September 2012

MLS Mobile 2012 – White Paper – What You Need To Know

by Mike Audet on September 21, 2012

mobile technology

Mobile access to real estate information by both professional real estate agents and consumers is critical, but with few exceptions the real estate technology industry serving our professionals has been slow to react to these  mobile needs.  We still have MLS products that require you to use Microsoft Internet Explorer to access them and there are still MLSs that don’t have great solutions for using an iPad on the MLS. – Download White Paper Here This white paper looks at where we are today with mobile technology in our MLS industry and hopefully sheds some light on where things are going.  There is good news!  Development of mobile products for professional and consumer access is accelerating and exciting capabilities are beginning to surface on both levels.  You will hear terms like mobile web, responsive design and native apps and it is important to understand what these terms and approaches mean as you consider choices for your MLS or brokerage. Providing great mobile access for agents and consumers  is a “must have” not a “nice to have”!  Organized real estate needs to have cutting edge mobile solutions for agents, brokers and consumers today.  In a few short years, mobile access will be the only access that anyone uses and we need to make sure our real estate professionals are the ones providing the very best mobile access available.  Our industry has a distinct advantage to do this because we are the source of the most complete and accurate real estate data that exists anywhere.  The key is providing outstanding mobile products at the professional and consumer level and then getting the word out! Download White Paper Here

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Mitch Skinner Now Partner at Larson Sobodka

by Victor Lund on September 20, 2012

larson sobodka logo

WAV Group is please to extend congratulations to Attorney Mitchell Skinner who has become a member of the legal firm Larson Sobodka. Mitch as been working with the firm’s founder Brian Larson and first member, Elizabeth Sobodka for about two years. Clients of Larson Sobodka have undoubtedly had a solid experience working with Mr. Skinner. Skinner has been helping the firm with their core speciality: data licensing and vendor contracts. It is an area of expertise that has made the firm renowned throughout the industry. Vendor contracts has long been a speciality of the firm – and they have foraged new paths over the past years in the emerging practice of structured data licensing agreements. WAV Group also enjoys geeky talk with the firm on topics like Listing Syndication, IDX Rules and Regulations, and MLS rules and regulations. It is all good stuff. I wonder if they will rename the company? Will it be LSS or SSL? I guess that the founding partner always go first – but SSL seems to resonate for a technology aware law firm. Press Release Minneapolis, September 20, 2012: Larson/Sobotka PLLC, the Minneapolis-based law firm that serves multiple listing service, REALTOR® association, and brokerage clients around the U.S., announced today that Mitchell A. Skinner is now a member of the firm, which is an equity position roughly equivalent to that of a “partner” if the firm were organized as a partnership. Skinner provides copyright, trademark, and technology and licensing counsel to the firm’s clients. According to firm member Elizabeth S. Sobotka, “Over the last 18 months, Mitch has led the firm’s MLS data licensing and vendor contracting practice. He has become the foremost practitioner in these types of transactions on behalf of MLSs.” The firm’s managing member, Brian N. Larson, emphasized Skinner’s commitment to the real estate industry. Skinner is providing pro bono counsel to the Real Estate Standards Organization, and for the second year he is a member of the organizing committee for the Council of Multiple Listing Services Legal Seminar in Boston, MA on September 26, 2012, where he will also be presenting on current strategic issues and vendor relations. Skinner received his J.D. from the University of Minnesota cum laude and is admitted before the Minnesota Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Prior to joining Larson/Sobotka, Skinner practiced general litigation in Minneapolis. Larson/Sobotka focuses its practice on e-commerce, databases, web branding […]

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Do you really think IE is the only browser out there?

by Marilyn Wilson on September 20, 2012

Browser Adoption Trend

A few weeks ago I gave the state of California gave credit for their proactivity in measuring consumer perspectives on the DMV. They are definitely focused on making the experience of renewing your license more pleasant.  Today, I’m going to have to give them a gig them for an issue I found on their website today….sorry guys. I just went online to download some paperwork for a permit I was applying for and I got this screen while using Safari as my browser – ARGGGGHHHHHH! My first thought was  “What organization that is designed to service of the needs of its paying customers would not be browser-agnostic today?  How ridiculous is that?”  And then my mind turned to real estate… Well, guess what….we live in a world that is JUST THAT CRAZY!   Do you really think that in today’s multi-browser world that it is okay to offer products that are only designed for IE?   Blasphemy, you say?  Most real estate professionals prefer IE you say?  Well, let’s look at the facts: According to Stat Counter, Internet Explorer has been steadily LOSING customers for the past four years. Today, Both Chrome and Firefox are MORE THAN DOUBLE the size of IE. For those that IE is still the top dog of the browser world, think again. What will it take for our industry to understand IE is not the browser of choice any longer and hasn’t been since 2008? If you have a platform that is not addressing the needs of every browser now and future, you are WAY behind!   Time to stop acting like a state government and more like an entrepreneur interested in helping his customers sell more real estate no matter what computer they choose and what browser they prefer. As you consider technology for your business or for your customers you need to keep two critical things in mind. 1. All applications need to work fully on all browsers and operating systems 2. All applications need to work fully on all screens (Mobile, Tablet, PC).  

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  While the real estate industry is intimately involved with the mortgage industry, I do believe that sometimes we(or at least I) do not understand the way the mortgage industry works as much as I would like to.  Furthermore, I didn’t understand (until I read this article) how individual real estate agents working together through their MLS can impact the valuation of bank property portfolios.  Through this well-written article below from the RPR blog,  I think it may help all of us understand why the RVM, RPR’s version of an AVM is working to help improve the overall value of the real estate industry which is good for every practitioner out there. Because of the improved accuracy the RVM brings over other AVM models using more dated and incomplete information to generate their estimates,  RPR is helping to improve the quality of the metrics being used by banks and appraisers to value properties and property portfolios. Enjoy the following…. What the REALTOR® and mortgage investor have in common – the importance of property analytics – what’s new and why it matters Question: What do the REALTOR® and the mortgage investor have in common? Answer: The need for the proper and accurate valuation of properties. In this post, I will explain how RPR tools and features created for REALTORS® to use with their clients and customers also support the transaction within the mortgage industry. To better understand this relationship, let us start with the basics of mortgage credit risk: the 3 “C”s of underwriting: Credit: Lenders examine a potential borrower’s credit history to determine their likeliness to repay debt. Capacity: Lenders determine the stability of the consumer’s income, their debt-to-income ratio, and if they have adequate reserves. Collateral: The determination of the loan-to-value ratio and the quality of the down payment (are funds borrowed? Seller-assisted gifts, etc.). This is also known as the borrower’s “skin in the game.” The lower the loan-to-value the less likely a borrower will walk away or default. Key Points When a mortgage loan fails to perform, mortgage investors rely on collateral value to recoup losses. Collateral value comprises house price, condition and marketability. An appraiser determines collateral value at a point in time. But with the large number of REO properties, short sales and refinances, automated valuation models (AVMs) and broker price opinions (BPOs) are being used to assist the mortgage lender and mortgage investor in […]

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Microsoft Explorer Threat Alert to MLS

by Victor Lund on September 18, 2012

Apple and Microsoft

Many of the nation’s leading MLS systems require agents to use the Microsoft browser in order to access the MLS. Although there are plenty of MLS systems that support cross browser capability, not all do – which is where the problem crops up. This issue is an example of the importance of cross browser compatibility in an MLS system. PC World released an article today indicating the following: “If you use Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, or 9 as your default browser, security experts are advising you to use a different web browser until Microsoft patches a critical vulnerability in ID.” Microsoft confirmed the critical vulnerability on Monday stating that hackers were actively exploiting the IE vulnerability that could allow them to take over a user’s PC. RE Technology tracks browser access across its million monthly visitors and recognizes that nearly 75% of agents are using the IE browser today. This could be a significant issue that will create a great deal of disruption to our industry in the short term. Here is what you can do. If you MLS is cross-browser compatible, send out a system alert and encourage agents to use a different browser until the issue is patched or modify the IE security settings to “High.” If your MLS is not cross-browser compatible, alert agents to the dangers of allowing any website to run a script. There are more details in the PC World article that can be found here: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2010031/dump-internet-explorer-until-microsoft-issues-patch-security-experts-warn.html

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Your company is a mess and that’s ok

by Victor Lund on September 17, 2012

Adapt

If you look around your business and recognize a mess, everything is probably working a lot more smoothly than you imagine. It sounds counter intuitive, but companies that are progressive and evolutionary are likely to have many things left undone. Here are three things that you are likely to recognize in your company that are unseemly, but good. Wrong People There is no such thing as a perfect business team. When you evaluate your team, you will recognize that they all have strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is always working on improvement in some area of their professional responsibility. In today’s environment where responsibilities are diversified, it is likely that you have tasked people with jobs that do not meet their training or core strengths. You should not expect them to be rockstars at doing jobs that are new to them. Accept that your staff is evolving. I know a guy in the Midwest who was retasked with being an MLS communications director as a result of a management change. He had not written a blog, and rarely used facebook or twitter before he was tasked to be the champion of this business goal. Here we are 3 years later and he is among the most respected in the industry. On day one, he was naturally clueless. What you need to look for in your people is their spirit. Do they approach their job with passion? Do they drag themselves into work for a paycheck or do they show up each day with a fresh spirit and a willingness to champion your cause? You will have bad customers No mater how much you try to convert every client you court into a customer, it will not always happen. You will loose sales, and some of your customers will always be unhappy. If you are an Association or MLS, you need to swallow this one pretty deeply. Since you cannot fire a customer, you need to get along with the worst of them. If you are a technology company, a broker, or an agent – good news. You can fire a customer, and it may very well be the best thing that you can do to keep you and your business team happy. When you see an unhappy customer, you think your business is broken when it probably is not. Unhappy customers are those that want things that your company either cannot […]

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Matt Consalvo named as ARMLS CEO

by Marilyn Wilson on September 12, 2012

WAV Group is pleased to congratulate Matt Consalvo for his newly appointed role as the Chief Executive Officer of ARMLS in Phoenix, Arizona. Matt was named Chief Operating Officer in May, 2011 and then stepped in as Interim CEO in February, 2012. Matt is a second generation Supra employee  He interned for Supra keybox systems in the 1980’s. Later he sharpened his customer service skills in variety of opportunities, including owning his own retail business. In 2003 he returned to GE Security/Supra to administer the Supra Field Offices, joining ARMLS in 2009 when ARMLS took over keybox administration. His passion for quality service has focused the support team on ‘best in class’ service delivery. Matthew holds a B.A. in Business Administration and is currently working towards his MBA. His wife and three sons enjoy traveling, family movie night, and football almost every weekend in the fall. We wish you the best Matt!

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RPR Working to Bridge the Gap with the Mortgage Industry

by Marilyn Wilson on September 12, 2012

Dale Ross, head of RPR published a very interesting article today that I thought would share with you about the company’s efforts to have a positive impact on the mortgage industry. One of the key goals of RPR is to help improve the accuracy of the valuations of properties by providing more comprehensive, accurate and up to date information.  Here it is: Today, RPR is available to the majority of NAR’s REALTOR® members.  In 2011, RPR began to place greater focus on the communications and relationships needed to engage the entities responsible for mortgage liquidity.  With the support of NAR’s Washington D.C. based Legislative Staff, RPR has been participating in numerous meetings with various governmental agencies and financial institutions. The purpose is to provide them with advanced analytics and valuation tools created by RPR to reinforce confidence in property valuations.  This has the potential to bring stability to the market and thereby provide more capitol to the housing industry.  Response to our plan has been overwhelmingly positive. To highlight the level of interest and dialogue between the federal government and the NAR regarding RPR’s potential value, I would like to share some recent testimony by one of our NAR members. On June 28, 2012, Frank Gregoire a REALTOR® from Naples Florida, and 2011 Chair of NAR’s Appraisal Committee provided testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.  This hearing was specifically on Appraisal Oversight regarding The Regulatory Impact on Consumers and Businesses Regarding RPR and the Realtor Valuation Model® (RVM®), Frank testified: “The unique value of RPR’s AVM is that it incorporates real-time market information from more than 400 Multiple Listing Services (MLS) nationwide, comprising approximately two-thirds of NAR’s membership. Much of this MLS data contains more than 10 years history on most properties. RPR’s AVM, known as the Realtors Valuation Model (RVM), is more accurate than most other AVMs when tested on both the national and local levels. Incorporation of MLS data combined with accuracy allows the RVM to offer the strongest value proposition in today’s market.” He also stated: “Through RPR, REALTORS® have access to comprehensive tools to improve comparable property selection to determine the tradeoff between days on market and price. This also allows for improved disposition of distressed properties based on local trends and connections to REALTORS® equipped to sell these unique properties. RPR is an investment in […]

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Bean Group Appoints Richard Burbine as President and Andrew Werry as Chief Operations Officer New England real estate brokerage expands C-suite to accommodate growth Portsmouth, NH, Sept. 12, 2012 – Bean Group, one of the largest independent real estate brokerage firms in New England, has appointed Andrew Werry as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and Richard Burbine as its new President. Combined, these executives bring more than 50 years of experience to the executive team at Bean Group. “After evaluating our current business organization and strategy, we were quick to identify the need to expand the executive leadership team in order to accomplish our growth plans throughout New England,” explained Michael Bean, Founder and CEO of the Bean Group. “We are thrilled to have Andrew and Richard join the Bean Group fam ily and we’re confident that their skills and experience in the real estate industry will further enhance the company.” Richard Burbine comes to Bean Group from NRT LLC, where as Executive Vice President he was accountable for theColdwell Banker Residential Brokerage Northern New England Region consisting of up to 25 offices and 650 sales associates. Prior to NRT, Richard was the Vice President of Sales for DeWolfe Companies. “ I’m  excited to become part of an independently and locally owned company that has consistently proven itself to be innovative and growth oriented,”  said Burbine. Prior to joining the Bean Group, Andrew Werry served as Chief Executive Officer of the Northern New England Real Estate Network (NNEREN), a multiple listing service with more than 9,000 members in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. About Bean Group Bean Group (www.beangroup.com) is a leading real estate firm serving real estate customers in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and is the largest independent real estate brokerage in New Hampshire.  Since it was founded in 2003, Bean Group has demonstrated exceptional growth and has increased sales year over year since inception. The company reported $12.4 million in revenue in 2011 and recently surpassed $1.7 billion in closed real estate transactions. ###

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The funny economics of public companies

by Victor Lund on September 10, 2012

zillow logo

Zillow has a market valuation of over $1B. They are authorizing 3.5 Million more shares and raising north of another $140 Million-ish in cash (they can sell up to 4 million shares if they have heavy demand, and their stock is around $42 to $42 per share). It is amazing stuff. Smart stuff. With that kind of cash, Zillow can take strong positions in any area of the real estate industry that interests them: Buy a national brokerage, buy a national MLS vendor, buy leading companies that provide any number of agent or broker services, etc. Cash is King – and they have the cash. Unless I am mistaken, only CoreLogic has a stronger cash position than Zillow in real estate today. Think of all the fun you could have buying companies for cash and stock with that war chest. Think industry domination. Business Insider took a look at Zillow recently, and kinda answered a question that many of us were curious about. $40 Million for Rent Juice and $7.8 Million for Diverse sounded like over the top buys. Here is how Business Insider sees Zillow: Under pressure to grow, Rascoff has been aggressively buying up companies. He and his team said this May that they would spend $40 million cash on the rental relationship management software provider RentJuice, which launched in 2009, has 31 employees, and whose revenue is “currently immaterial,” according to Rascoff on his August 8 conference call. In spring 2011 the company also acquired the online real estate listing firm Postlets for an undisclosed amount. During the same year for around $7.8 million in cash and stock, Zillow bought Diverse Solutions, which has 18 employees. Rascoff and his team ended up paying around $35.4 million more for these acquisitions than they were worth on the books as of June 30, and this goodwill accounts for more than 26% of Zillow’s total assets. How much money those acquisitions end up making in the long-run remains an open question. Rascoff said August 8 that his team doesn’t expect near-term significant monetization from the rentals business associated with RentJuice, but they think the market opportunity is “very significant,” given factors such as Zillow’s consumer traffic and the billions spent marketing rentals every year. If Rascoff’s guess on this one turns out wrong, his team will have to revise their goodwill estimates downward in later years and take a hit to earnings […]

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Homes.com partners with newspapers

by Victor Lund on September 9, 2012

HomesMediaSolutions

Following in the path of Homefinder, Trulia, and Zillow, the Nation’s 4th largest portal – Homes.com has announced that they are seeking to partner with Newspapers to offer online property search. Moreover, they are offering this service to Newspapers for free, in line with others. The new twist is that Homes.com seeks to leverage the relationship that Newspapers have with advertisers to develop a sales channel for their other products. The announcement of the new strategy is coupled with the launch of their first newspaper partner. In this case, it is actually an announcement of a partnership with 50 newspapers operated by the holding company, Landmark Community Newspapers, LLC.  The 50 Landmark Newspapers span 15 states. Here is the important bit. If you are a broker, you may now publish your listings to the newspaper website in your market simply by adding Homes.com to your listing syndication strategy (ie. Listhub, Point2, or reDataVault). Presumably, enhancing your listings on Homes.com will carry through to being enhanced on your local newspaper website. Historically, local newspapers have charged brokers and agents a king’s ransom to post listings to their site, or have made it a feature of print advertising. For those who have reasonable programs in place, the broker or agent had to enter listings or manage a data feed – both ver painful. This is a great benefit to brokerages, allowing them to overcome the seller’s request for print advertising by offering the digital alternative (which is far superior). If you are an MLS who has been providing a data feed to a Landmark Community Newspaper or licensing a data feed to them, you may need to take a close look at how this will impact your existing relationship. Here is the full press release: Norfolk, VA (Sept. 6, 2012) – Leading real estate listing service Homes.com has launched the “Powered by Homes.com” platform, a media solution and easy-to-use product which offers media outlets access to Homes.com and ForRent.com classified real estate listings. The new feature lets media partners integrate Homes.com into their existing site. This platform is easy to implement, free of charge and also offers revenue opportunities for partners. The highly customizable add-on is co-branded to match existing sites and gives partners control over the page’s appearance. Partners can make edits and incorporate elements of their websites, creating a seamless transition from the outlets’ sites to the listings. Key benefits […]

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What is a participant

by Victor Lund on September 4, 2012

Arizona Broker University

NAR published revised guidelines this year that outline the definition of a Participant in the MLS. It is a long description, so I will put it at the end. One key element is that the mere possession of a broker’s license is not sufficient, the broker must actively endeavor to make or accept offers of cooperation and compensation with respect to properties of the type that are listed on the MLS. If you are an NAR affiliated MLS, you probably have already adopted this language and amended your rules and regulations. Some MLSs go further. They require the broker to take training. Some state Associations go even further, like in Arizona. Effective January 1, 2013, all designated brokers, self-employed brokers and associate brokers who have been delegated authority (in writing) to review contracts and similar instruments on behalf of the designated broker will be required to take a nine-hour broker management clinic (BMC). If you are within your two-year renewal period (meaning you must renew before August 2014), you are eligible to fulfill your BMC requirement by taking a three-hour clinic through December 2012. Definition of MLS Participant (Policy Statement 7.9) Where the term REALTOR® is used in this explanation of policy in connection with the word member or the word participant, it shall be construed to mean the REALTOR® principal or principals, of this or any other association, or a firm comprised of REALTOR® principals participating in a multiple listing service owned and operated by the board. Participatory rights shall be held by an individual principal broker unless determined by the association or MLS to be held by a firm. It shall not be construed to include individuals other than a principal or principals who are REALTOR® members of this or any other association, or who are legally entitled to participate without association membership. However, under no circumstances is any *Compensation is unconditional except where local MLS rules permit listing brokers to reserve the right to reduce compensation offers to cooperating brokers in the event that the commission established in a listing contract is reduced by court action or by actions of a lender. Refer to Part Two, G., Section 1, Information Specifying the Compensation on Each Listing Filed with a Multiple Listing Service of an Association of REALTORS®, Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy. (Adopted 11/98) individual or firm, regardless of membership status, entitled to MLS membership or participation unless they hold a current, […]

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Move buys Tigerlead Solutions

by Victor Lund on September 4, 2012

move logo

Move, operators of Realtor.com, AOL Real Estate, and MSN Real Estate, Listhub, Top Producer, is growing through acquisition as they announce their purchase of Tigerlead. Presumably, Tigerlead will be alternative product with similar functionality to Top Producer. The company was purchased for $22 Million. The executives from TigerLead Solutions will be joining the Move management team, strengthening their already deep bench of experts who understand how to attract, convert, cultivate, and close online home buyers and sellers. Existing Tigerlead customers will benefit from MOVE’s consumer traffic that will fill lead funnels. Here is the Move Buys Tigerlead press release. “Move has long been the leader in the online real estate space.  Bringing TigerLead under the Move umbrella extends our value to our customers in a tangible way that will deliver more high quality leads and help facilitate more real estate transactions,” said Steve Berkowitz, Chief Executive Officer of Move. “By adding an agent-branded website and search solution that richly complements the leads generated by REALTOR.com®, this acquisition further enables Move to deliver the best suite of solutions to both consumers and real estate professionals.  No other company has our breadth of solutions that connect consumers with properties and local agents, while delivering a complete set of productivity tools to agents that let them manage their business from initial lead generation through to transaction close and beyond.” Used by thousands of agents nationwide, the TigerLead platform provides real estate professionals a powerful solution for capturing, cultivating, and managing buyer and seller leads. For brokers and teams, the platform also provides an enterprise-class lead management system that gives 24/7 visibility into the entire team’s lead follow-up performance. This unique platform provides a potent closed-cycle system that combines strong Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expertise with a sophisticated IDX platform and lead management system to help agents generate “Smarter Leads,” leads that are delivered with unique insights such as how many times a user has returned to the site to search, price ranges and the amount of times homes are viewed. “TigerLead has built a powerful platform that delivers real results, and we will continue to provide a strong return on investment for our clients, enhance the strengths of our product offering, and respond to all of our customer needs,” said Howard Tager, co-founder of TigerLead. “Additionally, with TigerLead now part of the Move family, there is a tremendous opportunity to enhance our existing product by […]

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