April 2014

Value of Buyers Agent Diminishing, Study Reveals

by Marilyn Wilson on April 25, 2014

WAV Group has had the pleasure of working with the Houston Association of REALTOR®’s Consumer Research Panel for over a year now. The panel has helped the organization uncover many meaningful insights that have helped share technology strategies, advocacy efforts and educational efforts. Today, the Houston Association of REALTORS® released the findings of their “DIY: Do It Yourself” consumer research panel study. The purpose of the study was to gauge how important Houston area consumers feel agents are to the transaction.  The survey, which was fielded to the 7,000 consumers that are now a part of the industry’s largest consumer panel, highlights the differences between those that are in the buying process versus selling process, as well the differences between generations. Here are some key findings: Consumers value the need for a REALTOR® when they are selling their home versus when they are buying a home. 66% of those surveyed believe they can find a home without an agent. When it comes to the logistics of executing a transaction, however, consumers still want to turn to an agent for guidance and advice. Today, third party sites like HAR.com, Zillow, Trulia and others are used by just about EVERY demographic except those born in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  These sites have transcended all ages. Only 4% of all respondents will find an agent first before beginning the search for a home. Home buying criteria differs by generation. Neighborhood and affordability are key factors for Millennials, but older respondents emphasize first finding the right home and then looking at affordability. HAR’s most recent consumer research panel affirms that sellers are more reliant on agents in the total process than buyers. Nearly ¾ of the respondents feel it would take longer to sell their home with out the assistance of an agent.   They believe the ability to tap into the agent’s network of contacts and exposure to all agents within the local MLS is crucial to the sales process along with the agent’s ability to negotiate the right price for them. Comparable and market analysis completed by the agent is crucial to the selling process, according to the respondents. Every MLS and every broker should offer their agents an easy way to provide easy to understand and graphically rich market stats. REALTORS® have an opportunity to engage with consumers before they list their home since 58% consult their agent about repairs that need […]

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MRIS Seeking Seasoned and Strategic Director of Marketing

by Marilyn Wilson on April 25, 2014

Director of Marketing, Communications, Events & Education Position and Company Overview Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS, Inc.), located in Rockville, MD, is the largest real estate information service in North America serving the information needs of nearly 40,000 real estate professionals in the Mid-Atlantic. The company helps facilitate over $60B in residential real estate transactions each year and provide breakthrough technology designed to create value and innovation for the real estate industry. The company offers a leading edge suite of real estate marketing tools and technologies to its customers available both via subscription and a la carte purchases. MRIS enjoys the highest satisfaction score among large MLS organizations across the United States. MRIS is looking for a Director of Marketing, Communications, Events & Education who will identify, lead and manage all marketing and educational activities with respect to MRIS’ existing and new products and services that support the company’s business, customer and revenue objectives. This individual will be responsible for both strategically and tactically managing the corporate brand through a variety of mechanisms including PR, social media and advertising. In addition, the Director will manage all customer messaging through a variety of channels including customer support, email, social media, events and training. The successful candidate will bring 10+ years of marketing and management experience with increasing responsibility, with at least 6 years of directly relevant experience in marketing, public relations, communications, and related areas. An MBA in Marketing is preferred, but equivalent work experience and track record of success will be considered. Expertise with marketing and communication principles and practices, as well as deep familiarity with interactive marketing, social media, social networking, direct response, and event marketing, will be expected. Knowledge of web design processes, email marketing, and search optimization will be required. The Director of Marketing will also need to have expertise in establishing and reporting on marketing metrics, proving ROI, and managing significant budgets. A proven track record in working with both internal teams as well as outside vendors, effectively managing vendor relationships, and managing projects will be expected of the successful candidate. Experience working with advertising agencies for sustained effective campaigns is a major plus. The right candidate will thrive on teamwork, overcoming obstacles and gaining shared vision on complex issues. They will have the ability to outline corporate marketing strategies and then be able to execute on marketing programs that deliver on both short and […]

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Broker AVMs

by Victor Lund on April 21, 2014

One of the core services of brokerages and their agents is pricing property. In the olden days, it was less scientific than it is right now. On an individual property, agents deliver CMAs or BPOs. Today, using MLS data, brokers are now automating their services. Sometimes this service is called Automated Valuation Modeling, or AVMs. There is a healthy and robust marketplace for AVMs in the financial services industry. Banks want to know the debt-to-equity ratio on homes they hold mortgages on. They also want to use AVMs as a method to validate home appraisals. Government uses AVMs to make monetary policy surrounding affordable housing and interest rates. Of course, the government also wants to make sure that their sponsored entities like Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac are making healthy loans. Insurance companies want to use AVMs to calculate property insurance rates and claims. Investment analysts use AVMs as a measure of the health of the real estate market that correlates to an exhaustive set of predictors on where stock prices are going for both individual companies, as well as sectors of companies. Largely speaking, brokers have been cut out of this marketplace. Historically, the financial services industry has been fed AVMs that are based upon public record data. As industry experts understand, public record data lags behind MLS data by weeks or even months. Moreover, the detail of the property tax record is simple, and does not take detailed housing features into account. The National Association of REALTORS® worked with the federal government and other entities after the housing crisis to point out that using active listing data in monitoring the health of the real estate industry would have allowed them to “see” the housing bubble as the number of for sale homes in the MLS swelled, and along with it – days on market and wider gaps in list-to-sell ratios. MLS users knew what was going on well in advance of public records. Public records first displayed lower volume and, along with it, lower prices. It was not until pre-foreclosure and foreclosure records began to hit public records that the financial market saw the bubble. By then, it had already burst. Knowing that a broker’s data in the MLS has value to the financial industry, the National Association of REALTORS® founded a company called Realtors Property Resource™ or RPR. RPR is unique in that it combines public record […]

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Technology Game Changers

by Victor Lund on April 17, 2014

There were two announcements made this week that I think will have some pretty significant impacts on real estate. Wolfnet announced that they are now fully live on the national IDX data feed for Canada. Moreover, every application that Wolfnet offers has now been tailored to the needs of Canadian real estate. Wolfnet has long been a leader in property search solutions in America, notably serving search solutions to every Keller Williams agent in addition to many other brands. Now Wolfnet’s Canadian customer will have access to the same benefits. The second announcement came from W&R Studios, makers of Cloud CMA. Cloud CMA became popular by MLSs who wanted to deliver a CMA solution to subscribers that is fast, easy, and mobile. It has resulted in a huge success reaching over 95,000 users. Now, Woolley and Robertson have focused on another clunky feature of many of today’s MLS systems – the automatic notification. They call it Cloud Streams. It allows agents to configure a search for their client(s) that will notify them whenever a new or updated listing matches their search criteria. Like Cloud CMA, it is fast, easy, and mobile. Kudos to both Wolfnet and W&R Studios for delivering applications that will make a difference in the way that real estate services the consumer. Both companies are friends and customers, and we are rooting for their success. W&R Studios is scheduling demonstrations of Cloud Streams for Midyear. Reach out to Greg Robertson if you want to be among the first to see this product.  

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WAV Group partner Victor Lund is pleased to release the results of our recent survey to measure what technologies brokers have adopted and how satisfied they are with each. The survey also measured how likely a firm is to replace a technology supplier in 2014. In order to understand how technology plays a role by size of firm, answers were collected in ten groups ranging from firms with 1-9 agents to firms with more than 1500 agents. This report is provided to the industry with our compliments. WAV Group performs this type of research across the real estate industry to inform its clients on trends and patterns that are likely impacting the performance of their business. This research also supports WAV Group’s business modeling and strategic planning services. If you have any questions about this research or would like to share this research with others, do not hesitate to reach out to Victor Lund.   Download the complete Broker Technology Adoption and Satisfaction Study here!    

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Calculating ROI on Syndication to Publishers

by Victor Lund on April 9, 2014

WAV Group provides enterprise brokers with a monitoring service to measure their listing syndication strategy. It is a thorny and emotional topic where risks and rewards are balanced delicately. Undoubtedly, this week brokers who do syndicate to publisher websites are reviewing their reports from last month. Here are a few things you should look at. Listing Views Obviously you want to know the number of times that your listing was viewed on each publisher website. The easiest way to view listings by publisher is to look at reports from your listing distributer – like Listhub, Point2, reDataVault, etc. If you are sending the data from your broker website provider, you may not be getting this information in a consolidated report. Rather, you will need to combine the listing reports from each publisher. Here are a few things to be aware of. About 30% of the listing views are robots, not consumers. With the exception of Realtor.com, few publishers have strong anti-scraping technologies. This also explains why publishers report so many millions of visits when there are so few homes sold per year. They are counting machine traffic (so are reporting tools like ComScore). Visits It is always a good idea to look at the visits to your website as a result of syndication. Driving website traffic is a key benefit of syndication. Most firms see about four visits per listing per month for premium brokers (premium means you pay). There are techniques to improve this that include modifying photos and modifying description text. It is always a good principle to check your website analytics to see if the numbers are equal. They never are. The goal is to track how close they are. If you see 1000 visits for the month coming from a publisher in their report, you may see a number that is lower or higher in your “referrer” report on your broker site. While you are looking at the referrers, also track the bounce rate. They vary significantly by publisher. You will find that some sites have higher bounce rates than others – like 75% of the traffic will view one page then bounce, or leave the site. That is the measure of quality of traffic. Higher bounce rates can mean a few things. Remember that a lot of this traffic is machine traffic, so that impacts bounce rate. Also, remember that if your site is not […]

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Protect Broker Data with Anti-Scraping

by Victor Lund on April 9, 2014

If you are a broker or an MLS, you must treat your data as an asset. By and large, our industry does a great job of protecting the front door of data access, but the back door of data scraping is wide open. It begs the question, if you care about data protection, why are you only scrutinizing the legitimate data users without hunting for the nefarious and illegitimate data thieves? Thieves that want to steal data send robots out onto the internet to do their pickpocketing, and they do it quite well. Reviewing Distil Networks’ reports with Matt Cohen of Clareity Consulting heightened my awareness of how clever these people are. The rookies are the ones who are attacking from outside of the country. The good ones attack on networks like Charter and Comcast and other common Internet service providers that cloak them. They even use simulated browsers to access your site so that it is difficult to detect automated behavior. Until recently, the answer was related to the high costs and high technical acumen that would need to be absorbed somewhere. Who can operate the solution and who will pay for it? But with Distil Networks, for a small to midsized broker with 50 website domains, the cost would be $100 per year to cover 1 million page requests a month. A single site is $36 per year. That is hardly an economic barrier and that includes support. Sidenote: Those ComScore numbers that many portals are bragging about are not all consumers – double-digit percentages of them are robots. One of the chief reasons why realtor.com® traffic was outpaced so heavily by others is due to their implementation of anti-scraping solutions. By doing the right thing, they got their teeth kicked in. Protecting every site in an IDX region will only happen if you mandate it across all IDX vendors and the MLS itself. Many MLSs already charge data access fees. Perhaps they can use those fees to shelter the costs of an anti-scraping solution. The issue with any mandate or requirement of this type is that it would only be successful with the support of the participating brokers. Without that support, it would be a political nightmare for any MLS. Aside from blocking data scraping, products like Distil are effective at setting a trap to snare companies who are stealing and profiting from data scraping. The behavior […]

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Early Success Can Be Tricky – Take Care!

by Mike Audet on April 9, 2014

We work with all types of companies and organizations and have the opportunity to see many different approaches to successfully delivering products and services.  Successful companies have many similarities and when you look into them closely you see certain constants.  These companies almost always have strong leadership, values and a clear vision that is understood by everyone that works there.  When you look back at their evolution you see a company that stayed on track to their core mission.  You’ll see a company that understood the basics and paid attention to detail, their customers, what the market was asking for and they delivered. But success, as anyone knows, can be a slippery slope. In fact, sometimes it is success itself that creates problems, especially for young, growing companies. Yesterday’s success story can quickly turn into today’s has been.  We’ve seen it over and over and yet it continues to happen. Some of the reasons are very understandable when you think about it.  First, we often have a really hard time doing anything different from what made us successful.  If it worked then it must work now, right?  Second, as a small company grows, the brain trust and visionaries that brought the early success find that they can no longer do all the same things they did when they were just getting started.  And third, as we start to experience success and more success we believe we’ve made it and we stop paying attention to things that were core to our success in this first place.  This is over simplifying it but I have seen it time and again in companies as they start to experience success.  Take a look at each of these points and see if there is any truth to it in your company or organization. We Keep On Doing What Brought Us Here! If there is one thing you can count on in our lifetime it is change!  Everything is changing and those that can manage change in their lives and businesses prosper from this reality.  Unfortunately, while many of our businesses start as the result of a desire to deliver some new and exciting service or product, needed in today’s changing landscape, once we experience success we often get rigid and static.  Our very success keeps us from rocking the boat.  We’re afraid to change course.  Success today, however, requires continuous course adjustments. Things are moving […]

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