One of the great attributes about conferences is that they set the stage for product releases. Product Managers, Marketing Staff, Developers, and of course Sales People are always working toward releasing a new feature that stimulates Buzz in the industry. Today’s top press release comes from Discover MLS – the MLS system that speaks in tongues. Discover MLS announced today that their product now includes multi-lingual functionality. This will come as a welcome announcement to our friends in Canada, and around the world. WAV Group has worked on projects for aspiring companies whishing to launch MLS service abroad and the choices for systems that support multiple languages is pretty thin. For most vendors, it requires a lot of extra development and associated costs. “Discover MLS was built from the ground up to support multiple languages,” says Discover MLS President, Bret Wiener. Customers who want to add a language simply fill out and excel spreadsheet with the field translations and that’s it. If you do not have staff to perform this task, Discover MLS has resources that can provide the service to you. I am pretty sure that Discover MLS is the newest company offering an MLS platform. They have been at it since 2010 but have plenty of MLS experience at the company. Launching a MLS software company is a difficult and highly competitive landscape for new companies. There is a chicken and egg battle that goes on when selecting a new vendor. It is a lot easier to pick a vendor that has had success in other markets. This is contrasted against picking a vendor that offers the freshest technologies and features. It has even proven to be difficult for incumbent companies to launch new systems. Simply stated, switching MLS systems is painful. Having said that, if you have a foreign language need, be sure to take a look at Discover MLS, even as a secondary system. The number of Hispanic REALTORS® in America continues to grow. According to NAHREP – Hispanics buy $1.1 Trillion in real estate today and that number is expected to grow by 50% by 2016. Don’t forget that there are two sides to the MLS. The side that faces the agent and the reporting side that agents rely on to publish to consumers. The consumer side of the MLS supporting multi-language may be more important to a growing MLS industry than anything else. If […]
Many software solutions used in real estate today are offered as Software as a Service (SaaS), meaning that they are accessed through a browser or, in some cases, a mobile app. For most companies today, being cross browser compliant is about as far as they have gone. Advanced companies, mostly those who have the luxury of products released in the past couple of years, have made their browser-based application “responsive” so as to fit naturally into any screen resolution on any browser. Cloud CMA just came out with a browser Bookmarklet that reminded me how many powerful browser features are not being leveraged. A key objective of any Software as a Service company is to drive user adoption. Reminding the agent that they have access to the software tool and providing the agent with easy access are keynotes of that goal. Depending on your product or the type of organization, you may find many benefits to browser plugins that improve the user experience and accessibility of your application. That is exactly what Cloud CMA has done, and its brilliant! Agents simply drag a bookmarklet to their browser to get started. Then they go about doing what they always do – look up properties in the MLS for their CMA. When they have the MLS list pulled up, they simply hit the Cloud CMA bookmarklet in their browser and those listings are automatically ported into the Cloud CMA. One touch CMA and you are done! I think that in many cases, it makes Cloud CMA easier and faster than the CMA that is installed in many MLSs. Certainly, bookmarklets as illustrated are one browser feature that can increase adoption and ease of use. Beyond that, browsers have strong capabilities for supporting access and security to applications. You have probably noticed this when using a different computer or browser to access Facebook. They will challenge your access. The same access and security challenges happen with many online banking applications, and they often include a text message code layer. Although these security measures may not be stringent enough for protecting access to an MLS system, they are likely to be adequate for protecting against password sharing that many software providers are trying to solve for. Another browser capability that has promise for online applications are notifications. Today, many software solutions have depended on email for notifications, clogging up agent inboxes. Why not use […]
Does Your Website Capture Leads or Let Them Get Away? Getting visitors to your site is only half the battle of online advertising. If your website does not convert even the highest quality visitors to leads, your online lead generation efforts are doomed to failure. Your website needs to both engage your visitors with the information they are looking for and ask for their contact information so you can reach out and turn them into clients. 5 Reasons to Use a Virtual Tour In conversation with Tim Denbo of VirtualTourCafe, we asked a simple question: “Why should agents create a virtual tour for heir listings?” Tim obliged with a compelling list of substantive reasons. If you’re not using a virtual tour solution, here are five reasons you may want to reconsider. PPC – Overlooked and Underrated When you talk to real estate professionals or business owners who have been unsuccessful with PPC, they usually say something like “it cost a lot of money and I didn’t have good results or generate leads.” They’re not inaccurate, just uneducated in how to do PPC right, and one other very important bit of information. They’re not aware of Google’s Ad Quality Scoring and how it changes everything. E-Marketing 101 If you asked agents a decade or so ago, most would likely say e-marketing meant somehow placing your listing on a silly thing called the Internet. Just five short years ago, many agents wouldn’t know what a text message was. Yet now, we can’t imagine leaving the house without our smartphone. Checklist: Are You Using These Tools for Customer Service? Our business is all about referrals, and gaining referrals is all about providing optimal customer service. I’ve talked to David Lester of Sequent Systems, an efficiency expert of sorts to get his top tools for customer service – and I’ve compiled them into a checklist so you can see how well your practice measures up.
History tells many stories of long ago that reflect on the conditions of today. I came across a story about the Pilgrims that made me think that in some way, it is similar to the real estate industry and portals. In 1630, a Pilgrim court dealt a nasty blow to one of its settlers. They ordered him to be incarcerated, burned his house, confiscated all of his goods, then ultimately exiled him from America. The Pilgrim’s name was Thomas Morton, and they said that he was a danger to society. Morton went to England and pleaded with the English court, which was the court of record for Pilgrim society. Morton had found a new way to trade with the Indians for furs. Rather than barter goods, he held parties. He picked a nice spot outside of town, brought some jugs of booze, and invited some of the town’s young ladies to join him. The Indians saw that they were having a good time and soon began flocking to his parties bringing furs as a gesture. Morton was getting richer by the day. The English court saw nothing illicit about Morton’s ways, and sent him back to America with the court ruling in hand. This is where my real estate industry and portals relationship analogy comes in. When you have a look at the top websites of our era, they are having a great party with listing information that pales to the stoic puritan society of real estate broker websites. They offer information on every home in the area, not just active listings or 7 years of recently sold MLS listings. They lift up the skirt of home values and show the legs of when homeowner purchased their home and what they paid. They even invite FSBO girls and Foreclosure girls and offer their frilly information to their guests. Things did not end well for Mr. Morton. Even with his English court papers. Upon returning to America he was jailed until he went mad. Somehow I do not think that today’s leading portals are going to loose their sanity anytime soon. Indeed, it would seem that the real estate industry is the crazy one. Perhaps we should turn our attention to supporting brokers in throwing parties of their own. When I do a gap analysis of the data on broker sites vs. the data on portal sites, the differences are plainly […]
Have you ever noticed how the people you are closest too, in personal and business life, are the ones often most resistant to letting you excel, especially if that involves you breaking new ground? That is, they are resistant to you changing in ways that threaten the way they see you and/or the business you work together in every day. In an earlier post I made the comment that people aren’t resistant to change. What they are really resistant to, however, is losing control. That is probably pretty easy for us to accept when we think of ourselves but the dynamic I want to talk about today in terms of change is how our support group can do the same thing we do to ourselves. Our business associates, peers, family and friends are often vested in keeping us just the way we are. The same principals apply and the reason is exactly the same. There is a subconscious fear of losing control. People like things exactly the way they are and behavior that threatens that picture they have of you takes them out of their comfort zone. In actuality, they fear how this might really impact them, even if they aren’t consciously thinking this. One area most people can relate to that will help you grasp this concept is with your family, when you were growing up. Our families are our number one support and control group in our early lives, which can be great but it can also be hugely restrictive. Did you ever have a time with your mother or father where you expressed a desire to do something that was not the picture they had for you? If you did, I’m sure you got at least some strong cautionary comments about that risky course of action. It’s natural, of course, but if you don’t recognize these controls as you go through life you may find yourself holding yourself back and becoming overly risk adverse. The concept of risk is really key here. There has never been and never will be anyone that has been a change leader in government, business, science or art that has not also developed a healthy acceptance of risk in the process. These people had all of the same types of cautionary comments from their support circles but somewhere along the line they learned to move forward in spite of these warnings and […]
Which Real Estate CRM Should I Use? Are you looking for a real estate CRM? There are so many systems on the market these days that weeding through them is often difficult and time-consuming. We feel your pain! That’s why we want to make it as easy as possible for you to understand what to look for in a real estate CRM.Beyond Residential: Commercial Agents Can Use RPR, Too! Making the transition to commercial real estate can be challenging for agents who come from a residential background. We recently spoke with Sydney Machat, CCIM, CRE, a veteran small town commercial broker and consultant in Maryland. He shared how RPR helps his real estate practice thrive. A Guide to Paid Online Marketing, Part I A lot of real estate search websites offer opportunities to enhance your listings, or advertise, to attract more buyers. With all of those options how do you decide the best place to enhance your listings? In this two-part article, we’ve put together some questions to consider when exploring online advertising opportunities. 4 Tips to Keep You Safe During REALTOR® Safety Month (and Beyond!) For 10 years, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has provided information and tools to promote REALTOR® Safety during the month of September and throughout the year. Take the time this month to consider how safe – or unsafe – you are as a real estate practitioner during the course of a typical day. A Look at WebsiteBox’s New Lead Capture App Imagine knowing exactly what your clients are searching for on your website–what types of properties, neighborhoods, and in what price range. With access to data like this, agents could greatly streamline their buyers’ home search process by recommending the properties that best match their needs. WebsiteBox recently released a new add-on that gives agents access to this very information.
There’s a fundamental problem in the real estate business today. Since time immemorial real estate ‘searches’ have utilized a property-centric approach that ignores the other 50 percent of the business: the buyers. In the real estate industry, we focus so much on displaying listings hoping to attract a buyer without spending nearly enough time and resources to analyze and understand the market segment that are the drivers of the purchase. This is also symptomatic of the industry’s fundamental focus on the needs of agents, not consumers. Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the needs of the consumer? The marketplace has made a plethora of search tools available just about everywhere for consumers. In fact, 96 percent of buyers search multiple websites before contacting an agent, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Fundamentally, this is why the process is called “house hunting”–buyers are forced to search, filter and pull properties “off the rack.” Property search provides a shotgun approach to exposure. It may sound good in a listing presentation to say, “I’m placing this on 300 websites,” but how does this process in any way help match agents with new, active and revised listings with “real” buyers that are Willing, Able and Ready (WAR)? This approach seems fundamentally wrong. Click here to download the complete white paper that fleshes out a whole new way to look at search. Drowning in a Tidal Wave of Internet Leads According to the public statements of leading consumer real estate portals, there are over 50 million consumers that simply like to search property sites each month to see what their next door neighbor’s house may be worth, dream about retirement or a move to a bigger home, or to simply look for home improvement ideas. These “voyeurs” have no intention of buying a home anytime soon, yet via lead management systems, they contact agents and soak up productive time best invested in working with “WAR” leads. All of this leads to a VERY unproductive Internet lead conversion rate. Numerous industry studies show that 95 percent to 99 percent of the “leads” generated online will never close. According to evaluations we have done on behalf of some of our clients, most homes are getting less than one click-through per month and even fewer legitimate property inquiries. Is property search, as we know it, dead? The 2009 Swanepoel Trends Report addressed this same question […]
Our industry is moving really quickly these days. There are so many challenges facing MLSs that threaten the viability of the entire industry–lawsuits, new players, technology revolutions, economic shifts. It is difficult and expensive to keep MLS leadership teams up to speed on the myriad of events, trends, policies, legal issues and research affecting the business. MLS organizations and their leadership need to keep up on all of these issues so they can make proactive decisions to keep their organizations relevant. That’s why the WAV Group created its new WAVinar series. The Solution: WAVinars The WAVinar is designed to provide you and your MLS leadership with crucial updates on what is going on in our industry. WAV Group will be leveraging all of its experience in research, technology, strategic planning, organizational development and thought leadership to deliver a thought-provoking yet practical look at the latest industry developments and trends. What is a WAVinar? Quartlerly online industry updates for MLS and board leadership on topics critical to successful organization management. The Details: WAVinars are designed to stimulate conversation at board meetings and provide valuable information to help organizations make better informed decisions about technology, policy and legal issues, program changes, and service enhancements. WAV Group partners Mike Audet, Marilyn Wilson, and Victor Lund will be hosting the exclusive webinars. The content for WAVinars is specifically purposed for MLS Executives, MLS Executive Staff, and MLS Directors. Meetings are held quarterly via a live discussion and also recorded so that you may share the WAVinar with others in your company, refer back to previous episodes, or catch up on missed episodes. As an MLS leader, we would like to invite you and your organization to participate in our new WAVinar series. Staying current with crucial industry events and news is important but very difficult. WAVinars ensure that your leadership is informed and up to date. To learn more about WAVinars or to subscribe contact the email@example.com or (805) 473-9119
If you haven’t already signed up this is your last chance to have your MLS participate in the WAV Group 2013 MLS Technology Survey. Last year we had 75 MLSs participate with over 15,000 agents and staff taking part. This year we expect to have even more participate. Three Free Reports For Participating National Roll-up Report Every MLS that participates will receive the national roll up report, which provides a summary of the overall findings for all of the vendors reviewed. This will include comparisons to results in 2012, what users and staff like most about each system as well as what they are looking to improve. These is “must have” information for any MLS. Your Vendor Report The second report is a roll-up of results nationwide for your particular vendor. This report aggregates the results of all the survey respondents who use the same MLS vendor and system you use. Your Member Report New this year, we are providing a free system report, which will show the results of the survey just for your members. This system generated report will include charts for all rating questions and you will also see the verbatim responses from your members for all open end questions. Survey Launch Survey launch instructions will be sent to all participating MLSs next week for distribution to staff and membership. The survey will run for a minimum of two weeks. Our plan is to have the results for all participating MLSs prior to the NAR Conference in San Francisco. To Participate To sign up to participate in the WAV Group 2013 MLS Technology Survey email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. If you have any questions feel free to call us at 716-839-4628.
I have been working a lot in Brazil these days working with a company called Prolist building the first true MLS in their country. The reason I mention Brazil is because it is a great case in point regarding leaders and innovators walking alone. In dozens of meetings I have had with major real estate companies, associations and banks in Brazil I meet those that are leaders and innovators and I also see those that are part of the herd, that only go where the herd goes. The brightest, those with clear vision into the future, often those who have been exposed to the US style of real estate, see why MLS makes sense and they are ready to change Brazilian real estate. They see a need to change and they recognize you will never get different results by doing the same thing, over and over. These people are totally comfortable moving outside the herd mentality, thinking and moving on their own with confidence. Others I speak with tell you how Brazil is different and how things don’t work that way down here and why MLS could never works…blah, blah, blah…! What they are really saying is “Don’t move my cheese, it makes me uncomfortable.” Well, the truth is, change can be uncomfortable and leaders and innovators understand this and have learned to move right through it. These are the people that are constantly moving outside of their comfort zones because they know growth doesn’t occur unless they do. Unfortunately I see our industry move as a herd too often as well. MLSs make choices based on what other MLSs do or don’t do. We don’t innovate. This isn’t unique. People in all industries become creatures of habit. We do things because we are comfortable until we realize we are facing disaster. This is how vendors like Zillow and Trulia took over our Internet space so quickly, because we held on to old ideas and couldn’t move out of our industry comfort zone to embrace change that was being demanded by consumers. What other things in our industry are at risk? Are we managing change effectively? Are we challenging the status quo and asking the tough questions? What parts of our own organizations are at risk because of stagnating thinking and complacency? Leaders Stand Out Think of anyone that has been the catalyst or architect of innovation in any […]
Before REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) was conceived, the National Association of REALTORS® was working with their realtor.com partner, Move, Inc. to develop a library of information on every property in America. NAR selected another vendor and developed what we know as RPR today. MOVE took their prototype and developed a free product called FINDSM. FIND is proprietary software for MLSs that provides property centric data on more than 100 million real estate parcels in the United States, and offers agents and brokers access to timely, accurate and reliable listing information across MLS boundaries. Available as a link or a tool bar that resides in MLS systems, it provides a depth of property information to enhance the MLS listing. The data accessible is a laundry list that includes fly over zones, flood maps, neighborhood demographics, and so on. FINDis free to any MLS. Over the past three years, about 60 MLS have launched the FIND program to as many as 450,000 agents. To participate in FIND, the MLS need only contract directly with Move for property data, and allow Move to display sold listings on realtor.com. Before FIND, realtor.com only received active listing data to display. Since Trulia and Zillow and others were actively working to collect and display sold data, FIND allowed realtor.com to compete. With FIND, realtor.com can once again occupy the leading position in real estate. The news here is not that REALTORS® have been able to access all data on realtor.com through FIND. Now, to support reciprocal data sharing, the agent in FIND can have direct access to other MLS systems through something called Deep Linking. The first reciprocal data sharing solution using FIND is between iTech MLS in Los Angeles and MetroList Services, Inc. in Sacramento. Those MLSs have an agreement between them to allow access to each others’ systems, and offers of compensation. Since FIND is powered by single sign-on (SSO), agents do not need to remember their password credentials to get into the other system. They simply search on FIND, and if they want to view the MLS listing details, they click the MLS link in FIND and they are ported right in. Where MLSs have a relationship for cooperation and compensation, when an agent looks at a record from another MLS, it will allow that agent to launch into the reciprocal MLS. Today, Rapattoni is the only MLS system that has deployed this. […]
Each week, RE Technology publishes the top 5 most read articles. These articles may be republished by MLSs and Associations in newsletters or blogs for free. If you are not offering RE Technology as a member benefit, join more than 82 MLSs currently offering the service. There is never any charge. 8 Reasons You’re Not Generating Real Estate Leads Through Social Media When using social media, there are so many pitfalls you can potentially befall an agent trying to generate leads for themselves online. In many cases, you see agents making the same mistakes online, then throwing their hands up in the air to proclaim “social media doesn’t work” for leads. Social does work, but in lots of cases it requires time and effort when compared to more traditional methods of lead generation. Telephone Tips for Real Estate Agents Whether you’re answering a call from someone who saw your yard sign or conversing with a long-distance client, how you conduct yourself on the phone is a large part of your professional image. This is no place to skimp on your manners. 18 Tips for an Awesome Real Estate Listing Presentation Seven seconds. That’s how much time it takes to make a first impression. As an agent, your first impression has to be fantastic in order to convince a seller to list with you. Proper planning and preparation will gain you an edge over the competition and earn your potential seller’s business. More Brokers Offering More Services Marketing technology provider Imprev released an interesting study that confirms more brokerages are focusing on full service, which they refer to as “one stop shopping.” Top 5 Ways to Use RPR Search to Gain a Competitive Advantage It’s true! With over 160 million properties available within RPR, most users are simply entering a specific address and going directly to that property. While it’s a great use of RPR, you could be missing out on all the RPR Search function has to offer.
The relationship between home buyers and mortgage banks if fundamental to real estate. Nothing can be more of a barrier to home ownership then a big down payment requirement. The National Association of REALTORS® indicates that the average American family would need to save for 25 years to afford a 30% down payment on a home loan. Without a change in this requirement, the rule would have taken effect on January 1st, removing access to loans for half of America. The National Association of REALTORS® has been in congress fighting hard to strike the minimum downpayment requirement of 20% on Qualified Residential Loans. They were battling against the Consumer Protection Bureau. Today, it was announced that the minimum downpayment requirement was stricken from the QRM rules. The rules are still tough on lenders, but this effectively avoids a January shut down in real estate sales that was predicted if the QRM rule went into effect with the downpayment rule in effect on January 1st. NAR President Gary Thomas has made this a significant component of his term in office. Great Job! Here is the NAR announcement http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2013/08/statement-from-nar-president-gary-thomas-on-qualified-residential-mortgage-rule Next time you wonder what NAR does for real estate, point to this. Its is a huge win.