December 2009

NYC is going green, why cant you?

by THE WAV GROUP on December 30, 2009

New York City has passed landmark legislation to reduce the cost of operating existing buildings according to an article this week in the Queens Center. While most municipal legislation focuses mainly on building standards for new builds, this legislation requires energy reduction and energy use monitoring for large existing buildings in New York City. This legislation will affect a small percentage of the buildings in NYC, yet it will affect 45% of the city’s total energy consumption.  The legislation requires annual energy audits and remediation plans.  It specifically targets lighting since 20% of total energy consumption in the city is from illumination. The goal of the legislation is to save energy, but importantly also to save costs and help retain corporate presence in one of the most expensive cities in the world. This is the time of year for resolutiona and renewed focus. Wouldn’t it be great if every real estate brokerage, association and MLS would adopt the legislation too?  How much energy could we save if we implemented a few simple changes which would save every real estate organization money, while increasing consumer interest and employee loyalty?  It isn’t that hard to go green. One simple way – start to use oneline document management programs – you eliminate the cost of storage, paper, printing, faxing AND you can save some trees at the same time. Reduce the energy consumption in your building and your staff.  Install light sensors so when a room is empty the lights automatically go off.  Switch to LED lighting if you’re remodeling. While they are more expensive to install, they are a LOT more energy efficient in the long run and will save you tons on your energy bill.  There are now new smart power strips too that will draw no power from computers and other devices once the power strip is turned off.  The changes are not that hard, you just need to make it a priority and get it done. Once you have made the changes be sure you take credit for them with your employees, agents and most importantly your clients.  Studies have shown clients are more interested in working with green companies so you can turn your cost savings into a marketing advantage – we call that a win/win. If you would like to learn more about how you can take your organization green this year, you can download our free paper on Make […]

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Metrolist Adopts Flat Fee Pricing Structure

by THE WAV GROUP on December 23, 2009

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In a historic move for Metrolist MLS, the company has moved from a usage pricing model to a flat fee model. This move will likely save Metrolist’s active top producer members hundreds of dollars a year – a welcome change in a contracted economy.

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Are you as annoying as a political party?

by THE WAV GROUP on December 23, 2009

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During critical election times I became quite engrossed in learning all of the “facts” about political candidates so I signed up for several email newsletters so that I could learn about issues from several perspectives. In the heat of the battle I was not affronted by being asked constantly for funds.  The pitches for funding usually included some valuable information about the issues at hand so I was willing to put up with the incessant sales pitches. Fast forward to a year later.  Now the major elections are over.  I have already given at the office, donating to the candidates and issues I felt strongly about when the presidential election was at stake. Today I received a plea from one of the parties asking for yet more money to fight political campaigns for three senators in states I don’t live.  There was nothing in the email about specifics or insights about the topics of today – specifically health care reform.  Simply a pitch for more money delivered within  highly biased and factless fodder. I become so turned off that I am now unsubscribing from all of the political lists I have received.  They are providing no value to me. I couldn’t help but think about real estate marketing when I received the latest fruitless email from one of the political parties. Are we truly delivering insight and value in our communications or are just like the politicians – pitching, pitching, pitching without delivering any interesting perspective or education?  Do our newsletters include truly unique and helpful information that will be interesting to consumers or are they simply a sales pitch ? Are we engaging consumers in a long-term conversation building a trust relationship over time by “giving” without having to “get”?  I recently published a paper called “Edutizing” which talks about methods for connecting with potential clients by offering them information and expertise without immediately asking them for the “order”. Patience is a virtue.  To remain relevant with today’s consumer we need to serve them with valuable articles, topics and resources that will put us in the center of the process by becoming a trusted advisor and consultant, not just a high pressure sales person. My wish for 2010 is that every agent will dig deep and find their consumer “voice”.  They need to talk about the topics they are passionate about and adept in and share their insights consistently. […]

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Trulia talks with Google rumored

by THE WAV GROUP on December 20, 2009

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  According to sources close to the situation Google has been in on-again, off-again acquisition talks with Trulia, the real-estate search engine.  This blog post appeared on CNET today from Kara Shisher – whose wife is an executive with Google – EVP Biz Dev.  kara also writes for the WSJ and co-produces a conference with Walt Mossberg. Kara indicates that sources estimate that Trulia’s valuation ranges between $150 and $200 million – although the sale would place a premium on top of that.

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Google Books

Los Angles Times, 2009 – International Search Engine Company, Google – opens new company in Africa to begin scraping data outside the reach of United States and International Copyright Laws. This is fiction Today I read the Los Angles Times – paper edition (typing with black fingers).  There was an article covering Google Books – the Search Engine’s initiative to digitize every book on the planet in every language.  As it turns out, the French courts generally agree with the US Courts – that digitizing books violates copyright. I am not an international copyright lawyer, but I suspect that Google employs piles of them.  I  would estimate that they have already identified a country that will not give them a hard time over digitizing their country’s books or anything else for that matter –  making them available to their citizens and everyone else – online.  Google will soon ship all the books they want to copy to this unnamed country and digitize like crazy.  After all, the Internet is international and Google has invested in translation techniques for years.  Every book, every language, available everywhere to everyone.  Oh, and I almost forgot – since it is Google, all the books are free. Consider the compelling plight of the African people.  They have 130 Million children – and a median household income of $360 per year.  I know that my 7 year old daughter is reading about 10 books a month at an average price of $7……x12 months….$840 per year.  Seems like the good folks in Africa could put together a pretty good argument about why books need to be digital and made available to their 130 million children for free. We spend a lot of time and energy protecting real estate listing data here in America.  There are strong motivations of privacy protection and copyright protection.   We saw in our research of third party listing websites that some companies are embracing this notion of unrestricted reuse of listing data, and others work hard to limit the use of the data and maintain the broker’s rights. If the industry wants to protect the data rights, they better stop publishing the data to third parties without strict legal protections – internationally. If the industry wants to set the data free – that is easy.  Just keep publishing. I had a vision last night.  I pulled out my Google phone and took a […]

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The truth about the Boston Tea Party

by THE WAV GROUP on December 16, 2009

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On this day in 1773 (as you surely recall from Sister Herman Joseph’s fourth grade class), a group of Colonists, disguised as Indians, boarded 3 British ships at dockside in Boston Harbor. And, as you probably also recall, they threw tons of British tea into the Harbor. And, you probably learned, this was all done to protest the outrageously expensive British tea. Well, you can’t be right about everything. The tea was not expensive; it was cheap – -too cheap. That was the problem. The good people of Boston had been making quite a living smuggling Dutch tea into the Colonies. Now the Brits had cut the price of tea to undercut the smugglers. So, a guy named John Hancock, who just happened to be making a fortune in duty free imports….(the Brits called him the head smuggler)….funded this little “tea party”. Sure, Americans have historically hated tyranny and taxation but if you really want to get them ticked off – try a dose of deflation. Just ask some of the folks at the Fed, especially Chairman Bernanke.  He believes that we are seeing housing deflation?  WOW!  Amazing insight!  

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Hunt Real Estate Expanding to Capital Region

by THE WAV GROUP on December 16, 2009

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We’re always happy to report great news about companies from our hometown of Buffalo, New Yorik.  As reported in RIS MEDIA this morning, HUNT Real Estate ERA announced that it has formed a new joint venture with Empire Home Realty, Inc. based out of Saratoga Springs. Empire Home Realty currently operates two offices with over 30 agents associated with the firm. The newly established partnership will operate under the name of HUNT Real Estate ERA. Eric Eckardt, who was the Founder and President of Empire Home Realty, is now a General Manager of the region and Partner with HUNT Real Estate ERA in the new joint venture in the Greater Capital District Region. “By joining forces with Empire Home Realty, we will now offer consumers a broad menu of products and services throughout the Greater Capital Region and Adirondacks. HUNTs consumer-focused website, huntrealestate.com, their comprehensive marketing tools and agent systems, advanced technologies and overall commitment to our region made this a great strategic alliance for us. More importantly, our clients and agents will all benefit as a result,” said Eckardt. “Through the acquisition of Empire Home Realty, we can efficiently expand our operations in the Greater Capital Region, which is very important to us,” said Peter F. Hunt, Chairman and CEO of HUNT Real Estate Corporation. “We are serious about our commitment to the Capital Region and look forward to other opportunities to bring our level of service to this region.” According to the company, initial plans call for aggressive agent recruitment and training, as well as the establishment of HUNT ancillary services in the Capital Region, including mortgage origination, title abstract and insurance, and property and casualty insurance. HUNTs Customer Support Center, which is located in Depew, NY, offers extensive marketing and customer service support to all of HUNTs internal and external customers and stakeholders. It will provide strategic and tactical marketing direction to the Capital Region offices, including lead generation, advertising, Web-based and direct mail marketing, and agent prospecting services.  

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Impact of Unemployment on Real Estate

by THE WAV GROUP on December 12, 2009

Without jobs, people cannot pay for housing.  Foreclosures will continue and prices will decline until a new balance is found.  This could be the single factor that delays any recovery in real estate. The Decline

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Lines bluring between the physical world and the virtual

by THE WAV GROUP on December 8, 2009

In my morning perusal of news, I saw a story about Google who reiterated their goal of organizing the worlds information.  The article went on to show examples of how real time information is being assimilated by Google from a variety of different sources, translated into every language, and published for the world to view. There has been a lot of chatter recently about Google in Real Estate.  They have made some improvements to property search, but their data quality is still very bad.  Interestingly, the new policy suggestion by the National Association of REALTORS on data scraping will now allow Google (and any other ‘search engine’) to scrape the data from an authorized agent or broker IDX website.  I am sure that it will not be long before Google determines that IDX data from the MLS is the best data source – and aggregates all of the information accurately for their site.  If I were a third party website like Trulia or Zillow, I would re-brand myself as a Real Estate Search Engine and start scraping data. It is a lot easier than managing data feeds and their data would be more complete. As the Google article rambled on, I saw another interesting quote – “Yet the features increasingly attempt to draw the physical world into the Web. In another feature, Google teamed with Best Buy to offer real-time inventory information about product availability at local stores.”  It made think of the future of google maps and google images and google video.  Today, a consumer can drive around a town and access property information – active, pending, sold.  Tomorrow, I suspect that they will also have a variety of virtual tours that have been archived for access.  Have you published any family photos from inside your house – google can grab them and add them to the data set – time stamped and possibly stitched together.  At the end of all of this is a world whereby anyone can virtually walk into your house and look around without your permission. In the words of Robert Frost “No one stands round to stare. / It is nobody else’s affair / It couldn’t be called ungentle / But how thoroughly departmental.”  

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New Real Estate Book website review

by THE WAV GROUP on December 1, 2009

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The new Real Estate Book website provides and excellent value to their print advertisers – extending the effectiveness of print advertising to the internet.  They support consumers who start their buying or selling process by picking up a magazine.  They support their advertisers by providing a website that effectively competes for online consumers against the top sites for search engine optimization. The realestatebook.com had me from the word Arroyo.  The best online forms automatically ‘guess’ what you are typing as you enter each letter of text.  I love this feature – it makes me believe that the machine is thinking ahead for me.  Hello RealEstateBook.com.  As I began to type in my city name, it auto-filled.  And, what to my surprise did appear below as a featured listing?   A home, in nearby Pismo Beach!  Alas, I thought, someone is finally using browser intelligence in real estate to populate the page with listings around my ISP address.  “This site rocks,” I thought.  After a few refreshes of my browser, I realized that the Pismo Beach listing was a fluke – random luck.  Too bad, so sad The search results for my city, Arroyo Grande came up very quickly.  Along with it came some featured agents and agent banner advertising. Great stuff, but the execution of agent photos in the ads showed issues with automatically sizing photos incorrectly. Agent and Broker branding are nicely displayed on the site – giving preference to the agent over the broker, since the agent is likely responsible for payment of the ad.  All of the customary lead tools are in place – contact the agent, save a listing, cool social networking sharing tool. There was a gross amount of listing detail missing on the listing – despite having the property address, they did not auto-populate the school information, nor did they use public record information to populate lot size, square footage, taxes, etc..  It seems like they publish whatever information the advertising agent or broker provides with no augmentation from other available data sources.  Garbage in, garbage out – but this is easy to fix with some data licensing. Some other nice features are included in the website.  The URL structure of each listing includes the property address, “1529-Hillcrest-Dr-Arroyo-Grande-CA,” which is important for two reasons.  First, the agent can point to that domain as a virtual tour or easily provide the address to their client.  Secondly, […]

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