru of, not only,Caribbean fractionals but luxury real estate in general.  Jim was an active bloggerbefore most of us had ever heard the word “blog“. Michael Marquette is recognized the world over due to his vast reaching usage of social networking platforms.  With its innovative news and information sourcing, the Marquette Turner website boasts of being the “number one visited luxury real estate website in Australia”. Jon Larrances special interest lies in exploiting the practical business applications inherent in everyday internet functions.  Jon is an active blogger, fan of Web 2.0, and has made it his personal mission to get all Perry & Co. Agents adept in at least onesocial networking platform.  Although Jon is a licensed Realtor, he often gets more pleasure from teaching than from selling. Bruce Hiatt is an expert at using all the tools that the internet has to offer a real estate company and agent.  In fact, Bruce directly attributes over 30% of Luxury Realty Groups total sales to their blogsite alone. Hope to see you there  

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South

We think it is interesting to note that during these very difficult times in real estate a new comer to the U.S. real estate market is successfully expanding their franchise operations. As Stefan Swanepoel reported today in Inman news (http://www.inman.com/node/94265)  Engel & Völkers announced that it signed its 555th license, worldwide, with the signing of the license region for Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Westwood in California. By way of background, Engel & Völkers is a luxury real estate company headquartered in Hamburg, Germany that has a unique international property shop concept.   All Engel & Völkers franchises must be built out to specific design requirements from the white, classic European façade to the clean white interiors and beyond.  Also, location of shops is strictly controlled and maybe most importantly, shops typically only have from 10 to 20 agents at maturity.  They have built their brand around the idea that every agent in a shop needs to be a high performer and while their model is very “high end” the size and scale allow them operate in “A” locations, at a reasonable earnings to expense ratio that may very well become the model of future real estate operations. In late 2006, they decided to enter the U.S. market.  The reason they chose that time to come to the U.S, after being in 24 other countries on 5 continents was largely being driven by the favorable European and world currency conditions, relative to the U.S. dollar.  Everybody believed money was ready to pour into our market as a result of these great exchange rates. And it did, at least until this perfect storm hit the world real estate market. Nevertheless, they began in Florida, then went to New York and New England and late in 2008 opened up operations in California.  So why are they having success during a time when many others aren’t?  Why is their franchise sales strategy working when others don’t seem to be or are actually closing more offices than they are selling?  I think there are a number of reasons worth noting that may be of interest to other companies as they try to weather the storm. The Shop Concept – In an industry where most real estate do things pretty much like the next their shop concept is really unique. These shops are typically 1500 to 2500 square feet and are integral parts of their marketing concept. Put […]

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South

We think it is interesting to note that during these very difficult times in real estate a new comer to the U.S. real estate market is successfully expanding their franchise operations. As Stefan Swanepoel reported today in Inman news (http://www.inman.com/node/94265)  Engel & Völkers announced that it signed its 555th license, worldwide, with the signing of the license region for Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Westwood in California. By way of background, Engel & Völkers is a luxury real estate company headquartered in Hamburg, Germany that has a unique international property shop concept.   All Engel & Völkers franchises must be built out to specific design requirements from the white, classic European façade to the clean white interiors and beyond.  Also, location of shops is strictly controlled and maybe most importantly, shops typically only have from 10 to 20 agents at maturity.  They have built their brand around the idea that every agent in a shop needs to be a high performer and while their model is very “high end” the size and scale allow them operate in “A” locations, at a reasonable earnings to expense ratio that may very well become the model of future real estate operations. In late 2006, they decided to enter the U.S. market.  The reason they chose that time to come to the U.S, after being in 24 other countries on 5 continents was largely being driven by the favorable European and world currency conditions, relative to the U.S. dollar.  Everybody believed money was ready to pour into our market as a result of these great exchange rates. And it did, at least until this perfect storm hit the world real estate market. Nevertheless, they began in Florida, then went to New York and New England and late in 2008 opened up operations in California.  So why are they having success during a time when many others aren’t?  Why is their franchise sales strategy working when others don’t seem to be or are actually closing more offices than they are selling?  I think there are a number of reasons worth noting that may be of interest to other companies as they try to weather the storm. The Shop Concept – In an industry where most real estate do things pretty much like the next their shop concept is really unique. These shops are typically 1500 to 2500 square feet and are integral parts of their marketing concept. Put […]

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We all see way too much negative press about the real estate market in the mainstream press these days.  Its nice when we see a company that has launched a product to help the REALTOR® take back control of communication of the localized market trends in their region. Real Estate Business Services, division of the California Association of REALTORS launched a product a few months ago that allows agents to share local neighborhood market stats. The product called CLARUS MarketMetrics, powered by Terradatum’s robust data analysis software allows an agent to enter a few pieces of information and then the product dynamically builds a localized market evaluation in simple to understand graphs. The report written in “laymans” terms can include agent branding and can be emailed easily to clients. We have heard that many markets are starting to show glimmers of a turnaround with reduced inventories, shorter days on market and in some cases even some signs of a pricing recovery. This tool allows an agent to highlight these changes and help their customers get more confidence that it truly is time to buy. The company has experienced a lot of success in the past few months because it is so easy to deliver timely market stats to customers. The product also evaluates local pricing trends and helps a customer understand the ideal price needed to sell their home quickly. Because the company has hit an important hot button need for real estate professionals it has experienced great adoption.  In just the past week the company has closed deals with three leading associations in California. Clarus MarketMetrics now has relationships in place with leading MLSs and Associations around the country. The latest association to sign an agreement with Clarus MarketMetrics® is the San Mateo CountyAssociation of REALTORS® (SAMCAR) t provide Clarus MarketMetrics® as a member benefit to its 2,700 REALTOR® members. According to the REBS press release, “Clarus MarketMetrics® strengthens our members position as experts on the San Mateo real estate market by providing them with instant access to market trends and pricing analysis using MLS data,” said Olivia Edwards, SAMCAR president. MLSListings Inc. is the multiple listing service provider to SAMCAR members. “Its important to give our members access to relevant technology products,” said SAMCAR Association Executive Philip Tedesco. “REALTORS® are constantly asked the state of our local real estate market and ClarusMarketMetrics® provides them with the answer to that […]

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to err is human, in terms of social MLS

by THE WAV GROUP on April 14, 2009

share

Portland is the site for the Connections 2009 conference, welcoming a select group of real estate dignitaries to discuss the evolution of our industry and the painful realities that hold us back. I will be speaking briefly to the lawyers who write the pages of rules that govern order in the vast lands of MLS – I applaud their work. Sharing – the cornerstone of web 2.0 – is the terrorist threat to protecting MLS data from misuse, and I found some rather interesting mis-uses of data on the web that illustrate the challenges facing rules and rules enforcement.Although I do not want to spill the beans on my entire presentation – here is one that you are bound to love.  An agent who blogs on Trulia Voices took innoscent screen shots of how she uses her MLS and republished confidential data in violation of every copyright rule of the MLS. Realtors® Can Analyze Current Market Trends, Tax Valuations and Sales Data Relevant to Buyers, Sellers and Property Owners – When you follow the link, be sure to click on the images so you can view the data in hi resolution. I am not sure what the twitter #tag is for the conference – but will try to keep up with interesting conversation at the show.  Hope to see you there.  

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Brokerresponsiveness

In 2008, WAV Group did three studies that observed and measured scenarios of real estate listing websites.  The Broker Website Effectiveness study measured 1 million consumers and thier engagement with Broker Websites across the country. The MLS Consumer Website effectiveness study measured conusmer and member satisfaction with HAR’s successful public website.  The Listhub Listing Syndication Study reviewed the number of consumers and leads that were driven to brokers as a result of syndicating listings to more than 30 popular thrid party websites. Fellow real estate industry vetran and consultant, Ken Jenny met with me at the CMLS conference in Minneapolis last fall.  Ken asked the question – does IDX make sense for brokers?  Are brokers and agents truly prepared to answer questions about another broker/agent’s listing? – It was a great question and Ken challenged us to study it.  Support for the study comes from Ken’s company, Mediatise and Jim Secord of Most Home.  What resulted was the Broker Responsiveness whitepaper. Upon the release of the whitepaper, Jenny writes: As it relates to this topic of discussion, in general, brokers have engaged both IDX and VOW strategies because they believe that the consumer “wants to see all the listings in one place”.  While this may be true, its like saying consumers want to see all the airline flights in one place and then go to American Airlines and ask questions about Uniteds flights that cannot be answered. I have watched this evolution closely for years since I owned a major share of RealEstate.com. The users of the “listing broker syndication strategy” sites like Trulia, Zillow, FrontDoor and others are proof of the evolution from “all in one place” to “advertise what you truly know”.  Consumers who experience what your secret shoppers experienced as on online real estate search experience will not return to shop. Quite simply, the only solution for this blatant lack of product knowledge is for every broker who uses such a listing display strategy either IDX or VOW is to assure that every MLS member sees and knows everything about listing in the MLS.  An impossible feat to achieve for any one broker. Most of the brokers with dominant share of the listing market now use the IDX or VOW as a defensive strategy.  The brokers with little or no inventory, yet belong to the MLS, are capable of fooling the consumer into believing they have the entire listing inventory AND […]

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2009 Reports

by THE WAV GROUP on April 9, 2009

Edutizing WAV Group Study outlining how real estate market information can be used in Advertising Make More Green by Going Green WAV Group Study on how to attract more customers and become more profitable with a green real estate operation Virtual Tour WAV Group Study outlining leading virtual tour practices for REALTORS and review of leading Virtual Tour products Localism WAV Group Study that illustrates how Geo Domain Targeting assists in Real Estate Marketing Broker Responsiveness to Online Inquiries WAV Group Study to test the ability of a broker to answer questions about another broker’s listing  

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A Document a Day Keeps the Paper Away

by THE WAV GROUP on April 7, 2009

Real estate is a very paper-intensive business.  There are millions of dollars spent every year printing, processing and storing paper.  Finally, the concept of processing real estate paperwork online is coming into its own.  A few years ago when WAV Group completed its 2005 WAV Group Transaction Management Adoption Study, it appeared as though the industry was not that interested or even ready to complete its transaction online. Today, all of that has changed.

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instanet tree

Instanet has demonstrated phenomenal growth over the past couple of years. They have experienced huge increases in participation with their electronic faxing, online forms, document management and transaction management product suite.They are expanding their sales team and are looking for another National Account Manager to continue to expand their presence throughout North America.  WAV Group has been retained to help find a terrific candidate to continue to drive new growth for the company. If you are an experienced sales professional with an established network of MLS and Association relationships, and would like to learn more about the position: POSITION TITLE:    National Account Manager REPORTS TO:  Chief Executive Officer             CLASSIFICATION:    Exempt Opportunity Instanet Solutions, Inc, a leading provider of transaction management technologies provider  is seekng to hire a senior sales executive  for the position of National Account Manager.  The position will be responsible for building revenues by securing new MLS, Association and broker customers to participate in the companys suite of automated forms, document management and transaction management products.  The position reports directly to the CEO. In todays challenging economy MLSs, boards and associations are looking for opportunities to increase their value to their members while lowering member costs for technology services.  The company delivers a program that helps REALTORS® save time and money while increasing their level of perceived professionalism with their clients. ORGANIZATIONAL DESCRIPTION: Instanet is a leader in automated forms, document management and management serving over 300,000 customers annually. In just the past 12 months, the company has facilitated the processing of nearly 3 million faxes. The company is very entrepreneurial demonstrating flexibility and leadership in the forms and document management area. This new position has been created to continue to increase the companys growth and success. SPECIFIC DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: Responsible for expanding the MLS, Association and Broker Sales Channels Responsible for all facets of sales including: •    Lead development •    Presentation of products and business opportunities •    Proposal development •    Interfacing with fellow sales executives as needed •    Product promotion in new accounts •    Account maintenance activities Position requires travel to trade shows, conferences and account sales presentations. REQUIREMENTS/JOB SKILLS: College degree as well as proven senior sales experience.  The successful candidate has proven skills in selling technology products and services in the real estate sector.  He/she will have multiple years of sales experience and will be adept at presenting and securing business […]

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zillow logo

Do you know where your listings are going? Realtor.com and realestate.yahoo.com have been battling it out for the top spot in the nation for real estate property search.  Now a rising contender is in the mix, zillow.com in a move that could break the virtual tie between zillow and trulia forever. An early secret to realtor.com was the extension of thier property search site to more than 100 other prominent domains – now zillow.com has answered by winning the business of more than 180 newspapers, drawing them in direct competition with the top search sites and especially Homefinder.com.  This added traffic volume should have a tremendous impact on zillow’s traffic – and moreover the volume of leads they generate to thier broker partners. Newspapers needed to make a move to shore up the relevance of their real estate channel online.  Newspaper advertising has more than dipped – is has been all but cancelled by more than half the advertisers who formerly considered that the paper was the number one spot for advertising effectiveness.  The secondary effect of the reduction in listing advertising is a dwindling in the number of listings on the newspaper website.  No Listings = No Traffic = No Advertisers. It is no surprise that 11 major newspaper holding companies banded together to form the Zillow Newspaper Consortium.  This strategy directly competes with the success that Classified Ventures has had with Homefinder.com and Homegain.com.  The big difference here is that every broker who syndicates listings to Zillow today will benefit from this extended reach – and they are likely to find thier listings on their local newspaper website without participating in print advertising. The Zillow Newspaper Consortium includes Hearst Newspapers; Media General; Scripps; MediaNews; Community Newspaper Holdings; Morris Communications; and Philadelphia Media Holdings.  101 sites are launching today. Homefinder.com and Homegain.com supply property search solutions to the Classified Ventures Group which includes Belo; Gannett; McClatchy Company; Tribune; and Washington Post.  My understanding is that they only display listings on thier site that have been advertised in one of their print channels – so if a broker does not advertise, their listings do not appear. With zillow in the mix now, I may need to retract my post about Newspapers being like Nursing Homes – click here to view – its funny.  

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