January 2014

Leveling the Playing Field Leads to Disaster

by Victor Lund on January 31, 2014

I read a story today about a social studies professor who engaged his students in an experiment do demonstrate the long term effects of socialism or leveling the playing field. This is a topic that is so dear to the hearts of today’s real estate brokers that I could not resist sharing the story. The day of the first test, the teacher advised the students that he would average the score of each student and issue the average grade to everyone. The students took the test. The average was a B, and everyone was given a B. As you can imagine, the slackers were happy for their grade, but the top students were disappointed. The second test the class took resulted in everyone getting a D. There was little incentive to prepare, so students took the lazy route hoping that others would pull their weight. What do you think happened on the final test? It should be noted that socialism has never worked in private enterprise, but cooperatives have worked very well. Something like the MLS, which is a form of a cooperative, is a handy tool for everyone – much in the same way that a processing plant owned by local farmers benefits each farmer equally. The processing plant does not interfere with the grower or their ability to get their product to market. Recently, some MLSs and Associations of REALTORS® have gone beyond the services of a co-op. They have launched products that are tied to marketing, which in our example of the farm co-op, would be tantamount to planting seeds in the fields. Marketing is an example of leveling the playing field, whereas the MLS is not. In the final test for the sociology class, the average test score was an F. Every student failed the class because there was no incentive. The lesson here is that MLSs and Associations must take care not to remove incentive for real estate excellence by providing services that compete with agents and brokers who are working hard to be A students. I will tell you in advance that there is no clear place to draw the line. It is incumbent for each co-op to survey their broker participants to figure that out. I would expect that there will be fewer services incorporated into MLS and Association subscription dues and more programs shifted to premium services. As an example, agent websites, virtual tours, […]

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As some of you may know I was recently appointed as a Trustee to the National Small Business Administration. One of the reasons I am thrilled to serve with this group is their stated non-partisan approach to evaluating and influencing policy. If any of you have suggestions about ways you believe the Federal Government can better serve the needs of your small business please pass them my way.  I would love to represent your ideas to the NSBA. As part of my appointment, I now have the privilege of receiving regular communications helping me and thousands of other small business owners to stay in touch with policies and programs and the impact they have on small businesses. I thought I would share the following article that was published today on the NSBA’s website helping us to understand the implications of the issues discussed during President Obama’s State of the Union Address this week. If you would like to benefit from the NSBA yourself, here’s the link: Enjoy the NSBA article in its entirety here…… On Tuesday, Jan. 28, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union Address which held good and bad implications for America’s small businesses. NSBA was pleased to hear the president’s support for enhancing exporting opportunities for small firms and sensible immigration reform. However, he missed the mark in calling for economic security through a drastic increase to the minimum wage and failing to offer a serious path forward on the very serious fiscal issues facing the country. Overall, the address didn’t offer a great deal of substantive policy directives and for those items he did highlight, few specifics were offered. Additionally, small business was a very small component of the speech, garnering just a few mentions with regards to the administration’s loan programs and export promotion efforts. One surprise, given predictions ahead of the speech, was far less emphasis on unilateral actions the President plans to take in the coming year. Responding to the widening gap in Congress, it was anticipated that the President would focus more heavily than he did on his plans to enact Executive Orders to move on certain issues. One Executive Order he did mention, however, was one to bump federal contractors’ minimum wages up to $10.10. This will likely create a competitive disadvantage for small contracting firms who also operate in the private marketplace.  Such a large increase will force […]

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On the January 22nd, hundreds of real estate professionals joined Victor Lund on the webinar, “How to Combat Misinformation about the Real Estate Market.” Attendees learned about data-based strategies and tools they can use to correct erroneous beliefs that consumers have about the market, like prices and home values. It begins with education. We heard from two brokers, Ed Finlan of Ed Finlan Group-Keller Williams Western Realty and Amy Gallagher of Century 21 Hometown Realty, on how they’re leveraging these new data tools to communicate correct information to consumers online and gain credibility as knowledgeable local market experts. The webinar has been recorded for those who couldn’t attend. Check the link below to see how you, too, can leverage data to transform the consumer experience. “How to Combat Misinformation about the Real Estate Market” Both Finlan and Gallagher use a tool from CoreLogic called Market Trends Premium. Creator CoreLogic has tied together MLS data with the public record information to create a better forecast of the real estate market. “By using data from the MLS which is crafted by Market Trends Premium, our customers get a more accurate and realistic understanding of the market because the data used is the closed sale price from the MLS,” says Amy Gallagher. Her company, Century 21 Hometown, uses Market Trends in the following ways: Area Market Trends landing pages Improving content quality by bolstering claims with charts and graphs Cross-linking from other articles for SEO and increased page views Populate city and neighborhood landing pages with rich market data Gallagher leverages Market Trends on C21’s website to educate a broad swath of consumers. In contrast, the Ed Finlan Group uses it “more on a one-to-one with different clients and potential clients.” Here are a few examples: Educate buyers on suggested offer pricing Educate sellers on realistic home prices Statistical data for blogging Give neighborhood date for city/neighborhood sites Updates for sellers Reports for potential buyers and sellers Data on single property websites Post data on social media “The overall goal with Market Trends is the unique combination of both MLS content, which you all have at your fingertips, supplemented with property records and tax information to really give a complete, holistic view of what’s going on in the market,” says Steve Masters of CoreLogic. Masters shared a live demo of Market Trends Premium with attendees after Gallagher’s and Finlan’s presentations. Click here to […]

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Peoplework Book Review

by Victor Lund on January 28, 2014

I participated in my first Kickstarter project this year. If you do not know about Kickstarter, it is an online company that helps creative people fund their projects. In this case, the Kickstarter project funded a book called Peoplework, rather than a piece of art or a music album or such. The authors of Peoplework are Austin Allison and Chris Smith, with a byline to Austin’s company dotloop and mentions of support from LaunchSquad, 1000Watt, Nathan Scherotter and 260 people who contributed $73,000 to get the book to press. I mention this because the story about how the book was published is as much a part of its text as anything. The authors both run companies in real estate technology. Chris Smith’s business is focused around helping REALTORS® onboard customers using modern tactics like marketing on social networks and AdWords, driving prospects to websites, and using customer relationship management tools to drive conversion. Austin Allison’s company is all about managing the real estate transaction. Both authors are in the spring of their business lives, and they share 10 principles of running a people to people business. Principle one is that P2P replaces B2B and B2C. There are many books that tell the story of how great companies have been successful by attaching themselves to new methods of operating a business. In contrast, this book tells the story of how new companies should operate. There is little mention of how you turn your ship, although they do mention that the world moves fast and that a key ingredient to success is change management. “Just remember–it is sand, not concrete.” When I read books, I highlight text that I find particularly attractive. For me, the money quote for the book that crafts the entire thesis is on pages 16 and 17, where they write: “Put people first in a technology driven world … You can’t ignore technology in business, in the same way that you can’t ignore people in business.” And, later, in the book: “We have gone from a web full of pages to a web full of people.” I do not have any critiques of the book. There was nothing objectionable. It is a good, quick read to sharpen the saw of business strategy. They reinforce a point that everyone in real estate should always remember–namely, that technology does not sell anything. People do, and that is an important lesson. […]

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Brokers Should Update Their Contracts Now!

by Victor Lund on January 23, 2014

Brokers and agents can protect their online reputation with a small change in their contracts with consumers and terms of use on their websites. If you have not taken a look at the HomeActions newsletter recently, you should. They write consumer articles that brokers or agents can send as newsletters or blog posts to their customers. It is one of my favorites. In today’s issue, they talk about the potential liability that a consumer may face if they publish a negative review about a service provider. In essence, companies are requiring customers to agree not to publish any negative remarks about them or their services. Perhaps it’s time for REALTORS® to include similar terms in their buyer and seller contracts to protect their reputation. In the article, they share two cases where consumers were sued for fined for posting negative comments online. In the first case, a couple posted a report on Ripoffreport.com about a product they purchased. When they purchased the product, they agreed to a $3500 fine “if they took any action that negatively influenced the company’s reputation.” In the second case, a consumer agreed in advance not to say anything negative about a dentist before services were rendered. When the consumer put up a negative review on Yelp, the dentist sued for breach of contract, fining $100 for each day that the remarks were not removed from the site. I am not sure that these tactics will help brokers or agents manage their reputation online, but why not try? Update your website terms of use and your contracts with language to protect your online reputation in accordance with state law. At least you will have some form of standing when an insane consumer attacks your business without grounds. Although I am not an attorney, I do know that contracts that have provisions for libel or other forms of broadcast defamation go a long way toward protecting individuals or companies. If you want to go further, you may want to update your syndication agreement with publishers that indicates that they are also libel if their website allows consumers to post disparaging remarks about your company, its listings, or agents.

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Why Brokers Get Upset With Their MLS

by Victor Lund on January 22, 2014

Some of our time at WAV Group involves supporting brokers and their technology vendors at problem solving. Yesterday we encountered an issue with the data feed to a vendor. The vendor claimed that everything was working. The broker knew this was not the case. So we got on a call and did a screen share to match the listings in their system to the listings in the MLS. The marketing staff member for the broker is not a savvy expert of using the MLS. But the broker does pay associate fees every month so she has access and she goes to training. In reality, she only logs in a few times a year to handle situations like this. The vendor had no clue how to search in the MLS as they never see inside. They can look at the data feed, but they cannot match that up with the MLS. WAV Group’s experiences helping MLSs choose their vendors and years of helping MLS vendors with their technology road map enable us to span the bridge. But what struck me in that moment is how overly complicated the MLS has become. And I don’t know why. Any competent business professional should be able to look at the MLS system and operate it with the skills carried from using other software applications and online applications. Our task yesterday involved pulling up all of the broker listings and sorting them in order based upon the last time they were updated. It took about 5 minutes, and we pulled it off. The brokerage has multiple offices so it involved delving into office ID lookups, writing each ID down, and creating a string search. It is the best way to do it in this particular system. (I will send a bottle of wine to the first person who sends me an email with the correct name of the MLS System). We accomplished the goal and realized that the MLS had made changes to the data feed and (according to the vendor) did not notify them. Problem solved. Remap the data; pay $1500 in vendor’s development fees for the custom work. Notify all of the agents so they can notify their sellers. Lament. Move along. Start new project to test every vendor getting a data feed from that MLS. We enjoy the task of notifying the broker owner about what happened and the upcoming communication plan […]

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Agents Only Get 12 Leads a Year

by Victor Lund on January 21, 2014

Returning from the Real Estate Connect Conference (aka Inman NYC), you would think that any agent or broker who is not 100% dedicated to cultivating the online customer is doomed. Yet surprisingly, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, if you read between the lines of a recent press release from Realogy, the global leader in size for a real estate group, your take away might be that online marketing and lead generation is a complete distraction and waste of time and money. Headline: Realogy’s LeadRouter System Delivers Record 3 Million Online Leads to Its Affiliates in 2013, an Increase of 13% from Prior Year About Realogy Holdings Corp.: 244,000 independent sales associates Do some quick math and you will see that each sales associate gets about one lead per month. This is in no way a critique of REALOGY. Their LeadRouter system works just fine, and it manages leads from 20,000 offline and online sources. That is quite a wide swath of marketing. Simply stated, lead capture and lead routing volume is not enough to build a business on. It’s not even close. At Inman, I stood next to Ben Kinney. His “team” sells about 500 homes per year at a production volume of $100 million in a very competitive market. His secret – 50 calls and 50 emails a day. His goal for lead conversion is to close two transactions out of every 100 leads. Most agents are lucky to do one closing from every 100 leads. Some really smart people have figured out that there is no ROI on chasing online leads, but they do it anyway because you cannot have a rational conversation with an agent or a seller about it. So many people live in a fog that makes them believe that the Internet sells homes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Century 21 put out a press release about their website being the number one brand website for real estate traffic. Clearly they get their share of leads that sells some homes. But what it really sells is franchises, helps franchisees recruit and retain agents, and sounds spectacular in a listing presentation. The moral to this story is that nobody should build a business plan around building a successful real estate business based on online leads and lead conversion. Companies should be built around CRM solutions that keep real estate agents […]

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Cartavi Adds Gusto to Version 3.3

by Victor Lund on January 20, 2014

Since being acquired by DocuSign, Cartavi has been working away at developing the golden triangle of the real estate document management echo system: Forms, Signature, and Storage. Better yet, they focus on making it happen on mobile first. Before this new release, signing a document was kind of clunky. You had to open your document in DocuSign, add signatures, sign it, then pull the completed document back into Cartavi. Now, you can sign any document right inside of Cartavi using DocuSign Ink. They took a complicated workflow and narrowed it down. When you look at a document today in Cartavi, just hit the ‘Sign It’ button. Then the menu items for managing names and signatures appears. Drag them where they go on the document, and sign it. New Integrations You may know that Cartavi is among the few document management companies to have acquired the license to integrate zipForms from zipLogix into their platform. The new signature workflow is going to make working with zipForms even easier. But what about those other forms that agents need, like broker forms or other documents? You have always been able to upload them one at a time, like most document management systems.But now Cartavi has developed support for popular cloud document storage solutions. You can quickly pull in documents from your DropBox account, Google Drive account, or Microsoft SkyDrive account. Cartavi has seen a lot of adoption by individual agents and numerous Associations of REALTORS®, including State of Kansas AOR, Utah Real Estate, Main Street AOR of Chicago, and three other Associations that are in their pipeline. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for an enterprise version to be released soon.  

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WAV Group is excited to announce that founding partner, Marilyn Wilson has joined the Board of Trustees for the National Small Business Association (NSBA).  In its rich, 75-year history, NSBA has made significant strides in advocating for small businesses. From its humble beginnings under founder DeWitt Emery, a small-business owner who aimed simply to make a difference, to today with the broad, national presence as the leading small-business advocacy group, NSBA fights daily for Mr. Emery’s mission to make a difference for America’s small businesses. “I am excited to join such a dynamic group of trustees who guide the Association in support of legislation to support and nurture the success of small businesses in America,” says Wilson. “The board plays an important role in contributing to the tenor of our Government’s business policies – a place where bold and innovative thinking is needed.” Ms. Wilson is the owner of two small businesses. WAV Group is one of the leading real estate consulting firms in America, advising many of the nation’s largest real estate brokerages, technology companies and service providers in the industry. Marilyn is also a co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer for RE Technology.com, the nation’s largest educational portal for real estate professionals teaching them the best ways to leverage technology in their business. President and CEO, Todd McCracken expects that the National Small Business Association will benefit from Wilson’s deep management, research and consulting experience. “”We are excited to add Marilyn Wilson to NSBA’s national Board of Trustees. Her deep knowledge of the real estate industry-a prime small business sector-will be a tremendous asset to the organization says Todd McCracken, NSBA President and CEO. Prior to owning two small businesses, Ms. Wilson was the Chief Executive Officer of Surveyor Corporation, the leading provider of web camera software. Prior to Surveyor, Marilyn was SVP Marketing and Product Development and Strategic Planning for Fisher-Price/Mattel Corporation. She is a graduate of Cornell University. The NSBA agenda for 2014 includes giving small business a voice on nine key congressional topics: Tax and Budget; Health Care and Employee Benefits; Labor and Employment, Regulatory Reform; Environment and Energy; Entrepreneurial Development, Contracting, Exporting (SBEA); and Technology and Innovation (SBTC). More information about NSBA may be found on their website at http://www.nsba.biz/ Wilson was also recently named one of the Swanepoel Power 200 Most Powerful Leaders recently as well. About National Small Business Association The NSBA has […]

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A new whitepaper reveals that failure to respond to leads in a timely manner is a major problem for many real estate professionals. The whitepaper is the result of the collaboration between partners at leading consulting firm WAV Group and Weichert Lead Network, the Internet lead generation arm of Weichert, Realtors. What they uncovered was remarkable and could help real estate professionals achieve new levels of service and prosperity. In the whitepaper, WAV Group details lead responsiveness results from a sample of 384 different brokers across 11 states. Researchers posed as consumers and inquired about listings on broker websites, Zillow.com, Realtor.com, and Trulia.com. They found that: 48% of buyer inquiries were NEVER responded to. Average number of call back attempts after the initial contact was 1.5 Average number of email contact attempts was 2.07 Average response time was 917 minutes (or 15.29 hours) Victor Lund, partner at WAV Group explains, “These numbers reveal a staggering failure of real estate professionals to serve the consumer. But this failure actually represents an important opportunity. If brokers and agents take steps to rectify this problem, and respond more effectively to consumers, they are opening the door to a great increase in revenue.” As previously mentioned, the research began as an effort to help one company, Weichert Lead Network, understand how they were performing. But in order to understand their effectiveness, they needed a benchmark. Because so few companies are comparable to Weichert in size or leads generated, WAV Group needed to create a sample group from the industry as a whole. They chose listings only in states where Weichert also has a presence. In addition to illuminating the industry’s failings, the results also demonstrated Weichert’s success: Number of leads generated by Weichert per month: 60,663 Percent of buyers responded to: 100% Average response time: 3 minutes Number of follow-up attempts: 5-11 Number of referrals per year: 301,772 “Even as Weichert Lead Network’s contact center allows us to respond to Internet inquiries within minutes, the study results will be eye opening for many,” says Michael Montsko, president of Weichert Lead Network. “The industry as a whole does a poor job responding to Internet inquiries and managing Internet leads, but fortunately there is much room for improvement in this area. For example, at Weichert, we have invested in WeichertPRO, our new customer relationship management system that helps our agents incubate their customer relationships. Our ability […]

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Every day real estate agents and brokers have to battle a consumer who has built their beliefs about trends in the market, from prices to home value, on misinformation. The only way to combat this is to be more vocal with the correct information for today’s home buyers. Previously there have not been tools available, but CoreLogic has tied together MLS data with the public record information to create a better forecast of the real estate market. WAV Group founding partner, Victor Lund is set to moderator an upcoming webinar to educate on the topic. This webinar invites Ed Finlan from Ed Finlan Group-Keller Williams Western Realty, and Amy Gallagher from Century 21 Hometown Realty to explore this issue and discuss the steps they’ve taken to make changes for a home buying consumer experience. Both have deployed new technology that provides consumers with market research that is more accurate and timely than third party websites and it is making a difference in thier business. Moderator: Victor Lund – Co-founder of RE Technology and WAV Group founding partner Panelists: Ed Finlan – A Keller Williams managing broker that specializes in short sales, buying, and selling real estate. Amy Gallagher – Broker and Vice President of Century 21 Hometown Realty. The company has 20 offices and nearly 400 REALTORS and operates a website with over 500,000 visits a month. Steve Masters – Director of Product Management at CoreLogic with over 15 years of software development experience and creator of Realist – the #1 tax solution used by REALTORS. Masters will also provide information about MarketTrends Premium, a new service deployed by both Finlan and Gallagher.   Date: Wednesday January 22nd, 2014 Time: 1 pm Eastern / 12 pm Central / 10 am Pacific [Please Adjust for Your Timezone!!!] All webinar attendees will receive a special 25% discount off an Annual MTP subscription with CoreLogic!

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I have worked with hundreds of MLSs around the world and been personally involved in over 100 installations and/or conversions and one thing I have discovered over the years is a little known fact.  MLSs don’t know the business rules that are built into their MLS systems to control their data, member access and overall permissions and MLS vendors have never created a way for you to see them! When you consider the complexity of our MLS systems today this is both understandable on one level and really inexcusable on another.  Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge usually comes to light when an MLS is considering a conversion to a new system and the MLS staff realizes they have to tell their new vendor all of the little things they have built into their system over the years that they now want the new MLS system to do as well and they realize they don’t have these rules recorded anywhere. Unless you deal with these types of things on a daily basis you may have no idea what types of business rules I am talking about so here are some examples: Parent/child relationships – This just means that when one piece of data is entered it impacts other data.  For example, when I enter an address the system may automatically limit the subdivisions and schools I see when I go to select a school. If this/then that – You might have fields you don’t even see when entering a listing unless you select another field previously, to prevent inadvertent data entry erros. Data importing/integration such as when membership data is automatically updated from the membership system to the MLS system. Field rules such as in some MLSs where agent members may not modify certain fields such as expiration dates but brokers can. Reasonableness checks such as calculations that check a sales price that deviates by more than 20% of the list price to see if it is correct and present a .   question to the user to confirm it. Regional rules – In some regional MLSs some boards even have rules managing data at the field level that is different from other boards in the same regional. Tracking MLS technology business rules is important and unfortunately a need not met by most MLS systems. They don’t provide an easy way to see all of the rules and customizations you have implemented […]

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Howard Hanna and William E Wood Join Together

by Victor Lund on January 9, 2014

In a press release today, Howard Hanna and William E Wood have reached an agreement whereby Howard Hanna has purchased William E Wood. The Hanna family of companies now reaches from Michigan through Ohio, down through Pennsylvania extending into Virginia and the Carolinas. Following their successful acquisitions of the past with Smythe Cramer, Realty One, Edward Surovell Realtors and others. They do not have any plans to make changes at William E. Wood. The executive team will remain in place along with the brand. William E Wood is a great company and the Hanna’s intended to work hard to keep it that way. The first order of business will be to build a solid relationship with the consumers and agents that have trusted the William E. Wood company for decades. With this acquisition, the combined performance of these companies in 2013 is more than $10 Billion in closed transaction volume with more than 53,000 homes sold. Howard Hanna will also increase their holdings in Mortgage though this transaction, and open new regions for thier already successful insurance, home warranty, title and escrow businesses. Howard Hanna was ranked as the 4th largest real estate firm in America in the last Real Trends™ rankings. *disclaimer – Howard Hanna is a WAV Group Client. Press Release PITTSBURGH, PA (January 8, 2014) – Today, at a press conference held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services announced the acquisition of William E. Wood and Associates, REALTORS® and its subsidiaries, Heritage Title and Towne Mortgage. William E. Wood and Associates, REALTORS®  is the #1 real estate company in Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina with 17 offices.  Locally owned and operated, William E. Wood & Associates, REALTORS® was founded nearly 42 years ago and has grown to include nearly 700 sales associates and employees.   15 offices are located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, which is ranked as the 9th largest metropolitan area in the Southeast United States and includes Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Newport News, and Hampton. The other two offices are located in Elizabeth City and Currituck, North Carolina. Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the nation’s 4th largest real estate company, is entering the states of Virginia and North Carolina for the first time. Now with 167 offices and more than 5,700 sales associates and staff operating in the eight states of PA, OH, MI, MD, VA, […]

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Swanepoel Publishes Power 200 List of RE Executives

by Victor Lund on January 9, 2014

Stefan Swanepoel is best known for his engaging conference lectures and the running line of Swanepoel Trends Reports that has published since 2006. This year, Swanepoel partnered with Rob Hahn, Chris Nichols, Kelly Mitchell, Michael McClure, Susan Browne, Michael Krisa, and Shannon Musgrove to produce a new publication called the Swanepoel Power 200, The most Powerful People In Residential Real Estate in 2013. These types of lists were made famous by Forbes Magazine, the publisher who releases 52 Top lists a year, including Rich Lists, Top Companies, People, Investing, Places, Sports, Technology, and Education. I spoke with Swanepoel for a few minutes on the eve of the publication to learn a little bit about the publication in advance of its debut.  “The cornerstone of our selection process,” says Swanepoel, “is to define people who have the ability to make things happen. People who make decisions in large enterprises, have significant personal influence, tenure in the industry, signifiant reach, or have created an industry impact though a recent activity.” About the Publication There is a one page overview of the top three executives on the list, and a half page write up for all of those in the top 20. The other 180 individuals included are given a one sentence overview. In truth, I cannot imagine the challenge of collecting all of these people then putting them in some type of order. But Swanepoel and his team did an admirable job. 91 of our good friends and customers made the list. WAV Group Congratulates: (In no particular order – you will need to buy the book) Alan Tennant, John Mosey, Ty Doge, Paul Jackson, Krisstina Wise, Anne Bailey, Mike Brodie, Tom Hurdelbrink, Jeremy Conaway, Brian Larson, Constance Freedman, Craig Cheatham, Mike Fischer, Saul Klein, Gregg Larson, Mike Pappas, Rebecca Jensen, Matt Consalvo, Kathy Condon, Mat Ferrara, Jim Harrison, Brian Boero, Marc Davison, Mark Woodroof, Teresa King Kinney, Jay Gaskill, Any Rapattoni, Dan Forsman, Jim Litten, Merri Jo Cowen, Robert Merrick, John Featherston, Andy Woolley, Jon Coile, Lorne Wallace, Merle Whitehead, Mary Frances Burleson, Dan Parmer, Bev Thorne, Art Carter, Rob Sibcy, Rosey Koberlein, Pat Riley, William Raveis, Russ Bergeron, Saul Cohen, Nancy Seaman, Glenn Shimkus, Joe Horning, Steve Murray, Bob Peltier, Allen Tate, Steve Ozonian, Mark McLaughlin, Steve Baird, Ed Krafchow, Bob Moles, Dan and Stu art Elsea, Austin Allision, Ian Morris, Joan Docktor, Mark Lesswing, Hoddy Hanna (and Hoby, Helen, […]

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Going Paperless Book Review

by Victor Lund on January 6, 2014

Today is Back to Work Monday. The holiday break is over and everyone is back in the ‘grind’ as they say. It is also the evening of the college National Championship Game and I have relatives in Florida and Alabama. With all of that said, there was a lot of competition for my attention today, the day I received a book written by Tyler Smith titled Going Paperless, Taking Real Estate into the 21st Century. I cracked the book to read a few pages and planned to get back to it, but it was a page-turner and 98 pages later, there is 8 minutes left in the first half and Auburn has a 14-3 lead over Florida State. In the book we learn about Tyler Smith and his path from adolescence to top producing REALTOR® to CEO of a 40 person technology company. It is the story of how SkySlope Transaction Management software came to be. It is a nice story of entrepreneurial spirit in real estate technology and definitely worth a read. Smith is clearly proud of his path, his success, his software, and his team at SkySlope. There is a little bit of chest pounding, but it is well deserved. He has built a successful product and a successful company. Transaction management has been a thorn in the side of real estate since we started looking at real estate software in the early days of WAV Group consulting. Our transaction management adoption study is just as relevant today as it was when we first published it in 2005, then again in 2009, then again in 2012. In one study we surveyed over 1700 brokers from 22 MLSs. If I were to boil it all down to one word, it would be ADOPTION. Smith does a good job talking about the problem of not being paperless. He does a nice job of characterizing the trouble of paper transactions. The old way invites tireless driving around, killing trees, escalating costs, increased liability, and escapades of searching and searching and searching for the missing paperwork. He should know. In 2009, at the top of his career as an agent he says he was completing 264 closings in California, with each file containing 200+ pages. Smith built SkySlope around his workflow as an agents. It took him a few years to get it right, then he incorporated broker workflows. Rather than try […]

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MRIS Tackles Coming Soon Listings

by Victor Lund on January 6, 2014

MRIS is among the few multiple listing services in the country that manage their own listing input system.  Keystone, developed, owned and operated by MRIS, gives MRIS the ability to respond directly to subscriber needs for innovative listing management tools.  Often, third party vendors have a difficult time responding to local market needs, in particular when it comes to listing input solutions.  Based on market research, MRIS has been, and continues to, progressively update and enhance Keystone using a phased approach. Keystone provides an easy to use intuitive user experience to input and maintain listing data and facilitates the easy upload of high definition photos (2048 x 1536 pixels) resulting in a noticeable reduction in the amount of time to enter a listing. Some of the most innovative enhancements include the ability to schedule when listings or edits will be submitted to the MLS system.  Agents that use the scheduling feature can do everything ranging from simply reducing the price to adding a full new listing at a future date. Agents can do their work as time permits, and then schedule the changes to be submitted to the MLS system when they want updated information to publish to the market. Recently, the ability to enter listings into the MLS for subscriber use has become a hot topic.   These Coming Soon listings are a recent evolution in listing management.  It has evolved in part by the needs of brokers to manage pre-MLS listings.  Based on the feedback from their broker subscribers, MRIS is evaluating such innovative features as implementing a staging area for the Coming Soon listings that can be viewed by MRIS Agents and their clients. When you look at MLS rules and regulations, you learn that there is a requirement that brokers publish listings into the MLS typically within 48 to 72 hours from the time the listing agreement was signed. That being said, some properties are not ready for the public to see within this timeframe.  However, agents still want to begin the marketing resulting in the need for a new listing category, Coming Soon.  Consequently, MRIS is evaluating solutions to help agents with sellers that want to generate interest in a property that is not yet ready to be marketed to the public or may have confidentiality concerns. WAV Group partner Victor Lund moderated a panel at the CMLS annual meetings this year that looked at ways […]

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NAR REach Program Accepting New Applicants

by Victor Lund on January 6, 2014

Here is a note from Constance Freedman, Managing Director of NAR’s venture capital arm, Second Century Ventures. If you have a business that would benefit from NAR support, be sure to submit your application. It is an online process at www.narreach.com On 01/06/14 12:42 PM, Constance Freedman wrote: ——————– Friends, Applications for NAR’s 2014 REach™ class are now open – please help us spread the word! REach™ is a strategic accelerator launched last year in conjunction with the National Association of Realtors® to help great technology companies gain access to the $1 trillion real estate industry. The opportunity for companies to address the real estate marketplace is huge – there are over 1M Realtors®, 12M consumers, 110k broker offices and $7B of ad spend each year. Participating companies receive education, mentorship from the industry’s best and brightest, access to 500+ beta testers and incredible exposure in the industry. Last year’s REach™ companies were fantastic and truly accelerated their business through the program – results were so well received by the companies and industry alike that we decided to do it again! Help us spread the word for the next class – companies don’t necessarily need to be focused on real estate – they should be amazing companies that can innovate any industry – we’ll help them do it starting with this one. Deadline to apply early is February 1, 2014; Final deadline is March 1. 2014. More info and the online application at www.narREach.com. Please forward this email to any entrepreneur that you think could benefit from knowing of it or tweet/ post something like, “Any tech startups looking for mentors, beta testers, and customers? Thought so! Apply to @narREach before 2/1 www.narreach.com” Thanks in advance for your support! Constance

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The December Slump

by Victor Lund on January 6, 2014

In the final hours of the year, real estate hits the skids. Even in 2013, when the threat of newly imposed mortgage regulations gave consumers strong reason to buy before year-end. The WAV Group index measures month-to-month changes in online performance across its brokerage clients. Given that the traffic is in the millions, it is probably statistically relevant, but you may want to use this data more as a benchmark to contrast against your data. Listing counts are down about 30% between November and December. This is a common reality. Many sellers living in their home have little interest in showing their property during the holiday season. Additionally, many REALTORS® enjoy a holiday vacation. Broker website traffic dipped just under 40% from November to December. Interestingly enough, some third party website reports from portals saw traffic numbers in broker regions dip by as much as 60% in some areas. Traffic drops on upstream websites like the MLS and other third party websites impact broker website performance by causing a drop in referral traffic. Referral traffic from third party websites averaged a dip of 52% from November to December. There is an obvious correlation between inventory volume and traffic volume, although it is difficult to magnify. Fewer listings mean fewer instances of everything that drive consumer traffic. There are fewer auto-responders, fewer page views, and fewer homes that match consumer search criteria. Correspondingly, there is less offline advertising, including yard signs. Many of the real estate magazines combine December and January publications to save advertisers money and to beef up the size of the publications. Our area real estate magazine was more of a brochure than a magazine at 12 pages – an eight-page signature and a four-page cover. Hardly worth the effort. Expect everything to bounce back in January as consumers and the industry refocus on housing. Happy New Year.    

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