News represents change in real estate. It also represents staying the course. There were lots of both today. Not knowing what to expect, the industry unloaded today. Bullets were flying everywhere. The MOVE acquisition by News Corp was the headline – If you look at our post on it, we have added the letter that NAR sent to the membership, the letter that MOVE sent to the industry, and the press release. Taking the temperature on this, it is probably a good thing. The only big concern is that REA group from Australia has investments in the top 3 portals in America. They are minor unless you give credence to The Motley Fool http://www.fool.com.au/2014/06/25/is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-rea-group-limited/ In their country, the price of a premium ad for a listing is $2000 per month – most agents pay $1000 per month for online advertising. We are miles from that in America where brokerage firms pay about a buck or two for listing enhancement. The Australian model is not sustainable in the USA. Edina Direct Syndicates to Trulia (and Zillow)? Trulia sent an email to the world today that Edina is sending listings directly to them. You can read the entire story here http://www.trulia.com/industry/announcements/edina-direct-agreement-with-trulia/ I did not make any calls to fact check what I am about to say, but here are my instincts on the matter. Real Estate Digital (RED) provides a variety of web services to Edina and some of the other Home Services brokerages. For syndication, RED offers a product called REData Vault. REData Vault is a solution that provides the brokerage with a number of features that are not included in other syndication solutions, and since RED is already handling their data – it makes direct syndicaition easier and includes a link back to the agent or broker website (RED already has the URL). With REData Vault, Edina can also allow firms to manage exactly what information goes to publishers – number of photos, modified description text, etc. You probably can also imagine that Edina has a pretty square agreement on fair display of their listings on Trulia and Zillow. Online advertising works when done carefully. You can be certain that this is being carefully monitored. Clearly this is a big win for Trulia and Zillow and they deserve it. They earned Edina’s trust, and it took years of persistence and learning about the principles of Edina Realty. That is exactly the way that you […]
And so it goes. Move, the operators of the National Associaton of REALTORS portal called Realtor.com have agreed to sell the company to News Corp in an all-cash deal valued at $950 million. MOVE’s board of directors were swift to approve the offer, representing a 36% bump in the value of the company. News Corp owns other real estate assets including The Wall Street Journal (popular spot for luxury property advertising) and Australian real estate portal – realestate.com.au (part of the REA Group). REA Group will apparently pay for 20% of MOVE, and News Corp will pay the rest. This is a pretty bullish acquisition. It demonstrates the belief that there is a lot of growth on the horizon for portals in the US Market. To me the future looks pretty competitive with lots of well funded competitors dueling it out. MOVE has made a number of acquisitions over the years to diversify revenue away from the portal offering. Aside from Realtor.com, Top Producer is a solid contributor to the company’s success and revenue. I wonder if the new owners will shed some of those assets and focus purely on MOVE.com and Realtor.com. I also imagine that News Corp will be a little more aggressive in wielding the leverage it has with ListHub in a couple of ways – more international expansion and tighter agreements with publishers. Or not. They say that they have shared vision and shared values. Congratulations to the MOVE shareholders and executives. Nice win. My hope is that Joe Hanauer will be retained to continue is spectacular mission to support Realtor.com. Below are three clippings – letter from NAR to the membership – letter from MOVE to industry leaders – and the press release – all in one place for your pleasure. By the way – does anyone know how much stock News Corp and REA Group have invested in Zillow and Trulia – I think they are partners in all of these firms now. Pretty cool strategic investment strategy. Letter from NAR to the Membership Dear NAR Member, Today marks an extraordinary turning point in the history of realtor.com®.
The website pioneered online real estate and was No. 1 in that space for 15 years. In recent years, even as realtor.com®’s traffic grew, deep-pocketed Internet startups succeeded in eroding the site’s consumer mind share. One year ago, the National Association of REALTORS® altered its operating […]
Today’s real estate firms, franchise or otherwise, need to provide a robust marketing solution for agents that especially support them with digital marketing tools: Video, virtual tours, eMail marketing, and social media marketing. In an announcement today, Coldwell Banker announced a partnership with Imprev to power their digital marketing suite for all of their franchise companies. There are a number of firms that offer marketing solutions, but the two firms that have dominated the selection among franchise organizations in the past years include Marketleader and Imprev. Strangely enough, until a few years ago, Imprev was Marketleader’s partner for their marketing suite, jointly providing a full solution to Keller Williams, unit Marketleader purchased SharperAgent in 2011. At the time of the acquisition, SharperAgent claimed 30,000 customers and Marketleader claimed 50,000 customers. Marketleader then went on to sign up a number of large franchise organizations, including Century 21. Today, the Marketleader suite is a business unit owned by Trulia who is in the process of being acquired by real estate portal leader, Zillow. No doubt, this announcement for Imprev is significant. Imprev has had a nearly decade-long standing relationship with RE/MAX and recently launched an automation platform with Berkshire Hathaway’s largest brokerage, Fox and Roach Realtors (a solution that is tightly integrated into CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve platform). Imprev shows with Coldwell Banker that it can connect to Leadrouter, which is a standard used by other Realogy franchises. Congratulations to Imprev and to Coldwell Banker’s 84,000 sales associates. Since over 80% of a firm’s business comes from sphere marketing – marketing suites like Imprev are critical service offerings. disclaimer – WAV Group has provided consulting services to all companies mentioned in this post. Press Release Coldwell Banker Unveils New eMarketing Platform Madison, N.J. (Sept. 29, 2014) – Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today announced an agreement with Imprev, Inc. to power the Coldwell Banker® brand’s fully mobile eMarketing platform. Coldwell Banker eMarketing is part of the new Coldwell Banker 360 suite of products that give Coldwell Banker independent agents and brokers access to a platform that delivers an extensive range of exclusive designs and marketing content and allow them to easily engage with consumers via the Web, email and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. “Our new Coldwell Banker eMarketing platform will make it easier for Coldwell Banker agents to connect with prospective home buyers and sellers while increasing productivity,” said Sean Blankenship, senior vice president […]
I don’t really know if this is just something that Trulia is testing or if this is something that they rolled out system wide, but I received a lovely real estate update this morning It is not a heavy piece, but it certainly popped in my inbox 18 New Listings, 2 open houses, 9 price reductions, download mobile app, home value lead capture, and median sales price. Aside from my first impression of the execution being very positive, it made me wonder…… Where else would this type of daily email be a practical way to touch professionals or consumers? For the MLS The heart of any MLS is the agent’s hot sheet. It is a customizable widget that gives them a snap shot of what they are tracking in their business. The hot sheet recognizes pre-defined queries that the agent configures. I am a big fan of push reporting, and to me, the Hot Sheet is a report. I would love to see MLSs send the hot sheet by email to every agent every day. Moreover, office managers could see a snapshot of their business every day. Broker owners can get a hot sheet of all of their offices. Better yet, think beyond email and integrate this as a notification on your mobile device. For the Broker I hate to admit it, but there are only a handful of brokers who are able to drive consumers to their website at a level that enables them to compete for the consumer share of voice. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com and Homefinder have swiped the consumer away. Only the largest firms, MLS consumer sites, and franchises in America can live in the top 10 real estate websites in their area. Unless there is a significant event of disruption, third party websites will control the spread of real estate information to the widest audience of consumers. Most of our clients who hire us to monitor the effectiveness of their online marketing are premium partners with some mix of Trulia, Zillow, Homes, and Homefinder. However, we also have a handful of brokers who have gone the other way and eliminated syndication. Both strategies work. Regardless of your online strategy, you need to keep a watchful eye on features that will keep you competitive. Take a page out of Trulia’s playbook and send all of your registered users a market update. Trust me, if your customer […]
Do you sometimes feel like your Board of Directors and key staff are out of touch with what’s really happening in the real estate industry today? Do you sometimes feel a bit isolated and would like to know if other organizations are facing the same challenges you are? Is your organization suffering from stifled and cumbersome decision-making? Here’s what can happen when an organization is out of touch. They can delay decisions because they seem difficult or controversial causing the organization to fall behind or lose its competitive advantage. Boards that do not stay close to trends can enforce outdated rules and regulations that hinder member success. They can make decisions in isolation of the needs of home buyers and sellers weakening the relationship of their members with the buying public. Worst of all, a Board of Directors that does not stay in touch may not even know it is out of touch if it does not reach out beyond its local community to see where the real estate industry is going. When conducting strategic plans we hear from brokers and board members that their organization is out of touch with today’s reality. So how do you get your board in touch? You can pay thousands of dollars for several of your board members to attend industry events. Many of these events can be very valuable for the content that is presented and the networking and peer to peer learning. The CMLS conference and the AEI conference are two great opportunities for MLSs and Associations to get in touch. WAV Group is now offering another method for staying in touch with trends and learning from progressive MLSs and Associations around North America. We call it the WAVES of Change Series. This exciting new program allows every one of your Board members and department heads to keep in touch on the ever-changing trends in our business without leaving home. This quarterly live webinar will include exclusive, early looks at WAV Group research as well as the ability to learn from industry experts about technology trends, consumer insights and broker and agent issues. We will discuss the key threats and opportunities that face our industry today helping everyone to find new ways to improve the relevance of their organization and ensure its long term viability. The WAVES of Change series will also encourage participating organizations to share their best practices and breakthrough […]
The Case for Measuring Customer Satisfaction Regularly MLSs are monopolies right? They OWN their territory so they don’t have to worry about customer satisfaction. Few in the industry would ever agree to this statement but in reality, many act as though they are a monopoly – not paying close attention to what their customers are asking for. Can you honestly say you know what your MLSs strengths and weaknesses are? Do you know what frustrates your customers or how you might hinders them from selling real estate as effectively as they could? Do you occasionally get a board member that wants to re-invent everything because they have heard from one member who is not happy? If you are an MLS that can relate to any of these questions above, then you might want to read on. If you haven’t asked your customers how they’re feeling about your organization, then you are you undoubtedly missing opportunities to build a stronger relationship with those that give you your livelihood. It can be scary to ask your customers think of you, but it’s more scary to think about what might happen if they become really unhappy. What are the upsides of customer satisfaction though? Companies that monitor satisfaction regularly can manage their board’s expectations because they have an on-going measure of technology adoption, satisfaction and suggestions from their members. It is much easier to set goals when you have quantitative, indisputable measures to use instead of perception and innuendo which can enter into the MLS boardroom in the absence of hard facts. We have the honor and pleasure of working with MLSs across the country on their customer satisfaction surveys. Many conduct annual surveys. Some, like MRIS, actually conduct quarterly surveys. They measure satisfaction on every facet of their business. Every department head in the company is responsible for digesting the survey and identifying methods for improving customer satisfaction. In fact, their annual bonuses are based in part of helping the organization to consistently improve customer satisfaction. The company has shown consistent and dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction since it began its program nearly 10 years ago. Could there be a correlation between monitoring and responding to customer requests and the accomplishment of becoming one of the largest and most successful MLSs in the country? We definitely think so. The MLSs we work with have learned a lot about the trigger points for […]
Arroyo Grande, CA – September 23, 2014 – Real estate industry communications and marketing veteran Kevin Hawkins has been named President of WAV Group Communications, the newest division of the real estate industry’s leading consulting firm, WAV Group. Being officially introduced at the CMLS2014, the Council of Multiple Listing Services national conference that starts tomorrow, September 24-27 in Huntington Beach, California, Hawkins will expand and deepen the communications services The WAV Group provides to leading MLS firms, REALTOR® Associations, top real estate brokerages, and real estate technology firms. “We have known and worked with Kevin for a long time. He is a consummate professional that brings a breath and depth of experience that is not found in our industry,” said Victor Lund, a founding partner of the WAV Group. Lund called Hawkins “a natural fit,” noting he brings a combined expertise in working in real estate, and world-class experience in PR and Communications that meets the needs for both consumer and industry messaging.” Marilyn Wilson, also a founding partner of the WAV Group and former SVP Marketing at Fisher-Price, said Hawkins is “well-schooled in innovative methods for generating interest and attention among consumers and real estate professionals alike, leveraging the latest in media and communications technologies.” “Kevin can not only talk the talk, but has walked the walk,” Wilson said, noting Hawkins has worked directly with real estate agents and broker owners for more than two decades. “He has successfully launched and promoted literally hundreds of new business and consumer products and services harnessing both traditional and digital media. His creative and affordable grass root campaigns targeting have helped firms increase both product adoption and profitability.” Real estate radio talk show host, columnist, and author Tom Kelly, who collaborated with Hawkins at Inman News, said, “I’ve witnessed Kevin’s boundless energy and execution for nearly three decades. Both may not be surpassed by his creativity, but it’s a close call.” Hawkins, who worked with WAV Group was as a client, lauds the firm’s reputation. “Businesses today often need wisdom and insight that comes from personal experience,” Hawkins said. “The WAV Group is the industry’s seasoned voice of reason, giving strategic and innovative yet practical, actionable and affordable advice to help real businesses create positive momentum and growth. It’s a privilege to be associated with such quality and class.” Hawkins brings to the WAV Group more than 25 years of experience leading […]
I had a rather interesting conversation about lead management and lead sales today. The story went something like this. A broker enhances listings and purchases zip code leads from a portal. The broker believes that there is some form of exclusivity on the leads generated through the system in so far as the lead is only distributed once. In his case, he distributes the leads as they come in to one of his agents. To test the system, the broker had a staff member go to the publisher site and generate a lead. The lead came through to the broker as promised. However, the broker (pretending to be a consumer) also got a call from a mortgage company to pre-qualify for a loan. During the call with the loan officer, they suggested that he work with one of the mortgage company’s network of agents and asked if he needed help finding an agent. To the broker, that caused the lead to be “sold” twice. He was rather upset. The portal takes the lead that they provided to the real estate agent and also sells that lead to the mortgage company. In this case, the mortgage company also has a lead network where they take leads that they generate for mortgage and provide that lead to a real estate agent partner. So the same consumer lead went to the publisher’s broker partner and the mortgage company’s broker partner – one lead just became 3 – 1 to the publishers premium broker; one to the mortgage company (unbeknownst to the premium broker); and again to the mortgage company’s real estate agent network. Poor consumer gets hit 3 times just for asking if the fireplace is wood burning or gas. I do not see that the portal sold the lead twice – so in my opinion, the portal is not undermining their product sold to the brokerage. But they may be conspicuous if they are not telling the premium brokerage that they are selling the lead to other home services companies like the mortgage firm. The publisher probably just said that they only sell the lead to one real estate broker/agent. In 2009, WAV Group did an analysis of the “fine print of listing syndication.” The paper can be viewed here http://waves.wavgroup.com/2009/11/10/listing-syndication-be-sure-to-read-the-fine-print/. The take away is that, unless you have a well crafted agreement with a publisher, all of your content – listings […]
The sourceMLS™ initiative is set to launch next week at the Council of MLS meetings in Huntington Beach, CA and I am excited! If you are displaying a listing from the MLS, you can display the sourceMLS Logo. It’s that simple. Think of it as the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. This is a no frills way for every listing agent, every listing broker, and every MLS to finally identify the value of a listing to the consumer. There is not a day that goes by when a consumer is not bilked by dozens of inaccurate, incomplete, expired, or just flat out phony listings on so many websites. By simple extension though affiliation, the consumer does not know that a broker or agent website is not equally riddled with the same listing errors found on non-IDX sites. Our industry must change this, or the consumer facing side of real estate listings will be no better than craigslist. Guidelines The soureMLS guidelines are pretty straight forward, and they can be viewed here in their entirety http://sourcemls.org/guidelines/. To make it simple to understand, if your site is compliant with IDX, you almost assuredly will be compliant with the sourceMLS program. But don’t take my word for it. Read the guidelines. I sat on this committee at CMLS in its beginning. The result is not very far from our recommendation. It was an honor to serve with so many of the passionate volunteers who are fighting to help brokers and agents remain the #1 resource for real estate information and services. I am sure that there will be critics, as there always are in real estate. But I beg to think about it in this light. Why not? I really cannot see a possible reason why MLSs would not want to support their brokers with this benefit. The branding is neutral and the promise is clear. If this solution is well adopted, it will only be a matter of months before consumers realize that if the badge is not on the site displaying the listing, they can’t trust it. That is a buoy for agents and brokers at a time when so many websites have inaccurate content. Visit sourceMLS.org today.
The FSBO dam just sprouted another leak, and brokers better pay attention. If you have not heard about Allre, you better watch the video below right now. It is collaboration between banks like Prime Lending, Home Insurance providers, home warranty companies, and even a lock box vendor to facilitate FSBO sales. The fee to the consumer is ZERO – nothing. There are no brokerage services at all, so they completely surpass all RESPA regulations. It is 100% FSBO. The only thing that will sit between Allre and success is venture capital. If they attract enough venture capital to attract the consumer, traditional brokerage is going to hit a wall. WAV Group is a strategy company. To remain competitive, businesses need to act in ways that allow them to survive in a fast changing market place. In the case of Allre – they are only launching in San Diego. Perhaps the industry at large does not need to hit the panic button yet. However, you probably need to pay close attention. I know that we will. San Diego is a high value market place. According to Zillow, (http://www.zillow.com/san-diego-ca/home-values/) the average home price in San Diego is $492,000. As a side bar, I did a Google search for “the average home price in San Diego and the only broker who had the information was ZipRealty – an article from 2012; Trulia Voices had a question about home building; and the best first search result was Zillow. Where are all of the Brokers, Associations, and MLS answers? Why The Business Will Work Everyone talks about the 6% commission rate – but my research shows that the number may be a bit lower in actuality which is line with the Allre CEO talks about in her pitch. It makes San Diego a ripe candidate for this style of opportunity pursuit. That is enough incentive for FSBO buyers and seller to take a risk and sample the service. I would not be surprised to see a similar service pop up in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Francisco, and other high-end real estate markets in California. If you average sales price is below $200,000 – the incentive for FSBOs to save money is less attractive. Driving Consumer Traffic Today, there are a number of third party websites that allow for FSBO listings. They already have lots of consumer traffic buoyed by a great consumer search […]
When RE Technology was founded by WAV Group partners in 2010, the goal was to provide an information resource inside the MLS system that would sharpen agent understanding of technology in real estate. We will forever appreciate MRED, MRIS, MLSListings, and MFRMLS for introducing the first 100,000 users to the service. Today, 91 MLSs and over 700,000 users have access to RE Technology as a member benefit. Because technology companies sponsor the service, there is never charge to the MLS or the broker or agent. The concept behind RE Technology is to support MLSs at delivering insightful information about technology that allows real estate professionals to make the best possible choices when purchasing solutions for their business. When it comes to real estate technology – websites, CRM solutions, digital signatures, IDX providers, virtual tour providers, and so many other solutions, the array of vendors is confusing. RE Technology makes learning about technology easy, and combines user ratings, product overviews, product descriptions, press releases, and company contact information all in one place. It was our belief in 2010 that social media, blogs, and rss feeds would take over the MLS newsletter as a primary method for communications. In some ways it has, but the MLS newsletter continues to endure. The RE Technology newsletter is MLS branded for every market. It is part of our localization strategy that organizes information for each MLS. For example, products offered as member benefits or premium MLS services are highlighted for the agent. RE Technology also informs the broker or agent if products requiring data have an active IDX or VOW data license in the market. We also include any information in the newsletter that the local MLS would like us to include. Moreover, MLSs can republish any articles or other information on RE Technology for other communications, like MLS customer magazines. For example, many MLSs are picking from the hundreds of articles about RPR to educate REALTORS on that new member benefit. Today, RE Technology sees about 40,000 daily visitors to the site. We also send out just under 57,000 emails a day. The open rate on those emails is about 22%, and the click though rate is about 50%. Apparently, article headlines play a significant role in open rates and click through rates. The hottest topics in the industry today are How to Use an iPad in Real Estate for listing presentations (CMAs) and […]
Perhaps its just because, or happenstance, or not. But MLSListings, based in the heart of the Silicon Valley in California, is the second MLS in the nation to join MRIS in RESO Server Certification. Like MRIS, MLSListings is a broker governed MLS. In truth, the title of the article was drafted to get you to read this article. The fact is that MRIS and MLSListings, along with many of the COVE Group MLSs repeatedly lead the industry in adopting best practices. Its in their DNA. And yes, Anne Bailey does a great job facilitating the COVE group and both of these MLSs are WAV Group clients. RESO is real. The Data Dictionary has been out for a long time now and it is a shame that more MLSs in America have not converted. It is the very first step in the process of becoming compliant. Remember, for an MLS to be covered by NAR’s insurance – you must be RESO compliant. I guess only MRIS and MLSListings are – but that is another issue. NAR seems pretty relaxed in setting the bar high on MLS compliance with rules and requirements. Heck – there are still dozens and dozens of MLSs that do not have a RETS server yet – still forcing FTP. Still taking a year to approve a broker application for a new IDX/VOW vendor. Some continue to block brokers from getting data access to develop their own AVMs even in the light of the MLS policy committee and NAR clearly indicating that they must provide data for this purpose. When broker networks like The Realty Alliance or Leading Real Estate Companies of the World send staff to tell these stories at places like CMLS – everyone gasps to learn that brokers are frustrated. The truth is that brokers are not frustrated by MLSs like MLSListings and MRIS. In fact, in reviewing their customer satisfaction surveys, I can confirm that their brokers are not frustrated. They are not upset. Leading MLSs are delighting their brokers. Broker owned and broker governed MLSs are delighting their brokers. The problem lies at the bottom of the MLS industry, not at the top. It’s the small Association-Owned MLS that has a part-time job sharing CEO as its leader who is really underfunded in the effort to deliver world-class, industry-leading MLS services to brokers and agents. To be clear – I am not blaming […]