2010

Digital Life Clean Up

by THE WAV GROUP on December 31, 2010

goodbye 2010

On the eve of welcoming in a new year, there are a couple of Digital Life Clean Up items that you may want to consider. Update your Social profiles If you are like me, you probably have accounts on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc. It is a good idea to look at your profile on all of these social networks and update them to reflect the things that happened in your life this year.  Start with updating your photo. Linkedin There are new features, called SECTIONS on Linkedin that have been added this year when you are updating your profile, you may want to take the time to add these. Some of the items that I added to my profile included a Blog Section, Publication Section, and Skills Section. The Blog Section lets you pull in the RSS Feed of your blog which is a handy way of letting people who know you or who are doing a background check on you to see the types of information that you write about. I also noticed that it pulls the blogs of your connections into a separate tab. The Skills feature is pretty cool. You can outline the things that you do, and place an experience level like Expert, along with the time that you have been doing those things. The Publications feature is probably not going to be a very important feature for many, but allowed me to highlight some of my favorite papers that WAV Group has produced over the past few years. I also noticed that there are some legacy features on my profile that I had not updated in awhile for example, I use SlideShare to post WAV Group presentations to my Linkedin profile. I did not spend much time putting up presentations, but added one so that the content looks somewhat fresh. Look carefully at your professional bio for information that is out of date. I found that the RE Technology part of my profile only said that it reaches 250,000 agents a day. As of December, RE Technology reaches 530,000 agents through MLS partners big difference. Lastly, take a look at your recommendations. I deleted a bunch and requested a few more. I tend to place more weight on the recommendations that highlight the types of services that we provide rather than the clients we have worked with. Consulting is as much a service business as Real […]

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Christmas Poem for Online Geeks

by THE WAV GROUP on December 22, 2010

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when alone in my house I was finishing shopping, with a click of the mouse; Then I cleared out my browser cache, cookies deleted, In hopes of nefarious snooping, defeated. Yea, the whole ecosystem lay snug in their beds, While visions of cookies alit in their heads; But these weren’t the cookies you baked, or you ate, That you left out to cool, on a red and green plate. No, these cookies told advertisers about you, About all of the things that you wanted to do. Did you buy electronics, a guitar from Fender? Were you that most precious, an auto intender? In what Zip did you live, And in what DMA, And to whom were your eyeballs worth the most, today? The consumer press had quite a panic created Over issues of privacy wholly invaded And now there was talk about some “Do Not Track” Which the whole ecosystem feared would set us back. Well, my head was a whirl with this “What They Know” chatter When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, So I reached for my smartphone, and issued a tweet, And let Foursuare know too, since friends might like to meet. Then I made my way down to the yard, in the snow, Keeping Facebook appraised, as along I did go. When, what to these cynical eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, The sputtering, cursing driver gave pause, But I knew right away this was ol’ Santa Claus. So I asked him, “Good sir, on this crisp winter’s night, What has caused you such anguish? You do look a fright.” More rapid than eagles his answers they came, And he heaved up, and listed each of them by name; “Oh pixels, Oh DSPs, real-time bidding, Oh persistent cookies, oy! Who are we kidding? Aggregators, exchanges, oh optimization, Analytics, ad servers, and verification! Ad Ops, infrastructure, and technical specs – And we wonder why people think this stuff’s complex?” He was on a roll now, and I stared at him, rapt For I knew that the things he was saying were apt. And the more that he spoke, well, the more he became Rolly, jingly, and jolly, befitting his name. “But what are we to do then?” I asked the great man And he smiled at me, and said, “Josh, I’ve got a plan.” […]

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broker technology chart

Brokers, large and small, face significant challenges they did not face 20 years ago.  Profit margins have eroded and control over their independent contractors has been minimized.   The consumer has taken on a much more vocal role in the process and is forcing transparency and responsiveness never before experienced.   Some of these challenges are related to technology and the advance of the Internet while others are cultural challenges that have come about through the changing broker/agent relationship.  WAV Group’s new white paper explores the issues behind the broker’s challenge to gain better control and visibility into their companies while re-establishing a new value proposition for their agents! While part one of this five part series focused on understanding how brokers got into the technological mess they find themselves today.  The second part of this series discussed how to get through the maze of broker technology. The third part discussed the new technology solutions that provide light at the end of the tunnel. The fourth part of this series detailed a case study WAV Group conducted to serve as an example to other brokerages. We have now come to the final part of this 5 part series, to discuss how a broker can create an effective technology plan.   What should the solution look like? If you take a look at the following chart showing a sample of real estate company products you realize that in every case there is information that could and should flow between these different products. The ideal system would allow for data to flow throughout the organization. From accounting to lead generation, things should be connected! At the very least, there should never be information that is entered in one module that has to then be entered into multiple other modules. Take that a step further and you see opportunities for expense and financial data to be shared and analyzed that will help a broker understand what is working and what isn’t. Are your products industry specific or have they been “adapted” for use in real estate? What trade offs were made in the process? How well does your technology provide you the vision and clarity you need to run your business and make informed decision? With your existing technology infrastructure can you answer these questions? Do you know? 1.     What is the real cost of our lead generation processes? 2.     Where are my leads really coming from? […]

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Creativity + Facebook and blog = National Brand

by THE WAV GROUP on December 17, 2010

Break the rules

This morning I learned from Brand Channel that a Hugo Boss Model was hitchhiking around Europe. His name is Stefan Gbureck and he wrote a blog at Tramp-a-benz.com. In 16 days, using Facebook and his blog to generate buzz – Stefan became an international sensation in the fashion world. He received national media coverage and piles of industry coverage for his quest. As a consultant to many of the largest brands in Real Estate, we are constantly urging clients to do something new and sensational. Unfortunately, we rarely win. Big brands are often conservative and apply marketing using stoic, conventional vehicles. When brands do step out of the norm – they see huge lift. Just ask Prudential Georgia how their SCVNGR hunt went. For those of you who do not know – SCVNGR is a company funded in part by Google that is trying to build a game layer over the planet. In the case of Prudential Georgia – they worked with SCVNGR and Homefinder.com to let couples race around Atlanta finding stuff to win a $20,000 downpayment on a home. Mark Tepper of Homefinder said it was the most gratifying marketing event of his life. At the end of the game – a young couple bought a home! One of the other marketing sensations that is wrapping the globe is a company called Groupon. Groupon is all about getting people deals on stuff – right now! It is a coupon on steroids, or social networks as the case is here. You sign up for Groupon (free), and they send you product deals via facebook and twitter, which you of course can pass along to your friends. People do not buy homes in groups, but agents do buy technology and advertising in groups. We would like to see some technology companies step up with some Grouponing type marketing at RE Technology. Get a huge discount – right now – but you must buy today. Old way vs. new way We hear a lot about the old way of marketing. Go to trade shows, pump up your brand, show all of its features, and try to sell it for retail. You walk away with a few sales, a hand full of business cards, and a hang over. Perhaps the new way to market is to let people drive it. Today’s marketers may want to consider customer acquisition costs, and customer loyalty opportunities in marketing. Rather than […]

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MRIS launches iPad Support

by THE WAV GROUP on December 16, 2010

mris ipad

MRIS announced today that they now support subscribers gaining access to MRIS via the iPad. In a message sent out to subscribers today, MRIS indicated that the release of this functionality was based upon customer feedback. For some REALTORS, the iPad has become the “can’t live without it” device. An agent’s life is on the road, running to meetings, attending open houses, showing property, and networking. With the iPad coupled with MRIS, their business can hit the road with them. The MRIS launch strategy to support the iPad started with MRIS.com. Efforts are underway to make a Matrix/Keystone interface for the iPad and other mobile devices. MRIS is not alone in this leadership role. They join the ranks of other leading MLSs who offer a colorful array of mobile solutions that keep their subscribers connected to MLS service offerings anytime, anywhere. Moreover, upgrades and new MLS systems like RE Insight, Paragon 5, Fusion, FlexMLS and a host of others are headed in the direction of supporting Apple PC and other devices. This is all great news for real estate sales associates! Soon the days of being tied to Microsoft Explorer will be long behind us. If you have a story about the use of the iPad in real estate, leave a comment below. Happy Holidays!  

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Freddie Mac reminds us to check our websites

by THE WAV GROUP on December 15, 2010

embarrassed

In a rather embarrassing episode of Freddie Mac’s history, we all can learn a little about checking our websites. Freddie Mac finally fixed an online calculator that’s supposed to help people choose between renting and buying a home. Until now, the calculator had a fundamental (and revealing) flaw: It assumed home prices could never fall. Jacob Kosoff, an economist who was responsible for the calculator when he worked at Freddie Mac apologized. “I’m sorry that I didn’t send an e-mail or work a little harder to get that fixed so the calculator can allow for the possibility of reality,” The reality that housing prices sometimes decline. As of last month, the calculator still returned an error if you tried to assume that home prices would fall. But today, Kosoff wrote: The Rent vs Buy calculator on the Freddie Mac website has been fixed. Though I wasn’t able to get it fixed while I worked there, I am very relieved it is working properly now. As a reminder – check the mortgage and other calculators on your website – make sure they are working correctly. Check all of your links. And my personal favorite – make agents check their profiles. There is not better time than the holidays to update your About Us page.  

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Zillow and Agent Ratings

by THE WAV GROUP on December 14, 2010

zillow logo

WAV Group has been talking about Agent Ratings for a long time now. We published a white paper on the topic in December of 2008. Around the internet, everything gets rated – consumer products and services of every type. It was not a terribly hard forecast to imagine that someone would emerge to become the epicenter of the Agent Rating. There have been a number of successful efforts in Agent Ratings – perhaps the leader in the space has.been QualityCertified or QSC.  They pioneered the landscape and have a methodology of insuring that real customers give real ratings. To my knowledge – they remain the only company that continues to make this service available to sales associates or brokers in real estate. A few weeks ago, leading consumer portal, Zillow.com, who also powers property search for realestate.yahoo.com and a few hundred city newspapers – launched their Agent Ratings program. According to Hitwise – those sites combined for 7.5 million visitors this week. Traffic + Agent Ratings = Epicenter. But will it stick? The Houston Association of REALTORS had the Traffic + Agent Ratings = Epicenter formula. After years of offering QSC as a member benefit, they built their own ratings system – and it was a good one. Unfortunately, the solution was cut back a bit in features because agents were not prepared to have their sales history and ratings published to the public. HAR, being a service driven REALTOR organization, listened to their members and removed many of the features of the program. What says ye Zillow? The real estate industry is likely only beginning to learn about agent ratings at Zillow. 95% of agents probably do not even know that they are being rated there, or how they are rated, or how Zillow qualifies the person rating the agent’s service. They appear to be on the right track. Unlike Houston, where agents and brokers immediately asked for ratings and historical sales to be removed – I have not heard nary a whisper about the Zillow agent ratings program beyond this article on RE Technology by Phoenix broker,Jay Thompson. Perhaps Zillow is in the best position to launch agent ratings – free of all of the political interference of organized real estate – it does not really seem to matter how agents feel about it – they just need to deal with it. Like it or not – Agent Ratings have arrived. […]

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Picture 99

First American Title was chosen as one of the top 50 Happiest Places to Work in the United States according to the CareerBlss’ Top 50 in 2011. They are the only company in the real estate industry to make the list sharing the honors with prestigious and innovative companies like Google, 3M, Johnson & Johnson and The Walt Disney Company. First American Title ranked 20th on the list. CareerBliss, an online career-guidance tool, used more than 91,000 confidential employee reviews to evaluate companies based on opportunities for growth, compensation, benefits, work-life balance, career advancement, senior management, job security and whether the employee would recommend the company to others.Rev Review the entire list of Happiest Companies here.

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WAV Group Property Indexing White Paper

by THE WAV GROUP on December 12, 2010

WAV Group Indexing White Paper Cover

WAV Group is proud to release this property indexing white paper to explain NAR’s policy on indexing listings. The paper provides an overview of indexing, the process used by search engines to catalog information on the internet. Click the image to download the paper for free. In order for MLSs to enforce IDX rules and regulations, they must understand indexing. Furthermore, anyone operating an IDX website needs to understand indexing and the advantages that it offers to search engine optimization and online competition. Non-IDX property search websites like Trulia, realtor.com and others have been indexing listings for years, and as a result – they have a significant advantage over brokers in online search results. The typical broker website may only have a few hundred pages of content if the listings are not indexed. In a major MLS market, that same broker may have 100,000 of pages of content if the IDX listings on their website are indexed. WAV Group suggests that allowing indexing of all listings on all IDX websites will provide a great benefit to large brokers today. It will provide a lesser, but still significant benefit to smaller brokers today. However, the significance of indexing will deteriorate as the practice if indexing becomes widespread. Search Engines consider duplicate data as bad data. To fix this issue, further consideration of indexing is needed by the industry. Here are three considerations: First Consideration:  only allow the listing broker to index his or her own listings. Our reasoning is simple. 1.     The listing broker is legally responsible for the listing content 2.     The listing broker and its agent collected the listing content and created a unique and aggregate piece of work in the MLS system. 3.     The listing broker and its agent curated the listing content from inception to sale. Second Consideration: only allow the buyer’s broker representative to index sold listings. In so far as the seller’s representative is the responsible party for the active listing data, the buyer’s representative is the logical responsible party for the sold listing data, and its accuracy. Third Consideration: only allow indexing on a limited number of fields that satisfy the need of a recognized search engine to direct consumers to the source of the indexed data. Presumably only a short list of fields is necessary for this purpose. Let the indexing begin! On your marks, get set, go! See you at the finish […]

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One Broker’s Case Study- Taking Back Control Brokers, large and small, face significant challenges they did not face 20 years ago.  Profit margins have eroded and control over their independent contractors has been minimized.   The consumer has taken on a much more vocal role in the process and is forcing transparency and responsiveness never before experienced.   Some of these challenges are related to technology and the advance of the Internet while others are cultural challenges that have come about through the changing broker/agent relationship.  WAV Group’s new white paper explores the issues behind the broker’s challenge to gain better control and visibility into their companies while re-establishing a new value proposition for their agents! While part one of this five part series focused on understanding how brokers got into the technological mess they find themselves today.  The second part of this series discussed how to get through the maze of broker technology. The third part discussed the new technology solutions that provide light at the end of the tunnel. We have now come to part 4 of this 5 part series, to discuss a broker case study as a guide for brokerages. New Real Estate Products Offer Hope! Integration is improving throughout our industry. The MLS world today is an example of evolution in process. There isn’t “true” integration across all products but specialty solutions have gotten better and more sophisticated. Now vendors like Cure, and CARETS act as the data conduit between disparate systems. MLS vendors like CoreLogic, LPS and FBS offer options as a part of their standard menu of products that can tie together different MLSs pretty painlessly.   We have better conduits and connectors. But, they are still examples of interim solutions that are a result of our lack of standards and infrastructure in our industry. In the Broker world today there are improvements as well. Standards don’t exist but now there are vendors that are offering a broader product set that provide advanced levels of integration. We are seeing vendors now offering products that stretch from back office to the web, offering the first chance for Brokers to truly get a clear view of their businesses, and to use data more easily throughout the organization. Other companies have taken a similar approach to the data supply side of the Broker business offering product sets that manage the MLS data integration process while adding to it a full […]

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Happy Techsgiving!

by THE WAV GROUP on November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey Chalk Drawing

Today is a great day for our family!  Back in 2002 we were blessed with the first of our child, Alexandra!  It will forever be a special day for us! Each of us have great things to be thankful for this year….. It hasn’t been an easy year for the real estate industry, but at the end of the day the industry is growing stronger – we’re getting more nimble, we’re doing more with less and we’re learning how to let go of some of our outdated traditions. While to some technology is not something to be celebrated, on this day I thought it might make sense to take a minute to thank the geniuses in Silicon Valley for the ways they have made our lives easier and making the world a more connected place. Let’s look at the every day tools we use….how about email…..we just hit send and thousands of people can hear the words we shout around the world. Could our phones get any smarter?  We have a super powerful computer at our fingertips!  We can share our experiences in real-time and stay connected no matter where we are, no matter what we’re doing. How about MLS systems?  We can manage most of our work life from one simple and affordable tool – what other business allows you to manage your key work processes for less than 1 dollar per day? I would like to say thanks to every technology visionary who has poured their heart and soul into making the lives of real estate professionals more successful with exciting new technologies.  Without you, our new site RETechnology.com could not exist and our industry would be in the dark ages! Happy Techsgiving to all who use technology seamlessly every day!  We hope you have a great holiday season and prepare yourself for an even better 2011!

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Move makes a move into Rentals

by THE WAV GROUP on November 23, 2010

It is no surprise to anyone in real estate that the rental market has caught fire. Many MLSs are scrambling to expanded offerings to meet the needs of brokers who have focused on growing their property management business to meet demand. “Nobody wants to own a vacant home,” says Amy Gallagher of Century 21 Hometown. “We represent investors in buying rental property, and attract them with our strong property management business – we capture a side or two of the sale, and an ongoing business relationship that lasts years.” One thing that you can always trust consumers to do is vote with their mouse. There are currently 6 companies in the Hitwise Top 20 Real Estate websites that focus purely on rentals. Recent studies show ApartmentFinder.com against the rest of the industry – a shift took place sometime in July of 2009. Property search took a dive, and traffic to ApartmentFinder.com and others jumped up. For companies like Move, who make a living on website traffic – capturing the attention of these consumers is the basic instrument of their succes. In a press release today, Move announced the following summary of their new rental portal. Move has always been a leader in online real estate search – with the relaunch of their rental search, they have elevated themselves as a leader of the rental search experience. The press release that follows provides very accurate product and feature description of the new site. Chief among the features is the focus on Lifestyle search.  WAV Group will be publishing a report on Lifestyle search in the next week or so.   REDESIGNED RENTAL PORTAL LEADS RENTERS TO THEIR NEXT APARTMENT FASTER CAMPBELL, CA (November 23, 2010) Move (NASDAQ: MOVE), the leader in online real estate, today launched a redesigned rentals search portal on Move.com sporting an updated look and feel supported by proprietary technology and new features designed to match todays renters with their ideal apartment in just three clicks. Redesigned to help renters make better and faster decisions, visitors can now search for their next apartment on a map or by list view simultaneously, select five desired community amenities from a list of 22 ‘Local Likes and instantly find apartments located close to those amenities, locate a pet friendly rental with a view, review city cost of living comparisons, instantly check availability of a unit with a desired floor plan, and download a leasing agreement before […]

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client relationnship

Part 3 of a 5 part series called Broker Technology, an Industry Missing Backbone By WAV Group Brokers, large and small, face significant challenges they did not face 20 years ago.  Profit margins have eroded and control over their independent contractors has been minimized.   The consumer has taken on a much more vocal role in the process and is forcing transparency and responsiveness never before experienced.   Some of these challenges are related to technology and the advance of the Internet while others are cultural challenges that have come about through the changing broker/agent relationship.  WAV Group’s new white paper explores the issues behind the broker’s challenge to gain better control and visibility into their companies while re-establishing a new value proposition for their agents! While part one of this five part series focused on understanding how brokers got into thetechnological mess they find themselves today.  The second part of this  series discussed how to get through the maze of broker technology. We have now come to part 3 of this 5 part series, to discuss the light at the end of this tunnel. Brokers are amazing people. They are leaders, motivators, trainers and counselors. The situation we are dealing with in the real estate broker’s world is really very similar to other examples we are all familiar with. If we look at some of those examples it points to a logical approach for broker’s to consider as they work to establish a more elegant end-to-end solution for their businesses. The benefits we are looking for with this improved infrastructure are very clear: Better ways to measure effectiveness of marketing efforts Reducing or eliminating redundant data entry Gaining control of data throughout the real estate operation Creating a clear picture of the company from beginning to end Establish an infrastructure to allow for informed business decisions Recently WAV Group conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews with brokers from around the country. One broker we interviewed put it very well. She sees the need for technology to help her in three key areas of her business. First she wants technology to help her generate, nurture, convert and maintain customers for her business. Second she wants to make the process of transacting business more efficient, with less risk and less cost. Third she wants to use technology to streamline her business operations. She believes that technology companies need to develop methods for seamlessly connecting all three of these business needs into one business suite that connects easily […]

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Listhub launches the ScoreCard Magazine

by THE WAV GROUP on November 21, 2010

Listhub Scorecard

Sundays are for surfing, and one of my favorite places to surf periodically is the ListHub Dashboard. Every real estate broker or MLS who is syndicating listings via Listhub should frequently check into the dash board to stay abreast of changes to Listing Syndication. Listhub does an excellent job of communicating where listings are going; what the terms of use are for each site; detailed information on re-syndication to other sites; data refresh frequency; support response times; and many other interesting facets of online data management. On November 14th, 2010, Listhub launched an online magazine that summarizes each syndication site. It is a 72 page diary, so please do not print it. Fortunately it can be viewed anytime on a web browser at http://www.listhub.net/scorecards/index.html

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Victor Lund, WAV Group Partner to Speak at REMS 2010

by THE WAV GROUP on November 19, 2010

REMS_banner

Victor Lund, partner at WAV Group, is slated to speak at two session for the upcoming REMS 2010 – Real Estate Marketing Summit 2010!  Located in San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado this year’s three day summit is packed with educational seminars and networking opportunities for real estate professionals. This year REMS is providing WAV Group Blog subscribers a significant discount to this event.  Get one day FREE if you register soon! The entire 3 day summit is a $499 program and now you can also get all 3 days for just $149! This is a no obligation program that puts the value proposition in your hands as a real estate professional or manager. It’s a perfect time to get your 2011 marketing strategy dialed in. RSVP Now! November 30, 2010 – schedule is as follows: 9:00 – 9:50 Deep Dives (Breakouts): “Perfect Buyer Agency” “Content, Content, Content” “20 Bad Ass Tips from a Top Producer” 10:00 – 10:50 Deep Dives: “New School Branding” “Making Facebook Convert” “Power Real Estate Teams” 11:00 – 11:50 Deep Dives: “QR Code Strategy” “Facebook Marketplace” “Secret Session” 12:00 – 12:50 Lunch 1:00 – 1:50 Deep Dives: “Social Marketing” “Single Property Website Equals SEO” “Secret Session” 2:00 – 3:30 GENERAL SESSION: “Mastering your Real Estate Universe!” 3:45 – 4:45 Deep Dives: “Hyperlocal – Hyper$$$” “Evolution of Real Estate Marketing” “It’s all about Lifestyle”   To secure your official one day pass to this event, please fill out their online form and a Real Estate Marketing Summit specialist will be contacting you shortly to confirm your information. To learn more please click here. To socialize this opportunity, visit REMS on Facebook:  http://facebook.com/REmktgSummitor visit their Twitter page: http://twitter.com/REmktgSummit.

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Corelogic Infonet Press Release

by THE WAV GROUP on November 18, 2010

corelogic logo

Corelogic Partner Infonet Reaches 120,000 Users – Secure Data Licensing and Revenue Sharing Program Expands to Oklahoma, Rhode Island- SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 18, 2010 – CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), a leading provider of information, analytics and business services, today announced that multiple listing services (MLSs) representing a total of 120,000 real estate professionals have joined the Partner InfoNet, with organizations representing another 290,000 real estate agents pending or currently in negotiations.  Several recently signed agreements give CoreLogic comprehensive coverage in both Rhode Island and Oklahoma. “We are very pleased to participate in the Partner InfoNet,” said Al Unser, chief executive officer of the Greater Tulsa Association of REALTORS®.  “There is growing demand for our MLS data in the mortgage industry to better manage risk and make faster, more accurate decisions.  With their leading market position, established client relationships and track record licensing MLS data, CoreLogic is the best and most logical partner to safely unlock the value of our data.  We look forward to sharing the benefits with our members.” Launched just six months ago, the Partner InfoNet is an innovative new revenue sharing program in which MLSs license their listing data to CoreLogic for use in risk management products for mortgage lenders, servicers and the capital markets.  Central to the Partner InfoNet program is a comprehensive data protection system that uses sophisticated data seeding and active monitoring to guard against the misuse or abuse of data. As part of the service, CoreLogic consults with customers to identify and resolve potential security holes in their MLS system and policies. “We place great importance on securing our clients’ information,” said Ben Graboske, senior vice president, Product & Technology, Data and Analytics Group, for CoreLogic. “Our comprehensive data protection services give customers tremendous peace of mind, and this is reflected in the adoption rates we’re seeing for the Partner InfoNet.” The majority of Partner InfoNet signatories have chosen CoreLogic as their exclusive data licensing partner for risk management solutions.  Exclusive partners also receive free access to MLS-enhanced automated valuation models (AVMs) and the CoreLogic Data Co-op, an innovative new data sharing tool that makes it easy for MLSs to access listings from around the country while precisely controlling who can see their data.  For more information on the Partner InfoNet program, visit www.marketlinx.com or e-mail info@marketlinx.com. About CoreLogic CoreLogic is a leading provider of consumer, financial and property information, analytics and services […]

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MLS Boards that Deliver

In many of our conversations with MLSs we hear frustrations expressed about how board meeting discussions dwindle down into minutiae on a regular basis. Instead of talking about how to position the company for the future, the dialog degrades into discussions rehashing a committee recommendation for a small change to the rules and regulations or a $349 line item on the budget. Does this sound familiar?  If so, then there are several changes you might want to consider, but let me focus on just one for this article. When you look around the room at your next MLS board meeting you likely will see only those involved in the real estate industry as practicing REALTORSÒ, affiliates or Association Executives. While these professions and perspectives are VERY important to an MLS organization, there are others that may need to be considered as well in our view. First, let’s talk about what a MLS organization is at its heart.  I believe it is a technology services organization built for a specific target audience – real estate professionals.  While MLSs definitely have to provide data quality oversight and sometimes arbitration, these organizations generally provide highly affordable and reliable services to their members – in essence, they are technology companies. If you examine the board make-up of just about any successful technology company,  they are led by highly skilled, senior level professionals skilled in a variety of areas  Generally the boards for technology companies have a marketing executive, finance executive, at least one fellow technology executive, human resource, customer service executive and sometimes a representative from an educational institution or the not-for-profit sector. I am not aware of any technology company board comprised exclusively of customers.   Look at Apple Corporation’s Board of Directors for example. Their board is comprised of senior executives from the retail sector, technology and financial services, not to mention the former Vice President of the United States!  How’s that for some diversity of thinking? When I ran Surveyor Corporation, a start-up web camera services company, I had the former CFO for Intuit Corporation, a serial entrepreneur, the first head of operations for Sun Microsystems and a marketing executive from Silicon Valley along with the founder of the company who wrote the first jpeg and mpeg software.   This is a fairly typical board make-up for small to medium size technology companies. While the MLS organization does have unique characteristics from other types […]

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Broker technology

An Industry Needing Backbone Brokers, large and small, face significant challenges they did not face 20 years ago.  Profit margins have eroded and control over their independent contractors has been minimized.   The consumer has taken on a much more vocal role in the process and is forcing transparency and responsiveness never before experienced.   Some of these challenges are related to technology and the advance of the Internet while others are cultural challenges that have come about through the changing broker/agent relationship.  WAV Group’s new white paper explores the issues behind the broker’s challenge to gain better control and visibility into their companies while re-establishing a new value proposition for their agents! While part one of this five part series focused on understanding how brokers got into the technological mess they find themselves today.  Part 2 of a 5 part series, opens the discussion for how brokers can sift through the maze of technology that currently exists in the industry. Brokers are amazing people. They are leaders, motivators, trainers and counselors. As part of their business they also need to be able to select and implement technology to serve their needs and the needs of their agents. As the Internet has unfolded and more and more processes have become automated, brokers have been required to develop totally new skill sets, or hire them, to address these technology needs. There are many areas within the Broker’s world that require automation. Here is just a partial list. Many companies, small to large, have implemented multiple products to address these areas. Implementation has taken place over time and as a result we find that companies have many different products, from many different vendors, addressing each issue individually. This fact, while it is totally understandable, has created a bit of a nightmare in terms of trying to get these products to work together. When you couple the fact that our industry does not really have data standards to help manage this process you realize the problem is quite formidable. Our Industry is Spineless The Broker technology industry does not have a “backbone” or infrastructure that allows for the unique products to work together seamlessly. While I can plug my Sony DVD into my Toshiba HDTV and have it work perfectly and I can even manage both with a single remote control, I can’t have my Broker accounting and membership system talk to my lead generation system […]

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silhouetteofmanonmoutainpeakXSmall

Lani Rosales at Agent Genius.com wrote an interesting article about whether there are too many REALTORS in the market at this point. While I understand why many would suggest that the market may, in fact, be oversaturated, I would argue that NAR serves a valuable purpose as a political organization. The more members, the more influence.  There’s nothing wrong with its role as THE advocate for the real estate industry. Instead of trying to revamp NAR, I would love to see a new organization meant only for top producers and  highly trained professionals new to the industry. The entry stakes would be a lot higher for this new “higher form” of real estate professional. How about a four year degree or at least an INTENSIVE 18 month training program much like CFP (Certified Financial Planners) have to go through?  After all, agents advise consumers on their most important purchase and most important asset. Why shouldn’t agents be trained and prepared in understanding not only the elements of a transaction, but the financial ramifications of a transaction as well?    Why can’t members of this new organization be skilled in sharing market statistics and trends? To support this idea, maybe there could be a new brokerage model much like UBS or Merrill Lynch use, where the organization supports the professional until they get through the equivalent of their  “CFP” training? The cost of membership of this organization would be a lot higher than the price of entry for the REALTOR badge.   In exchange, this new organization would promote the RELEVANT differences between a “Certified Real Estate Professional” and regular real estate professionals.  Consumers would be trained to understand that members of this group have significantly more training and performance standards.   The organization’s effective“edutizing” campaign would be so successful that consumers would come to the table demanding this higher level professional. Each member would agree to abide by a set of quality service standards and to be evaluated against a ratings program like QSC (Quality Service Certified). Each would agree to be fully transparent about feedback from their past customers AND the amount of business they have done.  Instead of being driven by a political agenda, this group would be driven purely by a commitment to providing exemplary service with a deep understanding of the nuances of real estate. If this new concept worked, maybe members could dictate higher commission rates or possibly even work […]

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On a recent business trip, I read a book called The No Asshole Rule:  Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving On that Isn’t by Robert Sutton, PHD and Stanford Professor. It is a delightful quick read that demonstrates that “a__holes” destroy companies and the people they mistreat.  Seems obvious enough, but often the “a__holes” are also power mongers who frequently succeed in life (Steve Jobs, for example, is rumored to be one of these!) After finishing the book, I opened the window and took a few pictures of the Grand Canyon, then considered the plight of the MLS CEO. As an MLS consultant, I care deeply about the success of the MLS industry.  I know there are a lot of smart and hard-working people dedicated to evolving the industry and constantly seeking to make their service more relevant and satisfying to their customers. When we conduct strategic planning sessions we have the privilege of looking inside of organizations. We have noticed something disheartening in the past couple of years. In many MLSs we work with we see an “a__hole” as the book defines, that is trying to destroy the MLS for personal gain. One of the largest advantages AND challenges MLSs face is the make-up of their governing boards.   In many of the regional MLSs around the country, boards are made up of agent and broker representatives placed there on behalf of their local real estate Associations.  Many board members bring a depth of knowledge of the local marketplace that can be a strong asset to a MLS organization.  However, in many places around the country, competition among Associations is finding its way into the MLS boardroom.  We have seen valuable programs designed to benefit subscribers get stonewalled because the shareholder associations do not want every association to have access to the program.  I have seen outright hostility in strategic planning meetings where Association representatives will not even speak to their fellow board member from an “opposing” Association. The National Association of REALTORS supports a concept called Board of Choice. Simply stated, REALTORS may be members of any Board of REALTORS they choose. This is a great program for REALTORS as competition among boards for members leads to value. If a local board charges high dues and provides poor services, members have the opportunity to migrate to neighboring boards that provide greater value and support to them.  While this is a […]

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