March 2012

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WAV Group partner, Mike Audet,  spoke last week at Realcomp’s “Tools of the Trade Expo” in Dearborn, Michigan at the beautiful Michael Guido Theater complex, in the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center.  Mike gave an Industry Update to the Brokers on numerous topics from Syndication and Shifts in Real Estate Technology to Data Licensing Opportunities.   This event could well be the model for other MLSs to follow in providing great outreach support to the members. From the keynote address by BravoTV’s Jeffery Lewis, star of “Flipping Out” and presentations including

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iPad Listing Presentation Apps are hot for 2012

by Victor Lund on March 23, 2012

RE/MAX Presenter iPad Listing Presentation

If you appreciate research, you will enjoy some of these statistics. They point to the prioritization of tools that agents and brokers are seeking to improve the effectiveness of their marketing. The survey conducted by Imprev was presented to agents and brokers attending the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World conference. Keynote: They want iPad Listing Presentation Apps. With Apple selling more than 250,000 iPads a week – it is clearly a game changer that professional real estate agents are adopting. RE/MAX in concert with Imprev is the first company to launch a franchise-wide listing presentation tool for the iPad (RE/MAX seems to always be the first franchise to do anything) The iPad Presentation App topped a list of 25 different marketing products, from which respondents chose up to five different products they would like to have. The next most popular marketing product was automated (or “Drip”) eMarketing campaigns (35 percent), followed by single property websites (29 percent), a personal blog (28 percent) and video (25 percent). If you are putting together your product offerings for agents, you should be considering these items in addition to websites and IDX. RE Technology will be featuring these items in many of the eCommerce stores being launched this year for MLSs. It is interesting to note that video has fallen to 5th on this list. Blogging and Video have been the marketing darlings of the real estate industry of late. Blogging engages consumers in conversation and improves search engine optimization. Video increases consumer connections with properties and neighborhoods. The Smartphone was picked as agents’ and brokers’ current favorite technology, with a little more than half those surveyed saying it was their top choice (52 percent), followed by the iPad/tablet (26 percent), laptop/notebook/netbook (16 percent), desktop computer (5 percent) and other (1 percent). The nation’s MLS are tragically behind in supporting agnets and brokers on mobile. Perhaps this data will ring a bell. Email marketing ranked number one as the most effective marketing product used today (51 percent), followed closely by an agent website (50 percent), virtual tours (42 percent), printed postcards (36 percent) and Facebook (32 percent). MLSs do more email marketing than they think. For every 15,000 members, and MLS sends about 6 Million email alerts. Perhaps it is time to make some significant improvements in the design of these emails. Those surveyed by Imprev said the most effective marketing products […]

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We are lucky enough to work with brokers and MLSs around the country.  It provides us with a unique perspective to notice trends that may not be readily apparent any other way. Here’s just one of the trends I have noticed in our work over the years.  While many parts of the country have been successful in joining together to create highly successful and productive regional MLSs, there is one weakness I have observed again and again.  Many times a luxury or second home market close to a larger metropolitan region will join the regional effort. I’m not going to pick on any specific area, but we see this phenomenon in Nevada, Massachusetts, Florida, New Mexico, California, and many, many other states.  The MLSs are sometimes stuck in the middle. Many MLS executives see the advantages of joining forces with a regional MLS because it will provide more exposure for their member’s listings as well as encourage referral activity.  Unfortunately, many of these same MLSs in luxury and second home markets are met with resistance from their members who do not want to provide access to agents outside of their immediate area. They believe the “big city” guys may come in and steal away the listings and of course, the commissions. While I certainly understand a certain level of protectionist behavior, especially in this economy, it does baffle me at some level.  Doesn’t every deal have two sides?   Don’t agents want as many potential buyers as possible to be able to see their listings?  Aren’t agents looking for more referral business?

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Victor Lund to speak at Leading RE Conference Monday

by Victor Lund on March 22, 2012

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World

WAV Group partner, Victor Lund has been invited to speak at the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Conference on Monday, March 26th, 2012 in Orlando, FL. 1 PM EST. Leading RE is one of the best organized and most highly respected group of brokers in the United States. They are comprised of real estate brokerages from across the nation who are independent  (not a franchise) and each of them qualified for membership by having the highest market share of any independent brokerage in their region. Today’s real estate brokerage is lifting its head once again from the slumber of successive years of economic turmoil in property ownership. This conference will be delivering a new aria of strategy sharing among companies who personify excellence in real estate brokerage. The topic of the session is Listing Syndication – Friend or Foe. WAV Group has recently surveyed the top 100 real estate brokerage members of Leading RE to catalog their listing syndication strategies ranging from no syndication to 100% syndication with 100% enhancement. Joining the panel will be two of Leading RE’s largest broker members: Bob Peltier of Edina Realty and Joe Horning of Shorewest REALTORS

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Real estate technology is changing in dramatic ways today at both the MLS and broker levels as we have detailed in recent white papers, “The Shift in Real Estate Technology” and “Real Estate Technology – Keys to Adoption”.   MLSs and Associations now have more opportunities than ever to offer their members technologies that make their business lives easier and more efficient.   A number of these new models for introducing the right software today are a win/win for both the vendors and the customers as they rely on “value selling” and often allow revenue to be realized on both the vendor and client side with minimum cost barriers for product introduction. REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR 

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instanet tree

The state REALTOR Association of Florida, Florida REALTORS is among the most successful and innovative Associations in America. Real Estate Industry Solutions, a Florida REALTORS wholly owned for-profit company, has launched two products that are nationally recognized for their outstanding success at improving the effectiveness of REALTORS, TechHelpline and MLSAdvantage. Their formssimplicity product is currently embroiled in litigation it brought against their former vendor, Instanet. Instanet launched a website about the case called Transparency Is Good. It is a painful case. Today, Associations and MLSs around the country are keeping a watchful eye on the REIS case. Litigation in business is part of life, and real estate sees its healthy share. However, this case is unique because the court just added Florida REALTORS to a case involving REIS, a wholly owned for-profit corporation whose only shareholder is Florida REALTORS. There is one key issue in this case that may jeopardize similar for-profit and non-profit companies found nationwide.

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New iPad is here – more fun, more fast

by Marilyn Wilson on March 16, 2012

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I woke up at 3:42 am pacific time this morning, only to realize I was probably one of the first people on the West Coast to see the “official” launch of the latest version of the iPad. While there is no AMAZING new innovation that we’ve never seen before, they have taken the device to new levels in a few interesting ways.  First, there is a new high definition screen called a “Retinal” screen that delivers more pixels per square inch than anything we’ve seen to date including high definition televisions, according to the video promotions from Apple. Next, it includes a new 5 megapixel camera which turns the entire iPad into a viewfinder so you can be sure to get great shots which are framed properly. Coupled with the new camera is a new version of iLife media software which makes it even easier to create photo collages and “trailer”-type videos. The new version of Garage Band within the iLife suite allows up to 4 iPads to be networked together to play virtual music together. Pretty fun stuff for those that would have time to do such things. For real estate, the high res camera and viewing screen is going to make viewing homes a whole lot more fun, I would guess.  The new iLife suite will make it easier for agents to get creative with the ways they display images.  Who needs a virtual tour when you can create your own photo montage in minutes that can be shared easily with clients?   It could be a whole new way to break through the crowd in a listing presentation.  A savvy agent could be a photo collage while walking around the property with a homeowner.

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LPS automates court cases

by Victor Lund on March 15, 2012

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I guess that if you are a technology company that has been spending a lot of time in court rooms, you may as well make the best of it, and fix the court system while you are there. Just kidding. In all seriousness, LPS and CoreLogic have largely escaped all damages for thier role in supporting the bad decisions of lenders. That is a good thing. But LPS did just land a huge deal in their courthouse management systems. They were awarded the contract for managing documents on 425,000 court cases that roll through the Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller’s office each year. This type of throughput of paper makes a real estate transaction look like a sticky note. Here is the press release.

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How Strategic is your Strategic Plan?

by Marilyn Wilson on March 15, 2012

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The real estate industry is in a state of flux – many of the rules as we know it are changing before our eyes. Demanding consumers now require a lot more from their agents. Agents expect more from their brokers. Brokers believe their Associations and MLSs need to do more to help them survive. Every group in the real estate “food chain” is at risk of becoming overpriced, irrelevant or both by the changes before us. So what is YOUR organization doing to prepare for the inevitable changes being thrust upon it? Is your group looking at “worst case” scenario planning?   Are you consciously thinking about all of the entities that may threaten your very existence?   If you are thinking about the threats to your businesses, are you thinking about how to proactively prepare for the worst?  Are you thinking about ways to shore up your organization and even make preemptive strikes to fend off potential new competitors? Let’s start at the beginning.  Does your organization conduct a strategic plan annually?   If so, do you talk about tactical, evolutionary changes or do you question everything about?  Do you think about your business models?  What about your leadership or governance structures?   Do you critically evaluate whether your company is truly poised for growth? Does your business  have the resources, human or otherwise, to implement breakthrough new strategies you may be considering?  Do you think about where you’re spending your money and whether you know if the monies are truly providing the return on investment that you would like? Importantly, when you think about yourself as a leader, are you truly open to embracing the potential for fundamental changes to the way you do business or are you trying to make the current models “fit”?   If you are open to changes, are you putting together a strategic planning initiative that will help others around you understand the need for evolution and maybe even “revolution”? Now here’s the even tougher question…when you look in the mirror can you truly say that you are leading your organization to be driven by the ever-changing needs of your customer base?   Are you as close to the needs of your customers as you need to be? When is the last time you listened to your paying clients tell you about what they really need from you?   Can you clearly articulate who your customer base is?  Do you […]

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Century 21 takes heat for National Advertising Fund

by Victor Lund on March 14, 2012

Century 21

Century 21 is probably a bit hot under the collar in their corporate offices today. Not only are they in the news for the settlement of a lawsuit involving the alleged mis-handling of the franchise advertising fund, but now many franchises across the country are expecting a check that they may not be eligible to receive. According to a story published in Inman News yesterday, Century 21 Real Estate Corp. settled a class-action lawsuit that the franchisor and its parent company misappropriated franchise feeds paid by brokers. It is a common practice for all franchise organizations to create a pool of advertising dollars from each transaction to promote the brand for mutual benefit. This case was brought by a franchise owner who claimed that the money raised from franchises for Century 21 was used to promote the smaller brands of Coldwell Banker and ERA. Century 21 did not admit to any wrong doing, but agreed to refund $250 for every $10,000 in royalty fees collected from August 1st, 1995 to April 17th, 2002. The Inman article must have created some heat for Century 21. Their CEO sent a message to all franchise owners today clarifying that the suit is narrowly limited to the class of participant defined by the court. In other words, franchise owners who did not join the class are not eligible for any settlement proceeds. Apparently, many Century 21 franchises may have missed the memo and failed to file. I suspect that this will cause more challenges for those franchises who were excluded from the settlement. Century 21 has great plans for the advertising fund in 2012. On the heals of their Super Bowl success, they are aiming at some premier horse racing events and the Olympics. Not sure if they are sticking with Smarter, Bolder, Faster. P.S. Century 21 is not a sponsor of the Rush Limbaugh Show. There is no link to the Inman story here because it is behind the pay wall.

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Man in Jail

  At WAV Group we work with leading associations and MLSs around the country helping them to find world class talent to continue an organization’s growth and evolution. We are lucky enough to be able to observe board dynamics, internal operations and CEO-led initiatives. As an industry, we are blessed with loyal leaders and followers who value the tradition of real estate and the process of governing the industry as well.  They clearly understand the unique needs of REALTORS® and are passionate about nurturing the real estate industry.  Many of them have long-standing personal relationships with many of their members and regularly “go to the mat” to help one of their colleagues succeed.  This longevity leads to continuity, solid community and effective methods for communicating key issues and advocacy. There is a potential downside, though, in our view.  Many Associations have had the same leader and in some cases, many of the same people on the Board of Directors for many years.  While the continuity of thought can be very valuable, it can also lead to staleness and complacency.  Without a continuous focus on the ever-changing needs of members and the clients they serve, Associations are in danger of becoming irrelevant and in the worst case, extinct. If you’re in a board meeting and you find yourself saying or even thinking things like “we tried that 5 years ago and it didn’t work” or “we don’t need to look at that” or “that would never happen here”, you may in danger of stagnation.  While we can all learn from experience, if we get jaded by experience we may miss out on exciting opportunities to renew the value and relevance of organizations. Historically our industry has valued long-term leadership – many of today’s leaders have been in the same seat for 20 or more years.  Some would prefer to move on to a new position with a new set of challenges, but it can be frowned upon.  Some real estate associations believe that the AE should sit in the seat for as long as they possibly can because they “owe” it to their constituency to do so. I would suggest that it may make sense to re-think this mindset.  While it doesn’t make sense to turn over Association Executives too quickly, the thought of bringing in fresh perspectives to critically evaluate the local real estate economy, programs, services and community relationships […]

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Century 21 announced today that it will provide its U.S.-based real estate professionals with new tools from Market Leader including marketing, lead follow-up and a full CRM platform.  Market Leader and the CENTURY 21 marketing team worked together to define a customized solution, leveraging a number of the integrated building blocks that make up Market Leader’s comprehensive software platform. The base system that will be provided to all agents at no cost while advanced capabilities will be available for high-end producers at a small premium. PRESS RELEASE

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Best Days to Reach Agents

by Victor Lund on March 13, 2012

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There is an old pubic relations myth that indicates that the best day for issuing PR is on Tuesday. This opinion is likely formed from the days when media was printed on paper or broadcast on TV. Tuesday is not the top day anymore. For today’s MLS, Association, or any other company that supports real estate agents, communication is very important. The timing of that communication is also very important. Despite the nay-sayers that preach “REALTORS don’t read,” we have learned that they do. They read a lot. In fact, the problem with communicating to real estate professionals may not be related to their reading habits, but the sheer volume of information that is pushed to them each day. I think that one of the near term issues that MLSs and Associations will encounter in the near future is vendors spamming agents. Some MLS offer 40 products either as member benefits or premium services (hunting licenses). In some cases, each vendor may send as many as 1 or 2 emails each week to every MLS subscriber. Ouch. This makes it nearly impossible for the MLS to get their own message through. Here is a tip.

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Real Estate and Scented Print Ads

by Victor Lund on March 12, 2012

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Oh the sweet smell of real estate. Open house month conjures up fresh baked cookies or home made bread. Agents have put scent into their open house strategy for decades. More than myth, scent is a great marketing tool! When I think of scent marketing, I think of the perfume ads that still show up in magazines. I am not a big fan of those ads, but they do catch your attention. They make you smell, even if only to reconfirm your distaste for the perfume. Today, scent marketing has extended beyond fragrances. Leading brands like Dove, Neutrogena, and Airwick air fresheners are having significant success. Here’s why. On average, 64% of readers read a scented paper ad, compared to 54% of readers who read any other type of ad. In other words, scented ads deliver 19% lift in advertising “stopping power.” (GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research). Real Estate companies could do themselves a great service by getting innovative with their print advertising.

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Is the MLS responsible for the Syndication Mess?

by Marilyn Wilson on March 9, 2012

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I give a lot of credit to the Council of MLS for their commitment to understanding the issues with listing syndication and formulating an effort to fix it. In the first place, the failure of many MLSs to understand listing syndication has been the cornerstone of the problems that exist today. Here is a little history lesson. In the beginning, only a few brokers with their own IT staff were able to supply a feed of their listings to publishers. When a broker has hundreds of listings or tens of thousands of listings like Howard Hanna, Prudential Fox and Roach and others, the concept of manually entering and updating listings on multiple websites was a daunting task. Automation was demanded to create function and efficiency. In most cases, the automation was already in place. For these big brokers, publishing to the newspaper every week was equally daunting, so that was already automated. The data was in the database but it just needed to be moved. One problem still remained and that was keeping the database accurate. Agents would often update the price and other information in the MLS, but not in the broker database. This too was solved by MLSs providing a data feed into the brokerage. At this point – all was good for big brokers, but small and mid-sized brokers were in need of help.

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Figuring Out The Non-Dues Revenue Equation

by Marilyn Wilson on March 8, 2012

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As membership numbers have declined, many MLSs and Associations are feeling more and more pressure to reduce their dependence on dues based revenues. At the same time, the cost of running an MLS is increasing. Members are more demanding for the scope of services they expect while they expect the pace of improvements and enhancements to keep up with the ever-increasing speed of technology innovations available today. Third, members are under increasing pressure to offer better service and information to their customers, putting even more pressure on the MLS to deliver comprehensive, accurate data and seamlessly integrate to third party products. With the decreases in agent and broker demand for technology products and the high cost of sales to individual sales professionals, more and more technology companies are looking to MLSs to become an important distribution and sales partner for their products. Top Producer from Move, Inc. is the latest example of technology companies who traditionally sell to agents and brokers are now offering a non-dues revenue share programs for MLS. Their program includes a free member benefit company that provides tools and free training as well as a revenue share to the MLS. This opportunity allows the MLS, REALTOR.com, Top Producer and the MLS members an opportunity to work together so members receive the combined benefit of:

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Scenic Coast – America’s First Hybrid MLS

by Victor Lund on March 8, 2012

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Established in 1969 in slumbering Morro Bay, California, Scenic Coast Association of REALTORS (SCAOR) has established an amazing MLS Offering – Two MLS memberships for the price of one. This new solution is called the MLS Hybrid, and may be the first of it’s kind in the nation. SCAOR participates in the Central Coast MLS (CCRMLS). I have not reviewed their governance, but CCRMLS behaves like a data share among 7 Associations serving 2500 agents offering Rapattoni MLS, Realist Tax, Listhub, and REALTORS Property Resource (RPR is offered in some but not all AORs in CCRMLS). On February 10th, 2012, the SCAOR launched a secondary MLS services delivered by the California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS), the nations largest MLS. It seems like a very tidy arrangement whereby all CCRMLS data is now displayed in CRMLS, but only visible to SCAOR Members. CRMLS members can see SCAOR data, but not the listings of any of the other CCRMLS participants. So today, SCAOR agents may use Rapattoni from CRMLS, Tempo, Matrix, and Fusion from CRMLS. Multiple systems for the price of one – pick your system of choice. This is not a data share agreement, their members are literally members of two MLSs.

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A Brief Quiz: What Type of Executive Are You?

by Mike Audet on March 8, 2012

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When you are confronted with potential change to your organization, do you believe you are a “big picture” thinker or a wall builder? True leaders understand how resisting necessary change is never the right option. What type of leader are you? I recently had a conversation with an MLS/Association executive that made me realize how strong some of our leaders are, as well as how short sighted others are.  This particular MLS executive who oversees a fairly good-sized organization with over 5,000 members brought up the issue of sharing data with another MLS.  It really wasn’t the specific reason we were talking but it did have relevance via the big picture on things we were discussing, so we discussed it for a while.  What struck me immediately about this executive’s commentary was the absolute lack of defensiveness when talking about all of the options from data sharing to full regionalization. This leader clearly looked at the situation from a position of what is best for his members and the business, plain and simple.  There did not seem to be any hesitation or resistance to any and all possibilities though clearly some courses of action could potentially impact this person’s position.  This is the type of person you meet and within seconds you respect them and you trust them because they operate from the “big picture”.  They don’t worry about losing their job because they know another opportunity will open up that will be better.  What they focus on is doing the right thing as the executive of their organization. They are a pleasure to work with! Some years ago

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NAR Will Face Its Greatest Foes

by Victor Lund on March 8, 2012

National Association of REALTORS

Our industry, and every industry faces foes. Some foes that challenge industries are ideological, some economical, some ethical, and some natural. Certainly, the real estate industry faces each of these foes today. Who will be the leader that guides the people, the agents, the brokers, the association executives, the mls executives? Remember this leadership statement? “Let every nation know… that WE shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” More than any political speech, this was the voice of a committed leader. In one of my favorite Facebook groups “raising the bar in real estate” I casually posed a question: “What would your real estate business be like without the Association of REALTORS®?” I did not like the answers. Most of the answers submitted included guttural moans, and the undertone that NAR membership was required, not chosen. There seems to be a belief that the rights of agents and brokers come from the generosity of NAR. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today Jeremy Conaway, my most highly respected industry mentor answered the question.

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RE/MAX renews VOWS with Homes.com

by Victor Lund on March 6, 2012

REMAX powered by Homes.com

Divorce happens in life and in business. Keeping a relationship together over a long term requires faith and dedication. When issues arise, strong partnerships raise to the occasion. Online competition is fierce today. RE/MAX is crushing all other franchises in America in terms of visits and page views, but there are new competitors now – publishers. It is harder to stay competitive unless you have a great team. There is always fear in any relationship. Fear that something could be better if you were partnered elsewhere. My goodness – look at the divorce rate in America. But today’s post is about a love story between two companies – companies that respect each other, companies that work together, companies that anticipate a life together. Congratulations to RE/MAX and Homes.com for renewing their VOWS. Homes.com and RE/MAX® Launch New Online Strategic Partnership Homes.com selected to power remax.com and create new mobile apps suite (Norfolk, VA, March 6, 2012) —Homes.com and RE/MAX, LLC, announced today the launch of a major new online marketing partnership.  RE/MAX has selected Homes.com to power the new remax.com website and the newly released suite of RE/MAX mobile applications for Apple and Android mobile devices. The two organizations will also be launching collaborative efforts to market Homes.com local advertising products and the new Homes Connect marketing platform to RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout North America.

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