April 2013

In Search Of A Perfect Broker VOW

by Victor Lund on April 29, 2013

WAV Group is conducting research to discover if there is any broker in the United States who has pulled out of IDX and only offers a Virtual Office Website to consumers. Presumably, it would be a large enough broker who would display their listings publicly without the need to register to the site. If consumers wanted to see other broker listings, they would need to register. No other broker would be able to display that brokers listings to the public. If you know of such a site here in America, please direct me to it and you will be handsomely rewarded. My loving relationship with Virtual Office Websites (VOW) dates back to about 2005 when MRED was called MLSNI. You see, the Chicago area had a local custom whereby brokers could elect to exclude some other brokers from obtaining and displaying their listings via Broker Reciprocity or IDX. To obtain access to all of the data, consumers would need to register to the brokers VOW.  Consumers gladly registered to access all of the listings, get more property information like sold listings, and lead generation rates for that area were far higher than other regions of the county. Around 2005, Listingbook launched their VOW solution in partnership with MLSs. One of the most popular posts ever published on the WAV Group website was titled “Listingbook is a must have for every MLS.” Even today, agents may have access to a VOW solution combined with email marketing, contact management, flyer program and  a host of other agent productivity tools for free. Listingbook was one of the early pioneers of Freemium Pricing for MLSs whereby some functionality of the solution is offered free with permission to publish advertising. Premium subscription has more features and removes advertising. VOWs have one thing in common, they allow all non-confidential MLS data to be displayed to the consumer online if they are registered to that agent’s website. In a way, I think that Listingbook stalled many technology companies from developing new, innovative VOW solutions for agents. Its hard to compete with a free product offered in partnership with the MLS. The ability to access all MLS data, including sold listings, days on market, and price changes over time make VOW solutions very appealing. It did not take long for some inspired brokerages like Zip Realty, Redfin and others to leverage VOW data in ways that enabled them to gain an online […]

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CRS and iMapp merge strategies

by Victor Lund on April 24, 2013

CRS and iMapp

WAV Group was provided with an announcement today that may be of interest to current iMapp customers, current CRS customers, or anyone looking for tax services. CRS and iMapp have entered into a strategic agreement that has CRS focused on tax systems and iMapp focused on advertising revenue. The companies will remain separate corporations, but align themselves to serve their customers in a way that leverages assets and capabilities of both companies. Tax systems used by professionals in real estate are very important, and very different from simple access to tax data that may be available in a variety of public places today. Like other developers of professional tax systems, these solutions focus on data accuracy, depth of data fields, the timeliness of data updates, the comprehensiveness of areas covered and a delivery system for the data that is suited to the needs of the professional.  There are only a small handful of companies who provide this specialized service. Over the past four years, iMapp broke pattern with traditional tax system providers and introduced a new business model that leverages advertising revenue to disrupt the price per user per month licensing paradigm in place today. They recognized that tax searches correlate to highly targeted hyper-local property transaction activity that advertisers would like to know about. Under the terms of the agreement between the companies, iMapp will support CRS in offering and advertising option to existing and future clients and CRS will take over the maintenance and service of the iMapp platform along with their own service. Here is the full press release For Release 9 a.m. PDT April 23rd, 2013 CRS Data and iMapp Sign Strategic Agreement KNOXVILLE, TN and TAMPA, FL — April 23, 2013 — CRS Data (Courthouse Retrieval System) and iMapp® today announced the signing of a strategic agreement which leverages the strengths of both companies. CRS Data is focused on expanding their data operations and the creation of the industry’s best-in-class software while iMapp continues to expand their highly effective, criteria-driven MLS advertising delivery system. CRS Data and iMapp remain separate, privately held companies serving the MLS market. Together, the companies currently serve over 50 MLSs, representing approximately 250,000 REALTORS®. Expanded Footprint CRS Data serves a number of markets, including financial institutions, investors and appraisers. Matt Casey, CEO of CRS Data says, “We are doubling down on our commitment to be the premier public record provider and are committed to […]

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It is all about schools

by Victor Lund on April 23, 2013

New Realtor.com brand

The most active group of home buyers in sellers in America have one thing in common – school age children.  Traditionally, real estate has ducked the consumer by avoiding the laborious and somewhat liability producing task of informing consumers about schools. Our industry has largely taken the stance that if a consumer wants to know about schools, they will provide the phone number to the school district. Good luck with that. This is not true of all brokers or MLSs. Some have invested heavily in procuring the most accurate school data available. You will often find the information somewhere down below the fold on a listing detail page. Move Inc, the operators of Realtor.com just made a bold move (pun intended) to give consumers what they want – search by school. I just updated by Realtor.com mobile app and look forward to testing it out in my town to determine its accuracy. Accuracy has always been the issue. In some way, third party listing websites like Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow have an advantage at offering up some data types that licensed agents and brokers may not. They have no liability concerns with consumer transactions. Nevertheless, the data is getting better, making geo-fencing of school area boundaries possible. If you want to see a list of mapping solutions that support agents, brokers, or MLSs with this data, they are all sorted on RETechnology.com. Here are the details of the Realtor.com release. Realtor.com® First to Add School Search in Significant Update to Mobile App School is in session for realtor.com® as the online real estate leader rolls out a significant mobile update, pioneering search-by-school functionality in its successful iOS and Android apps SAN JOSE, Calif., April 23, 2013 – Realtor.com®, the leader in online real estate operated by Move, Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE), today announced a substantial update to its realtor.com® mobile app for iOS and Android. In addition to being the first to allow home buyers to target listings based on schools and districts through its new school search functionality, the app now boasts an array of updated capabilities, including new, intuitive navigation elements and an enhanced map experience. With realtor.com’s search-by-schools, users can hone their home search based on school or district boundaries and discover valuable information on schools and districts of interest. Users can filter listings by public schools, districts and private schools in just one tap. “We understand that when searching for the perfect home […]

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How Leading MLSs Are Winning with Public Service Apps

by Marilyn Wilson on April 15, 2013

down payment resource logo

First-time home buyers are necessary for a healthy housing market, but their needs and behaviors have changed. This group is doing more research in advance of working with an agent, and it’s no surprise that their research is happening online. In fact, real estate related searches on Google.com have grown more than 200 percent over the past four years, with frequently searched terms like FHA loan, home grants and homebuyer assistance. Are your MLS core services prepared to serve these buyers? Join MLS leaders John Mosey of NorthstarMLS and Merri Jo Cowen of My Florida Regional MLS for a discussion about the most critical home purchase considerations for homebuyers and how public service apps can be integrated to reach your community in a more impactful way. We will be covering the following topics: Investigate core services, public service apps, and how certain ideas break through Highlight how information about down payment assistance can be incorporated as a valuable core service for your members Help buyers compare options and make a home purchase that’s as affordable and successful as possible Tuesday April 16th, 201310 am PDT/ 12 pm CDT/ 1 pm EDT

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mobile technology

For years now our industry has talked about how mobile devices will soon be the primary device used by agents in their day-to-day business.   We have been waiting for our MLS vendors to introduce cutting edge mobile products that would allow this vision of our future to become real.  Advances in mobile are coming, however, not all MLS vendors have kept pace  There has been progress and some solutions are better than others but the reality is, because MLS vendors were slow to provide really compelling mobile solutions, 3rd party mobile vendors saw an opportunity and filled the void.  It is very similar to the situation we saw in 2005 when Zillow n Truila recognized a huge consumer need with the realization that organized real estate wasn’t doing anything to fulfill it.  Today those 3rd party vendors own that space.  The same thing may be happening with mobile today and MLSs that are looking at upgrading their MLS systems are wise to evaluate all mobile options not just the ones offered by their chosen MLS vendor. Tip #1.Understand the differences in mobile products being offered, namely the difference between Native Apps and Mobile Web Apps. Types of Mobile Products There are basically two types of mobile products you should be aware of.  Both are defined below from an article by mobithinking.com that discusses the differences of mobile web products vs. native mobile apps. 1.Mobile Web Products A mobile web app, or browser application, is one in which all or some parts of the software are downloaded from the web each time it is run.  It can usually be accessed from all Web-capable mobile devices.  This is the same as accessing any program from the browser on your PC or Mac. 2.Native Mobile Apps A native app as one that is specifically designed to run on a device’s operating system and machine firmware, and typically needs to be adapted for different devices.  For instance, a native application developed for the iPhone will need to run on its proprietary iOS platform, or on Symbian for many Nokia devices, and so forth. These are apps like Angry Birds and Evernote.  They are downloaded from an app store and are designed for a particular operating system. What’s the difference between Mobile Web Apps and Native Apps? Native apps are designed to work with each specific device they run on and as a result have […]

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Managing MLS Channel Conflict

by Victor Lund on April 11, 2013

Shaking hands

On the business-to-business side of real estate, there are entities that cooperate with one another that also compete with one another. A common term for this in modern business management is a neologism called coopetition. Brokers competing against each other participate together in the MLS to share information and offer of compensation; and may be related to the same franchise. Agents who compete with each other participate in Associations of REALTORS and are often members of the same brokerage or franchise. Associations who compete with each other sometimes cooperate in offering MLS services. Within this system of collaboration, there are many mutual benefits that are created by working together or purchasing together. Usually the more purchasers or collaborators you have, the more effective or efficient they become. This is commonplace in real estate whereby purchasing in mass quantities is typically lower price than purchasing piecemeal. Where the efficiency creates a conflict is at a point where competition demands a unique value proposition. Channels or groups in real estate include: The National Association of REALTORS State Association of REALTORS local Association of REALTORS MLS Franchises Relocation networks Brokers Agents.  In some way, all of these groups work together, but often their interests compete with one another – especially when it comes to offering a product or service to the agent. To the degree that more than one of these entities offer a product to the same agent, conflict and competition is created. Today, the industry stands on the precipice of great change. There are a variety of forces that have emerged to consolidate the channels where agents get the tools they offer. NAR offers tools as member benefits (included in dues) and retail products.  State Associations offer tools as member benefits (included in dues) and retail products.  Local Associations offer tools as member benefits (included in dues) and retail products.  Franchises offer agent and broker tools as value for franchise fees, and offer retail products.  Relocation Networks offer tools to broker and agent members and offer retail products.  Brokers offer agent tools as part of their recruiting and retention program that validate their commission splits with agents.  Depending on who you ask – it is about a $6 Billion dollar business ($600 per year per agent times a million agents). Survival of the Fittest Today, hyper local markets (also known as a fractured marketplace) define tendencies for product offerings and product […]

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Warren Buffett Speaks About Home Services

by Victor Lund on April 5, 2013

berkshire hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway is a company with $200 Billion dollars in net worth with 300,000 employees. It is one of the three largest companies in America, and according to Buffett, it is a company that is built to last forever. That is the way Berkshire Hathaway thinks. Build businesses that last forever. There is a great quote in this video, one I believe I have heard him say in the past, “You see who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” During the last four or five years of housing market adjustments, most companies played defense, but Home Services of America went on offense, expanding their brokerage network across America with significant business growth. They not only expanded wider, by acquiring new market leading brokerages in additional cities, but they also expanded deeper. In most of their brokerage operations they were able to significantly increase their percentage of market share. It is an astounding success story. This may astound you, but there is not a single mention about the role of technology in real estate. It is about brands that people trust. Enjoy this video – It is not embeddable anymore – so you will need to watch it on youtube by clicking this link http://youtu.be/WcbDPBksDaQ

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Move, Inc. logo

MOVE published a release today announcing that Errol Samuelson has been promoted to Chief Strategy Officer, expanding his role at the company. The full press release is below. You may not know that Errol was once part of the most powerful team in real estate. I call them the four horseman  – Errol plus Marty Frame, Prem Luthra, Ben Grabowski. All four have gone on to great success. Marty Frame is a leader at RPR. Prem Luthra is a leader at Real Estate Digital. And, Ben Grabowski is a leader at CoreLogic. They play pivotal roles in four of the largest and most successful companies in real estate technology today. Over the years, Errol and his family have become personal friends of ours. For most people in the real estate industry, I suspect that is true. Beyond his professional stewardship of his responsibilities at MOVE, he is a impassioned supporter of great industry principles. He also surrounds himself with a likeminded team. Kudos Errol! Take a look at the press release below. It outlines a few milestones of his career at MOVE. Errol Samuelson Appointed Move’s Chief Strategy Officer Seasoned leader promoted into newly created role to guide company strategy Apr 4, 2013 12:00pm SAN JOSE, Calif., April 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Move, Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE) today announced that Errol Samuelson is promoted to Chief Strategy Officer, expanding his role at the company. To capitalize on its strong 2012 results, and to fuel growth and drive sustainable competitive advantage the company created the new role and promoted Samuelson to fill it. “Errol has more than ten years experience with Move and twenty years in technology and real estate,” said Steve Berkowitz, Chief Executive Officer of Move. “He’s worked in both strategic and operational roles. He’s the perfect person for the job. This will be transformational for Move’s employees, customers, partners, and shareholders.” At Move, Samuelson led the team that acquired TigerLead and Relocation.com in 2012, and before that, SocialBios, ListHub, and TopProducer Systems. Through these acquisitions, he helped Move build the most complete set of real estate solutions and publishing tools in the industry, one that also protects the rights and intellectual property of brokers and multiple listing services. For realtor.com, a leader in online real estate operated by Move, Samuelson launched the 2007 program to increase the accuracy of its listings, with most listings now updated every fifteen minutes. He […]

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When disaster strikes your online software systems

by Victor Lund on April 3, 2013

Disaster Plan

Over Easter weekend, an outage happened to the largest real estate technology company in America. They recovered quickly and elegantly. On another side of life, a broker client of ours with 400 agents was given one-week notice that the company who provided Microsoft Exchange Mail services is going out of business. The realty is that software systems and hardware systems break. And when it happens, it is very disruptive. It is a good idea to think about your disaster plan every year, and review your vendor contracts. You should have a document that outlines everything that happens when systems fail. Redundancy, Back Up, and Co-dependence Redundancy and Back Up are loaded terms. It is one thing to have copies of your critical systems (Back Up) – it is another think to have those systems online and available (Redundancy). Moreover, a lot of online software is co-dependent on other software. Here are a few examples. When the MLS system went down, other services did not. However, since many of those systems were only accessed through the MLS single-sign-on system – agents did not know where to go to access them. This could mean different things for different MLSs. For example, if the sign on security system or the MLS is not available, services like Instanet, ZipForms, or Realist may be working just fine – but agents do not know how to access those services without going through the MLS. The solution to all of this is to have a plan in place, and have staff ready to manage DNS so that users trying to access services can get information on what happened, what is happening to fix it, what systems are impacted, and how to access solutions that were not impacted. (DNS is “Domain Name System” – it directs consumers to specific webpages and allows traffic to be redirected as necessary). Stop and Think Many agents lost their minds when the MLS service was interrupted. Strangely, I don’t know why. Aside from a temporary inability to add or edit a listing – all or most of the information that an agent needs was available through other sources – including their own website. I know that showing instructions and agent remarks are invaluable to agents. But you can always pick up the phone and call the listing agent if you are stuck. Sold data and tax data are also quite available online. […]

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Realtech Conference in San Francisco

by Victor Lund on April 2, 2013

realtech san francisco

WAV Group partner, Victor Lund will be attending the RealTech conference in San Francisco April 30th (Fairmont Hotel). The conference is being put together by an emerging technology company called Reesio. It is a very interesting way to connect agents with technology. Reesio is battling in a very difficult and competitive category in real estate technology – Transaction Management. Transaction Management may be the technology that has offered real estate agents and brokers the greatest promises for the longest time – but has never really come of age. That may be changing with the efforts of so many impassioned new companies that are starving to make transaction management a reality in realty. What Reesio has learned in the past year is that launching a technology company in real estate is very hard. You need to reach a lot of people and you need to have a solution that is flexible enough to manage the 1,100,000 ways that REALTORS manage their deals. In what may be the marketing coup de tat of the century, they are having a conference in Inman’s back yard and inviting a bunch of technology companies to join the fun. Speakers and presenters include Trulia, Zillow, Realty Shares, and real estate broker/agent rater – Homelight. Realtor.com, Cloud CMA have joined in on the fun too. They are joined by about 25 companies that nobody as even heard of yet – see the list here https://www.reesio.com/realtech The price of the show is $25 to $199 – making it uber affordable. Vendors can exhibit for $300. There have been a lot of new conferences springing up lately. A few years ago Inman launched reBoot. Matt Fagioli launched xplode. NAR is touring with their reACH program. Mortgage publishing leader, HousingWire is going all out with a huge show in Austin which we will be attending. All of this activity represents a lot of life in real estate technology today. Its exciting.

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