July 2014

Zillow Announces Trulia Acquisition

by Victor Lund on July 28, 2014

Two of America’s third party real estate portals have entered into a definitive agreement for Zillow (Z) to purchase Trulia (TRLA) for $3.5 billion in stock-for-stock trade. The Board of Directors of both companies have agreed to the transaction which represents a 25 percent premium to Trulia Stockholders, based on Trulia’s closing price on Friday, July 25, 2014. The transaction will now face regulatory approval. Goldman, Sachs & Co. brokered the transaction. Trulia CEO Pete Flint will retain that title, join the Zillow Board of Directors along with one other designee, and will remain the leader of the Trulia.com business unit. He will report directly to Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff. The two companies will carry on doing business as usual. The strategy for the merger outlined five key benefits for the companies: Faster Innovation – Combining development resources will allow the companies to accelerate innovation for consumers and professionals. Greater Access to Free Real Estate Market Data – Companies expect they will combine their data management, trend analysis, and forecasts. Broader Distribution – Home sellers and their agents, brokerages, and participating MLSs will benefit from seamless free distribution of listings across even more platforms to reach an even larger audience of consumers. Enhanced Value and ROI for Advertisers – The companies expect to offer shared services, marketing platforms for advertisers, enhance agent productivity and marketing, and deliver greater return on their investment. Corporate Cost Savings – By operating independent consumer brands though one corporation, the companies expect to realize synergies to improve operational efficiency over the long-term. By 2016, management expects to achieve at least $100 million in annualized cost savings. There were a few interesting data points in the press release. The first was that the advertising universe is a $12 billion dollar market – a remarkable number reported by Borrell Associates produced by a survey response. The second is that these companies combine to attract just 4 percent of that online advertising buy. Today, there is still more money being spent on newspapers than the combined online spend across all online portals. This represents a healthy strategy for both companies. It is anticipated that the combined companies will be able to do things like: leverage the same data management processes, same publisher agreements, same sales people, same marketing, same billing, etc. For brokers and agents using these services, it will be much easier to manage one relationship rather than two. Unfortunately, it may be six months to […]

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Goomzee Growth

by Victor Lund on July 24, 2014

MLS Mobile is a highly competitive space. There are so many companies challenging for the lucrative contracts that I am afraid to list them all here. We get press releases sent to us almost every day about who has signed a contract with this MLS or this Mobile provider. One of the things that angers me when we get these press releases is that many of them are renewals. I am not sure what is press worthy about a renewal – but that is another story for another day. Goomzee announced this week the addition of a bunch of new MLS customers. They have a solid and competitive product, so it is no surprise. But underneath the press release is something that is more interesting. Many MLS vendors have not cracked their mobile strategy yet. Most of the MLSs who are buying Goomzee are using Paragon, Flex, or Rapattoni as a vendor. I think that they also have a Marketlinx customer or two. The need to have a mobile solution with full MLS access is a core requirement of every real estate agent today that is actively doing business. Today’s professional cannot get away with telling a client “they will get back to them later when they can look it up in the office.” This is the information age! Business is always on, always connected, and happens anywhere. What’s odd to me is that most of these MLS systems have responsive design or a mobile interface. Why the need for Goomzee or another third party app? Mobile is different. MLS vendors are natural creatures of their domain. When they think of their mobile strategy, they think in terms of porting their application to the web. They designate the killer features that must be accessed and port them to mobile in a variety of ways. Perhaps that is the issue. They are inside their domain and not thinking from the outside-in. In this case, outside-in thinking would be studying how consumers use mobile, then applying that knowledge to how an agent would use mobile MLS. The use case scenarios for desktop MLS do not apply to mobile MLS. Clearly, MLS mobile app developers have cracked this user experience where MLS vendors have struggled. I wonder how long that will last. Marketlinx has clearly come a long way with GoMLS. I understand that Flex has an app in the works. I am […]

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For those of you that believe relationships with MLSs are important either for distribution partnerships or data access, I would HIGHLY recommend that you attend and exhibit at the upcoming CMLS 2014 Conference in Huntington Beach, CA from September 24th to 27th, 2014.  I served on the board of the Council of MLS previously and I can tell you that is it THE single best way to build relationships with leading MLSs, bar none. It is an intimate conference focused exclusively on MLS issues so it is a great place to build relationships with the movers and shakers of the MLS world. I received a notice today that there are only 12 booths left for this year so I wanted to get this out to you right away so you can take advantage of this opportunity if you believe it is right for your business. Here’s the information shared from CMLS today…….. “Act now and take advantage of the last few sponsorship opportunities that include an exhibitor booth !* Come face-to-face with some of the biggest decision makers in our industry, and take advantage of the chances to market your products and services to MLS leaders and professionals from across the country and Canada. We are expecting a packed house, drawn by the surf, sun, and entertainment possibilities that are unique to Southern California! Because 2014 has already been shaping up as a year of transition, the marketing opportunities CMLS2014 will offer you cannot be missed! From signage throughout the conference to branding in the all-new conference mobile app, your sponsorship and attendance are sure to get you the visibility you seek for your products and services. Also, conference sponsorships of $2,500 or more also include one free conference registration (a $750+ value).” Email info@councilofmls.com for more information about sponsorship today! If you would like to learn more about ways RE Technology can help build your business, feel free to contact me at Marilyn@wavgroup.com.

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Your Spam Filter May Be a Lead Source

by Victor Lund on July 23, 2014

Leads sometimes come from humans. That’s a light joke. The point it is that when technology companies test lead capture and routing systems, they typically test them with stock lead content. Unfortunately, many real human leads do not contain stock text. Real humans write real questions and sometimes use language that may not be white listed for your spam filter. **It happens! One of the good ways to check your lead generation and delivery engine is to compare reports. Look at the lead reports that you get from publishers like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com or Homes.com. Look at them carefully and pull a sample set of the leads and check your lead delivery tool to see if they made it through.  Every broker I speak to tells me that the leads reported from publishers are always higher than the portals’ lead count in the broker’s back office system. Where did the leads go? They probably went into the spam filter. In January of 2014, WAV Group released what is believed to be the largest study of lead responsiveness : If you did not get a chance to read it – please do. http://waves.wavgroup.com/2014/01/13/agent-responsiveness-study-reveals-critical-flaws-in-real-estate-lead-response/. The observations are pretty bleak. 48% of buyer inquiries were NEVER responded to Average response time was over 15 hours. Could the spam problem really be that big? Probably not, but it may be significant in your business. Check your spam filter to find out. You may realize that your spam filter has a bunch of leads in it. When you find false positives in your spam filter, it is important to train the filter to let those emails through. One broker we know took the drastic measure of blocking email from a company that was pounding their agents with sales and marketing information. When they did that, they did not realize that they would also be compromising or blocking all of the leads from that company. OOPS! Brokers are becoming more and more like technology companies every day. Keeping pace in this ever changing world requires that brokers have a good understanding of how technology works – or employ staff or advisors that do. If you are lacking this in your business, you better consider a plan to fill that void sooner rather than later. Somehow I don’t think that technology is going away anytime soon. p.s. be sure to test leads generated on company listings and […]

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WAV Group 2014 Road Map to Listing Syndication

by Victor Lund on July 22, 2014

 Listing syndication to online portals is in the throws of a revolution in real estate today. Listing syndication has followed a philosophical pattern first envisioned by the German philosopher G.W.F. Hagel in his triadic process – thesis, antithesis, and then synthesis. This paper will walk though the first two phases of the process, discussing the evolution of the original thesis of listing syndication followed by the new roots of today’s chaotic antithesis. The industry is developing a plethora of new models to transmit listings for online advertising at a pace that is eroding the effectiveness of the process in a significant way. However, out of this chaos of antithesis we are beginning to see a glimmer of new publishers who seek to be the best possible partners to brokers. A new synthesis is on the horizon. View the full report here

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RESO Releases Data Dictionary v1.3

by Victor Lund on July 22, 2014

 Last week, the Real Estate Standards Organization released the latest Data Dictionary version 1.3 for industry consumption and adoption. Like all RESO releases, this is important as it should trigger you and your vendors to make data base modifications to come into compliance with this latest database naming convention. There are a lot of changes. Real Estate agents and brokers pay handsome fees to vendors who take disparate data sets from MLSs and map them to their application. It is one of the biggest challenges to offering services. Our industry has fallen well behind in adopting these standards and it puts us all in jeopardy of losing the position of being in the center of real estate transactions. It is incumbent upon all of us to take action to move forward in the adoption of RESO standards to remain a healthy and vibrant industry. In this latest release, there were many modifications as well as 24 new fields added – many to support property types like commercial. This release will also be the first version that will be tested and certified for compliance.  Data providers that apply and pass RESO Data Dictionary compliance tests will be awarded a certificate which allows them to display a certificate badge on their website as well as being recorded and displayed in RESO’s website (reso.org). The last release of the Data Dictionary was v1.2 in August of 2013. In truth, many MLSs and vendors are at varying stages of adapting to that release. The best practice is to take this release date seriously and plan your adoption timeline with your vendors and customers. Communication is paramount to allow everyone to move forward accordingly. Running in parallel is also paramount so that you can keep existing systems running on old versions operational while everyone converts. Make clear what your timeline is for closing support for legacy data feed formats. About RESO RESO is a non-profit organization supported by member dues. It creates an environment for the development and implementation of data standards and processes that facilitate innovation, insure portability, eliminate redundancies and obtain maximum efficiencies for all parties participating in the real estate transaction. WAV Group is a founding member of the organization. We strongly encourage all MLSs, technology vendors, franchise organizations, and brokers to join the organization and support the critical role that RESO standards provide to our industry. For most organizations, the costs […]

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Marketing Trauma

by Victor Lund on July 15, 2014

REALOGY has made a big deal of the new 3-D virtual tours that they believe is the future of property marketing. They may be right. WAV Group took a look look at homes on the internet which offered three distinctive methods of viewing images – Photos, 3D Tours, Video Tours. When you think of marketing homes for sale, real estate professionals need to think in terms of priority. In consulting parlance – we divide prioritization into three categories – Trauma, Pain Killer, Vitamin. Beyond marketing decisions, it is a healthy idea to use this categorization across many of your technology considerations. Here is what we opined from looking at listings offering all three media types. Trauma = Photos Pain Killer = Video Vitamin = 3D tours Trauma – It all starts with great photography.  Your marketing will die without it. The worst-case scenario, agents take a single photo on their flip phone of the front of the house out of the window of their car (rear view mirror included). For the best case, look at photography by Malin Giddings of Coldwell Banker San Francisco. http://www.sfproperties.com/properties/ There are a number of issues related to the trauma of great photography. It starts with the agent. Agents who do not invest in photography are crippling their marketing effort. I have had countless conversations with agents about their photography commitment in property marketing. The answer is usually that they do the level of photography that is commensurate with the property value – Big Mistake! Every buyer is buying his or her dream home. Every seller is selling his or her most valuable asset. Buy a great camera and learn how to use it, or hire a great local real estate photographer EVERY TIME. WAV Group recommends that brokers manage the photography of all of their properties. Charge the agent the photography fee when the property closes. Pain Killer – Video is the best way to view a home. It is something that you have-to-have to deliver healthy marketing. As media evolved, consumers moved from print to video. We spend hours watching video on TV or YouTube – far more hours than we spend reading. Video is the most common form of consuming media. Our minds are trained to feel comfortable with video. Moreover, video stirs emotion that photography alone cannot produce as effectively. Photo players with great transition effects, audio overlays of music and […]

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Consulting Minds Think Alike

by Victor Lund on July 15, 2014

On the eve of publishing a WAV Group paper on listing syndication, consulting firm Clareity Consulting published a paper on the same topic days ahead of us. They did a great job on their paper and Victor Lund considered delaying or eliminating the WAV Group paper from publication. But a read of both papers is probably healthy for today’s real estate brokers, MLSs, and publishers. Clearly, listing syndication remains an abrasive business struggle in real estate. Both Clareity and WAV Group address syndication issues with clients every day – which is certainly what prompted both firms to independently publish papers on the topic. I do not think that there is much value in recapping anything in the Clareity or WAV Group papers to compare and contrast the points made. The papers agree, representing the acute consciousness of the issues that face our industry today. It is quite clear that although solutions and strategies exist for improving the effectiveness of listing syndication, the process is moving forward in a dysfunctional and disorganized way. Unfortunately, the strategies compete with one another in a way that undermines the success of the others. Point2 and Listhub are trying to raise the bar to improve data accuracy and listing attribution – but in doing so are in competition with each other. Moreover, each of them are agents for the customer (franchise, MLS, Board of REALTORS, Broker) and many of the customer do not agree about how they want their vendor (Listhub or Point2) to negotiate on their behalf. Trulia and Zillow have joined Realtor.com and Homes.com at pursuing direct licensing feeds from MLSs. This skips the value of hub and spoke solutions like Listhub or Point2, eroding their negotiation strength and further segmenting the feed sources. Segmented feed sources further the issue of the same listing going to the same publisher from many sources with no authoritative agreement that articulates the true listing record for display. Here is a new problem that has cropped up. Often, the publisher website is now more accurate and timely at displaying property updates like price changes than the listing broker’s website. Whenever brokers (even large ones) try to take on the issues, they can only manage what they do with their listings. It becomes a competitive struggle against other brokers in the market place who would rather go left when a competitor goes right regardless of what is “best […]

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WAVinar eMails

by Marilyn Wilson on July 15, 2014

WAVinar Invitation Our industry is moving really quickly these days.  There are so many challenges facing MLSs today threatening 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 and legal issues and research affecting the business. MLS organizations and their leadership need to keep up on all of the trends so they can make proactive decisions to keep their organizations relevant.  That’s why the WAV Group created its new WAVinar series. The WAVinar is designed to provide you and your MLS leadership with crucial updates on what is going 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.  The insights will be designed to stimulate conversation at board meetings and provide valuable information to help organizations make more well-informed decisions about technology, policy and legal issues, program changes and service enhancements. Staying current with crucial industry events and news is important but very difficult.  WAVinars insure that your leadership is informed and up to date. As an MLS leader, we would like to invite you and your organization to participate in our new WAVinar series. What is a WAVinar? A WAVinar is an exclusive online meeting, a webinar hosted by WAV Group partners Marilyn Wilson and Victor Lund. The content for WAVinars is specifically purposed for MLS Executives, MLS Executive Staff, and MLS Directors. Meetings are held quarterly via a live discussion. They are also  recorded so that you may share the WAVinar with others in your company, refer back to previous episodes, or catch up on episodes they missed. The cost for the WAVinars is $1,500 per session per company. You may have as many company executives, staff, or directors attend. Buy an annual subscription for $5000 and save. Please contact Nicole@wavgroup.com to subscribe.

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Legal contracts are a critical part of real estate. Real estate professionals need to be sure they’re providing tools to customers that protect their clients’ interests as well as their own.   WAV Group with the cooperation of Docusign and Instanet have put together a set of best practices you can use to evaluate the Electronic Signature solution you may be using. Click HERE to download the information HERE. It’s not always easy to sort out what those tools are, however. A simple search for “electronic signatures” on the App Store or Google Play will yield dozens of results. How can you know which solutions to trust and which to avoid? Knowing what questions to ask and what elements are most important in an eSignature solution is a great place to start.   From a legal standpoint, the following two items are most important: Authentication –  How do you match the person with the signature? Encryption – Once a document is signed, can you demonstrate that it hasn’t been tampered with? WAV Group moderated a session with two of the real estate industry’s leaders in Electronic Signatures – Docusign and Instanet.You can view our recorded webinar, Not All eSignature Platforms Are Created Equal to learn more about this important topic. We can look to banks to find out more about how to evaluate solutions. Many larger banks now provide requirements or recommendations on the type of support electronic signatures must have to be legally viable within their programs. They want to be able to see the entire “story” of a document–where it’s been, who has signed it and more. This can be accomplished via a certificate of completion, a transaction summary that demonstrates authentication procedures, time stamping, audit trail and more. All of these are evidentiary bits that support the integrity of the transaction in case it is ever challenged. As an industry, we want to be sure that we are providing tools to our customers that will protect our interests as well as theirs. This paper will provide an overview of criteria that electronic signature solutions need to meet in order to be legally viable. We also want the reader to walk away  with a better understanding of what questions to ask when choosing a solution and how to evaluate those programs with a better understanding of what questions to ask when choosing a solution and how to evaluate those programs. Click […]

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What is Your Lead Conversion Strategy?

by THE WAV GROUP on July 9, 2014

This is a guest post sent to us by Carl DeMusz of NORMLS – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/carl-demusz/4/749/249 Real estate markets are cyclical and change with the economy. They tend to be closely linked to employment which is also impacted by the economy. We have often observed times when the housing market can lead the economy out of recession. One thing that helps improve the housing market is a well-informed consumer who realizes that while housing markets are cyclical they always recover. They know that if they buy a home and hold on to it, the value will rise over time simply because people need homes to live in and buildable land is in short supply. Here, the laws of “supply and demand” eventually kick in. That is why for most Americans their home is their most valuable possession. Did you know the most qualified buyers are usually the most impatient when it comes to finding their home? These are the buyers who web search a listing, find ones they are interested in and want facts on the property as quick as possible. How fast are you at responding to an Internet Inquiry? Response time is so important that the WAV Group, a Professional Consulting Firm, did a study of real estate agents responsiveness. I’ve posted a few of their results below. WAV Group evaluated agent responsiveness this year by becoming a homebuyer lead across hundreds of brokerages in 11 states. Our findings may shock you. • 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) Agent Responsiveness Study Download Report: http://s3.amazonaws.com/mtssdhosting/wavgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/15085006/AgentResponsivenessStudy2013Final.pdf The worldwide web is a great tool for advertising plus a whole lot more. We can help you increase your lead conversion rate by speeding up your response time to consumer inquiries. Another valuable tool available to NORMLS members working with consumers is the Client Portal in the Matrix system. Each day hundreds of thousands of listings are viewed by consumers through our Client Portal right here in Northeast Ohio. If you are a NORMLS member and are not currently setup to use the Client Portal, I would be remising if I didn’t mention the “GoNEOHREX Mobile App”. This App is available for iPhones/iPads as well as android and tablets. If […]

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Over the last 10 years, since co-founding the WAV Group with Marilyn Wilson and Victor Lund, I have had the pleasure of working with many wonderful clients including MLSs, technology companies, franchises and brokers all over the world.   From strategic planning and research to helping brokers and MLSs choose their next technology platform to creating the first MLS in Brazil, I have enjoyed every aspect of the consulting world and being a WAV Group partner. Recently, however, I made a strategic decision to return to my roots and focus on the technology sector of our industry. I grew up in the real estate technology arena working with great companies like PRC, Interealty, Moore Data and Microsoft and as a consultant I have had a chance to work with many of the great technology companies that serve us today. I realized this is where my real passion is today and I want to be a part of the exciting changes that I see happening, particularly in the broker/agent sector. As I have written in numerous white papers and articles much of the technology serving our real estate companies and agents is fragmented today. Brokers often have 10 to 15 different products trying to solve the numerous needs of their company. Unfortunately this evolution of product acquisition leads to a disjointed array of over priced technology and little ability to truly share data across the entire real estate company spectrum. Exciting changes are taking place, however, that are solving these problems that I will now be a part of. I am very happy to announce that the company I believe will be a leader in these innovations, Real Estate Webmasters, has asked me to join their company as Vice President of Business Development. Over the next few months I will be completing my existing WAV Group consulting projects and joining REW full time in that capacity. Key to my decision to join Real Estate Webmasters is the vision of CEO, Morgan Carey, and his commitment to create a truly elegant and powerful, end-to-end broker/agent suite of products.  Having had the pleasure to work with Morgan, as a consultant, and to witness their impressive growth and product development, it became clear we are truly aligned in how we believe technology needs to continue to evolve.   When I was asked to join the team I realized it was a perfect fit. In my role […]

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