The Los Angles Times reported today that ICANN, the international non-profit that manages internet top level domains has indicated that they will not be releasing any new TLDs at this time. If you believe the article, this will stall the efforts of the MLS Domains Associationand the Canadian Association of REALTORS who were hopeful that they would be successful at securing the .MLS domain extension for real estate. (MLS Domains and the Canadian Associaton of REALTORS announced that they are working together). But alas, the news sometimes gets it wrong. Which may be the case here according to MLS Domains Association director, Brian Larson: “The news story on which your post is based misstates the situation (or perhaps overstates it). Only digital archery was suspended. According to ICANN, the evaluation process is continuing as designed.” http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/announcements-and-media/announcement-23jun12-en As many know, the efforts to secure the .MLS domain name has two separate but important strategic goals that will benefit the real estate industry. The first goal is defensive: block some third party from securing the .MLS extension. The second is aspirational: to create a place for listing content on the internet that assures consumers that they are viewing listing data derived from the MLS and displayed by authorized site owners who agree to a rules structure. Both excellent strategies. The Times cited a mirage of reasons behind their decision to suspend the release of new TLDs. To summarize, it seems that the ICANN organization is unorganized and remarkably incompetent. In fairness to ICANN, their task is not simple. When the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers decided to expand the domain landscape — letting brands and anyone else with the money apply for the rights to own and run .anything — it did so to create competition in a world of expanding demand. And competition is what it’s getting. That’s clear now that ICANN has revealed who’s going after what domain extensions and where there are competing applications. 1,409 unique domain names applied for 116 are Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), meaning they use non-Latin script 230 domain names have more than one applicant vying for the same name 13 applicants for .app 10 applicants for .art 11 applicants for .home 3 applicants for .sucks Microsoft is applying for 11 Twitter and Facebook are applying for zero The big collision among the applicants: Amazon vs. Google. Google is going after 101 new domain extensions — […]
HOUSTON, TX (June 25, 2012) – Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC) has been recognized by the Houston Chronicle as one of the best-performing companies in the Houston area. Stewart ranked 83 out of 100 in the Chronicle 100. The Chronicle 100 ranks publicly traded companies in the Houston area using four performance criteria for 2011. The score is based on the average of the rankings for these criteria: total revenue, annual growth in earnings per share, annual revenue growth and one-year total return. “Stewart has served the Houston market for more than a century, and we are truly honored to be a part of the Chronicle 100,” said Matt Morris, CEO of Stewart Information Services Corp. “Being listed among the top-ranking companies in Houston as based on our financial performance is very significant to us as we are beginning to come out of one of the worst economic times for the real estate industry and the U.S. as a whole. Through these challenging times, we have worked to simplify and align our company for the benefit of our customers and shareholders. And, the Chronicle 100 ranking recognizes this. It is our goal to continue to serve our customers well into the next century.” For more information on the Chronicle 100, visit http://www.chron.com/business/chron-100/article/The-Chronicle-100-3652659.php, and for more information on Stewart Information Services Corporation, visit http://www.stewart.com. About Stewart
Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC) is a customer-focused, global title insurance and real estate services company offering products and services through our direct operations, network of approved agencies and other companies within the Stewart family. Stewart provides these services to homebuyers and sellers; residential and commercial real estate professionals; mortgage lenders and servicers; title agencies and real estate attorneys; home builders; and United States and foreign governments. Stewart also provides loan origination and servicing support; loan review services; loss mitigation; REO asset management; home and personal insurance services; tax-deferred exchanges; and technology to streamline the real estate process. Recognized in 2012 by Forbes® as one of the Most Trustworthy Companies in America, Stewart offers personalized service, industry expertise and customized solutions for virtually any type of real estate transaction, and is the preferred real estate services provider. More information can be found at http://www.stewart.com/news. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. # # #
WAV Group is conducting a national research project to help MLSs better understand adoption rates of the myriad of technology services now being offered by MLSs. Many MLSs provide products such as tax/public records, showing appointment software, document management, forms and so on. It is important to understand how many of your active members are actually using each of these tools to understand whether the costs are justified. Many MLSs have asked us to help them better understand their success in gaining adoption relative to other MLSs around the country. There are many dynamics to consider when evaluating adoption rates. Many MLSs simply look at the total number of agents using a particular tool and then calculate an adoption rate based on the entire subscriber base. This calculation does not take into account the fact that a relatively small percentage of agents complete the bulk of the transactions in most MLSs. It also doesn’t consider that the membership also includes appraisers, property managers, commercial members and others who do not actively sell real estate. This survey is intended to help all of us better understand what a successful product intended for active agents looks like. Is 10% adoption good? 30%? We believe it is important to know. We would like your MLS members to participate in a short survey to help us understand product adoption for our industry. There is no charge for your participation and we will provide the following to you for your participation FREE of charge: A report summary of the national findings Individual adoption results for your MLS for your specific products Entry of all participants in the survey in a drawing for two free iPads. The survey is intended to be completed by your members and can be distributed through: Direct email invitation to your members (WAV Group can do this for you upon request at not charge). Access on the Home Page of your MLS system. Invitations via MLS newsletters, web page, etc. The survey will only ask your members to respond to the specific products offered through your MLS. To participate, just email us at email@example.com and we will provide you with the details to make survey available to your members. If you have any questions please email us as well, or call us at 716-839-4628. We look forward to your participation in this exciting research.
WAV Group partner, Victor Lund will be attending the 2012 CoreLogic User Group Meeting and Summit in Chicago next week. The event looks to be information-filled with presentations that provide insight in guidance into the future developments of MLS systems that power about half of America’s MLS. Some of the topics include updates on the ongoing development of the core functionality in Fusion MLS, Matrix, and Tempo. These systems are deployed to many of the largest MLSs in the country. CoreLogic will also be releasing information on advances in Mobile, Fusion CMA, Social Media, Fusion Contact Management, Fusion Stats Pro, RETS, and Realist. The company will offer many product break out sessions to to discuss future product features and gather customer feedback on how CoreLogic can improve its products and services. MLS executives provide some of the best ideas for new features, and system UI enhancements. WAV Group is among the leading consultants providing strategic planning, research, MLS Consumer Website Planning, and vendor selection services to the MLS industry. WAV Group is launching a new program called Consumer Source aimed at collecting consumer information that informs strategy in real estate. Lund will also be meeting with MLSs about RE Technology – a free communication resource made available through MLS partners to more than 700,000 real estate professionals. RE Technology is particularly excited about the recent roll out of SuccessStore and SuccessTracker – its eCommerce and App Store solution that supports MLSs and Associations at providing technology solutions to agents and brokers. If you need to carve out some time to meet with Victor Lund, call 805-709-6696 to schedule some time.
The MLS Domains Association (MDA) today announced that its board of directors has named Merri Jo Cowen President of the Association. She takes the place of Bob Bemis, who resigned his positions as president and board member to focus his energies on a new executive position. Cowen is CEO of My Florida Regional MLS, a large regional multiple listing service serving Orlando, Tampa, and the rest of central Florida. According to MDA’s corporate secretary Brian Larson, “Merri Jo has been a member of MDA’s board of directors since the formation of the Association in 2010, and she has been a valuable and constructive presence in our strategic discussions ever since.”
Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES MLS in Colorado would agree with Charlie Chaplin when he said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted,” for she and her team came up with some great ideas to “lighten up” their MLS website. Imagine this: You are an IRES MLS customer, and you hurriedly type in your username-incorrectly. Instead of receiving the usual boring error message “Username or Password Invalid”, you get a different message; it reads: “Going incognito today? We aren’t sure who you are!” “When I type in my password too quickly and I get the ‘are you going incognito?’ message,” Lauren says, “I chuckle!” According to a longitudinal study conducted at Loma Linda University, a leading medical research institute in California, laughing not only boosts hormones in our brain that help preserve our health, but also reduce stress hormones that can be deeply damaging to our bodies. In a world full of frustrating technological failures, it is good to know someone is doing their part to help alleviate some of the irritation we all experience on a daily basis. Since these frustrating experiences are something we can all relate to, it gives MLSs a great entry point in which to inject a little personality into an automated process. When you make someone laugh, you make a connection. And that is a good thing for customers who get to release some stress while making the process of working with the MLS a little lighter and more fun. Like these error messages from ColoProperty.com: “We have all encountered those frustrating situations where a boring page loads telling us there is an error and it just brings out the worst in us!” Lauren continues. “So we decided to have some fun with it. If people laugh, then it’s doing its job!”
HOUSTON (June 8, 2012) – Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC) is pleased to announce the appointment of vice chairman Stewart Morris Jr. to the American Land Title Association (ALTA) Board of Governors. The Association’s Board of Governors is responsible for creating policy, managing the financial health and ensuring the overall welfare of the Association. “Stewart has brought strong leadership to both our company and the title industry as a whole throughout his nearly 40-year career,” said Matt Morris, CEO of Stewart Information Services Corporation. “His experience and knowledge will prove valuable to ALTA as he takes on this leadership role. We look forward to the meaningful contributions he will make on the Board of Governors as they address issues impacting our industry.” “Working with ALTA in this capacity is both an honor and a new road for me,” said Stewart Morris Jr. “The entire real estate services industry must adapt to new regulations, changing disclosure forms, mortgage finance uncertainty and technology advancements. As an industry, we have a unique position to connect with all parties in the real estate transaction.” Morris continues, “We have a duty to improve processes, enhance transparency and work with the various regulatory agencies to support a strong real estate market. It’s my quest as an ALTA board member to help our industry prosper through good communication and working relationship with regulatory agencies and business partners in the real estate transaction to improve the efficiency and delivery of a finer customer experience.” ALTA, founded in 1907, represents more than 4,000 title insurance companies and agencies, independent abstracters, title searchers and attorneys who aim to protect property owners and mortgage lenders against losses from defects in titles. Morris Jr. previously served as president and co-CEO of Stewart Information Services Corp. and president of Stewart Title Company, which he joined in 1973. Morris Jr. was elected vice president of Stewart Title in 1974, and was named president of Stewart Title and chairman of Stewart Title Guaranty Company in 1991. Morris Jr. graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rice University in 1971 and received a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Texas in 1973. *Photo: Business Wire
Please join me in welcoming Felicia Chan to Pacific Union International as Vice President, Brand Marketing. Felicia is a graduate of Yale University,B.A. in Economics & Political Science. Felicia started her career at Procter & Gamble where she benefited from world class brand training. She moved on to Revo, Inc. as Director, Brand Marketing where she helped the disruptive sunglass manufacturer quadruple in sales and develop their brand in 20 global markets. Felicia then spent 9 years at Peet’s Coffee & Tea and helped create the branding and marketing message to expand into the grocery channel, e-commerce, and licensed partnerships. As Director of Brand & Creative Services, Felicia owned the “brand experience” across all marketing channels. Most recently, Felicia was the Director, Brand Identity at Charles Schwab & Co.where she oversaw brand identity strategy and implementation in the firm’s retail, institutional, and banking divisions. In addition to updating the brand identity with a more contemporary look and feel, she spearheaded digital initiatives to drive stronger brand differentiation in native web, tablet, and mobile devices, making sure all brand messaging and experiences were consistent with strategic objectives. We welcome Felicia’s high impact, strategic, branding, and digital expertise to Pacific Union International, Inc. Stay tuned! Sincerely,
Market Leader had a reseller agreement with Imprev, the leading Agent, Broker and Franchise marketing services provider for years. It was successful, and the relationship ended amicably when Market Leader purchased Imprev’s competitor, SharperAgent. The effort was in concert with Market Leader’s strategic vision of building an end-to-end platform that supports real estate professionals from lead generation to closing and customer retention. Market Leader announced today that the Sharper Agent marketing suite has been integrated into all of the Market Leader products and made available to all 100,000 agents who are registered to that platform. In concert with the release, all existing Market Leader users also received a gracious service level promotion. Every Growth Leader customer has been automatically upgraded to Market Leader Professional, and every RealtyGenerator customer has been automatically upgraded to the Market Leader Business Suite. The company now has clearly defined services for Agents and Brokers. Last year they also purchased realestate.com from LendingTree as their consumer portal, and KWKLY for mobile marketing solution. Market Leader Business Suite is the product name for brokers; the agent product is called Market Leader Professional. Market Leader offers the following services in the products: Personal Agent Website, Lead Generation, Contact Management, Marketing Center, and Education. It will be interesting to see how adoption of the SharperAgent marketing tools of flyers, postcards, email campaigns, etc will be embraced by the Market Leader customers. Keller Williams agents on the platform will experience a switch from Imprev. All other Market Leader customers will have access to the marketing center for the first time. Clearly they loved the Imprev products, and although the SharperAgent products are competitive – Keller Williams agents will need to get accustomed to the new offerings. Who Moved My Cheese? Where did my favorite design go? How do I use this new stuff? All normal responses to change within any product. In time, users will assimilate to SharperAgent. Those that miss Imprev will seek them out and buy directly. Market Leader is offering daily webinars and information sessions to ease the transition and to welcome new users. At the end of the day, Market Leader now owns a valued service that they formerly subcontracted. It strengthens their company. WAV Group wrote a paper called the Shift in Real Estate Technology that supports the demand for comprehensive, end-to-end technology solutions under one application. It is worth reading or re-reading. Here is the link to the free download. http://waves.wavgroup.com/2011/06/27/the-shift-in-real-estate-technology-new-white-paper/ […]
Preparing for a Strategic Planning session involves a process of gaining a holistic view of the organization from every perspective. Understanding your customer’s perspective is always the primary driver that informs everything. But understanding of staff culture and capabilities; system strengths and limitations; financial conditions; and industry trends pave a path to developing a plan that works. At the end of the day, the board of directors and the management team agree to a group of initiatives that will make the business stronger, and the strategic plan is born. Some organizations in real estate take the plan and execute it flawlessly where others fail. Harvard Business Review outlines three causes of failure that recur in organizations that cause great plans to go off track. We see these three causes persistently in real estate and they are worth examination. Passive aggressive disagreement: It’s unlikely that everyone in an organization will agree with all of the nuances of a major strategic shift. Disagreement can be based on logic, experience, or (perhaps unconsciously) discomfort with change or loss of power. In any case, if the culture of the company does not encourage dissent, the resistance will go underground. People will voice their support but not actively do anything to make it happen. To detect this in your organization, you can ask stakeholders the following questions. 1. Do you believe that the strategy is on target? 2. Do you believe that others will agree that the strategy is on target? The answers will be amusing. Normally people will tell a leader that they are aligned with the plan (perhaps mentioning their favorite piece), but will be outspoken about how their peers may have reservations. Fear of confrontation: In most nice organizations where teamwork is encouraged, volunteer board members hesitate to confront leaders who are not fully engaging in the strategic plan. They may not want to make waves or fear harming the relationship. So instead they try to work around it and end up accepting and even promoting a sub-optimizing the strategy. Allowing Directors to anonymously grade the progress on each segment of the plan during board meetings (silent ballot) is a great way to get unfiltered feedback. Lack of persistent top-down demands: If the successful implementation of a strategy requires change across a number of functions, then a senior leader needs to get everyone on board. Without this explicit expectation — reinforced again […]