June 2011

Bob Hale honored as CEO Communicator of the Year

by Victor Lund on June 30, 2011

Bob Hale, CEO Communicator of the Year

WAV Group would like to congratulate Bob Hale of the Houston Association of REALTORS® for being selected as the 2011 CEO Communicator of the Year. Hale was presented with this honor by the Public Relations Society of America through its Houston Chapter. As CEO of the Houston Association of REALTORS®, Bob Hale exhibited communications excellence by combining public relations, social media, a website, print, and outdoor advertising to successfully communicate the value of REALTORS® as the trusted resource for real estate consumers, and HAR as the trusted partner to broker and agent membership. Hale has been leading the Houston Association since 1988, growing the organization into the largest trade organization in the Houston Area and the second largest local REALTOR® Association in America representing 24,000 members.

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Rent to Own Graphic

The world has changed.  Many consumers that used to want to live the “American Dream” of homeownership have given up on that dream – at least for now – and have turned to renting, instead of buying.   They may have lost their home, or simply don’t believe that buying a home is a good investment anymore.  Still others simply cannot afford to buy a home because they have lost their job or they have been forced to take a lower paying job just to keep food on the table. Are we just going to abandon these folks because they aren’t buying a home “at this moment”?    We may not be trying to ignore them, but in fact we are by not providing any options for them to learn about rentals from organized real estate. 

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Case-Shiller Trashed by, Zillow, and RBI

by Victor Lund on June 29, 2011

Fiserv

If you add up the comments across the real estate technology space during the past few days, you will find a resounding thunder of criticism over the quality of the S&P Case-Shiller index, powered by Fiserv data. Companies like, Zillow, and RBI were the most vocal on their blogs. LPS and CoreLogic probably have opinions similar to Zillow and RBI. They have observed the weaknesses of the Case-Shiller index for years. I think that they are just a little less apt to douse Case-Shiller publically. Talk to any of the data specialists at either LPS or CoreLogic, and you will hear an accurate and technically sound assessment of the data set going into Case-Shiller.

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Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS

WAV Group has been retained to hire a new Chief Executive Officer for the Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS®. The job description is listed here. If you have any questions about the position, feel free to drop me a line at marilyn@wavgroup.com. ORGANIZATIONAL DESCRIPTION: The Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® is the 6th largest real estate association in the United States serving over 11,000 members with a strong breadth of MLS services and Association benefits.

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Al Unser to Retire as GTAR/NORES CEO on June 30, 2011

by Marilyn Wilson on June 28, 2011

Greater Tulsa

On June 24th, 2011, the Greater Tulsa Association of REALTORS announced that their CEO Al J. Unser will retire on June 30, 2011, after 20 years with the association. Mike Cotrill, GTAR’s chief operating officer, will succeed Unser as CEO at that time.

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Real Estate Technology is Shifting We are seeing a significant shift occurring in real estate technology that will impact our industry dramatically in the years to come.  Like most shifts, it didn’t happen all at once but if you look carefully you can see the seeds of this shift many years back.  Pressure builds slowly but when it reaches a critical point changes occur quickly and we believe for a number of reasons that is what we are seeing today. (Download new white paper)   What’s Driving this Shift?

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Online Reputation for Brokers and Agents

by Victor Lund on June 27, 2011

facebook

In real estate, QSC is the leader in Agent Ratings, but today, Facebook is raising the bar and having an impact on the online reputation of agents and brokers. Facebook is big, really big. In fact, it is the most heavily trafficked website in America. It is bigger than Google! And it has an impact on your broker and agent brand – especially if you do not have a facebook page. Although Google is the leader in search, Facebook is catching up and they have partnered with Microsoft Bing to deliver search results that are informed by your friends. When you search for stuff on Bing, pages that your friends like appear in the search results. This is likely to play a role in the online reputation of agents and brokers. Let me explain how.

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Googles Next Step in Real Estate Search

by Victor Lund on June 25, 2011

Google Real Estate

Last July, search and technology giant, Google announced an agreement to acquire ITA Software for around $700 Million. ITA software is a company that cut its teeth in the travel industry powering websites like Orbitz and Kayak. Google has been struggling with supporting consumers in real estate search for many years. They have had many fits and starts, including Google Base. With Google Base, the company tried to aggregate listing data and sort it out. Google Base was a failure and they shut it down. Now with ITA Software, Google may be back on track with real estate search. Rather than trying to display the correct listing result, ITA Software will allow Google to display listing results from popular websites like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, and others, all in one place.

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Franchisor IDX issues continue

by Victor Lund on June 22, 2011

Broker Opt in?

MLS System providers have been working hard on rapidly delivering a solution to support the NEW NAR policy for Franchisor IDX guidelines that is in place between June 13th and the NAR convention in November. Franchise Organizations lost the privilege extended to them at the last NAR meeting that permitted them to display broker listing data that would link to a franchise broker website. This is called Indexing. Non-Franchise brokers do not feel that the Franchisor – who is a third party and not an MLS member, should have these privileges.  IDX data had previously been restricted to MLS Participants, the 2010 rule extended IDX to franchisors, the midyear ruling limited data to franchisors only when there is broker opt-in consent.

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Marilyn Wilson Presentation at MLS Cloud Conference

by Victor Lund on June 22, 2011

Thanks to so many of you who requested Marilyn’s powerpoint presentation that was delivered at the MLS Cloud Conference hosted by the Houston Association of REALTORS. It has been a pain to email given the size, so it is posted here and you can download it. Contact Marilyn directly if you would like any details, narration or publishing permissions.

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MLS Domains Association Update

by Victor Lund on June 21, 2011

Dot MLS Domains

In 2009, many of the most progressive real estate technology CEOs set forth to combine their efforts around providing an internet construct that allows consumers to know when they are on an official website powered by MLS data. The problem that consumers face today is that there are so many property search websites which claim to offer MLS data, but do not. Under the current Internet guidelines and provisions, it is nearly impossible for organized real estate to put an end to these false MLS claims that hoodwink consumers. To cure this issue for consumers and provide a platform for official MLS data to thrive, the MLS Domains Association (also called Dot MLS) was organized to pursue the approval of a top level domain on the internet of .MLS as an alternative to .COM or other top level domains.

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In research we conducted a few months ago on behalf of the National Association of REALTORS®, we heard many agents express concern about the many REO homes they had seen that were not protected by lockboxes. They told us that many REO agents were using “Masterlocks” like the ones we used to have on our high school lockers instead.  Agents were concerned about the safety of the home, not to mention the lack of professionalism that type of lock projected. According to a press release just released by SUPRA, Fannie Mae has informed its listing brokers and Asset Management Providers (AMPs) that, effective July 1, 2011, “an electronic lockbox must be used if available in [the] area.” Fannie Mae instructs that the electronic lockbox should be placed in a primary location such as the front door to market a property. Fannie Mae appraisers, contractors, inspectors and employees will access the property using a mechanical combination lockbox that is placed in a secondary location such as a back or side door. However, Fannie Mae specifically informs its brokers and AMPs that buyer’s agents and buyer’s lenders are not permitted to use the mechanical combination lockbox. Fannie Mae’s action should increase the use of electronic lockboxes and discourage code sharing. For more information, please refer to Fannie Mae’s FAQs, located here. MLSs may want to promote this new ruling to their members and maybe even consider revising their rules and regulations to address this new ruling and cut down on the unsafe use of lower security locks on homes.

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Broker Opt Out

by Victor Lund on June 17, 2011

Broker Opt Out Button

The practice of MLS data licensing gives rise to new questions in our industry. The question before us today is: What does Broker Opt-Out mean? WAV Group reached out to a variety of respected industry executives to get an answer to this question. None were able to cite a rule or a legal case that outlined a definition. Moreover, none were able to produce a definition in their MLS rules and regulations. As such, our industry faces a new opportunity. MLSs may define Broker Opt-out and Broker Opt-in as it relates to data licensing as we have done with IDX. Now may be the time for this effort. Brian Larson of Larson Sobotka opined the best outline of an answer to the question. I can only summarize Larson’s comments as my recollection of our phone conversation. He may correct me. Larson suggests that the listing record is attributable to the listing broker only.

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RE Technology releases MLS Success Store

by Victor Lund on June 14, 2011

RE Technology Success Store

Arroyo Grande, Calif., (June 13, 2011) – RE Technology, Inc. (www.retechnology.com), the #1 source for real estate technology information and education online announced Success Store™, a modern, next generation ecommerce tool designed specifically to make it possible for Multiple Listing Service Providers (MLSs) and Associations to generate non-dues revenue by selling real estate technology applications online. Today, MLSs and REALTOR® Associations are actively seeking alternative means for marketing additional products and services to their customers.  RE Technology’s new Success Store™ has been specifically tailored to the unique needs to Associations and MLSs. The Success Store™ allows organizations to create a custom catalog to promote and sell technology services to their members.  It is a “one-stop shop” that makes it simple, fast and affordable to offer these products to customers through a customized ecommerce platform, like an app store built uniquely for real estate. David Charron, President and CEO of Metropolitan Regional Information Service (MRIS) says, “MLSs have an opportunity to leverage their buying power to offer technologies in many cases more affordably than our subscribers can find on their own.  At MRIS, we are aggressively pursuing methods to promote hand-picked technology solutions that will help our customers to list more, sell more and earn more and keep them at the center of the real estate “conversation.”  We are currently investigating off-the-shelf ecommerce solutions, but none seem to meet the unique needs of the MLS industry like the Success Store™ does.”

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Generating Non Dues Revenue

by Victor Lund on June 13, 2011

Generating Non Dues Revenue

MLSs and Associations of REALTORS® are facing budget woes. The decline in the housing market created a cascading impact on dues revenue.  The number of subscribers to MLS service has retreated to 2006 averages, coupled with membership losses to Associations of REALTORS®. In isolated real estate markets around the country, MLSs and Associations have become creative at building revenue streams outside of subscription fees and membership dues. Advertising is chief among them. As you have read in leading real estate media sources like RE Technology, Inman News and RIS Media, there are a number of companies that are supporting MLSs and Associations with generating revenue through advertising. This can be achieved in two ways, advertising inside the MLS system and advertising outside the MLS system. Whatever your choice, this information may help you get started. Advertising inside the MLS system has its technical and political challenges. You must be careful that the advertising is not getting in the way of the Agent’s work. You must also insure that there is no impact to system performance. Aside from those risks, MLSs typically generate more page views in the MLS than any other website. If you choose this path, do it carefully as it could result in member agitation if it slows down the MLS system. Advertising does reduce the speed of page loading, and in some cases, may interfere with MLS system programming.

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FBS First to comply with new IDX Rules

by Victor Lund on June 10, 2011

FBS Flex MLS

For those of you who attended the NAR Midyear Legislative meetings this spring in Washington DC, you may well understand that NAR Executive Committee passed a modification to the IDX model rules and regulations. Specifically, they altered the component of the rule that refers to the rights of Franchise Organizations to receive an IDX feed. Under the old policy, Franchise Organizations would receive a feed of all IDX listings. Under the new policy, a Franchise Organization may only receive IDX listing if an MLS broker as Opted In to sharing their listings with a particular franchise.

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CoreLogic v. LPS and RPR Lawsuit

by Victor Lund on June 8, 2011

Lawsuit Image

On the heals of settling the Civix lawsuit, MLSs are aware that litigation can have significant impacts on the services they offer to their members using third party service providers. The Civix settlement was arranged by NAR legal council and cost MLSs about $9.06 per subscriber. There are other ongoing patent infringement lawsuits for mobile that could also have significant impacts on MLS service providers, but a recent Inman article brought my attention to a suit that CoreLogic has pending against LPS, and by association, RPR™. CoreLogic® has patents on their Automated Valuations tools and claim that LPS and the RPR™ REALTOR® Valuation infringe on their patent. I do not know the quality of the case or defense, but I do know that MLSs and Associations do not want to get sucked into litigation or a settlement as a result of the litigation. As each Association of REALTORS® and MLS go through their decision making process on data licensing, consideration should be given to mitigating future exposure related to this lawsuit and other lawsuits. The concept is indemnification. MLSs are insured, but litigation is painful and time consuming. NAR sanctioned MLS are insured by NAR for lawsuits after a deduction of $100,000 – any expense up to the deductible are your responsibility. This may all be avoided if MLSs negotiate indemnification language into their vendor agreements. As it relates to data licensing: regardless of your preference for CoreLogic’s Property Infonet, or RPR, or both, or none; be sure to address indemnification from the lawsuits between these companies. Keep your MLS business out of it.  

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If Trulia built MLS systems

by Victor Lund on June 6, 2011

trulia_logo

Trulia made a brilliant acquisition around the beginning of 2010 when they purchased @movity. @movity was a company that specialized in taking complex data sets and layering them onto maps in a variety of brilliant ways. Today they are leveraging the skills from the @movity team to explore ways to communicate data easily, and drive engagement. The data kings in the real estate industry are CoreLogic and LPS. They are both companies that collect, warehouse, and distribute massive amounts of data. The focus of these companies has always been data quality and predictive analytics – not necessarily presentation or engagement. Zillow busted into their house with the Zestimate – although not quite as accurate, the Zestimate is a reasonable predictor of property value when benchmarked against the “professional AVMs” offered by LPS and CoreLogic.  In truth, Zillow brought the AVM to the consumer, and they did it for free, so consumers cut them some slack for being a little off. Zillow created data easily, and drove engagement. In isolation, data is a rather sleepy lummox, but web presentation changes all of that. I was inspired when the MLS systems around the country embraced map search. Those long forms with checkboxes, drop downs, and codes were such a bore. Form based search is the summit of tedium. For me, map based search changes all of that. MLS data became interesting, and somewhat engaging. Flood Zones, and school districts and other key property characteristics layered over property maps began to convey an understanding of meaning and purpose behind real estate property values. Great data trains the REALTOR and provides them with tools that enable clear communication to the consumer they serve. I sincerely believe that Trulia has an edge today over many of the MLS software provider. Take a look at this video (I would love to see training videos like this in the MLS systems) of how they explain the launch of a new feature. Then go try the product. You are sure to be impressed, and engaged.    

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WAV Group

The leading real estate consultants at WAV Group are unveiling a new, enhanced website. The new site will make their valuable content even more accessible to brokers, MLSs, and associations seeking to grow their business. For RSS subscribers, please renew your subscription by dropping the following link into your feed reader: feed://waves.wavgroup.com/feed/ WAV Group (www.wavgroup.com) has become the go-to resource for real estate industry insiders seeking guidance about strategy and technology. To make their valuable insights and information more accessible to readers, the thought leaders at WAV Group have redesigned their website. One look at the new site confirms that WAV Group is on the cutting edge of the technology they recommend to their clients. “Our current website and blog have always had great readership.  We believe it’s because we provide MLSs, real estate associations, brokers and technology companies with articulate, actionable data and advice,” says Michael Audet, co-founder of WAV Group. “The goal of the site redesign is to combine these resources and make our content more accessible and interactive for our readers. When people visit the new site, I think they’ll see that we’ve achieved that goal.” The website incorporates existing content (such as WAV Group’s in-demand white papers, reports, and news articles) with the company’s blog and archives of past content. The posts available on the new site will go back as far as 2007, when WAV Group launched one of the first real estate technology blogs. This wealth of still-relevant information was previously unavailable on WAV Group’s website. “Our reports include in-depth studies of the most important topics in real estate,” explains Victor Lund, co-founder of WAV Group. “We discuss consumer websites, strategic planning, and other hot button issues that are gaining buzz in the industry. Listing Syndication is a great example of this; it’s something we’re excited about and regularly coach our clients about. When we set about redesigning the website, one of our priorities was extending our content deeper into social media, giving people the ability to socialize our content and connect with us and our colleagues in a social space.” “When people visit the new site and see the educational information we provide, we hope that they’ll register for a complimentary membership,” says Marilyn Wilson, co-founder of WAV Group. “With their membership, they’ll receive real-time email alerts. These updates will summarize central content from the website and include additional news articles, best practices, […]

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FDIC sues CoreLogic and LPS

by Victor Lund on June 2, 2011

FDIC Logo

FDIC is acting as the receiver for the late Washington Mutual Bank, which was seized by the federal government in 2008. Now they are hunting for money using their legal guns, pointing the barrel at Corelogic and LPS. The FDIC is trying to build a case that CoreLogic and LPS overvalued homes it appraised to the point of “gross negligence.”: The FDIC claims that about 75% of the appraisals it examined were inflated. Clearly FDIC has its hands full with this case given the depth of the disclaimers on appraisals, and the awareness that Washington Mutual Bank had of the methodologies of the appraisal opinions. As long as CoreLogic and LPS Appraisals did not substantially deviate from the methodology, the case should not go far. The volume of properties considered under the lawsuit is a relatively small number – 194 performed by CoreLogic, 220 performed by LPS. Together the FDIC suit calls for $283 million in damages – or an average per property of $683k. The count is low because most of the WaMu loans were packed up and sold to investors. If FDIC is able to prove its case, you can rest assured that owners of the securities that purchased loans from WaMU and other banks will be sending an army of lawyers to the federal court house steps with suits against CoreLogic and LPS. Everyone seems to be looking for someone to blame for the housing market crash. Unfortunately our industry friends at CoreLogic and LPS are in the heard.  

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