March 2013

NAR REach Program Logo

For those of you who do not know, there is a derivative initiative of NAR’s Second Century Ventrures venture capital fund called REach. The REach program has a grand board of advisors, and a board of mentors. The program requests submissions from companies who are looking to enter the real estate industry. If selected, the REach programs provides support and advisory services to these businesses so that they hit the ground running with some industry awareness. Here are the top 6 BombBomb – Provides a complete e-mail and video marketing platform for developing, sending and tracking results of traditional and video e-mail campaigns from any device. Lumentus – Gives companies a measurable edge in identifying, understanding and engaging social media communities keeping social media communications on brand and on mission. Planwise – Offers a financial planning service that enables individuals to plan for major life events by simply and visually testing real-life scenarios. Reach150 – Provides a turnkey referral platform for service professionals to quickly build a positive reputation online. Updater – Provides a free service for anyone who is moving to easily forward mail, update accounts, transfer utilities, and sign up for home services in a single location. — Workface – Offers a unique, quick-to-deploy live chat (text, audio and video) software platform for real time one-on-one conversations at a customer’s moment of interest. It will be very interesting to track the progress of these companies over the next 12 months. As with all new NAR initiatives, there is always a draft of scuttlebutt and water cooler critics. I encourage people to belay judgement until they have been provided with time and opportunity to launch and tune the program. It is great that NAR is making an effort to support industry growth – an initiative that is clearly within the purview of a trade organization. Press Release: WASHINGTON, DC, Mar 26, 2013 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — REach(TM), an Accelerator program developed by Second Century Ventures (SCV), the strategic investment arm of the National Association of Realtors(R) to introduce innovative technology companies to the real estate marketplace, today named six companies to join its 2013 class. SCV developed REach(TM) to offer technology startups premier access to the more than 1 million Realtors(R) driving the $1 trillion U.S. real estate market. The companies selected to join are BombBomb, Lumentus, Planwise, Reach150, Updater, and Workface. “After a careful selection process, we are honored to announce the six companies that […]

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Managing Your Training Department

by Victor Lund on March 23, 2013

Managing Your Training Department

Training, support, and customer service are key features to any organization in real estate. Although these are three separate functions in large organizations, they typically are handled by one or two departments in most real estate organizations. For the purpose of this article, we will discuss this as one department, Training. WAV Group encourages the discipline of measuring satisfaction with the training department whenever a real estate organization performs focus groups, telephone interviews, or user surveys. Frequently the primary reason for dissatisfaction with a product or service is grounded in some part by poor training. Real estate is an adult business. Proper training programs follow guidelines for adult learning. WAV Group has identified six methods for training in a real estate organization that comprise effective training programs. These are: 1 to 1; small group; webinar; recorded webinar; help desk support and Wikis. This report will briefly discuss each of these. To access the full report, click this link.

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RENTAL CYCLE

If you visit any of the large third party property search sites today you will see a significant focus on the rental market. In most cases, rentals are now getting just as much focus as residential sales.  A few months ago Zillow purchased Rentjuice again underlines the growing importance of the rental market. They paid $16mm for the company to take advantage of its younger, renter focused 2.8 million viewers. Zillow, once again, is closely watching what real estate consumers are looking for.  They are addressing their needs with an aggressive push into the rentals space and are WAY ahead of brokers and MLSs in the rental space. MLSs and Brokers historically have not paid that much attention to rentals because the commission rates are much lower and the offers for cooperation and compensation are much more muddy.  That’s starting to change among the most progressive MLSs, however. Utahrealestate.com, for example, has launched their own rental site, Propertypond.com. The Houston Association of REALTORS® recently completed a study that clearly demonstrates the need for every Association and MLS to quickly embrace the rental market to help their subscribers take advantage of this important consumer trend. Through the industry’s first dedicated consumer research panel, made up local Houston residents, HAR conducted a study to find out more about the rental phenomenon in their market. The study revealed some astounding results. Historically, the real estate industry has thought of rentals as a separate process and a separate set of customers from homebuyers.  According to the study, this is simply not true. Nearly 40% of the respondents to the survey said they had previously owned a home. Second it is clear that a portion of those that were historically committed to home ownership are now moving to rentals because they believe it is more affordable or requires less maintenance and hassle. It appears as though the prestige of homeownership is being eroded at least to some level. Third, conventional wisdom would suggest that renters are generally young people who cannot yet afford to buy a home. While renters do skew younger overall than residential homebuyers, there is a significant portion of renters that are over 45 as well.               Renting is part of a family’s life cycle.  When we’re young and just starting we rent, then we purchase a home to raise a family.  When children grow up […]

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RBI Goes Nationwide With CoreLogic

by Victor Lund on March 22, 2013

Core Logic and MRIS

rbiEXPERT is now being launched nationwide through a partnership with CoreLogic. MLSs interested in this service should contact RBI or CoreLogic to reserve placement in the integration schedule. RealEstate Business Intelligence, or RBI is a subsidiary of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, or MRIS. The company was formed to meet the market analytic needs of roughly 40,000 subscribers to the MLS system in the Mid-Atlantic States – Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. Their premium product, rbiEXPERT allows professionals to slice, dice, visualize, and share real estate market trends with their buyers and sellers in the best possible way. rbiEXPERT allows agents to pull real estate stats and reports and easily create interactive charts, to share with their clients. The key feature of rbiEXPERT is ease of use, empowering even the most novice agent the ability to instantly build tailored reports. It even has a component designed to work with smart phones and tablets, rbiMOBILE! For a number of years, rbiEXPERT has built adoption of their product by partnering with a number of the largest MLS services in the nation. It has allowed the product to develop its feature set in ways that support the local needs of diverse marketplaces from Florida (MFRMLS) to Arizona (ARMLS). The CoreLogic partnership is a significant development for RBI and CoreLogic alike. CoreLogic offers normalized public record data in nearly every county and zip code in America. The company is also the nation’s largest MLS service provider reaching around 632,000 MLS subscribers. CoreLogic and RBI have worked together to enhance the presentation of market metrics within the CoreLogic Realist platform using the names MARKETrends and MARKETrends Premium. MRIS has contracted with 1000Watt to utilize the Nudge platform to allow agents to publish market information to their clients. Nudge was established with the foundation that agents are the market experts in real estate, but that knowledge was difficult to communicate elegantly to consumers. With a series of simple, embeddable HTML5 market trending indicators, Nudge enables agents to convert complex economic housing data into simple to understand visuals that can be published on websites, mobile, email, or social media. Nudge, coupled with the market analytics of rbiEXPERT and the comprehensive and accurate data assets of CoreLogic creates a powerful tool for real estate professionals. Press Release   —RBI Data Visualization Technology Available to Non-RBI Customers for First Time—   IRVINE, Calif., March […]

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Remembering Pat Bybee

by Mike Audet on March 22, 2013

Pat Bybee

All of us at WAV Group want to acknowledge our friend and colleague, Pat Bybee who was taken from us recently in a tragic car accident. Our prayers and sincere condolences go out to her family.  Pat will be missed by all that know her. Until resigning in 2011, Pat served as the president and CEO of Metrolist MLS in Denver for 27 years.  Pat was a true industry professional, a friend to many and her enthusiasm, smile and dedication will be missed by all that knew her.  Pat Bybee Scholarship A scholarship in Pat’s name at the Burns School of Real Estate & Construction Management at Denver University has been set up and will be administered by the university and a long-time friend and colleague of Pat’s, Dr. Mark Levine.   This fund will be used to support deserving students at the Burns School that are pursuing real estate management careers on the undergraduate or graduate level. Checks should be made out to Burns School University of Denver (with a note or memo that says Patricia J. Bybee Memorial Scholarship Fund and can be mailed to: Dr. Mark Lee Levine Professor Burns School/Daniels College University of Denver 2101 South University Blvd Denver, Colorado 80208 USA Phone 303-871-2142 Fax       303-871-2971 mlevine@du.edu http://portfolio.du.edu/mlevine

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Goodbye Mongofax

by Victor Lund on March 15, 2013

mongofax

Mongofax was awesome. Now it is no more. The company is closing today. It is never a celebration when companies go away – jobs are lost and customers who relied on their services scramble to find a replacement. I am pretty sure that their primary marketplace was in Florida. Instanet, which supports faxing as a feature of their forms solution may have put pressure on Mongofax. According to a post by Jeremy Crawford of MLS listings over on the VendorAlley Blog – the Mongofax’s patent is available for purchase For Associations and MLSs that offer ZipForms, be aware that zipVault can replace Mongofax.  Corelogic is also rushing in to help out some MLSs left in the lurch. Here is the info on that. Are you a former MongoFax® customer looking for a new Fax-to-Email solution? Fax Manager from CoreLogic® provides multiple listing organizations with cost-effective electronic faxing, making it easy for members to digitize, share, and store documents.  Fax Manager is easily integrated with most MLS systems, even if it’s not a CoreLogic system.  You can start with Fax Manager and later expand into Document and Transaction Managers, and combine any of them with mobile access to create a paper-free, eco-friendly workplace. For more information and to set up an online demo for your MLS committee, contact your CoreLogic account representative, email Kim McLean at kmclean@corelogic.com, or visit corelogic.com/mls.

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Bad broker strategy found everywhere

by Victor Lund on March 14, 2013

dont be stupid 2

Having been to the parade of broker meetings in Las Vegas, there is one conclusion that stands about the strategic direction of real estate brokerages. Strategy is lagging the market shift for far too many brokerage owners. Oddly enough, the topic was not even discussed. I worked elbow to elbow with brokers through 2012 as we lived and rejoiced through a market rebound. Buyers returned to the market to buy homes with little support from the tight lending standards of mortgage banks. Prices rebounded enough to put sellers into the market. Broker’s profits rebounded and discretionary spending budgets emerged. The Lag First quarter spending analysis showed that brokers generally invested discretionary spending into the wrong side of the market. Many brokers invested in buyer lead generation programs when the obvious business need is to attract sellers. Brokers need listings, not buyers. There is no seller advertising in newspapers. No mention of it on broker websites. It is a prime example of what we consultants call strategic lag – a condition whereby a business reacts too slowly to new markets. Smart Brokers Smart brokers avoided the lag. They spent the winter building their spring plan. They evaluated their enterprise and addressed many of the neglected housekeeping chores that were sequestered from the housing crash. Old signs were replaced. Shabby offices were finally remodeled. New computers arrived. Marketing departments focused on rehabilitating company brands and listing presentations. Technology departments focused on customer relationship management solutions. The long tail of customer for life Dominate brokers remained dominate though the down market and the market return. In fact, they came out stronger with more market share because many of the small store brokers were not able to sustain the housing recession. Those dominate brokers maintained a core focus on staying in touch with past customers. They leaned into supporting those customers through strategic defaults and short sales. They helped them find housing though their property management businesses. They have helped customers save money through savings found in mortgage refinancing and insurance renewals. All along they stayed connected to the customer, advocating and supporting their housing needs, regardless of the circumstances. That customer attention generated more than just revenue. It created stronger bonds and relationships between the company, its agents, and its customers. What’s next Forget about buyer lead generation programs for the next 2 quarters. Focus all of your resources – sales training, seller […]

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Brazil – Ready for MLS?

by Mike Audet on March 7, 2013

ProList-Logo-Marca

Over the last year I have had the pleasure of working with a very talented and visionary team of business people in Brazil, who realize it is time to take real estate in Brazil to the next level.  Today, like much of the world, buying and selling real estate in Brazil is a frustrating, fragmented affair, where sellers always feel they have not reached the right buyer and sold their property for too little and sellers always feel they have not seen the right property to buy and, of course, they worry they paid too much.  Why? Because in Brazil there is no MLS, until now, and every real estate broker and agent is an island. To go house shopping in Brazil you can cruise a couple of very mediocre real estate portals or you can contact dozens of real estate brokers to try to understand what is on the market, what the prices look like, but you never have confidence that you really know what the market is.  There is very little cooperation and exclusive listings make up probably less than 10% of the listings.  It is a very inefficient way to buy and sell property. Anyone that has spent any time in Europe has experienced this same thing.  Each broker or agent (agents in Brazil do not have to be affiliated with a Broker) has their own listings to sell and often, several agents are given the same listing, because sellers realize they need to expand their listing’s exposure.  For brokers and agents, however, this creates a very difficult situation.  How hard should they advertise a property when the work they do may result in a sale for another real estate company. Those of us that have had a chance to work in other countries always scratch our head and wonder why all countries just don’t use the system that has made the United States the most sophisticated and efficient real estate system in the world, the Multiple Listing Service.  The answer is simple actually, it’s because change rarely happens until a sufficient amount of tension occurs.  Until things get uncomfortable, until there is sufficient tension around any thing you look at, change doesn’t occur.   We all will do whatever we can to maintain the status quo until doing so is more uncomfortable than trying something different. So what is happening in Brazil that makes it seem like […]

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IDX isting Syndication

To Syndicate or not to Syndicate, that is NOT the question! WAV Group Response What an exciting day in real estate media. 1000Watt Consulting is having a spirited discussion blog to blog with Dale Ross of NAR’s RPR. And, in an exciting development, Zip Realty did a data accuracy study that somewhat mirrored the WAV Group data accuracy research performed for brokers, Redfin, Windermere, and Long and Foster. They concluded that 30% of the listings on Zillow and Trulia are not on the market. To keep things rolling along, my friend Saul Klein from Yardi published a spirited article about Syndication that I would like to address. It would be sad for Saul’s comments to be lost in the discussion about broker data. You may want to bump down lower in this post to read Saul’s thoughts before reading our response – but here goes…. WAV Group has long applauded the efforts made by Point2 to continue developing syndication strategy in our industry. We appreciate the opportunity to add our voice texture to the conversation about the future of syndication and how contract alignment can improve online property marketing for everyone. As for the question ‘To Syndicate or Not to Syndicate?’ Our consult has always been for MLSs and brokers to develop a plan that works for them in their market, execute the plan effectively, and measure the results to maximize the effectiveness of your strategy.  Here are a few strategies The broker may extend their strategic syndication choices to agents, which is good for agent recruiting and retention, but fractures the broker online marketing plan. Big brokers with significant market share and lots of website traffic have turned off syndication, and had success. This strategy does not work with small to mid-sized brokers unless a whole bunch of competitors do the same thing. Brokers have the opportunity enhance listings on some or all publisher channels, and are able to effectively grab more leads per listing than those brokers that do not. Some brokers market their company and agents on competitor listings. When a broker considers syndication, it is important that they have a strategy and do it carefully. DO NOT SYNDICATE TO ANY PUBLISHER WITHOUT AN AGREEMENT THAT PROTECTS YOUR DATA. There is significant risk to syndicating listing information without agreements that protect the usage of the data. In the absence of a structure to your publisher relationship, publishers […]

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Move releases the new Realtor.com Brand

by Victor Lund on March 5, 2013

New Realtor.com brand

We have seen some re-branding released recently from leading real estate consumer brands. Today we see the release of the new Realtor.com – where home happens. Last year saw the rebirth of Century 21 – Stronger, Bolder, Faster. These are very well recognized consumer brands. MOVE EVP Marketing, Barbara O’Connor and her team took a close look at the Realtor.com brand within a year of her arrival at the company. I am excited to see how this new treatment works out. I can assure you that they have likely exhausted focus groups to predictably make a selection that reaches their target with both consumers and the industry. Presumably they had the additional challenge of NAR review, since the REALTOR brand comes through the license agreement. It is an interesting challenge to blend someone another company brand into your brand. I think that O’Connor and team did a great job. I like it. Beverly Thorne and her team at Century 21 led the charge for their initiative following a similar pattern. It is common for a new marketing leader to take a good look at the brand in their first year in office. As the custodian of a brand, great marketers establish a clear and measured understanding of what they have inherited. Both Century 21 and realtor.com appeal to consumers and agents alike. It makes branding hard. At once you are appealing to a 35 year old consumer and a 54 year old REALTOR ® Here’s a few thoughts from Andrew Strickman, VP Brand & Creative at move, Inc. “As we heighten our focus on developing a rich consumer experience and creating an emotional attachment to our audience, we recognized that it was time to update our realtor.com branding, positioning and tagline. We conducted extensive research and spoke with consumers from across the country as key input to the development of our revised logo and new site look and feel.  We heard from them that a valued online real estate brand is one that embraces the notion of home — whether that home is their first rental out of college, or the 3-bedroom house that marks the beginning of a new family growing out of their starter home. Most online real estate brands feel clinical, data- and machine-driven and do not have a human feel, even though they are all about creating connections with real human beings. Our role with this […]

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IRES MLS Launches Tablet Solution

by Victor Lund on March 4, 2013

mobile technology

WAV Group MLS Customer Satisfaction Surveys have demonstrated that agents want the ability to access all of their MLS services on the iPad or other tablet device. It is refreshing to see IRES MLS in Colorado take on that need and address it by launching their own iPad app for members. IRES built their iPad application themselves, proving that some MLSs with strong developers can accomplish the delivery of MLS services on an iPad quickly and cost effectively. The IRES app supports the most meaningful and highly used features of the MLS service, including full listing search of all MLS data and public record data. Agents can also access comparables and even sign documents electronically.”Today agents cannot add or edit listings in this version of the release,” says a spokesperson for IRES. “The process of keying all of the data required for listing entry is significant, and not very practical on the iPad.”  “For right now, we are keeping it simple and addressing the most important data access needs of the agent.” “The next step is likely to support changing price, status, or photo upload.” Bravo IRES on this great new member benefit with no increase in member subscription fees. Fellow Colorado MLS, Metrolist also has a robust number of mobile and iPad solutions available for sale to their members. WAV Group has also been impressed by solutions offered by SmarterAgent, Prospects MLS Touch, and MobileRealtyApps. We also look forward to seeing CoreLogic’s solution under development with DoApps. For a complete list of companies offering Mobile Solutions for MLS, click here.   WAV Group partner Mike Audet published a paper targeting MLS Mobile Strategy for 2012. Check it out. Press Release Follows Loveland, CO — February 28th, 2013 IRES, LLC, a leading provider of multiple listing services in Colorado, announced today the release of IRES Tablet.  IRES Tablet makes the IRES MLS available to Colorado real estate brokers on tablet devices such as the iPad.  It is estimated that in 2013 more consumers will search for real estate on mobile devices than desktop computers.  With this addition, IRES ensures that Colorado brokers can meet the needs of today’s mobile consumer. In addition to advanced listing and public record search capability, IRES Tablet also provides the ability to create comparable reports, plus write and electronically sign contracts with the industry leading esignature software, DocuSign®. Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES says, “We are thrilled […]

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