June 2010

CMLS Core Services Offering Graph

Core service offerings for MLSs continues to evolve and expand as MLSs look for ways to help their subscribers save money while serving the needs of their clients better. According to the 2009 CMLS MLS Operations Benchmarking Survey, nearly 60% of MLSs now provide Electronic faxing and Document Management as a core service offering. As noted in the 2009 WAV Group Transaction Management Adoption Study, usage of methods for processing transactions online continue to grow.  Agents first become comfortable with processing forms online. That process worked so well that they are now quickly adopting other online tools to make the process of closing a transaction easier.  Electronic Faxing is one of those tools that is exploding.  Whenever we conduct satisfaction surveys with MLS subscribers, Electronic Faxing is consistently ranked as one of the most highly valued services available through MLSs today.  Agents love the fact that they can actually “read” the fax when they get it. They especially value electronic faxing when they can automatically upload executed documents into an online file folder in a document management system so they can easily store and distribute all of their transaction documents in one place. MRED is the latest MLS that has listened to the needs of their customers and has adopted Electronic Faxing.  According to today’s announcement, Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC (MRED) and Instanet Solutions have reached an agreement that provides all MRED subscribers with the InstanetFaxTM service as a member benefit. MRED, based in Chicago is one of the largest MLS organizations in the country. Instanet Solutions is a leading international provider of paperless technologies to the real estate industry. “InstanetFaxTM will be deeply integrated with MRED’s MLS system providing users with a single and seamless interface”, said Martin Scrocchi, Instanet Solutions CEO. “We are providing MRED with extensive features including unlimited toll-free inbound and outbound faxing; uploading paper documents into the MLS, Smartphone access to fax, email or view documents and printing electronic files to fax or email all in one step. This combination enables MRED members to move one step closer to going truly paperless.” “Having the Instanet faxing capabilities incorporated directly into our MLS and Transaction Management applications will be a great advantage to our customers, and demonstrates MRED’s commitment to a paperless environment. The collaborative approach between MRED’s technical team, Instanet Solutions and MLS provider dynaConnections is a great example of cooperation within the real estate technology ecosystem […]

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carets logo

LoopNet™ has 4 Million members and they are the dominate player in offering MLS like services to the commercial real estate industry.  Their business model is different.  Commercial Sales agents and consumers all pay for subscriptions.  Some would say that LoopNet is highly successful, others would say that they are holding the commercial real estate industry hostage. As we have seen in the past, the National Association of REALTORS® has done plenty to intercept these types of trade concerns in real estate.  Perhaps the best example is the formation of Sentrilock™ as a competitor to GE Supra’s lock box domination.  NAR is also in the process of launching a new company to compete against Rapattoni, who has an enormous market share in Association management software. The NAR solution to LoopNet is called Commercial Source.  The Los Angles California data sharing initiative called CARETS has now partnered with Commercial Source to offer their services to CARETS participants and subscribers.  This is great news for Commercial Source and probably great news for commercial real estate specialists in the Greater Los Angles Metropolitan area.  I think it will be a long time before commercial agents stop posting listings to LoopNet, but at least they have an alternative.  Here is the press release.   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Free-Press-Release.com) June 22, 2010 – California Real Estate Technology Services (CARETS) has launched a property centric commercial multiple listing service (MLS) with resources and tools to enable its members to analyze and compile data, share information and market commercial properties more efficiently. Powered by ePropertyData, the commercial MLS and information exchange solutions provider owned by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), CARETS commercial information exchange will serve its more than 100,000 members throughout Southern California.   “A broker’s ability to access analytics and communicate market-based sales and lease history to help a client make a buy/lease decision is critical,” said Mike DeLeon, Chariman, CARETS Board of Directors. “In a changing market, having accurate and detailed information at your fingertips can make the difference in winning the client and ultimately, getting the deal done.” With the new MLS, CARETS members automatically gain additional marketing of their properties on CommercialSource.com, the national commercial real estate listing platform and marketplace hosted by the NAR and powered by ePropertyData. This extra exposure comes with REALTORS only having to list their properties once in their MLS, as ePropertyData distributes to CommercialSource, Realtor.com and other websites. […]

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Jeremy Crawford awarded CIO of the year for Sandicor

by THE WAV GROUP on June 21, 2010

sandicor

Sandicor, San Diego county’s Regional MLS is announced that its cheif information officer, Jeremy Crawford recently was awarded the Information Technology of the Year award by the San Diego Business Journal.  the Journal crafted the award to recognize outstanding achievements in the bustling technology sector of the San Diego economy. As chief information officer for Sandicor, Crawford oversees all of Sandicor’s information technology services, including infrastructure, data services, training services, and technical support services. Crawford provides Multiple Listing Services (MLS) as well as ancillary real estate products and services including online tax services, mobile applications, CRM software solutions, real estate lock box services, rules and regulations, and two-factor single-sign-on authentication systems for over 22,000 real estate professionals. In 2009, Crawford reduced Sandicor’s carbon footprint by reducing power needs through virtualization technologies. He increased technology-based educational services for the real estate community by providing online training opportunities to those in the industry. Elected as Corporate Secretary to Sandicor’s Board of Directors in 2009, Crawford participates in the entire corporation’s annual budget process and is a key individual in the corporation’s annual strategic plan. “The entire Sandicor team is proud to see Jeremy’s hard work in 2009 pay off,” said Ray Ewing, president and CEO of Sandicor. “We congratulate Jeremy on his success, and are sure we will see him nominated again next year as he continues to lead our technology efforts in 2010.” For more information on Sandicor’s San Diego MLS, visit www.Sandicor.com. To read more on this topic, visit: http://www.sandicor.com/press-release/sandicor-cio/. About Sandicor: Founded in 1991, Sandicor is one of the largest and most active Multiple Listing Services in the United States, providing approximately 22,000 members with an online database of active residential listings, history of non-active listings for the counties of San Diego, Riverside, Orange, and Imperial, and comprehensive tax records for the entire state of California. Sandicor is owned by four Association of REALTORS®, including the East San Diego County Association of REALTORS®, North San Diego County Association of REALTORS®, Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS®, and San Diego Association of REALTORS®.

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RBI – Real Estate Business Intelligence Launches

by THE WAV GROUP on June 17, 2010

mris logo

MRIS and RBI are pleased to announce the launch of the data analytics company, RealEstate Business Intelligence, and its new website, www.rbintel.com.  RBI is a wholly owned subsidiary of MRIS, the nation’s largest MLS provider to agents and brokers. Agents, brokers, appraisers and other real estate professionals can now receive the most reliable housing market data in the Mid-Atlantic region via www.rbintel.com – empowering them to make more educated decisions for their clients. RBI provides an in-depth understanding of real estate activity at the regional, county and local levels in the Mid-Atlantic housing market that has not previously been available. Based upon data from MRIS, RBI is the only company in the region that provides timely, online access to statistical information directly from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This new data analytics company brings value to real estate industry professionals by providing intelligence derived from the nearly five terabytes of information accumulated in the MRIS database. MRIS members may now access the product at www.rbintel.com. Use the self-generating report tool under the Statistics tab, and learn more about what’s coming soon under the Custom Solutions tab. RBI also welcomes feedback concerning its current statistics displays and welcomes ideas for new market analysis and reports. The site provides multiple opportunities for visitor feedback and suggestions. Read the full press release on this new company on the MRIS website .  

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Is an MLS Like a bank?

by THE WAV GROUP on June 17, 2010

backup servers

I have been rather absorbed with the problems with Intuit the past couple of days.  They went down tuesday night and we had to switch our payment processing over to paypal during the outage.  Thankfully, we had a backup plan. Our back up plan gets simulated monthly across all systems.  Thankfully it worked when it needed to, but not without the full on efforts of the development team. I was able to sit down with David Charon of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS) last week.  I am not sure how it came up, but he mentioned that his MLS system produces around $250,000 in revenue for participants and subscribers every day. He may have said $150,000 – but the actual number is inmaterial to the point that MLS services are like banking services or merchant account services.  Businesses rely on them every day to service their clients.  In the case of Intuit, businesses could not process payroll direct deposits, or receive payments from customers for nearly 36 hours.  Checks bounced.  I wonder what the true costs were. Like MLS vendors, Intuit made sales claims of their system redundancy, mirrors, RAID compliance, etc.  But have you tested it?  Have you practiced a backup plan?  As an MLS service provider, I believe that it is your responsibility to have a documented plan in place.  Make sure that the owners of actions in that plan are clearly instructed on their responsibilities, and test it.  Make sure it works.  Turn off the MLS system and bring it online using the backup.  Watch for issues and fix them.  Survey customers to learn if it worked.

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Intuit does social networking wrong

by THE WAV GROUP on June 16, 2010

intuit twitter fail

We gave the “love” to Quickbooks in our last post, now we will slam them in this post – they have it all wrong when it comes to social networking.  In our little real estate industry, we find companies like RPR, Trulia, Zillow and many others have full time social networking people who are managing real engagement on blogs, social networks and twitter.  However, there are many companies who are taking the approach of what J.D. Salinger’s famous Holden Caulfield called Phony. You see, Intuit is facing a major outage today – their massive number of websites and e-commerce solutions went dark last night, and they are still down.  Thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of consumers have been impacted (including our own, I might add). OUCH!  We have backup plans which rolled into action, thankfully. Intuit has asked customers to check their small business blog and their twitter page for updates.  The blog is down, and the twitter page is being updated every 5 hours.  Oddly, the automated twitter posts from their clever twitter bot continue to sling out marketing messages during this tragic period of their company’s life.  Check it out. As you can see, they updated their twitter page with a human only a few times today.  It says we are working on it, but does not define the problem or offer any indication as to when they will update the status.  Even if they do not know when they will be up again, at least they could be transparent about the issue, tell users what is going on, and offer to post an update every hour. But look what else you see in the twitter feed…. “SEO question #2 for #smallbiz: How visible is your site in search results? http://dld.bz/gHS4 More athttp://Intuit.com/Toolkit“ That is their social media bot – doing what it does – fake promotional marketing.  Surely someone would have the forethought to turn that off! If you do a search for intuit on twitter, you will see comments of thousands of pissed off customers – many of whom are also getting automated “sales” letters to sign up for their services…..you know, the ones that are DOWN! Really bad stuff, Intuit. Here is something for real estate to consider.  If you are using an automated system, would you, or could you turn it off in a tragedy?  Say you get in a tragic car accident, or there is a terrible hurricane, […]

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A web services lesson from Quickbooks

by THE WAV GROUP on June 16, 2010

quickbooks newsletter

When it comes to web services, Quickbooks gets it.  They understand that the work begins after the sale, not leading up to it. I recently had the opportunity to attend the RIS Media conference.  There was a room full of vendors barking about the promised land that would be achieved magically through the adoption of thier products – generate more leads, track this, engage consumers this way, reduce costs here.  In preparation for my panel address to the audience, I asked each booth to talk to me about thier support and training services.  What happens after the sale? The responses were dim – in some cases, dark.  Clearly they were not prepared to answer such questions – Today, as a Quickbooks user, I received my monthly “how to” newsletter.  You see Intuit, like most world class web service companies takes a careful look at their call center.  They group calls into categories and create a feedback loop to the product managers, developers and other product stakeholders.  They use the customer newsletter as a training tool.  Have a look. This Quickbooks newsletter addresses two clear goals.  The first is to help customers who are in panic mode – complete system failure – they cannot open thier Quickbooks folder.  This is a high priority call center call, but probably not the most frequent call. From there they go on to talking about less emergent issues, like scheduled backups.  They also link to thier support and training videos.  I have always been a fan of linking the videos directly from the area in the software where customers get stuck rather than sending customers on a search and find mission when they run into an issue.  Perhaps the best answer is a combination of the two. In any case, if you are looking for a new vendor, spend more time talking about training and support than the product features, advantages and benefits. Learn how the company is going to help you and your organization utilitize the technology tool to get the results the sales presentation promices. The best tools in the world are absolutely useless if they are not used correctly, or misused.    

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brandawarenessiStock_000011181524XSmall

MLS organizations many times suffer from branding confusion. When they are a division of the association, for example, yet they have their own identity members don’t know the name of the MLS entity. When regional MLSs deliver their services through local associations their brand recognition gets even more muddied. Here’s one area where there may be an opportunity to deliver a more clearly-branded service to build the strength of the MLS organization’s brand – the MLS system. WAV Group conducts member satisfaction research all over North America.  When we ask members what MLS organization they belong to they will often say “Tempo”, “Paragon”, “Rapattoni”, “Flex”, or another MLS system name.  They do not even know the name of the MLS organization they belong to. MLSs may want to think about “private labeling” the MLS system with their own brand and logo to avoid this confusion.  Then when a MLS customer uses the MLS system every day they will be getting exposed to the MLS organization’s branding, not the MLS system vendor’s branding. It’s just a small step, but it may be one way to help MLSs take credit for the most valuable tool they purchase on behalf of their subscribers.  It may also help subscribers understand the difference between the Association and the MLS if that is important in your local situation.

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CoreLogic Launches Partner InfoNet

by THE WAV GROUP on June 14, 2010

CoreLogic made it official today with the launch of their  Partner InfoNet program.  The program allows participating MLSs to share revenue that results from its inclusion in various risk management products.   Press Release SANTA ANA, Calif., June 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ – CoreLogic (NYSE:CLGX – News), a leading provider of information, analytics and business services, today officially launched the Partner InfoNet, a special program for sharing revenue with multiple listing service (MLS) organizations. Through the program, an MLS licenses its listing data for use in a variety of new risk management products for mortgage lenders, servicers and the capital markets. Until now, MLS organizations have lacked a safe and easy way to generate additional value for their members by applying their listing data outside of the real estate transaction. At the same time, lenders have lacked access to critical listing information that would help make better and faster lending decisions. The Partner InfoNet addresses both these issues by combining CoreLogic MarketLinx licensed MLS data with CoreLogic property data assets to create enhanced risk management products for lenders. CoreLogic is the leading provider of data and analytics solutions to the mortgage community and serves the top one hundred mortgage lenders with solutions critical to the lending process. CoreLogic MarketLinx, a subsidiary of CoreLogic, Inc., is the leading provider of MLS solutions and services. “The Partner InfoNet program offers a safe and easy way to unlock the value of our listing data and generate useful revenue,” said John Leonardi, chief executive officer of Western New York Real Estate Information Services. “We look forward to a strong business partnership with CoreLogic and the many benefits it will provide to our membership.” As the leader in property information technology, CoreLogic is uniquely positioned to deliver the Partner InfoNet. CoreLogic has developed a comprehensive data protection program that uses sophisticated data seeding and active monitoring to identify those who might misuse or abuse MLS data rights. CoreLogic has a strong track record of enforcing its data rights and stands prepared to do the same for each MLS and its members. More than fifty MLSs are already in negotiations to participate in the Partner InfoNet program, which is available to all MLS organizations nationwide. Each MLS that signs an exclusive agreement will also receive the CoreLogic MarketLinx Data Co-op solution, an innovative new data sharing tool that makes it easy for the MLS to access listings from […]

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Just too funny not to share!

by THE WAV GROUP on June 9, 2010

John Mosey, one of the funniest MLS executives out there shared this list with me and I thought you might enjoy it. While words on this list have been touted as winners of the “Washington Post Mensa Invitational”. From what I can gather it appears as though the “invitational” may be, in fact urban legend, but the words are really funny nonetheless.   This list has been floating around it appears since 2005, but they still seem pretty topical. “Here are the winners of this year’s Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition:” ENJOY! 1. *Cashtration* (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time. 2. *Ignoranus*: A person who is both stupid and and a small unpleasant body part 3. *Intaxication*: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with. 4. *Reintarnation*: Coming back to life as a hillbilly. 5. *Bozone* (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future. 6. *Foreploy*: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid. 7. *Giraffiti*: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high 8. *Sarchasm*: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it. 9. *Inoculatte*: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late. 10. *Osteopornosis*: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.) 11. *Karmageddon*: It’s  like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer. 12.  *Decafalon* (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you. 13. *Glibido:* All talk and no action. 14. *Dopeler Effect*: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly. 15. *Arachnoleptic Fit* (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web. 16. *Beelzebug* (n..): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out. 17.  *Caterpallor* (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Washington Post […]

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popular woman being interviewed

WAV Group strongly believes that the best way to attract consumers is to provide them with valuable information to help position an agent as a local expert.  We believe that advertising is dead and “edutizing” is replacing it.  According to Socialnomics, 78% of people rely on research and referrals to make product decisions, while only 14% trust advertising as an information source.  It appears as though the market, at least in California agrees. Real Estate Business Services Inc. (REBS) today announced that two real estate associations, Ventura County and Victor Valley both renewed their agreements to provide robust market statistics to their agents via an agreement with Clarus MarketMetrics®.  These renewals signal a maturation of the concept of using market statistics as a tool to educate consumers.  They help agents built stronger partnerships with their customers helping them to make logical pricing decision. Market statistics can help agents demonstrate their knowledge of a local marketplace while helping consumers feel as though they have the “inside edge” because they have been able to access the information only available to REALTORS.  The simple format of products like Clarus Resources allow market statistics to be digestable and applicable to sound real estate decisions. “Our REALTORS® are pleased with the localized market reports they receive from Clarus MarketMetrics®,” said VCCAR President Susan Herrick. “From justifying a buyer’s offer to setting a competitive listing price, the online market analysis tool allows agents to customize the data presented from our MLS in an easy-to-interpret format.” Clarus MarketMetrics® generates easy-to-understand market and price-point analysis charts and reports derived from MLS data for REALTORS® to share with their clients. VCCAR members can quickly and efficiently bring their clients up to market-speed by readily conveying the relationships between price, activity level, and sales rates for any market segment they define. Clarus MarketMetrics® is powered by Terradatum Inc., a provider of real estate technology products based in Glen Ellen, Calif. All agreements regarding the MLS data are between Terradatum and the participating MLS. Terradatum has been generating real estate technology solutions since 1994. In addition to Clarus MarketMetrics®, Terradatum has several other bold and exciting real estate technology products: BrokerMetrics® and BrokerMetrics® Web Tools. If you would like to learn nore about how you can use market statistics and other tools to build your own “edutizing” campaign, click here to download our free Edutizing white paper.

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Divorce and Real Estate

by THE WAV GROUP on June 8, 2010

50 50 man and woman in bed

WAV Group performs volumes of research for MLSs and Associations each year.  As part of collecting subscriber and member surveys, we also collect basic demographic data – Male or Female, Age, etc.  Much of this demographic information allows us to associate general age group trends of American demographics and apply them to our understanding of the culture within an MLS or Association.  We have never asked marital status, but I wonder what role that plays in understanding the mindset of today’s REALTOR. One of the research instutitions that we value for information is Pew Research Center.  Today they released a report on Divorce.  In the report they characterize the marital status of the American population at large, which targets the most significant group of REALTORS – men and women over 50. “45% of 50-year-old men and 46% of 50-year-old women either are or will get a divorce” according to Pew. “Of 50-year-olds who divorce, 81% of men and 71% of women will eventually remarry.” Although both Mike Audet and I have formal training in Psychology – we are far from expert in understanding how to communicate differently to divorced or remarried people – if at all.  Perhaps it makes no difference.  However, if a client asked me how to reach a target audience of mostly divorced people, my likely answer would be with a social event rather than direct mail or email.  Just a random thought for today.

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New Jersey MLSs step up data sharing

by THE WAV GROUP on June 4, 2010

Core Logic Logo

I caught this on the Real Town blog today.  It was published by Thomas Wissel, Information Technology,  Toms River,  NJ   Jersey Shore MLS, Middlesex County MLS and Trend MLS are now using the MarketLinx Data Co Op to efficiently share listings between 3 different MLS platforms. This may be “old hat” to other MLS operators in the country, but NJ has been rooted in the past by forcing agents to subscribe to multiple services. There are 9 MLS services that cover the state and right now only 3 have fully embraced the notion of making it easy on the users by sharing data. We look forward to MarketLinx rolling out this platform to other MLS operators across the country and would entertain requests to link-up through the Co Op. How can it hurt to give our subscribers access to agent quality information, instead of forcing them to search for properties on public websites that offer customer oriented reports?   Read more: http://www.realtown.com/community/MLSInformation/view/STCQBPA#ixzz0pukUR7Xz

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Update SentriLock(TM) card with your Blackberry(TM)

by THE WAV GROUP on June 3, 2010

SentriLock(TM)

This is a nice video to share with your members/subscribers if you offer Sentrilock in your marketplace. REALTORS® on the SentriLock system can now complete full SentriCard® renewals on the go, anytime and anywhere their busy day takes them, by using any BlackBerry phone* and BlackBerry SmartCard Reader. System users can purchase a BlackBerry SmartCard Reader V2 directly from SentriLock for $199. The SentriLock BlackBerry Card Utility Program is free. Please fill out the form below to order a BlackBerry SmartCard Reader.WAV Group has long suggested that the Blackberry phones are the best choice of smart phones for the professional REALTOR®. Click here to read our Smartphone study.

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John Heithaus to lead Marketing at MRIS

by THE WAV GROUP on June 1, 2010

06/01/2010– Press Release On June 1, John L. Heithaus joins MRIS as chief marketing officer. Bringing more than 30 years of real estate and executive experience, Mr. Heithaus will lead all marketing efforts for MRIS and be responsible for marketing operations, product management, partnership marketing and customer relations. He will also lead MRIS media and industry relations, advertising, interactive programs, communications and market and customer research. Prior to joining MRIS, Mr. Heithaus served as senior vice president of sales, marketing and REALTOR®alliances at SentriLock. He also served as senior vice president of partner and product development at Prudential Real Estate, and has held executive roles with Realogy and Monster.com. He regularly speaks at industry events for organizations including Inman News, the National Association of REALTORS®, RISMedia, the Appraisal Institute and the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council, among others inside and outside of the industry. “We couldnt be more excited to welcome John to the leadership team at MRIS,” says MRIS President and CEO David Charron. “We wanted someone with fresh thoughts and the enthusiasm to take MRIS forward as our business changes and expands. Ive known John for a number of years and he certainly offers all of those qualities and more.”

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