May 2009

Tired of Junk Mail! Now there's hope!

by THE WAV GROUP on May 30, 2009

Tired of spending your mornings and filling up your recycle box with junk mail?  Now there’s hope.  The Direct Marketing Association has created a great site called DMAChoice.org.  The site allows you to opt-out of credit card offers, catalogs and other types of direct mail for up to five years. The site also allows you to remove your name from email lists as well.  You can trust this site because it is sponsored by the governing of the direct mail industry and they are highly credible. Cutting down on junk mail will not only save you time, it will also help you save trees and reduce the waste you and your company produce saving you money over time. Check it out and happy blocking!  

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Twitter users beware of spymaster aka spammaster

by THE WAV GROUP on May 29, 2009

spymaster

got a pile of direct messages from people I follow on twitter today that looked like this. When you go to the site, it asks you to be an exclusive first user of thier twitter game.  To sign up, you enter your user id and password so they can access your twitter followers.  It dynamically sends this message to every one of your followers and spreads like a spam virus.  There is nothing harmful, but it will take over your twitter account and autopost to your friends.  The only way to get out of the game is to block the messages from all of your followers – you cannot filter them.  Thankfully I did some research before falling into this trap – perhaps you too can beware. For more inforamtion on twitter for real estate – click here

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Listhub logo

Threewide Corporation Appoints Michele Routh-Combs as VP of Partner Relations Morgantown, WV – June 28, 2009 – Threewide Corporation announces the addition of Michele Routh-Combs to the Executive Management Team as Vice President of Partner Relations. Routh-Combs brings 18 years of experience in real estate and real estate related technology and marketing. She is a well-known leader in real estate, recognized by many from her role at RE/MAX International where she served as Senior Technology Marketing Analyst and was involved with RE/MAX International’s Approved Supplier Program from 1999 through the end of 2005. Routh-Combs will manage strategic partner relationships for Threewide Corporation, concentrating on developing and growing the ListHub network of “channels” or destinations for MLSs and brokers to select to send their listing data. “Michele has a proven track record for applying a critical eye to real estate technology and seeking relationships and products that bring the greatest value to real estate agents and brokers,” said Luke Glass, President of Threewide Corporation. “She brings the ideal skills and experience to the role of Partner Relations and we are excited to have her on board.” The ListHub network of Internet marketing Web sites currently includes 46 sites where brokers and agents can choose to distribute and display their listings. ListHub is among the broadest networks for listing distribution, but the factor that makes ListHub’s network unique is the careful analysis and attention given to the value proposition for brokers and agents during the screening of new Internet marketing channels. Threewide is committed to increasing the number of Internet marketing sites in the network while maintaining standards and a level of organization of the sites within ListHub. Organization of the sites by attributes of the Web site that are important to real estate brokers and agents will make it easy for brokers and agents to make their Internet marketing decisions in the increasingly complex online world. “I am looking forward to working with the Threewide Team as well as Threewide’s existing and new partners,” said Michele Routh-Combs. “It is my goal to increase marketing exposure and functionality for the customers of Listhub while employing a level of responsibility that earns the confidence of all of our partners and customers.” Threewide Corporation’s ListHub gives brokers a free service to leverage the vast online marketplace to market their listings, and to drive consumer traffic back to the broker’s Web site. ListHub has 46 […]

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Investor needed for growth company

by THE WAV GROUP on May 26, 2009

WAV Group was recently contacted by a 5 year old company that sells technology products to MLSs.  Our current workload does not allow us to help them, but we offered to post this to our blog in the event that any of our readers may be interested.  The company is well established, has significant revenue and could be profitable if they were not in a significant growth ramp. They are looking for $500k to $2M in the form of a converitable bridge loan or equity.  The company’s product has been “site licensed” by more than 35 MLSs in the past 12 months and has a full pipeline of installations pending.  There is also a rather obvious potential for the product to expand beyond real estate into other verticals.  Please email Victor if you have any interest and I will introduce you to them. WAV Group does not have any vested interest what so ever in this comany or its offering – but we like the company and think that their product is good for real estate.  

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Like ‘em or not – Zip continues to focus on offering one of the best property search websites in the industry to consumers.  Does anyone know of a brokerage that offered the opportunity to post ratings about homes before zip?  I know that this is a listingbook feature too.  Was Zip first? EMERYVILLE, CA–(MARKET WIRE)–May 19, 2009 – ZipRealty (NasdaqGM:ZIPR – News) (www.ZipRealty.com), the first national real estate brokerage to allow home shoppers to post ratings of MLS-listed homes and agent service, now allows buyers to scout for homes in specific school districts within the 36 markets the company serves. The new school district mapping feature – which shows the explicit school district boundaries pertaining to a selected home listing – is part of ZipRealty’s latest release of advanced search tools allowing home-buyers to personalize their home hunt even further. Users can also now see boundaries for specific city neighborhoods in the mapping and satellite view. In addition to the new school district and neighborhood information, ZipRealty added a keyword search feature allowing clients to look for homes with specific or unique features, such as granite countertops or a waterfront lot. These new search tools add to existing site features including client satisfaction ratings of agents, foreclosed home search, and Price Track, a reduced price search tool, creating an even more robust home shopping experience for buyers. “We’ve been dedicated to providing buyers more information about homes for sale for the last ten years. We continue to add more and more innovative features, and important local details like school district and neighborhood boundaries are a natural evolution of that process,” said ZipRealty President and CEO Patrick Lashinsky. “Buyers can already see photos and many different types of maps, including StreetView, on our site. Now they can look for really local information like neighborhood names, too.”  

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Scraping vs Indexing of IDX data

by THE WAV GROUP on May 19, 2009

MIBOR – the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS has recently responded to a complaint regarding a violation of their IDX rules and regulations – specifically the “anti-scraping” regulations. MIBOR has correctly responded to the complaint ruling that an IDX property search page which allows data to be copied and re-purposed is in violation of their rules.  I begin this post with this acknowledgement to clarify that MIBOR is in no way behaving badly.  Indeed, they are enforcing their published rules and regulations correctly. This issue has created a very difficult situation for MIBOR, NAR, and the unfortunate member of MIBOR who is in violation of the rules.  Clearly the member had no intention of violating the rules – it is a case of confusion between the term “scraping” and “indexing” of an agent’s real estate listing website. Here are some common definitions of the terms: scraping is a technique in which a computer program extracts data from the display output of another program. An index is any data structure which improves the performance of look-up.  Indexing is the task of creating that data structure using spiders. Spiders are programs that automatically fetches data to feed search engine results. In this case, Google has indexed listing information on a real estate agent’s website in a way that easily allows a consumer to access that information with a click-through.  At issue here is the notion that Google has scraped components of the listing information and displayed that in the search result which links to the agent’s IDX compliant listing detail page.  As such, Google has both “indexed” and “scraped” the data. I applaud NAR for stepping up to tackle this issue in a way that serves the best interests of the member, broker, Association of REALTORS, and the MLS.  Modifying this rule to allow for indexing and limiting scraping will take some highly technical lawyering.  Indeed, the differences between scraping and indexing is a matter of use case and intent rather than technique.  The legal bill for sorting this out is likely to be a big one What I believe is more at issue here is the notion that third party websites like Trulia and Zillow do not need to adhere to these rules – giving them a huge advantage at winning the eyes of consumers through search engine optimization techniques that agents and brokers are forbidden from pursuing.

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Microformatting enhances SEO for real estate

by THE WAV GROUP on May 19, 2009

Microformats in plain english: Microformats is specific website coding standards (called Semantic information) that allows search engines to “read” the addresses and categories of inforamtion on your website, display the information in search results (like google maps), and allow the consumer to quickly download a vcard or address book card directly from the search result using a browser extension like Operator for firefox. As mentioned in the WAV Group White Paper on Localism – Geo Targeting strategies for real estate websites – search engines are often unable to view listings on most IDX Property Search solutions.  Companies like Trulia, Zillow, Loopnet and others real estate technology companies pioneered the process of getting the listings out of the database in a way that allow them to be indexed.  My guess is that edgio is reading microformatted data on sites to index listings for their site.  If you want to check, do an address search for a listing on your website surrounded by quotation marks, like “58 n. davis street, orchard park, NY.” For an intro into how Microformating is done – keep readingFrom the Google Maps API blog   Using Microformats in your Maps API application You can get the benefits of microformats for your own maps applications if you change your HTML to contain the necessary hcard classes. In this simple example, we’ve changed the infowindow to contain an hCard formatted address. The code for that is below: If you want to learn more, head over to microformats.org. Here is my contact information in HTML: <div> <span>Victor Lund</span> <div>WAV Group</div> <div> <div>291 Falcon Crest Drive</div> <span>Arroyo Grande</span>, <span>CA</span>, <span>93420</span> <span>United States</span> </div> <div>805-709-6696</div> But this isnt just normal HTML, it is semantic HTML: <div class=”vcard”> <span class=”fn”>Victor Lund</span> <div class=”org”>WAV Group</div> <div class=”adr”> <div class=”street-address”>291 Falcon Crest Drive</div> <span class=”locality”>Arroyo Grande</span>, <span class=”region”>CA</span>, <span class=”postal-code”> 93420</span> <span class=”country-name”>United States</span> </div> <div class=”tel”>805-709-6696</div> This additional semantic information in the HTML is an example of the hCard microformat. Thats what microformats are, adding semantics to markup to take it from being machine readable to being machine understandable. There are lots of different microformats, ranging from very fundamental types of information like contacts, locations, and events, to the slightly more domain specific, like reviews and resumes, to the very domain specific, like wines. Why are microformats important? Microformats are going to change (and are currently changing) the Web in a variety of different ways: 1. Aggregation Sites Right now if you want to sell something, you go to a site like […]

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Social Brand Marketing for Real Estate Brokers

by THE WAV GROUP on May 8, 2009

Last week the WAV Group launched the first of its kind Broker Social Brand Marketing effort in Vancouver Canada.  We believe that any brokerage with 100 or more agents has a tremendous opportunity to command a sigificant voice in the Social Networks that surround the communities they serve. As this chart shows, Real Estate Broker Brands are lagging behind other consumer brands on making an online social statement.  Amazingly this is happening at a time when Real Estate is among the top news makers.  If you are a brand marketer, you must be astounded that there is no mention of any broker brand on this list. WAV Group offers three consulting products in this area – Social Marketing Strategic Plan, Social Marketing Management, and Social Marketing Quick Start Workshop.  If you are looking for an efficient way to communicate with consumers in your marketplace, we can help.  

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photosynth

In a move that may separate Microsoft Virtual Earth from Google maps, Microsoft announced integration of Photosynth – an application that allows you to automatically stich groups of photos togethers into a three dimentional viewing experience.  This has tremendous implications for the mapping functionality imbeded into MLS systems including Cyberhomes (FNRES) and Marketlinx and others. Although Virtual Earth is much less popular than Google Maps, it is vastly superior on many levels – which is why leading technolgoy companies are opting to pay for Microsoft over Google.  This combination essentially combines mapping with virtual tour experiences.  This combination will have relevance for agents working within the mls as well as public search sites. To see an example of Photosynth for real estate, select the “house synth” by clicking herePrepare to be impressed –  Aside from the experience, it supports commerical licensing and privacy controls.  

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twitter

On the heals of helping nearly every member of a brokerage in Brittish Columbia register on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail I found myself listening to @cyberhomes and @nik_nik deliver a webinar on using twitter for real estate As a continuation of our popular blog post – twitterstate: Twitter for real estate, I thought that I would add a new post that lists some helpful tools that twitter bloggers in real estate should consider usiing Websites offering Twitter tools, and tips http://www.twitterlocal.net http://www.twello.com http://www.wefollow.com

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WAV Group Releases Virtual Tour Whitepaper

by THE WAV GROUP on May 4, 2009

VTCover

There is a tremendous opportunity today for brokers and agents to differentiate themselves  and, as a result, grow their market share through better use of virttual tour technology.  According to the NAR 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report 41% of the people that bought homes in 2008 were first time buyers.  Their average age was 30 versus 47 for repeat buyers.  This growing base of home buyers and sellers, with less wrinkles,  look for visual information first in their Internet searches.  Unfortunately our sources tell us 75% to 90% of listings on MLS systems today do not have virtual tours.  This means, listings on syndicated sites like Zillow and Realtor.com will not have tours on the vast majority of listings either. According to the same NAR study 84% of sellers used a real estate agent to sell their home.  But, only 55% of sellers were very satisfied with the process.  Now look at the fact that only 26% of consumers use the same real estate agent they used previously and you see something very important.  This means a significant number of buyers and sellers are available to those agents and brokers that know how to differentiate themselves.  There is probably no other industry anywhere that has this rate of customer churn.  What are the reasons for these signficant numbers and how can agents and brokers turn this to their advantage?   DOWNLOAD HERE What follows below is an Executive Summary.Executive Summary There is tremendous competition today for the eyeballs of consumers looking for properties on the Internet.  Consumers are faced with numerous options in terms of websites to search and the lists of properties these searches produce are often reduced down to single lines of data.  While most properties will include still photos it is an amazing fact that the majority of properties displayed on the Internet do not take full advantage of the exciting and very affordable media tools available today. According to NAR’s 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers one-third of buyers turn to the Internet first when beginning a property search and over 87% of all buyers use the Internet at some point in the process! This same reports show how the importance of virtual tours to home buyers is increasing. 68% of the respondents say that virtual tours are “very useful” in their search for homes on the Internet. Value of Website Features (Virtual Tours) Source:  NAR 2006, 2007, 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and […]

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Intermountain MLS Joins Twitter

by THE WAV GROUP on May 2, 2009

Although they are just getting started, the Intermountain MLS of Boise ID has joined twitter to communicate with members, and probably consumers. You can follow them at http://twitter.com/imls Here are a number of thier posts – I especially like their process of announcing market statistics – this information is valuable to both the members and consumers – reinforcing the authority of the relationship between organized real estate and consumers. IMLS is proud to be hosting Rick DeLuca once again June 11th.#fb14 minutes ago from web   March Statistics are Now Available. Visit http://tinyurl.com/d7klpf11:23 AM Apr 14th from web

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In 2005, WAV Group looked at Transaction Management adoption and wondered why it hadn’t taken off.  Everyone was saying they wanted it and everybody said it was a good idea, yet, the more we delved into it the more we found a lack of real adoption.  The study, which is still available for download here. identified many of the issues affecting adoption and why there was a gap between what the industry was saying and what the industry was doing. The study also made recommendations on the best ways to create adoption by rolling technology out in a series of steps to address the real “pain point” facing the average agent.  This appears to be happening and while full scale Transaction Management may not be the norm yet, many of the component pieces are being used successfully by a good percentage of agents. Our 2009 study will once again look at Transaction Management but will also look at the specific products such as auto forms, document management, transaction actiivity management and digital signatures to see what agents are really using, what they like and what they would like to see.  We look forward to sharing the results with you in the very near future. If your MLS would like to take part in the survey, please contact Mike Audet at 716-839-4628, or mike@wavgroup.com.  

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