December 2014

Spending Over $60K Per Month on Zillow

by Victor Lund on December 23, 2014

It is not very hard to find out who Zillow’s top customers are. Just visit the website and look at theAgent Reviews section. One of those top customers is Samer Kuraishi Group from the Washington, D.C. area. Samer is a second generation real estate agent. The brokerage, A-K Real Estate, Inc. (“A-K”) is a boutique 40 agent firm, located about two blocks from the White House, that was founded by his father. Together, they have grown the company significantly, supporting consumers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Much of the company’s growth has happened over the past few years and was driven by advertising on Zillow. Samer indicated that the company did about $49M in 2012 when they first started buying advertising on Zillow. This year, Samer is expecting to do $27M+ personally and he expects to hit $150 million total in 2014 which is up about 50% from 2013 $101M in sales. Samer is purchasing Zip Code marketing on Zillow at a rate of about $60k+ per month. That is more than most brokerage firms. For that, Samer is guaranteed around 700,000 consumer impressions per month on Zillow. In truth, Zillow typically over-delivers on the contracted minimum impressions, so his actual impressions are over 1.2 million per month. That is a lot of online advertising. Most of his leads come from his group profile page. When Zillow markets its advertising impressions, it does so by creating a market value of those impressions by zip code. Some zip codes may be as low as $25 per thousand impressions. On the high side, the cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) can be over $100. Many markets seem to average about $50 CPM, and lots of markets around the nation are sold-out and have a waiting list. Samer even owns zip codes where he does not typically provide services, just to build his portfolio. Today, Samer owns 110 to 115 zip codes on the Zillow site, but he refers some of the generated business to local agents, whom he trusts. For $60k+ per month, Samer receives a little more than 700 leads per month. Additionally, Samer invests in other portals and has a technology partnership with Virtual Results for his website. He has a full suite of technology solutions that he admittedly built through trial and error. But Samer says that he has everything wired the way he likes it today. “I have a […]

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Your Communications Plan: An Editorial Calendar for 2015

by Kevin Hawkins on December 22, 2014

Real Estate has a problem when it comes to editorial calendars. We are an industry that often stares at the wall wondering what consumers want to know. It is really not that hard to craft a meaningful story to get pick up in your local newspaper or lead to a local radio or television interview. You just need a roadmap. This list was created by scouring the headlines from leading journalists to see what they were writing about. The best news (pun intended) lay in the data and that data is only an MLS search away. 25 headlines to make your own: Homes with views Top commuter communities Update on the housing recovery Housing affordability report for [month] in [local market]ds Home sales volume report for [month] in [local market] Top local housing trends you need to know Secrets of property search for [local market] Area real estate value grew/lost $Billion last month Signs you hired a great real estate agent Thousands of homeowners see value increase/decrease in homes See the most expensive homes for sale Hottest neighborhoods in 2015 [Seller/Buyer name] sells/buys $$$, most expensive home last month Shopping for a home? What’s open this weekend Foreclosure activity increases/decreases in [local market] Median home prices increase/decrease in [local market] Negotiating a low price on a home: What’s the list-to-sell ratio? Best bargains in town Home price appreciation slows/gains Homes for $ or less, [local market] median price What does the average home in [local market] look like? Lowest priced housing in area Rent vs. buy Buying an energy efficient home Flood zone housing Having a great title is the easiest way to start. Add a number to one of these and give it even more punch: Top 5 local housing trends or Top 4 commuter communities. Take these 25 headlines and you are well on your way to publishing a news release every two weeks. Keep in mind these 4 tips to a great news release: Make it local: Local data, local quotes means local pick up. The length of your story needs ideally is between 300 and 600 words. Don’t go cheap when hiring a writer. Most professional writers charge between $1 and $2 per word. Good things aren’t cheap and cheap things aren’t good. Put it on a paid wire: Marketwired, PRNewswire, Globenewswire or PRWeb are worth the investment, so budget a least $500 for a paid wire […]

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News Corp Announces New Leadership At Move, Inc.

by THE WAV GROUP on December 18, 2014

Ryan O’Hara Named CEO New York, NY (December 17, 2014) – News Corp announced today that Ryan O’Hara will become Chief Executive Officer of Move, Inc. (“Move”), effective January 5, 2015. Mr. O’Hara will replace CEO Steven Berkowitz, who has led the company since January 2009. News Corp acquired Move, a leading provider of online real estate services, including realtor.com®, last month. “We are excited to have secured Ryan O’Hara to take the helm at Move, given his record of transforming businesses in the digital age and his clear determination to accelerate the growth of the company. We are also extremely grateful to Steve Berkowitz for his years of astute and principled leadership, during which period he secured greater operating flexibility for the business and put the company on a solid growth trajectory,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp. “Ryan’s experience in the digital media and entertainment industry and his deft management skills will be invaluable assets as we pursue the rapid expansion of Move in this era of exponential change. We believe he has the ability to leverage the relationship with our existing US media properties to the benefit of all and to make the most of the significant expertise at REA, our majority-owned, notably successful and still growing digital property site in Australia.” “Ryan will begin at Move in the first week of January, when we will also be rolling out a broad-based marketing campaign across The Wall Street Journal Digital Network to drive quality traffic to realtor.com®,” said Mr. Thomson. “He also looks forward to working closely with the National Association of Realtors®, a key and crucial partner of Move, knowing that Realtors® are at the heart of American real estate transactions.” Mr. O’Hara most recently served as a President at the Madison Square Garden Company, leading the MSG Media, technology and marketing partnership divisions. He previously was President and CEO of The Topps Company, a leading entertainment trading card and consumer products business. During his time at Topps, Mr. O’Hara grew market share, formed key partnerships with major sports leagues and player associations, and expanded the business digitally and globally. Before Topps, Mr. O’Hara was with several News Corporation businesses, including Gemstar TV Guide International/TV Guide Company from 2002 to 2010, the last five years as President of the TV Guide network and several digital businesses. He led the TV Guide network’s transformation from […]

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What’s Your Big Idea?

by Victor Lund on December 18, 2014

Our lives become intense at this time of year. As the door closes on 2014, we are consumed with things undone, like holiday shopping. We also consider the goals that we expected to reach, and the number of days to reach them. If you are thinking about your next big idea for 2015, it is a good time to build some lists and to get rid of clutter. It took me a few years, but I finally learned to leverage the Notes feature on my Apple devices. Unlike paper, I have them with me most of the time and can open up my list on my phone, ipad, or laptop. I find myself adding notes in-between things, like meetings, stop lights, elevators, or flights. Some of my notes are to-dos, others are things to ponder, business ideas, things I want to do for my family, or any other note I need. I get up a little earlier this time of year to take a look at that list and see what I can accomplish. This time of year that I also find myself to be more liberal than usual at simply deleting things that I can never build up the energy or courage to do. Without a burning desire, many things are not worth doing. If you spend much time around me, you know that I tend to divide things into two categories I call painkillers or vitamins. If you are keeping your list, you may want to consider doing the same. A painkiller is something that you must have. A vitamin is something that is nice to have. Focus on the painkillers first. It’s only human to do so. Having a long list of vitamins is a symptom of taking on too much, and possibly focusing on the wrong things. It is difficult not to think about sacrifice this time of year. It is a major theme of the holiday season that is curiously juxtaposed against a gluttonous abundance of celebration and gift giving. As you look at your list, try to find things that you can sacrifice. Sacrifice is interesting because you learn how easily it is to go without many of the things you hold sacred. There is a peace that is found in minimalism that few of us ever realize except in small ways. Clean out your inbox. Try as I may throughout the year, it […]

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I have to tell you that every time I think about the MLS Policy Meeting at this year’s NAR Conference in New Orleans, it puts a big smile on my face.  For the first time that I’ve witnessed, four important, but fundamental changes were made to the IDX policy with absolutely UNIVERSAL acceptance.   Brokers, MLS Executives, Associations and Technology Companies also spoke from one voice about the relevance and importance of the changes that were proposed and approved. Check out my blog post from a few weeks ago to see the details about what was approved at that time.  In a nutshell there were four new policies adopted: ·      Adopting the RESO Data Dictionary and offering an API by January, 2016 ·      Allowing co-mingling of data among multiple MLSs on one broker site ·      Requiring data be updated every 12 hours instead of every 3 days as the previous policy stated ·      Requiring each MLS to offer brokers the ability to include solds in their IDX feed as desired; an exemption of this rule were included for non-disclosure states Now that we’ve proven as an industry that we CAN actually work together to get things done, we don’t want to lose the momentum. There are still several more areas of opportunity for brokers, MLSs and technology companies to work together to strengthen a broker’s ability to attract and engage potential customers on their websites. Just to catch you up quickly if you haven’t followed the story, Pam O’Connor, CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World engaged the WAV Group to help work with her organization’s TAC (Technology Advisory Council) to come up with practical suggestions about how to help make IDX feeds work harder for brokers that use them.  Below are the remaining areas of opportunity that were outlined.   I would love your input to help us prioritize the next round of IDX policy enhancements that we should focus on. In the wise words of Henry Ford,  “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”  Let me know what you think. The remaining areas to be addressed as outlined by LeadingRE brokers are outlined below. The policy suggestions center around three overarching tenets to the suggestions we are making:  Consistency, Timeliness and Flexibility.  Below are excerpts from the letter that was sent to the MLS Issues and Policy Committee for consideration: Consistency: While we […]

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Time for WAV Group’s MLS Technology Survey

by THE WAV GROUP on December 18, 2014

WAV Group would like to invite you and your MLS to participate in the fourth annual WAV Group MLS Technology Survey. This is a free, non-sponsored survey we provide for the benefit of the industry.  The more participation we have, the more accurate and valuable the findings will be for everyone. In 2013 we had over 75 MLSs participating with over 15,000 agents completing surveys. With your help, we will surpass that number this year. We are modifying the approach to the survey process. This year we will be fielding the survey in two stages for the purpose of saving the valuable time of your staff and members. The first survey is for you and your staff. The second is for your subscribers. The objective of the annual MLS Technology Survey is to provide high-level comparative satisfaction ratings of the MLS technology used in our industry as well as trending information from year to year, in regards to this technology.  It can also help educate MLS selection committees about MLS systems available today. Combined, the two surveys will provide a more comprehensive measure of the tools delivered by the nation’s leading MLS organizations. There is no cost to participate. Each participating MLS will in turn receive three reports: National Results for all MLSs Your Vendor Specific Results Your MLS Member results in a system generated report The objective of the annual MLS Technology Survey is to provide a high level comparative satisfaction rating of the MLS technology used in our industry and its many components. Your staff is very important to making the results as valuable as possible for all of us and we hope to have your participation To include your MLS in the survey, email jenna@wavgroup.com. Feel free to reach out with any questions about the survey or WAV Group research. By Jenna Woodruff

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As we end 2014 now is a great time to sit back and reflect on the best ways to help prepare your organization for the inevitable evolutions and revolutions we may experience next year. 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. Instead of responding to the waves of change, organizations can be torn apart by the jaws of defeat. MLSs and 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 online 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 […]

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There Will Be No Gifts This Year

by Victor Lund on December 17, 2014

Every year, WAV Group and RE Technology have adopted a family at Christmas. This year is no different. However, we have elected to take on a huge family that really needs a lot of help. This year, we are helping out a mother of four who has been living with an abusive drug addict. There is a boy age 1. There is a boy age 4. There is a boy age 6. There is a girl age 16. We learn very little about the families we help each year. We just know that we have helped someone. Our local CASA is part of a National CASA network of more than 1,050 programs across America. The program we are supporting is Casa of San Luis Obispo County. The organization is almost fully volunteer. Most of the time these mothers escape their circumstances with little more than a backpack. They have nothing. It is sobering to learn that nearly 20% of all foster children in the United States are here in California. In some way, we hope that our efforts will keep this family together.

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Using your brand to build relevance for your MLS organization

by Marilyn Wilson on December 17, 2014

I can’t tell you the number of times I have asked an agent what MLS they belong to and they tell me “Paragon”, or “Rapattoni” or “Matrix”.   They don’t even know the name of the MLS organization they belong to. How can you build value in your brand if your customers literally do not know even know your name? Some of the best organizations like TheMLS/CLAW have taken the time to create a naming convention.   First of all, check out this amazing list of products and services they offer to their members. Pretty impressive. Next I would like to draw your eye to the names of the products they offer. While not every product they offer has been re-branded, a large percentage of them have. So what can consistent branding do for you? First, it reminds your customers of the breadth of services you offer. It’s much easier for them to remember THEMLS Mobile App and THEMLS Document Manager, than it is the individual names like most MLSs offer.   Every time they use a product, they remember that it is coming from their MLS organization. This helps reinforce the value that you deliver to them every time they use one of your products. Second, it helps them understand that their MLS organization offers them a lot more than an MLS system. Many MLSs offer a suite of products that the bulk of their members are not even aware they offer! We just completed a customer satisfaction survey for one of our clients. One, by the way, that has a highly skilled marketing team. Even with a variety of communication tools in place and regular outbound communications 2/3 of their customer were not even aware of many of their products.   Using a consistent name can help them associate every product you offer with your brand. Third, it puts an ownness on the MLS organization ONLY to offer products that the company is WILLING to put their name on. It gives each MLS an additional method to evaluate the relevance and value of a solution before offering it to their members. If an MLS is NOT willing to put their name on it, then they probably should not offer it to their members at all. Finally, on a practical note, it makes it much easier to roll-out and promote new products. Your marketing team builds one look and feel and then every […]

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Are you delivering customer service or lip service?

by Kevin Hawkins on December 17, 2014

[Part 1 of 2] I have a theory: Customer service provided by most technology companies sucks. Ask yourself when was the last time you told someone or posted something on Facebook about a great customer service experience from any technology company with a first letter other than “A” (Apple, Amazon don’t count). Better yet: When have you ever posted a rave review about your customer service experience with a real estate technology company? Or a vertical technology company for any industry? My guess is that’s as rare as rain in the Sahara. Yet how many tech firms tout publically that are “customer centric,” or they have a “customer-first culture,” or some variation on this theme? I don’t think we are getting customer service today from the vast majority of players in this industry; I believe what we are getting is a lot of lip service. Maybe my standard is too high of what I consider to be good customer service. But don’t blame me, blame my father. My dad was in the hotel business for 43 years before he retired: As a manager at the Fontainebleau Hilton on Miami Beach, the W on Michigan Ave in Chicago, and the Whittier Hotel on Lake Michigan in Detroit. He cut his teeth working at several iconic places, including a resort in the Adirondacks in Upstate New York, where he ran errands for Errol Flynn, the hottest movie star of his day. Dad started his career as a bellboy at the old Hollywood Beach Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. It was in the 1930s and “land was going for $1 an acre,” he used to tell me. Before I could ask why he didn’t buy a bunch of land, he immediately followed that statement with “but I was young and dumb and didn’t know any better, or I could have made a fortune!” The one thing my dad did know more about than anyone I ever met was customer service: He lived it 24-7, from the day he put on a hotel uniform, until the day he hung up his tie. He taught me my first customer service lesson when I went to work for him as a messenger at the Fontainebleau when I was 15 years old. He said, “Son, here’s the secret to success in the hotel business: Treat everyone as if the were a King or a Queen, it’s that simple.” […]

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