2011

The role of Scent Marketing in Real Estate

by Victor Lund on December 27, 2011

branded scent

What does your brand smell like? Perhaps there is no better time than the holiday season to remember that humans have 5 senses (at least) that are used in interacting with all things in the world. As the smell of Christmas trees and holiday cookies linger in our homes and offices, there can be no argument that smell plays a role in marketing. Home Scenting It is not just folklore. Baking cookies and other scent tactics are effective at open houses. Victorian Homes should smell like baking. Ocean front homes should smell like the ocean. Modern city condos should smell clean and spicy. Blending scent marketing into your showings will go a long way toward staging a home for a showing. Remember, you cannot smell your own home so your sellers are not likely to smell the old carpet, the cat, or the dog. But buyers will pick that up right away. A more inviting smell will help you sell. Office Scenting Brokers need to be mindful of their office smells too.

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Inman Agent Survey

by Victor Lund on December 22, 2011

Inman News is running a survey right now to understand today’s real estate agent. It would be a good idea for you to share this survey with your agents so that you can benefit from the results. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/freeagent The survey collects baseline demographic data and transaction data to understand how age, location, years in the business, certifications and other profiles of an agent predict behavior, success, and excellence in real estate. Are there differences between NAR members and non-members? Are their differences between Franchises and independent brokerages?

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Inman ICNY Conference Preview

by Victor Lund on December 20, 2011

InmanConference

Inman News has been gracious enough to extend a $450 discount to their New York conference coming up in three weeks. If you have not already purchased your conference pass, you can buy one on this special webpage for $650. The conference is January 11th-13th, 2012 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. WAV Group will be arriving on the 10th. They had a schedule change and Brad Inman and other keynotes are speaking on the morning of the first day of the conference. Here are some other sessions I am excited about Bill Lublin – Whose Brand am I building? – With Franchises, brokers, and agents all communicating on social media with different themes and messages – it breaks the message The broker summit workshop looks ok, but could be better – tops include operating a virtual office (I am not a big fan of virtual brokers). Celeste Starchild (MOVE) is talking about using property view data to find the sweet spot for pricing a property. Realogy leaders Rick Turley (CB President) and Jamie Goldman (ERA Marketing) are talking about transitioning your brokerage to the cloud. Katie Lance (Inman) and Tassia Bezdeka (C21 Award) are talking about how to make your brokerage social. These are all great topics – but I think brokers face more serious challenges in their business today.

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Instanet Sues REIS and Florida REALTORS

by Victor Lund on December 16, 2011

Instanet Logo

Instanet, a leading provider of Forms used in real estate transactions, was the provider of Forms Solutions to real estate agents and brokers in Florida for seven years, concluding in 2008. REIS, a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of the Florida Association of REALTORS® was an Instanet reseller until their contract expired/was cancelled –  and REIS launched a competing product, Forms Simplicity. With two products in the marketplace, many Associations and MLSs were conflicted about which service to use. Some chose the new service from REIS, others entered into agreements with Instanet directly. REIS filed suit against Instanet and a legal battle began. In response to the REIS complaint, Instanet has filed a counter claim with some pretty serious accusations. The accusations of two counts of Breach of Contract, and Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith are commonplace in these disputes – but this may be the first suit in which a State Association of REALTORS® has been accused of Piercing the Corporate Veil. The wholly owned, for-profit company must operate separately from the Association of REALTORS®. Hence, Florida REALTORS® is also brought into the suit on accusations of Fradulent Misrepresentation, Negligent Misrepresentation and Tortious Interference.

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touchscreentech

Download – A deeper look at data from the WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey From September 23, 2011 to October 21, 2011 WAV Group fielded the WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey to participating MLSs.  66 MLSs, representing 33 different states and provinces participated in the survey at both staff and user level. 10,779 individual participants filled out the survey completely making it the largest survey of its kind.  At the conclusion of the 2011 survey, WAV Group published the 2011 MLS Technology Survey Executive Summary providing the rolled up results as well as some interesting statistics.   We highlighted a number of very interesting trends and findings and if you would like to download a copy of the original report, click here. A Deeper Look at a Specific Data Slice In this report and over the coming weeks we will be going a bit deeper into the data to look at some other interesting finds.  With almost 11,000 respondents there is a wealth of great information in the data.  To begin our more in depth data review, we thought it would be interesting to look at three different questions:

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My Brief Nostalgia on Inman Conferences

by Victor Lund on December 14, 2011

InmanConference

As a consultant in the real estate technology industry, we go to a lot of conferences each year. The time leading up to a conference is always very busy for us. We leverage conferences to meet perspective clients, and deliver work to our existing clients. The effectiveness of having 8 to 10 “in-person” meetings per day is über-efficient.  Conferences are the great gathering places of the industry. I was trying to think back to my first Inman Conference – it must have been sometime in the 2002 – 2004 era. Barry Diller was buying companies like crazy and selling leads through LendingTree. Everyone loved him (excuse me while I clear my throat). Regardless of how you feel about buying leads (it is still being done today – but it is called “online advertising”), Barry’s passion and vision for connecting consumers with real estate professionals was genuine – but his model was seemingly distasteful. He was joined by Reply!, NextTag, Homegain, ServiceMagic, and others. Yet what was really cool, was the ability to engage Diller on a personal level in an intimate setting. Around the same time, I met Steve Ozonian. He was working for Bank of America then. He shared his observations of a disjointed industry, ripe for consolidation. I admire Steve a lot – his beliefs were as true then as they are true now.

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Impacts of browser Geolocation technology on real estate

by Victor Lund on December 13, 2011

Puzzle Piece

Real Estate brokers invest a lot of time and money into maintaining and sustaining a strong relocation business. Franchise Organizations and broker networks like Leading Real Estate Companies of the World connect brokers across the country. Advances in technology have enabled location aware Internet browsers. This allows technologists to create predictable outcomes on user visits.  If you are a broker in Ohio, and a consumer visits your website from California – you can say “We welcome Californians! Leading websites like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, Homes.com and Homefinder do this effectively. Why don’t broker websites do the same? Browser auto-detect allows website owners to create actions around the criteria of a visitor including location or browser type. To illustrate browser type, visit http://c21home.com from your mobile browser.  The broker website will direct you to choosing the mobile site, or offer a mobile app download specifically designed for your phone. In this case, the website will detect your phone type, and you will be directed to the Smarter Agent mobile solution optimized to your device. This is pretty commonplace. Here is a fresh idea that I have not seen on real estate websites yet. This idea detects the State that a visitor is from and provides some special information designed specifically for them.

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Mobile Passes Print in Consumer Engagement

by Victor Lund on December 12, 2011

Marketing

WAV Group joined the parade of consults declaring the death of print media in late 2006. Inman News confirmed its death during their conference in San Francisco in 2007 (one of my favorite events of all time). Believe it or not, print actually made a bit of a comeback in 2010. Nevertheless, the Internet is the place that consumers increasingly spend their media time. The new news is that people are actually spending more time on their mobile phones today than they are spending interacting with print media. According to eMarketer,  time spent on mobile devices is now an average of 65 minutes a day, compared to 44 minutes a day for print (newspapers and magazines combined).  Last year, both media segments were tied, but mobile grew by 30% in 2011. Here is the weird part – someone forgot to tell the people who are creating the advertising budgets. Today, companies spend an average of 25% of their marketing dollars on print according to eMarketer. Mobile gets less than 1%. Sound familiar? That was about the same ratio that we saw back in 2006-2007 when marketers began to shift dollars online. Today, marketers still only spend about 21% online – still less than print. The majority of money is still spent on Television – about 50% for most marketers.

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Stewart_Title_Guaranty_Company-logo-CD96E6DEEA-seeklogo.com

Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE: STC) announced today a new executive team. Recently appointed CEO Matt Morris created the new executive team to capitalize on Stewart’s strengths and further align the organization for smart growth and continued market leadership in the real estate services industry. The structure increases focus, speeds decision making and provides for greater alignment between operational areas and key customer segments. “I am extremely excited to announce our new executive team and to be surrounded by some of the greatest leaders within our industry,” said Matt Morris, CEO. “This group of experienced industry veterans will join me in setting and achieving breakthrough targets that will strengthen services to customers and enhance our place in the market. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with each of these outstanding individuals.”

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MLSs Need to Move From Historic to Predictive Data

by Mike Audet on December 8, 2011

realestateoffer

The data we use in the real estate industry to understand market trends and to help buyers and sellers in their real estate transactions is largely historic.  Another way to look at that, is, it is dated, old news.  We have real estate markets today that are changing very quickly. Changes may be driven by high numbers of distressed property sales, REOs, short sales, and foreclosures etc. or normal market activity but the results are the same. Much of the real market activity in the form of offers is currently invisible.  This means there may be a huge amount of activity going on in a given marketplace that most are simply not aware of because it hasn’t been recorded as a “final” sale! So in essence, when our industry leaders report trends, they really aren’t trends, they are just the wake of the boat which may or may not be a true indication of where that boat or market is heading.  To know that, we need to have “predictive data” and one way to do that is to understand what “offer activity” is taking place.

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3 Bedrooms and 2 baths just doesn’t cut it anymore

by Marilyn Wilson on December 7, 2011

Lifestyle Search

Build your business by giving consumers what they REALLY want to search for! Have you ever had the pleasure of relocating from one city to another? You have the stress of the move compounded by the fact that you are losing all of your trusted resources and most importantly your “local knowledge”. Let’s say you’re moving because you’ve been promoted to run a new division out of state. You have a young child so you’re looking for good schools within your area and a family-friendly neighborhood. How about if you are a young professional moving for a great job opportunity? The last thing you want is to “live in the burbs” with people like your parents. What if you have lived in the city, in the “happenin’” part of town, but now you’re expecting your first child and want to find a quieter place with a backyard? Your logical first place to go to begin your research is on the web. You can find boatloads of places to look at information about home pricing, number of bedrooms, number of baths and even if the house has a fireplace or not. But what if you want to narrow your search a different way? Perhaps you want to find a home near a dog park for your new puppy, or close to a health food store because you’re a vegetarian and you thrive on organic vegetables? What if you are retiring to a new area and want to be sure there are several golf courses nearby?

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RE Technology Launches MLS and Association Newsletters

by Victor Lund on December 6, 2011

RET Logo tn

The real estate technology leader now offers a free newsletter solution for their partners. ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. – December 6th, 2011 With more than 1.5 million visits per month, RE Technology (www.RETechnology.com) has proven that comprehensive information and training on real estate technology is a must-have for today’s top real estate agents and brokers. To support MLSs and Associations in delivering daily real estate technology information to subscribers, RE Technology has launched custom MLS and Association newsletters – free to all RE Technology partners. Already have a newsletter, but looking for more articles? We can help with that too! Any RE Technology partner has the right to publish RE Technology articles by simply copying and pasting the article into your newsletter.[1] Have a Twitter page or Facebook page for your MLS subscribers or Association members? RE Technology provides you with two ways to supply content to those accounts. You may request a custom RSS feed for your Twitter and Facebook pages, or we can supply you with a custom Facebook widget to complete your technology tab on your Facebook page.

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Dot MLS May Face a New Opponent

by Victor Lund on December 4, 2011

Dot MLS Domains

The United States Senate may be a new challenger to the successful bid by a group of MLSs (MLS Domains Association) to gain approval for a Top Level Internet Domain. A top level internet domain is .com, .net, .org, .XXX, or the curent application for the new .MLS. .MLS promises salvation for many of the ills that torment consumers and real estate brokers online. Notably – it suggests a rule set for displaying listings to consumers in order to qualify to purchase a .MLS domain. By subscribing to the rules of .MLS, publishers provide consumers with a level of certainty about the quality of listing content. A classic real estate example of a domain name gone wrong is MLS.com – a website that is not an MLS, nor is it associated with any MLS. Today, real estate brokers and agents have agreed to similar terms by subscribing to MLSs offering Internet Data Exchange programs (IDX). These rules are enforced by MLSs across the nation. If Dot MLS is successful, website publishers would extend a similar set of rules to the internet itself – giving the Top Level Domain Administrator the ability to suspend any website from the Domain for failure to comply with .MLS terms.

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The Bigger LPS Paragon 5 Story

by Victor Lund on December 1, 2011

LPSParagon

LPS, developers of the Paragon MLS system, announced that they have secured an agreement to replace a competitors’ MLS system with Paragon 5. This only happens about 12 times each year. The news is less about just getting a win, but tells a larger story about the future of MLS and how one MLS vendor is positioning for long term success. WAV Group performs upwards of 40 MLS customer satisfaction surveys each year to help MLSs understand what agents and brokers expect from their MLS. The number one complaint is Apple compatibility and Mobile compatibility. LPS knew this many years ago (when they were called FNIS or FNRES), and had the guts to invest more than $1Million into rewriting their entire application to meet customer demand. Taking on such a project is not for the faint of heart. It requires developing new software that feels the same as legacy software – like making a new car feel like the old car they know in love. Many things are in the same place – the lights, the breaks, the radio, etc – everything is where long-term Paragon users expect them to be. It was this thoughtful reconstruction that allowed more than 200 MLSs to move seamlessly from Paragon 4 to Paragon 5. Typically, any conversion – including from same system to same system causes an uprising. But in this unique case, MLSs heard more thank yous than hate yous.

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FSBO Sites Grow as Broker and Franchises Languish

by Victor Lund on November 30, 2011

Listing Syndicaiton

One of the pleasures of working at the WAV Group is the barrage of business questions that we are tasked to answer on a regular basis. Often, the questions challenge conventional understandings about the effectiveness of strategies in real estate. A key strategy discussion among executives at large broker firms and at large franchise organizations surrounds listing syndication to FSBO websites. Syndication strategies that each firm chooses varies relative to local market competition and consumer behavior. I highlighted that last sentence because it is the most important statement in this blog post. Many brokers and franchises are looking at what appears to be a radical move by Edina Realty and Shorewest REALTORS to pull out of syndication to FSBOs. It is not radical at all. It is sound business reasoning based upon measuring consumer behavior in their marketplace. At its foundation is the understanding that consumers visit agent, broker, franchise, and FSBO websites to get listing information.

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be-relevant small

MLSs are under siege right now.  Since they control the most consistent and profitable cash flow source in the industry, they are very attractive targets.  They need to continue to innovate to increase their value and relevance since many are chipping away at their positions right now. It’s clear from the work we’ve done with MLSs. Data quality and comprehensiveness is the core value proposition common to all MLSs. No other organization has figured out a way to deliver the breadth and depth of quality real estate information that MLSs offer today.  Even well financed venture-backed start-ups have not figured out a better way to gather, aggregate and report property information than the MLSs currently own and control.  It doesn’t mean that many organizations aren’t trying to steal energy, budgets and eyeballs away from MLSs, however. Every time another organization becomes “THE” go to place for real estate information, REALTORS® and the MLS organizations that serve them are weakened at some level.

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WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey Results

by Mike Audet on November 28, 2011

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From September 23, 2011 to October 21, 2011 WAV Group fielded the WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey to participating MLSs.  66 MLSs, representing 33 different states and provinces participated in the survey at both staff and user level. 10,779 individual participants filled out the survey completely making it the largest survey of its kind. National survey information serves as a great foundation to show you how your system stacks up with other MLS systems and what users are saying about each of these systems.  Thirteen vendor MLS systems had enough responses to be represented in the survey at both the staff and user level.

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MLS Staff and MLS Users See MLS Technology Differently

by Mike Audet on November 23, 2011

  WAV Group recently completed our 2011 MLS Technology Survey where we received feedback from nearly 11,000 respondents, from 66 MLSs around the US and Canada.  Most importantly, the feedback was from both MLS staff which is always important,  and the actual users.  In fact, we only included results for MLS systems that had both staff and user ratings.  The results were very interesting! We will be publishing an Executive Summary of the results next week for download but one of the more interesting things we noted was that MLS staff and MLS users see their technology quite differently and also rate it quite differently.

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Great Vendors Embrace Rules

by Victor Lund on November 22, 2011

ListingSyndicationsmall

There has been a lot of conversational concern about companies that enter into new verticals of data management and service offerings. Four such instances were announced this year. REALTORS® Property Resource contracts with LPS for data services and LPS subcontracts to Real Estate Digital. Zillow purchased an IDX vendor, Diverse Solutions. MOVE purchased Threewide, the providers of the popular Listhub syndication service. CoreLogic launched a new appraisal tool leveraging MLS data. In every case, the vendor has been virtuous and adhered to contracts and data use rules. In each of these cases, many feared that data could be misused or abused. But, thus far, there have not been any discoveries of inappropriate behavior.

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Putting the teeth back into the REALTOR® Brand

by Marilyn Wilson on November 21, 2011

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Real estate agents in our industry spend millions of dollars as a group annually to become a REALTOR® and to stay a member of the REALTOR® family. As someone who cut their teeth working with some of the most highly trusted brands in the world like Fisher-Price, Sesame Street and others, I have a few observations of the real estate industry’s branding efforts. First, when I ask most REALTORS® what makes them different than non-REALTORS® they say “the code of ethics”. While I appreciate the fact that those that live to the letter of the code of ethics may treat their customers differently, I would beg to differ that the code of ethics is a strong brand differentiator. Consumers expect every licensed real estate agent to live by a standard of service that includes integrity, honesty and above board practices. Wouldn’t you lose your license if you demonstrated unethical or even unprofessional business methods? I don’t believe the code of ethics “cuts it” as a key brand differentiator.

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