December 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 Look carefully at your professional bio for information that is out of date.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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