February 2012

MRED sends data directly to Trulia

by Victor Lund on February 29, 2012

Cheer for MRED

Midwest Real Estate Data LLC or MRED is the MLS of the Chicago region of Illinois. They are the MLS Provider to around 40,000 real estate professionals. In a press release today, Trulia announced that MRED will feed listings directly to Trulia, bypassing Listhub, Point2 and other listing syndicators. “Listing syndication has contributed to a mess on Trulia and all other sites who get their data second hand, on behalf of our brokers, MRED is going to fix it” says Russ Bergeron, MRED CEO. There has been a great deal of discussion in the real estate industry about syndication to publishers. Today, publishers receive listing from multiple data sources. It is not unusual for a listing to be provided to a publisher like Trulia from a broker, an MLS, an agent, a virtual tour provider, an agent website provider, a franchise, a magazine publisher, ad infinitum. This array causes a quagmire of uncertainty about the authority of the listing source, and breeds inaccurate data. MRED has been on a march to help Trulia clean the data through the Trulia Direct Reference program. According to Trulia, only 10%-13% of the listings in the MRED marketplace (from 3rd party syndicators of non-MLS data) are found to be incorrect on a regular basis. MRED’s goal with this new program is to clean it all, says Bergeron. “We do not believe that brokers (and agents) are going to stop sending data to publishers, and only the MLS can fix the data quality issue.” This may be the first step toward the MLS having more leverage to protect brokers from seemingly nefarious usage of broker data. In an effort to make a difference, Bergeron volunteers as an advisor to Trulia and Realtor.com, and is a participating member of the Council of MLS. Bergeron has been recognized by the industry for his leadership many times.

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CoreLogic not breaking into pieces

by Victor Lund on February 28, 2012

corelogic

If you are a stock watcher of the leading companies supplying services to the real estate industry, you have been watching CoreLogic. Since the spin out from First American, the company has been tremendously successful in terms of overall revenue and cash position, but the stock has underperformed. At one point, the stock was as low as $7.64 per share over the past 52 weeks. The high was $19.20, and the target is around $16. The company currently trades at $14. For a company that has $250 Million in cash, a market cap of $1.53B is really low. Some of the major investors were pressuring the Directors to seek strategies like selling off the company in pieces. Thankfully, according to a release from the company today, that is not going to happen. Here is a nice article from HousingWire

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A Discussion on Virtual Brokerage

by Mike Audet on February 23, 2012

online real estate search

We have the opportunity to work with many different software companies providing great products to the real estate industry.  Some of these companies are geared to serve both the traditional real estate model as well as a virtual brokerage.  It is clear to us, as well as these software providers, that the future of real estate companies will be different.  It will be leaner, lighter and in many cased “virtual” with a heavy emphasis on the broker providing great, integrated software products to agents that often work remotely.   I wrote at length about this shift in the white paper, “The Shift in Real Estate Technology”.  What will virtual companies look like and how would someone go about setting up this type of company?

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Why Innovation Fails To Change Real Estate

by Victor Lund on February 21, 2012

Innovation Curve

Every year, real estate sees the launch of beautiful products, offering awesome features, advantages, and benefits. Excellent marketing programs back them and the press creates a jubilee – Innovator of the Year! Then the product launches, and the industry shrugs its shoulder. It is the conundrum of new product development and innovation for real estate. Most of these companies are doing everything right. They are doing research, spotting trends, holding focus groups, testing usability, and modeling lovely financials. If they can only get 1% adoption of this, or 3% of that, revenues will be awesome. There are 1 Million real estate agents; hundreds of thousands of brokers transacting trillions of dollars in transactions, buying $6 Billion dollars of technology in the United States alone! Wait until we go International! Canada is next! For most innovators, this never happens. The drawing on the napkin was flawed. What did they miss? Surely such a great product should have found success by accident. So, they go after it again. They get a few customers with a great social media-marketing program. Really connect with a group of excited agent and broker evangelists, hit a couple of more trade shows announcing how the early adopters are crushing it. More shoulder shrugging. Many outsiders look at the real estate industry and believe that it is ripe for disruption. It looks old. It looks slow. It looks easy. When you contrast the real estate industry with other industries, all of the foundational elements that trigger change and give birth to disruption are there. The industry really has not changed, ever. Sure, there was that shift from MLS books to electronic MLS; from newspaper advertising to website advertising; from chasing keys to lockboxes; and from paper forms to electronic forms. That is really about all that has changed. Innovation has happened very slowly and only because……

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MLS iPad apps have NOT gone far enough yet

by Marilyn Wilson on February 19, 2012

Realtor.com iPad app

Recently, WAV Group has completed several customer satisfaction surveys from around the country in the Southwest, Mid-West, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. In every case there has been a lot of discussion and requests for more MLS access via smartphones and especially for iPads and other tablet devices. While many MLSs think of their iPad application as a property search tool, agents want their MLS iPad apps to go much further than that. Even for those that have launched Tablet solutions, there are two major areas of dissatisfaction that MLSs need to address to make mobile MLS applications truly useful for their agents and brokers. Setting up a listing in the field First, agents are demanding that an iPad application become “THE” place to set-up a listing.  It makes sense considering that the agent could access the iPad application while they are in the home of their seller.  It’s not enough just to view properties from an iPad. Agents want it to become their core tool for setting up new listings. They would like to be able to take photos of the rooms and upload them in real-time. Ideally, the system will be able to easily indicate which room the photo is from and allow the agents to easily set the priority of display for the main photo from the application as well.

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MLS Domains Association acknowledges likely competing bid for .MLS Operator of real estate website MLS.com appears poised to apply to ICANN Minneapolis, February 20, 2012: MLS Domains Association announced today that at it will likely not be making the only application to ICANN for the new .MLS top-level domain on the Internet. ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and is responsible for managing top-level domains worldwide. Its window for applications for new TLDs is open from now until April 12, 2012. “We know of one other likely applicant,” said Bob Bemis, president of the Association.

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MLS strategy to diversify revenue

by Victor Lund on February 16, 2012

Webinar - non dues revenue

WAV Group, RE Technology, and Zuora sponsored a webinar on the topic of non-dues revenue on February 15th, 2012. Panelists for the webinar included Jeremy Crawford of MLSListings.com, Melissa Olson of Metrolist Colorado, John Heithaus of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Kevin Green of Real Estate Digital, and Travis Hutch of Zuora. Victor Lund of WAV Group was the session moderator. Overview Associations and MLSs have been in the business of offering non-dues related products for some time now. They have sold yard signs, closing documents, certification training, and lock box products for years. The new horizon for non-dues revenue focuses around software products and advertising. Generating non-dues revenue through advertising is simple. There are two channels for advertising revenue. Consumer-facing advertising on an MLS consumer-facing website or email notifications is the first channel. The second is business advertising to agents and brokers delivered through inside the MLS or tax system. Software sales are more involved. The process of discovering and purchasing software in real estate is cumbersome to today’s professional. It’s archaic. But new MLS resources like RE Technology are changing that. Today, agents and brokers can visit their MLS to learn about the products and companies that deliver solutions to help them sell more real estate. They can ask questions, see user ratings, and read reviews. However, the chief complaint is that there is no eCommerce. Our experience with RE Technology over the past few years has taught us that the real estate industry is hungry for an app store. Your customers want to “click to buy.” The MLS is a natural place to deliver the app store for three reasons:

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GLVAR hires longtime association leader Nelson Janes as CEO

by Marilyn Wilson on February 15, 2012

Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS

LAS VEGAS – The Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® (GLVAR) announced today that it has hired seasoned real estate association executive Nelson Janes as its new chief executive officer. Janes, who previously ran the Sacramento Association of REALTORS®, expects to start work at GLVAR on May 7. He was hired after GLVAR leaders conducted a national search to replace Irene Vogel, who is retiring after guiding the association for nearly 30 years. Devin Reiss, chairman of GLVAR’s CEO Search Committee, said Janes “brings extensive experience building successful associations and REALTOR® programs, considerable experience as a legislative advocate, expertise in refining and implementing effective strategic plans, and a fresh perspective and creative ideas regarding how GLVAR can improve its service to members and customers.” Reiss, a longtime local REALTOR® and former President of GLVAR, also praised Vogel, who will work with Janes for the next few months to ease his transition into his new job.

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Illinois Bans Real Estate Agents

by Victor Lund on February 14, 2012

Illinois State Seal

Catchy headline. What the State of Illinois is doing is similar to what Colorado, New Mexico and possibly other States have already done. All real estate agents will need to become real estate brokers to retain their license. Brokers who manage agents will need to become Managing brokers. Oh, and did I mention that the state licensing fees go up 83%. Many view this move simply as a way to tax professionals. Illinois real estate agents have until March 15th to complete the training (15 hours) and take a competency test to meet new rules. By the way, the 83% increase in licensing fees does not include the training class. Only about 21% of Illinois agents have taken the test. That equates to about 14,000 of the 67,000 agents licensed in the state. It will be very interesting to see what happens between now and March 15th. Most industry insiders have indicated that little will change aside from the fees that REALTORS and brokers pay for their license. It will not have a significant impact on the quality of service or expertise that an agent delivers to a home buying or selling consumer. There is some concern among MLS Executives and Association Executives that this relicensing requirement and fee increase will create mass exodus from real estate as a profession. I hope that the impact is slight because the budget impact to these organizations could pose a significant threat to their ability to serve the real estate professional.

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Keller Williams Family Reunion a Huge Success

by Victor Lund on February 14, 2012

Keller Williams

Give credit where credit is due. Keller Williams may not be the largest franchise organization in the US or the World – but they are working hard to get there, and are awfully close. They recruit like crazy. Keller Williams is a franchise organization whose core focus is on the agent. They consider themselves mentors, trainers, and solution providers to support the agent in reaching their potential. Moreover, they profit share. If the company makes money, the agent wins. Last year, they made a profit of $38M across all 75,000 agents. The profit share works out to be about $506 per agent, or $42 per month. It is interesting to note that the $42 per month is almost equal to their technology fee. There is no doubt that Keller Williams is a leader. They offer many of the same franchise benefits as others – but focus on providing something that is remarkably different. They have a start-up mentality. They have been masterful at recruiting groups of productive agents and binding them together to form a Keller Williams franchises – a bit like franchise giant, RE/MAX. It is a great expansion strategy that avoids trying to reshape a legacy brokerage. When you build something new from the ground up, you shape it the way you need it. The result is that 83% of KW offices were profitable – which is a damn good number.

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Bob Bemis Joins Zillow as VP of Partner Relations

by Mike Audet on February 14, 2012

Screen shot 2012-02-14 at 9.37.19 AM

Zillow announced today (full press release below) that Bob Bemis, former CEO of the Arizona Regional MLS, has joined Zillow as the Vice President of Partner relations.  This is a major event in our industry on multiple levels.  Having known Bob personally and professionally for many years I congratulate Zillow for an outstanding hire, well done!  As a consultant in the industry watching the march of Zillow this hire tends to fuel some of my concerns about where this is actually leading.   In almost every strategic planning session I lead we talk about threats to the industry as well as opportunities and certainly the long term goals of Zillow and other 3rd party vendors is always part of that conversation.  What is their end game?  What is the timing?  Will they really try to become the MLS?    These

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Howard Hanna Syndication Announcement

by Victor Lund on February 13, 2012

Howard Hanna

Another shoe is going to drop today. Howard Hanna, one of America’s largest brokerages will announce their new listing syndication strategy. This is an important announcement because it brings forth a new chapter to the ongoing saga of finding an online advertising paradigm that balances the broker’s needs with the publisher’s needs, in the best possible way. Howard Hanna has spend the past 15 – 18 months studying. They study their website. They study the website of similar size brokerages. They have studied publisher websites. They became experts. Howard Hanna has been testing. Howard Hanna ran lots of experiments with syndication. Turning sites on. Turning sites off. Turning listing enhancement on, and off. They made note of the results. Howard Hanna has modified the data feed in multiple ways too. They reduced and increased the number of photos in the feed. Make changes to the property description text to include agent contact information. They explored and they innovated. Howard Hanna convened focus groups with consumers and agents. They listened. They gained a deep understanding of their customers’ attitudes, wants, and goals.

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Webinar - non dues revenue

Join us for this special webinar with some of America’s leading MLS system operators, John Heithaus from MRIS, Melissa Olson from Metrolist, and Jeremy Crawford from MLS listings. MLSs have abundant opportunities for delivering the best products to their subscribers for lower costs, but it is difficult. In this webinar, you will learn how MRIS, MLSListings, Metrolist and many  other leading MLS are consistently amplifying the reach and effectiveness of their services to their subscribers with powerful new communications and eCommerce platforms. WAV Group partner Victor Lund will moderate the panel as each expert outlines their programs for success: Reason for pursuing Non-Dues Revenue Board Approval Process Launch Process Human and Financial Resources budget Forecast and Forecast methodology Partner Selection Process Help Desk and Technical Support Plan Promotional/Marketing Program Sales Team

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Syndication as in insolent teen

by Victor Lund on February 10, 2012

Listing Syndicaiton

I received a call yesterday from a sage MLS executive. He saw the article in RE Technology about Sandicor adding a new syndication field into their MLS. We had discussed this a few years ago after some broker focus groups. At the time, the brokers did not seem to care too much about syndication, so the idea did not go anywhere. That changed. Adding the field is on the agenda at their next board meeting. He is probably not alone. Aside from that, he shared with me his vision for how syndication is going to play out in the long run. He said that I could write about it, but could not use his name. The recent outbursts on Facebook and Blogs about MLSs are not worth the aggravation I will leave that topic for a future article. I will try to recount the essence of his vision for the future of syndication. He believes that syndication is going to change in one of 4 major ways within the next 12 months – and it will be painful. Background of IDX In many MLS markets, the MLS provider charges a data access fee. Depending on the size of the market, the fee may be as high as $1000 per month per vendor, or as low as free. Any vendor who wants to provide products and services on top of the MLS data must first have broker approval, then enter into a three party data license agreement (broker + MLS + vendor). If a vendor, like Homes.com, Real Estate Digital, Wolfnet, or iHomefinder, etc have hundreds of customers – the fee is a reasonable cost of doing business. Most MLS markets with more than 2500 subscribers have 50 or more vendors paying this license fee. The MLS data fee covers three primary costs to the MLS. It pays for the bandwidth fees associated with pushing terabytes of data out the door every day. It allows the MLS to fund the legal and administrative fees for processing and enforcing the data agreement. It pays for the support services to data vendors when the feed has service issues. These are all real costs. Syndication has the same real costs, but the service fees are not being recovered by the MLS. Future developments in Syndication In most cases, syndication does not have any fees at all. The broker and the publisher get syndication services […]

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Integrating MLS tools into Agent Browsers

by Victor Lund on February 6, 2012

Secure MLS Browser Plugin

Until today, MLSs have been walled Internet gardens. The MLS is accessed through the browser, but is entirely separated from the rest of the open Internet. iMapp just released an innovation that may begin a trend to change all of that. With iMapp, real estate agents with accounts may install a search plugin into their browser. This plugin puts a layer of MLS tax data on top of any website. With the search plugin, agents can look up tax on any property address found on any website – this includes the MLS, Agent and Broker Property Search Websites, Consumer property search websites like homes.com, Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, even the MLS consumer facing website. In fact, iMapp does not care what website you are on. As long as you have an iMapp account, you can access iMapp property tax wherever you can see an address on the Internet. In a way, Dwellicious may have been the first MLS technology tool plugin used by agents. The Dwellicious plugin provided agents with a tool that worked across all websites to bookmark listing. Either Agents or Consumers can bookmark property on any website and share that bookmark with people they choose. This new, creative application by iMapp was not manifested in the intent of introducing professional research data onto the open web. However, intentional or not – that is what it does. Today’s MLS Vendors and MLS operators would serve themselves well to innovate around this concept to support the agent and broker. Here are some examples:

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Non Dues Revenue for MLS

by Victor Lund on February 6, 2012

Webinar - non dues revenue

WAV Group Webinar Feb 15th at 10:00am PST   This WAV Group webinar will focus on a panel discussion about the topic of non-dues revenue. Numerous MLSs around the country have launched or are in the process of launching these programs to provide lower cost business solutions to MLS subscribers. According to the recent CMLS survey – 54% of today’s MLSs offer some form of non-dues revenue. “These companies are pushing the boundaries of their non-dues revenue programs,” says Marilyn Wilson, WAV Group Partner. Topic: Why MLSs pursue non-dues revenue Different options for generating non-dues revenue How it is positioned to their Board of Directors and members How to measure success Panelists: Victor Lund – Founding Partner of WAV Group John Heithaus – Chief Marketing Officer at MRIS Jeremy Crawford – Chief Operating Officer at MLSListings.com Prem Luthra – Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer at Real Estate Digital Melissa Olson – Senior Manager, Marketing & Sales at Metrolist Colorado Travis Huch, Western Area Regional Director at Zuora Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Time: 10:00am – 11:00am PST Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/697962370

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LPS sells tax solutions to Lereta

by Victor Lund on February 1, 2012

LPS

LPS saw the spin off of their Agent-Broker products division in a management led buy out last September. The new company formed is called Real Estate Digital. Today, it was announced that the LPS Tax company was sold to Lereta. This company has nothing to do with the data that is licensed to RPR or MLSs.  This is a tax services company totally separate from the Applied Analytics Data Solutions company that licenses public records and serves MLS. These are interesting times. We will keep you posted on what we hear.

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