I have had a lot of interesting conversations with Associations of REALTORS, Broker groups, MLSs and REALTORS about portals. The same conversation has gone on for years. Used properly, they can be productive tools for online marketing. Used poorly, they can be a problem. A chief concern among brokers is that they do not participate in the revenue from the success that portals have. Simply stated, brokers understand that content has value and they recognize that others are realizing that value on the backs of their data assets. Feel free to agree or disagree. Real estate brokers around the world have the same heartburn. In Australia they are planning to do something about it. http://www.rebonline.com.au/breaking-news/7798-industry-portal-launch-imminent-networks-revealed They are starting a broker owned portal. I guess that I am not sure why portals – including those operated by MLSs and Associations – do not simply pay brokers a revenue share – or at least issue them a credit relative to the content that they are issued. If you issue a credit – you preserve pesky tax reporting. I know brokers who own their MLS and they own the MLS consumer facing website and they love the profits they reap. Investments yield rewards. Do you think that they hate their MLS? Not a bit. Do you think that they hate the MLS consumer website that they own? Not a bit. They love their MLS and they love their MLS Consumer Website. The reality is that these firms who are participating in Australia may or may not actually be participating. I have seen this sort of conversation before. The press release is designed to get participation. You can bet that the phone is ringing off the hook from brokers who do not want to be left behind. We will need to wait and see if it will be successful. Whenever it comes to brokers writing checks to start a portal, their arms get short – but venture capitalists have no problem taking the risk. Because brokers do not invest, they get written out of the deal. The reality is that brokers are divided. The only way that they can truly accomplish lofty goals like a broker-owned portal is to agree and to invest. That has yet to materialize. For the record – I personally invest in portals through venture funds and through investment funds. I keep trying to find an opportunity to short them […]
Technology companies are constantly battling usability in real estate. Among our user ranks we find a great human challenge – the 55-year-old real estate professional. This is the customer. There are some firms that do it right, and others that do it wrong. I recently saw a great example of software done right, and it is worth sharing. The example illustrates how you can improve software usability by putting help options immediately next to software fields and button functionality to explain them to the user. One of the most difficult software solutions for usability in real estate is the listing management module. Not only is data entry significant, but there are rules that must be followed to maintain compliance. Mistakes not only lead to frustration, but are also are followed by fines. The Keystone™ listing management product developed my Metropolitan Regional Information Systems or MRIS helps agents right where they need it most. When entering listings into Keystone, there is a drop down where agents can view the pick list choices. Sometimes the agent is not clear which pick list option best describes the property attribute. Keystone delivers help to solve the problem by inserting a support menu behind a clickable field label. If you click the field label, a pop-up window will provide the field definitions for each item on the pick list. A lot of time you see this level of support offered by putting a clickable question mark next to the item that provides definitions, support, training videos, or even access to live help. All of these “in app” support features help users help themselves; reduces help desk sessions; and increases usability of the application. A best practice to improving the usability of your application is to start with your help desk. Take the list of calls and/or emails and rank them in order of volume. Tackle the highest volume issues first. Build help guides for that specific issue and insert the instructions to resolve the issue right into the application. Some tools that you may want to use to create training and how-to instructions include TechSmith’s Jing Tool, Evernote, and video training using Engajer. Make yourself familiar with these tools and you will enjoy the increased rates of customer satisfaction and reduced help desk calls.
WAV Group partners, Mike Audet, Marilyn Wilson, and Victor Lund are founders of RE Technology and RETechnology.com. Today that site reaches 750,000 real estate agents and brokers though partnerships with more than 90 MLSs who deliver subscriptions to RE Technology as a member benefit. Each week, RE Technology publishes a notification to MLSs that lists the top 5 most heavily viewed articles of the week. This list goes out to our MLS partners who may, in turn, republish the articles in their own newsletter, blog, or develop content ideas for their training or communications programs. Below is the RE Technology Top 5 Articles for last week. Five Requirements for Your Laptop We receive a lot of calls from people experiencing low performance from their laptops. The questions most asked are, “Why is it running slow?” and “How do I know what laptop to buy?” In this article, I will discuss five important things for the performance of a laptop. What’s a DDoS Attack? Realtor.com‘s website went down Tuesday, thanks to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. It’s the latest in a string of recent DDoS attacks across the Internet. Here, we’ll examine what a DDoS is and how you can protect yourself. Video: iPad Listing Presentations Earlier this week, we teamed up with Realtor Jeremy Lehman and Cloud CMA for a live demonstration on creating iPad presentations that win the listing. Watch our video recording for tips and tricks on creating your own killer listing presentation. Headshot and Video Style Tips for Real Estate Agents Appearing polished in your headshots and video-marketing materials goes beyond vanity – it is how potential clients will perceive you. Follow these on-camera tips to elevate the professionalism of your branding materials. Why Email Marketing is Different for Real Estate Agents Most salespeople are showcasing products that can be bought online with quick decisions and a few clicks. The real estate sale process can take months, and the ability of real estate agents to relate to their customers during the entire “thinking phase” is integral to the success of the conversion.
SAN JOSE, Calif., June 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Move, Inc., (NASDAQ:MOVE), a leading provider of online real estate services, reports that it is continuing to combat the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which has interrupted its websites’ operations since it began mid-day June 17. Move’s technical team is working around-the-clock with the Prolexic division of Akamai Technologies, Inc., a leading DDoS mitigation service provider; other Internet security experts; and its network service providers to mitigate the attack and quickly restore operations. In connection with the attack, Move received a ransom demand, which it did not respond to. DDoS attacks on Internet-based businesses and associated ransom demands are unfortunately becoming more common. Move is consulting with appropriate federal law enforcement officials and other technology companies that have been targets of DDoS attacks in recent months to review best practices for responding. Law enforcement is working to determine the attack’s origin. DDoS attacks are sent by people or botnets, which are Internet-connected programs that work on tasks. Move operates realtor.com®, the official website of the National Association of REALTORS®. The DDoS attack is driving massive amounts of traffic from external sources to Move’s data center, making realtor.com®, Top Producer® services, and Move’s other Internet services available intermittently. The attacks also have targeted and impacted the redundant aspects of our systems. Although, Move has defended itself from DDoS attacks in past, the scale of this week’s attack is large enough to impact the company’s network service providers and require the services of Prolexic. At this time, Move has no evidence that this attack includes or has resulted in any compromise of data or other content on its websites. “Our focus is to restore operations as quickly and securely as possible to provide consumers access to the most accurate* residential listings available, and to support our real estate industry customers,” said John Robison, Move’s chief technology officer. “We appreciate our customers’ understanding as we combat this attack on our services.” Move is working 24/7 to migrate its Internet services to a different network architecture to increase their protection. Move operates a large suite of websites so its migration plan is complex and will take several days to complete, which is typical for companies under a DDoS attack of this magnitude. “Most accurate” claim(s) pertain to the accuracy of home listings, are based on comparison with other national listing portals, and are based on […]
WAV Group partners, Mike Audet, Marilyn Wilson, and Victor Lund are founders of RE Technology and RETechnology.com. Today that site reaches 750,000 real estate agents and brokers though partnerships with more than 90 MLSs who deliver subscriptions to RE Technology as a member benefit. Each week, RE Technology publishes a notification to MLSs that lists the top 5 most heavily viewed articles of the week. This list goes out to our MLS partners who may, in turn, republish the articles in their own newsletter, blog, or develop content ideas for their training or communications programs. Below is the RE Technology Top 5 Articles for last week. iPad Listing Presentations Heading to a listing presentation with MLS printouts? Think again! Technology moves fast and your clients are expecting you to keep up. Find out how easy it is to create a complete iPad Listing Presentation (for use on any tablet) with Cloud CMA. You’ll also learn techniques for using your tablet at a listing presentation to keep your clients engaged, excited, and ready to sign on the dotted line with you! With Cloud CMA, it’s easy to swipe, tap, and pinch your way to real estate success! Photos too large for upload? Take these simple steps to resize them. Many Realtors® upload photos to their MLS and other real estate web sites. Photos that are taken at a high resolution (high quality) save as large files; sometimes, too large for upload to those web sites. We receive a lot of calls asking for assistance resizing photos when the file size is above the website’s limit. Below are simple steps for both Window and Mac users. iPad Apps to Use at Your Next Listing Presentation If there’s one thing we’ve learned from talking to agents every day, it’s that they REALLY love their iPads. It’s no wonder. These portable beauties are fantastic for conducting business on the go (and stylishly, we might add). 4 Stealthy Ways to Monitor the Competition By “listening” in on your competition, you can get a better idea of who they’re doing business with, how they’re marketing themselves, and what others are saying about them. If you want to keep your sleuthing on the down low, there are plenty of easy ways to do that. Here are four. Why You Should Close the Window on Internet Explorer Even though Internet Explorer has been the go-to […]
The cat is out of the bag. Zillow has gone where no MLS has gone before. They have embraced the broker and agent demand for pre-marketing listings. They are entering a place where Zillow will have listing content before listings become available. Consumers are going to love it, brokers and agents are going to love it, and MLSs are going to hate it. The program is called Coming Soon, and allows brokers and agents to market listings on Zillow up to 30 days before publishing it in the MLS. Clean lines and business rules are the cornerstones of the MLS foundation on offers of cooperation and compensation. Agents must post a listing into the MLS within 24-48 hours of completing the listing agreement. Uniformity is the practice of publishing a listing into the marketplace at a time when everyone can show the property. It is like the start of a race and every agent and customer is on the line at the same time. Well, that is sort of true most of the time, but not really. REALTOR® Associations have long held the tradition of hosting meetings (with an intermediary in the room) where agents talk about upcoming listings and buyer needs before the weekly new listing broker open home tour. It is a condoned behavior that also stretches into the broker office meetings (no intermediary) and into Mastermind and Top Producer Clubs (typically no intermediary). There are even Coming Soon yard sign riders. I bring up the issue of intermediary because Zillow is an intermediary, and an intermediary is important. If you don’t think so, ask a few MLS executives about The Sherman Act that prohibits price fixing, collusion to control the marketplace, and/or collusion to carve up the marketplace. Meetings of competitors are normally where violations occur. Think about the risk of pocket listings and listing clubs that have plagued our industry in hot markets. By my reading, placing a Coming Soon listing on Zillow would pass muster by compliance with The Sherman Act. There are plenty of brokers who publish Coming Soon listings in their back office that may not be as compliant without this Zillow feature – especially those firms that incentivize agents with premium compensation or benefits when selling company listings. Did Zillow Do It Right? First off, Zillow places the consumer at the top of their decision tree and is willing to take criticism […]
If you are a mega broker, with thousands of agents, you will have an IT department that watches over your software and technology infrastructure. If you are a small or medium size broker, that chore usually falls to you, much like it does for us, in our consulting company. We watch real estate technology on a daily basis and advise some of the best technology companies in the business on how to improve their product’s user interface, how to put together marketing and communication plans and many other services, and even for us, this is a daunting task. Every time you turn around there is another new vendor coming out of the woodwork with another new widget, approach or process. I mentioned that large real estate companies usually have their own IT departments but they are not immune to the complexity of our technology world either. The reason is simple, the solution not so simple. The reason we have such a mess in the broker technology world is the way our technology has evolved and the many layers of services and needs that have to be addressed. Over time, many brilliant solutions have been offered for accounting, contact management, CRM, drip marketing, IDX, VOW, lead management, lead generation, showing systems, back office systems, forms products, transaction management, document management, custom CMAs, broker/agent websites and on and on. These products may have been best of breed in a given moment but the way most brokers have selected and implemented technology is like building a car out of unrelated parts, from technologies and standards that have nothing to do with each other. In the case of a car imagine one with four different wheel sizes or an engine computer that can’t talk to the electronics or seats that aren’t made for a body style, etc. It would be a mess and in the case of broker technology it is also often is a mess even though our very talented broker professionals find ways to make it work, with gum, paperclips and scotch tape pulling the whole mess together. Brokers all know that having a hodgepodge selection of unconnected products and services is not the way to do manage their business services but change isn’t easy when it comes to technology. They have made investments; there may be cost implications to change, and change brings a whole host of other issues from implementation […]
You know the old expression, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”? Well, MRIS has taken that to heart and created a new approach for mobile that may be worth taking a look at. Their key goal with any of their online marketing efforts is to generate leads and listing exposure for their customers. They work hard with their site MRIShomes.com to do that and they work hard to make sure their prospecting solutions within their MLS system are effective, too. Now one of the largest MLSs in the country has added a new mobile tool to their quest to deliver high quality leads – Homesnap. Homesnap is a unique and interesting partner for an MLS. First, they are really good at what I preach about all the time – knowing what the CONSUMER wants. They have built a visually exciting, easy to use mobile app that consumers are eating up. Homesnap is also very good at something that no MLSs that I know of have conquered yet – they know how to get attention on App stores. Their app ranks in the top 5 in the country – a very enviable position given the awesome competition they face there. So how do MRIS members benefit, you may wonder, from a third party app? Homesnap has agreed to send ALL of the leads in the MRIS region to MRIS members. By partnering with Homesnap, MRIS has doubled the consumer traffic they generate on behalf of their members. Homesnap professes to be industry-friendly, looking to work with MLSs and brokers to create a win/win situation. Now here’s the interesting news. Every MLS knows how hard it is to gain adoption for new technologies. After just two weeks, this app is being used by over 5000 members, and delivering searches to nearly 43,000 customers. That equates to nearly 10% adoption in a very short amount of time. Now here’s an area of potential concern that some MLSs might be worried about with this model. Homesnap is NOT being private labeled. It is being marketed in the MRIS region and throughout the country under the Homesnap brand. Every MLS that would use this product would be offering the Homesnap app, not the XYZMLS app. This approach provides no brand-building opportunities for an organization. Some may be concerned about that; some may be relieved because it might reduce the “level the playing field” effect […]
There were a few very interesting articles in the Washington Post this week. Unlike industry commentary about the Zestimate, this one took place in public. The Washington Post stirred the pot a bit, as only the politically divided would do so naturally. The battle was epic. At 5:30 AM, David Howell of McNearney Associates published a piece titled “How Accurate is Zillow’s Zestimate? Not very, says one Washington-area agent. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/wp/2014/06/10/how-accurate-is-zillows-zestimate-not-very-says-one-washington-area-agent/ At 5:31, Stan Humphries, Zillow Chief Economist responded in his article titles “How Accurate is the Zestimate? Zillow says the tool is helpful when used the right way.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/wp/2014/06/10/how-accurate-is-the-zestimate-zillow-says-the-tool-is-helpful-when-used-the-right-way/ You really do not need to read the articles unless you are new in real estate. Real estate agents know the Zestimate is not accurate. It is just the best that math can produce. The frustration that real estate agents have is that the consumer is not keenly aware of the accuracy of the Zestimate. Because consumers typically check with Zillow before talking to an agent, real estate professionals are constantly starting conversations of home value around the Zestimate. Real estate agents hate that, and REALTORS® hate it even more. So what do you do about it? About David Howell David Howell is a REALTOR®. In fact, he is the past President of one of America’s great REALTOR Associations – the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS. He was also the Chairman of NVAR’s Professionals Standards Committee. He was also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Regional Information System or MRIS. He is licensed in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. He currently serves McEarney Associates Inc REALTORS® as the Executive Vice President & CIO. He has been a real estate broker since 1984. The Media Play I do not have the inside skinny on this public seeding of articles, but the fact that one landed exactly one minute after the other landed tells me that this was planned. I know that MRIS has a great relationship with the Washington Post. Clearly Zillow does also, or the Washington Post has learned from politics that if you are going to allow one side to bash the other, let the other side have a chance to respond. A good ol’ fashioned debate. Stan Humphries of Zillow held his ground nicely, and reminded folks that the Zestimate is not for making housing decisions. The Zestimate tells this story in its name […]
WAV Group partners, Mike Audet, Marilyn Wilson, and Victor Lund are founders of RE Technology and RETechnology.com. Today that site reaches 750,000 real estate agents and brokers though partnerships with more than 90 MLSs who deliver subscriptions to RE Technology as a member benefit. Each week, RE Technology publishes a notification to MLSs that lists the top 5 most heavily viewed articles of the week. This list goes out to our MLS partners who may, in turn, republish the articles in their own newsletter, blog, or develop content ideas for their training or communications programs. Below is the RE Technology Top 5 Articles for last week. Your Clients Are Cheating On You: Learn How to Keep Them From Going Astray With most consumer home searches starting on the Internet, are you certain your clients are staying loyal to you? Chances are, your clients are seeing inaccurate information, and worse yet, are calling other agents to set up showings. The need for insight into your clients’ search activity has never been greater. Join this webinar to learn about ways you can immediately protect your investment, grow your business, and close more sales. Your Top 4 Computer Problems: Solved! Having computer troubles? You’re not alone. Unresolved tech issues are a sure way to slow your real estate business down. So let’s try a little damage control. We talked to a tech support team that specializes in helping agents for easy fixes to your computer woes. Dealing with Disloyal Clients Have you experienced a “cheating” client? Plenty of agents have. Whatever the circumstance, it still hurts to lose a client like this. There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening again, but here are some tips on what to do right now. 15 Networking Secrets of Successful Real Estate Agents Most of these shouldn’t exactly be secrets. But given how important networking is in the real estate business, it’s still amazing how many agents don’t make the most out of their networking opportunities. Here are some of the best practices to get you started. 10 Ways to Make the Most of Every Lead: Part 2 Are you looking for a way to double your business in 12 months? The first round of tips stated that if you want to make the most out of every lead, you must always follow up […]
WAV Group and RE Technology is looking forward to attending Inman Real Estate Connect in San Francisco next month – July 16th – 18th. The annual industry gathering in one of America’s great cities to discuss issues is among our favorites. Unlike a lot of industry conferences, Real Estate Connect addresses topics in an “in your face style” which is unique. I remember Billionaire Barry Diller sitting on stage getting booed by the audience when he said, (my paraphrase) “At LendingTree, we take your listing data, generate consumer leads, we sell them mortgages, and we sell you the real estate lead. And, real estate agents and brokers should thank us.” And, who can forget last year’s debate on forms licensing? Then, you always have the innovators – those brave souls who aspire to join the ranks of this fine industry only to lament their choice after getting a taste of our rules. It is such a wonderful occasion – part learning and part spectacle. It just does not get any better. The conference sells out, so be sure to get registered early and book your rooms and travel. It is not too soon to schedule meetings with Mike Audet, Marilyn Wilson, and/or Victor Lund. Reach out if you want to discuss a project or just set some time to say hello. It is always a busy conference for us, with hardly any time for participating in the sessions. The super secret, invite only RE Technology party is scheduled for 9 to midnight on Wednesday – killer location and killer band as usual. If you have been to one of our events in the past – you know the routine. WAV Group will be releasing a number of research projects prior to the conference. We do our best to set the tone on many of the key topics facing our industry. Be sure to subscribe to WAV Group newsletter and blog to get an alert when these are released. See you in city on the bay!