January 2012

Balancing exchange rates in listing syndication

by Victor Lund on January 29, 2012

ListingSyndicationsmall

Online listing syndication presents complex strategic challenges to real estate brokerage in America today. The structure of economic trade between real estate brokers and publishers has many variables that are often misunderstood and often hard to measure. At the heart of the conversation is an unresolved understanding of the exchange rate in listing syndication. Even people with business analyst certification may be baffled. Do brokers subsidize the success of publishers by providing listings? Do publishers subsidize brokerages by providing willing homebuyers? Some of the policies by publishers to create revenue have been deemed to be very damaging by some real estate brokers, and applauded by others. The sentiment among some brokers is that publishers have become too dependent on the financial support of real estate professional to sustain their publishing business. Other brokers believe that enhancing listings on publisher websites provides an excellent return on investment. The early exchange rate premise was that brokers would supply real estate listings to publishers, who would in turn derive revenue through sources like advertising from non-endemic entities like building supply companies, banks, phone companies, utility companies, and others who depend on the home buying and selling consumer.  This was a breakthrough paradigm contrasted against the cost of newspaper advertising. A bi-product of providing listings to online publishers includes leads and listing exposure that brokers previously paid for.

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Frugyl launches with great buzz and fanfare

by Victor Lund on January 27, 2012

Frugyl

A new company launched yesterday called Frugyl. It is the child of Jimmy Mackin and Chris Smith, creators of the “What should I spend My Money On?” Facebook Group. This will be of interest to those with analyst careers. The goal of Frugyl is to crowd source information and satisfaction on real estate tools and services used by real estate agents. Additionally, Frugyl will endeavor to provide group discounts on products purchased as a group. The Frugyl site had a great start yesterday when they announced the launch on Facebook. They exhibited excellence in social media marketing that many technology companies would be well served to observe. They reported that hundreds of agents signed up and are paying $9 per month to subscribe. The thesis of the site points to the conviction by many in our industry that there is a hunger among agents for information about the best tools to use in real estate – not just the best vendor pitch. Here is the positioning from the site:

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Business Intelligence

Real estate professionals today, for the most part, advise clients on both buy and sell decisions with data that is, in many ways, inaccurate.  It is inaccurate because sales data is the result of offers that were made and accepted months earlier.  Things change quickly in our business, or at least they can.  We need to know what is happening today yet our basic MLS data model can only tell us historic sales information and current listing information.  Today, neither of these data sets necessarily reflect what is actually happening in our market in terms of buyer activity and interest. These are the times you may feel as though you need the help of a database analyst to figure it all out.

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ARMLS launches Rent Check with Heat Maps

by Victor Lund on January 21, 2012

RENT Check by ARMLS

ARMLS is the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service. Centered in the Phoenix  metropolitan area, they are the largest MLS in the State of Arizona. They are among the largest MLSs in the United States and leverage MLS data resources in unique ways to deliver value to their subscribers. I recently became aware of RENT Check™. Rent Check is a monthly report that examines the residential single family leasing market. RENT Check also features the RENT Check Quotient™ (RCQ) which compares leasing activity to sales.  As a result of  our nation’s recession, housing resales have given way to a hot residential real estate leasing market. This month, ARMLS added a heat map to show how hot it is, and where leasing is the hottest.

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Earthcomber sues real estate mobile app developers

by Victor Lund on January 20, 2012

Earthcober

Mobile real estate applications are the largest growth area in real estate technology. This is why so many people are attending online school to learn app development. Like anything expanding rapidly, there is big opportunity at stake, and pioneers who filed patents for methods of delivering mobile solutions are working hard to protect their intellectual property. We saw a similar pattern in real estate when mapping was experiencing great growth in real estate. As you may recall, that ended with the National Association of REALTORS® negotiating an industry wide settlement widely known as CIVIX. In that settlement, a combination of Associations, MLSs, and Vendors paid about $9.06 per agent. Today, Smarter Agent has filed claims against most real estate mobile companies already for protection on their patent. That litigation is still pending. CoreLogic is also suing RPR, LPS and others to protect their Automated Property Valuation methods. The lesson to learn from this is that you must require that your vendor indemnifies you in your contracts from any and all litigation involving their service and require them to provide a copy of their Proof of Liability Coverage naming you as additional insured. Here is the nature of the Earthcomber Claim:

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CoreLogic® Signs Multiyear Agreement with Realcomp

by Mike Audet on January 18, 2012

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SANTA ANA, Calif., January 12, 2012 — CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), a leading provider of information, analytics and business services, today announced it has signed a multiyear agreement to provide multiple listing service (MLS) solutions to Realcomp II Ltd., Michigan’s largest REALTOR®-owned MLS. Serving nearly 11,000 members from more than 2,100 real estate offices in southeastern Michigan, Realcomp has selected the Matrix platform from CoreLogic to augment its current MLS system and to serve as its future replacement solution.

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Consumers Prefer Referrals

by Victor Lund on January 18, 2012

National Association of REALTORS

WAV Group Research does a lot of consumer research on behalf of MLSs and Associations. We also do research for State Associations of REALTORS and the National Association of REALTORs. One of the best member benefits is the research that is provided to the real estate professional by these groups. The National Association of REALTORS has a great research team. The data that they publish on consumer attitudes about Real Estate and the process of buying and selling homes using a REALTOR are awesome sources of education, training, and strategic development for your business. One of my favorite ways to stay connected to this valued information is to subscribe to the Economic Outlook blog. Here is an article that explains how consumers choose their REALTOR. Not surprisingly, Referrals are the #1 source of business for real estate professionals. Why is this important to know?

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How Listhub’s Real Estate Network Works

by Victor Lund on January 17, 2012

Listhub Logo

It is not uncommon for detailed questions to arise whenever there is major change afoot in the real estate industry regarding data. Listhub’s announcement of the launch of the Real Estate Network precipitated many questions regarding a broker’s ability to manage and control websites that display their data. The Listhub Real Estate Network includes the opportunity for any broker to publish listings on Century 21, Coldwell Banker, RE/MAX, and the Realty Executives websites. WAV Group has researched this topic of the Real Estate Network with executives from Listhub and we have great news to report. They did it right the first time! Brokers who would like to publish their listings on Franchise or Network websites may do so on a site-by-site basis. The Confusion Listhub uses a term called “Channels” to describe places where they will transport data on behalf of a real estate broker. In most cases, a Channel represents a single entity. For example, brokers sending listings to HUD are assured that their listings will only be used on USHUD.com. Brokers are interested in knowing if each of the Real Estate Network sites will be treated as one channel, or if each Real Estate Network member site may be selectively chosen. The press release last week was not clear on this point.

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What real estate can learn from Zappos cyber attack

by Victor Lund on January 16, 2012

Department of Justice Logo

Zappos, a division of Amazon focused on online shoe sales announced that their customer database of 24 million customer records was hacked over the weekend. Fortunately, the credit card database was not accessed. This is a huge problem for Zappos. They will now need to go through a process of getting all 24 million customers to update their password, and notify each user that their username and password have been stolen. The implications of this hacker stealing this information is far reaching. Many consumers use a familiar username and password for accessing commonly used websites. If you have ever set up an account on Zappos – you may have a problem if you did not use a unique password. Be sure to pick a new commonly used password and update it everywhere. Agents, brokers, and MLSs collect a lot of “personally identifiable information” on consumers and store that information on cell phones, laptops, and in databases.  If you loose your cell phone or laptop or get hacked yourself, you are legally responsible to follow the Incident Response Procedures for Data Breaches Involving Personally Identifiable Information. What is Personally Identifiable Information and what to do in the event of a breach.

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Pacific Union International is proud to announce the arrival of CC Holland as Vice President, Digital Marketing. CC is recognized as one of the premier brand and content strategy marketing executives in the San Francisco Bay Area. “We outlined our digital media strategy last Fall and we will now begin to execute. Our confidence in our business strategies, marketing platform, CC Holland and this new digital media initiative should help to provide for exceptional performance in 2012.” CC Holland joins PUI with an extraordinary content strategy background and an intense familiarity with how to use content strategy to complement and leverage brand strategy. CC’s professional experience began in digital journalism as Managing Editor, Online News at KCBS.com and then as a Managing Editor at CNET and ZDNet. Over the past five years CC has been a Senior Content Strategist in both direct and consultative roles at Cisco Systems, Inc., Kaiser Permanente and WebEx.com. “CC will be directly responsible for developing our strategic and tactical plan to fulfill our vision for hyper-local, relevant real estate news and lifestyle stories throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.” CC’s first day with PUI will be Monday, January 9th.  CC lives in the East Bay and will office in Montclair. Her e-mail address is live at cc.holland@pacunion.com. In true PUI form, CC will jump the red-eyeMonday night to NYC and attend Inman’s Real Estate Connect 2012 and visit with Christie’s International.

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Real Estate Digital to build new MLSLI Consumer Website

by Victor Lund on January 11, 2012

Real Estate Digital

Although Real Estate Digital is a new brand in the real estate industry, the management and owners of the company are industry vetrans whose consumer website prowess dates back to the first consumer property search solutions. Real Estate Digital was formed when former LPS company executives formed the new company with assets acquired from LPS early in the fourth quarter of 2011. Since Real Estate Digital began standing on its own, they have shown a remarkable, albeit somewhat predictable ability to transition customers over to the new company and continue the growth of the products under their new brand (THINK FIDELITY TO FNIS TO FNRES TO CYBERHOMES TO LPSVCS to Real Estate Digital = LOTS OF EXPERIENCE CHANGING BRANDS BRANDS). Earlier this year they announced an expansion of an agreement to provide MLS Consumer web services to CRMLS; the nation’s largest MLS with an estimated 70,0000+ members. The new website lives under the homeseekers.com domain name. Today, Real Estate Digital announced that they will be building a new MLS consumer website for the Long Island Board of REALTORS and Multiple Listing Service. The strategic positioning behind an MLS consumer facing website is to provide REALTORS and brokers with a direct connection to the consumer beyond their own websites. Many MLSs believe that publishing listing on the MLS website is the purest form of listing syndication beyond member websites. MLSLI is among the three largest Boards of REALTORS in the United States – this is another big win for Real Estate Digital – congratulations! At the core of their succes seems to be the combination of a website with the REALM advertising platform. This winning combination allows MLSs to offer a consumer facing website that provides revenue back to the MLS to fund other MLS member benefits or reduce member dues. Our understanding is that only MLS Listings in California’s Silicon Valley has a competitive offering to REALM today. Jim Harrison, CEO of MLS Listings says ,”we built our own ad network in 2011 and plan to partner with other MLSs to expand the network in 2012.” WAV Group has recently published a paper for .MLS Domain regarding consumer interest in MLS consumer facing websites, adding to this long list of mls consumer website articles and reports. Here is a complete list of Real Estate Digital products courtesy of RE Technology. Here is Contact Information to Real Estate Digital courtesy of RE Technology. […]

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MOVE launches the Real Estate Network for Franchises

by Victor Lund on January 11, 2012

Listhub logo

Franchise Networks have taken the first step to declare their independence from the MLS rules and regulations, and third party listing websites. Today MOVE, operators of REALTOR.com and the Listhub listing syndication network, announced that they have created a data sharing solution called the Real Estate Network. Participant in the network include the two largest REALOGY networks of Century 21 and Coldwell Banker along with Realty Executives and RE/MAX. Under the terms of the agreement, the four participating Franchise Organizations will reciprocate in a listing data share of property listings for public display each other’s franchise websites. New Century 21 CEO, Rick Davidson sent an email to all Century 21 brokerages yesterday ushering in what he calls “the next step in the evolution of our listings distribution strategy.”

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dot mls

The WAV Group has published results of research that demonstrates the high value consumers place on the term “MLS”. The research, commissioned by the MLS Domains Association, includes surveys of consumers using MLS public websites and of a representative sample of consumers who have purchased or sold real estate in the last twelve months. It supports three key conclusions: For consumers, an MLS represents property search, home valuations and “the good stuff”, as one respondent described it—the term “MLS” equates to high quality, educational, objective information about property; A majority of consumers prefer MLS sites as sources of real estate information over brokerage sites and third-party sites such as data aggregators; Fifty-seven percent of consumers would be more interested in looking at homes on .MLS websites rather than .com websites. These findings are significant to MLSs, real estate associations, and their subscribers/members.  The WAV report observes, “The study clearly points out that consumers trust MLS data more than other sources.”

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Trend MLS launches Find from MOVE

by Victor Lund on January 10, 2012

Trend MLS

It has been about a year now, and Move has successfully launched the Find product into many of the nations’ leading MLSs. In score with this roll out, today Find launched in Trend MLS, serving 15 counties in southern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware is the latest MLS to launch the product. You may know that Trend MLS is what industry insiders call a “home grown” system – meaning that they are responsible for programming the MLS software. Owning the code and having programmers on staff means that tighter and more elegant implementations of third party products are possible within the framework of the core MLS. This is not to say that CoreLogic, LPS, FBS, Rapattoni or others are not able to duplicate this integration – but in most cases, they have not. With Find, real estate professionals are able to research national and local real estate information not found in most MLS systems.

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In this white paper, we explore what the future may look like for MLSs and steps they can take to make sure they position themselves ideally for their market.  It’s not a one-size fits all answer. To download the complete report, click here! MLSs have come a long way over the years and we have seen what were once small, localized operations formed by associations and brokers morph into more and more large regional organizations.  We have seen technology expand at exponential rates with the Internet and with that technology we have seen changes in the real estate market at all levels.  Consumers now play a major role in the real estate transaction long before engaging an agent and this dynamic has created a new consumer industry.  MLSs have moved from a simple technology platform designed to share listing data and manage co-broker sales to large menus of technology tools and services.

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Why Dominant MLSs are Vulnerable

by Victor Lund on January 9, 2012

Apple and Microsoft

Today, there are numerous MLSs that have become dominant companies relative to their smaller competitors. In the world of survival of the fittest, one would assume that the large and strong eat the small and weak. But this is not necessarily true. For the purposes of this writing – I am using the term MLS to refer to MLS vendors and Regional MLSs. Most MLSs in the United States grew through merger and acquisition than through organic growth. As these companies began to reach dominant scale, they realized that they could provide agents and brokers quality MLS services more efficiently. In some cases, this efficiency bolsters the financial strength of their customer, in other cases it results in lower MLS dues (subscriber benefit), often it results in a broader breadth of subscriber services. This is all well and good strategically, but there are some significant problems caused by dominant scale too. The personal relationships that bond the company and customers is weakened, and customer loyalty becomes diluted (just ask Friendster). There are several factors that influence the ability to retain customer loyalty, among them technological innovation, customer service, and educational prowess. However, one critical factor that has largely been ignored: the psychological forces that drive decisions consumers make and, specifically, the degree to which people feel they have choices.

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Instanet launches information website about REIS suit

by Victor Lund on January 8, 2012

Instanet Logo

The lawsuit  Instanet vs. REIS and Florida REALTORS has taken an interesting twist this weekend. Instanet launched a public information website about the lawsuit called TransparencyisGood.com. Before I talk about the website, I would add that REIS is not commenting publicly on this matter. In an informal statement they advise the following: “Federal litigation is a serious matter and should never be entered into lightly.  REIS declines to engage in a public debate about legal matters that are best left for the Court to decide.  Anyone interested in reviewing the complete public record, rather than just selected documents, may contact our attorney, Joel Rothman of Arnstein & Lehr LLP for further information at 561.833.9800 or jrothman@arnstein.com“ Here is the positioning for the TransparencyIsGood.com website: It is important that anyone, whether inside or outside of Florida, who is involved in the real estate industry,  knows all the facts surrounding the litigation between Real Estate Industry Solutions (REIS), the Florida Association of Realtors Inc., Florida Realtors Inc. and Concepts In Data Management US Inc (CDM) Federal Court case 6:10-CV-1045-ORL-22-GJK. All of the documents, emails, motions, depositions made available through this website are NOT CONFIDENTIAL and in fact are available either as part of the record for Federal Court case 10-CV-1045-ORL-GJK through the pacer.gov website or have been made available through the ongoing discovery of this case.

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Smarter Agent throws arrow at Zillow and others

by Victor Lund on January 7, 2012

Smarter Agent

Brad Bloomberg of Smarter Agent is a fighter, and I like that. He takes a position and battles from his corner of the ring. Today, he released a blog post on their company website goes nose to nose with Zillow, Trulia and REALTOR.com. Given that his company is suing them all for patent infringement (another story) – they will never be friends anyway. But this new war is one about his view of listing syndication. Post Title : Listing Aggregators like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com can Erode the Value of your Business. The money quote: ……(syndication) “devalues the business of.. a broker-owner.” I started to write an absurdly long response to the post – and thought it better to put them all here. These are my thoughts on syndication strategy today. They change all the time based upon the broker client we are advising – but this is the gut check response.

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RE Technology Plans Joomla 2.5 Launch

by Victor Lund on January 6, 2012

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Real estate technology portal, RE Technology (www.RETechnology.com) is working to utilize the benefits provided by the Joomla community to develop their second generation website on the new Joomla 2.5 platform. RE Technology, a business education and product research portal for the real estate industry is among the most visited Joomla websites in the world. Other major companies developing on the Joomla include Tesco, the third largest retailer in the world, Avis, Nikon, Citibank (intranet), and Harvard University. ‘The new Joomla 2.5 is being released this January” says Chris Murtagh, lead developer on the RETechnology.com website. “We are excited to deploy new and refined features with 2.5 that will make RE Technology much easier to use and enjoy.” Among many key enhancements in Joomla 2.5 is an improved search index that pre-searches site content. Search results are scored dynamically based on the context and frequency of search terms. The most relevant content will always be listed at the top of the results.

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Metrolist Colorado launches new consumer website

by Victor Lund on January 5, 2012

MetroList MLS Logo

Congratulations to Metrolist MLS on the relaunch of their MLS consumer facing website. Looks and works great! Here are the top new features Mobile – Use your smartphone to search the mobile-optimized site. Property Alerts – Property alerts notify you when potential properties become available. Open Houses – Search for local open houses to tour properties first-hand. Home Valuation – Check out your home’s current estimated value. Rentals – A searchable rentals database is coming in early 2012. Visit the website now and let us know what you think http://www.recolorado.com/ Here is a link to articles on launching successful MLS consumer facing websites: http://waves.wavgroup.com/tag/mls-consumer-website/

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