July 2013

Realogy has a great second quarter

by Victor Lund on July 30, 2013

There were times that I looked up at the largest brokerage in America and the largest Franchisor in America and wondered if it was built to last. They have been struggling through a rough patch with the rest of our industry, but they had the added pressure of managing the erratic public stock market and a challenging corporate lending environment. WAV Group does not have any broker clients that trade as public companies. WAV Group consulting has omitted Realogy franchise and NRT performance from benchmarks among brokerages over the past few years. They were fighting battles that private brokerage was not fighting. During the hard times of the real estate crash, Realogy entered into a phantom value plan for common stock. They also paid 11.5% interest on loans. Despite these unfavorable operating terms, they fought through with the strength of their business model, strong performance of management, and the great fortune of the housing market recovery that was wide spread. Now they are operating more in line with private brokerage, and offer private brokers decent barometers for business performance comparisons. In the second quarter report, Realogy reported that they were able to restructure their debt from 11.5% down to 3.375%, reducing its annual cash interest run rate to approximately $255 million per year. This accomplishment in and of itself made a significant contribution to the Company’s adjusted EBIDA performance of $278 Million for the second quarter and will continue to support profits through interest rate cost reduction in the long run. Realogy realized combined transaction volume growth of 21% compared to the same period last year. That is a good benchmark for other brokers to use as a comparative measuring tool. The franchise and NRT segments reported closed home sale transaction side gains of 10% and 12% respectively. It is interesting to note that company owned brokerages are outperforming franchise brokerages by 2%. Average home sale price per transaction improved 10% for franchise, 7% for NRT. It is interesting to note that franchise brokers are experiencing higher growth in sales prices than the company owned brokerages. It would be interesting to learn why. Realogy’s guidance for the third quarter remains bullish. Realogy’s executive vice president, CFO and treasurer Anthony Hull is expecting 17% to 19% growth in transaction volume in Q3.

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Contact:  Victor Lund, Author for: WAV Group 2013 Broker Website Effectiveness Study Phone & Fax. 805.709.6696 Email: victor@wavgroup.com Arroyo Grande, CA July 25th, 2013 – WAV Group (www.WAVGROUP.com), industry leaders of technology, strategic planning, research, business and product development, sales and marketing in the real estate industry, today released a whitepaper entitled “2013 Broker Website Effectiveness Study.” The whitepaper, written by WAV Group, surveyed the Google Analytics accounts of broker websites representing 7,500,000 monthly visitors as the subject for insight on consumers accessing broker websites, and also garnered insights on the impact of social media, mobile, listing syndication and search engines.  This report is positioned to provide a consumer counterpoint to industry perspectives about broker websites to help the industry be more well-informed when making decisions about broker online marketing strategies. “The whitepaper confounds much of the vendor marketing hype about the impact of mobile, social media, SEO, and listing syndication on broker effectiveness“.  “The strength of the broker brand still rules supreme in garnering website traffic to broker sites,” says Victor Lund, Partner of WAV Group. “This study has found that consumers strongly believe broker websites are, in fact, very valuable tools. They not only help improve the value of the broker, but help the consumer identify and buy homes more efficiently.” Findings include: 68% of consumers access a broker website by either typing in the URL or using a brand related keyword phrase in a search engine. Referal traffic from franchise brands have dropped over 30% since 2008. Listing Syndication represents 12% of traffic to broker websites, up from 2% in 2008. Social Media represents 5% of consumer traffic to broker websites. 7.5% of referral traffic comes from automated email alerts     A complete report is available online for free download at: http://waves.wavgroup.com/reports/

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Realtors® Reaffirm Commitment to realtor.com®

by Marilyn Wilson on July 24, 2013

New Realtor.com brand

CHICAGO (July 24, 2013) – The National Association of Realtors® Board of Directors today reaffirmed NAR’s commitment to making realtor.com® the first, best online destination for home buyers and sellers. The board voted in favor of recommendations to modify an existing operating agreement that will help the site compete more effectively in an evolving online marketplace. “Over the years, Realtors® have invested a lot of time and millions of dollars in building information technology to give consumers online access to real estate information, and we know that consumer demand for all things ‘home’ has never been greater,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif. “As the most trusted resources for real estate information, Realtors® want realtor.com® to have the resources and flexibility it needs to give consumers what they want while ensuring that today’s buyers and sellers can continue to rely on Realtors® for the most accurate, credible market data. We think the proposed changes achieve both goals.” The operating agreement is between NAR subsidiary Realtors® Information Network and Move, Inc. subsidiary RealSelect, Inc.  The RIN board sought advice from NAR’s BOD because any changes to realtor.com could have a substantial impact on NAR’s members. The RIN board met immediately after the NAR BOD meeting, and approved the final recommendations. “When today’s consumer is searching for their dream home, they are utilizing more tools and information than ever before,” said realtor.com® President Errol Samuelson, Chief Strategy Officer for Move, Inc. “Today’s historic and collaborative recommendation from  the NAR board members empowers us to further expand and enrich the consumer experience on www.realtor.com and its mobile applications with greater breadth of content, and to do so with our continuing commitment to the highest level of quality and accuracy for both the real estate community and consumers.” The proposal recommended by NAR’s BOD gives realtor.com® more flexibility to identify listings from sources beyond those provided by Realtors®. That includes additional new homes and rental properties. At the same time, the site will reinforce the value of using a Realtor® when buying, selling or investing in real estate, and will give consumers tools to differentiate between Realtors® and real estate agents who are not Realtors®. “We want consumers to be able to envision their American dreams of homeownership online and then make those dreams a reality in the offline world,” said Thomas. “Working together, realtor.com® and Realtors® […]

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5 Ways to End the “MLS/Broker Stand-off”

by Marilyn Wilson on July 24, 2013

StandOff

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called the “Challenge for Positive Change” that highlighted many of the relationship dysfunctions we are experiencing in the industry today. At Inman Connect in San Francisco I was invited to be part of a panel called the MLS/Broker Stand-off.  It’s clear that there are many that are feeling as though our industry could be working together much better than it is at the moment. I’ve been thinking a lot about what is causing this stand-off and trying to find suggestions about ways to fix it. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: 1.  Data Distribution is Out of Control Many brokers get VERY angry at their MLS when they find out that the MLS has taken responsibility to distribute the broker’s listings as they see fit. I just saw a note from one of our broker clients yesterday. They have chosen NOT to send their listings to third parties. The MLS in their region pushes all of the region’s listings to third parties, providing no option for a broker to opt-out, other than to opt-out of IDX along with listing syndication.  When the broker asked to remove their listings from the listing syndication data feed the answer simply was no.  Really?   The last time I checked a broker had the right to control where their listings were distributed and the ability to opt-out of IDX separately from any other listing syndication activity.  With today’s technology it is completely possible to allow every broker to opt-IN to every listing syndication channel they choose to, not make them proactively opt-OUT of every listing they submit. While the MLS does have responsibility to ensure that the listing submitted by the broker is accurate and compliant, they do NOT have the right to tell the broker where to market their listing.  I’m not sure why an MLS would put a policy in place that takes away online marketing control from the individual broker. Recommendations: Offer only Opt-in data policies – Every MLS needs to review their listing syndication policies to be sure that every channel they offer is opt-in, not opt-out.  Once these policies are changed, the MLS owes it to each and every one of their brokers to give them a call and let them know how and why the policy was changed so that each broker can make their own decision about where […]

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Anybody who has children has probably  known about Instagram for awhile now as a photo sharing social media site.  It is by far my 10 year old daughter’s favorite method for sharing her life with her friends. Two weeks ago, Instagram began offering the ability to share short videos on their site and it has exploded. In just two weeks there have been amazing brand video ads for corporations placed on the site.  You can check them out here.  From what I could see with the videos I reviewed so far, there are a few ways that real estate companies and MLSs might be able to use the tool effectively. First, think about using Instagram to provide an “insider’s view” to something that may be not be available any other way. For example, can you show the amazing backyard of a home that you cannot see from the street?  Can you walk us around an amazing kitchen in a luxury home? How about showing your followers how much you care about the community – share a landmark moment at a local zoning hearing. Or how about creating a fun video showing your team having fun and being silly? You could take it to the business side as well and do a 10 second snapshot of market highlights. There’s no limit to the creativity you can exhibit with video. The difference with Instagram and it’s competitor called VINE?   They are quick, simple to produce and can be posted instantly.  No post production editing or other heavy lifting – just shoot it and go – great way to stay in touch with clients without a lot of hassle. If you want to learn about other ways to use Video in your business effectively, go to RETechnology.com and check out companies that can help you with training, production and promotion of video.  

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