February 2015

Do you love what you do?

by Kevin Hawkins on February 25, 2015

It’s been a whirlwind past few weeks with Inman Connect and Leading RE and everything in between. And then came Valentine’s Day and I found myself writing and thinking about love: A news release on the love of our homes, a new Valentine’s video from 12-year old Sparkles Lund that captured her love of dancing, and I sat down and wrote a love letter to my wife of 22 years. So ask this question: Why do you love what you do? I asked this of a friend of mine when we both were hitting 40. He said he didn’t. I told him, “Look, at our age, if you are not doing what you love, you only have one person to blame, and you’ll find him in a mirror.” It must have struck a chord, because he left his newspaper job at the top of his game and jumped to a young Internet news organization. He has loved what he does now for well more than a decade. I love what I do. I fell in love with Public Relations and Communications very early on. I loved to write. Wrote weekly high school stories for the local teen section of our hometown newspaper, was the Entertainment Editor at the twice-weekly broadsheet Miami Hurricane student newspaper at the University of Miami. Even wrote the cover story for the first issue of the now defunct Rock Magazine while in grad school. And it was in grad school at USC, paying my own way, I did what most financially struggling students did: I got a job to help pay the rent while trying to get a bit of real world experience in my chosen field. I was attending the School of Journalism, working towards my Masters in Public Relations, when I joined a two-women PR firm part-time in Los Angeles. I did all the grunt work in helping to promote the 25th Annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire in the Agoura Hills in Southern California. It was my first introduction into Entertainment Pubic Relations, and it was like drinking from a fire hose. It’s also where I first cut my teeth in media relations: Getting to know reporters, their beats, their interests, how to help them craft a killer story idea and where I learned to the most important lesson of all: How to take the time to get to know reporters as people. I spent […]

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As you probably know by now, the rules governing IDX were revised at the NAR Meetings in November last year.  Click here to view the details of the approved changes. One of the big changes requires that every MLS provide a Web API by June 30th, 2016 to make it much easier for brokers to allow third party companies to leverage MLS data for tools used by brokers. For the non-techies among us, let me answer the first question….What the heck is an API and why should I care? According to NAR…. API, short for Application Program Interface, describes a data transfer method that eliminates the need to copy listings between servers. The MLS becomes the original and only source of MLS property data. API technology creates efficiencies in the collection and use of MLS data by participants, vendors and MLSs. Here’s what it means in laymen’s terms.  An API will make it much easier for a broker or an MLS to allow a third party technology company to access MLS information much more easily than can be done today. Today, if someone wants information they have to get ALL of the data pushed to them. Then they have to ingest it, make sure it displays properly and then match it to all of the data fields in their own system. The API, combined with the implementation of the RESO Data Dictionary will standardize the way MLS data is collected and displayed with ALL MLSs across the United States.  It will make it easier for technology companies to pull only the data they need making for a more efficient and more accurate information that can be used by brokers for a variety of purposes in their business. It’s going to make it much easier for tech companies to provide innovative solutions to brokers and MLSs. It’s a really good thing for the industry. There was one big problem though. There were very few, if any companies that provided an API to accomplish the task required by the new IDX rules.   Until now….. Today, Onboard Informatics has created a relationship with CoreLogic to provide a comprehensive RESO standards-compliant data management and distribution solution to multiple listing services (MLSs), real estate brokers and vendors.  Any MLS in the country will be able to use this solution to provide RESO Data Dictionary-compliant data via RETS and the new RESO Web API without any […]

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Social Media or mass media?

by Kevin Hawkins on February 25, 2015

Social media campaigns seems to be getting the bulk of attention in marketing and communication budgets these days, but I would argue that mass media still packs a far more potent punch when you are trying to build a brand or generate top of mind awareness among a mass audience. Skeptical? Let’s look at some numbers. Super bowl advertisers paid as much as $4.5 million for a 30 second spot this year – a new record – to reach 114 million viewers. That’s just over 4 cents a viewer. In 1993, advertisers paid $850,000 to reach 90 million viewers, just under a penny per viewer. That means advertisers are spending more than four times as much to reach the same number of people today as they did in 1990. Even adjusting for inflation, advertisers are spending three times as much: $850,000 adjusted for inflation is just over $1.5 million. Why? Because today there are very few opportunities to reach more than 100 million people with a single 30-second message. First cable television, followed by the Internet, brought in a wave of fundamental change in how we use media. We have gone from an age of mass media to the age of media choice, being able to consume precisely what we want, when we want to see, hear, or read it. My thesis in grad school was about how the impact of cable television was going to fundamentally change how we consume media, as channels would continue to fragment a mass audience, delivering narrow topics to appeal to specific market segments. Later, the Internet and social media would accelerate that trend in a profound way. The result: Broadcast television has watched its total audience shrink, despite a growing U.S. population: 11 million fewer viewers watch broadcast television in the last decade. Recently, the head of Netflix predicted broadcast television would die by 2030.  And I see a lot of my colleagues reacting by focusing away from mass media and more toward social media. I think you have to remain focused on both today, and for a very long time still to come. Because a funny thing happened on the way to mass media: It’s still the only game in town to reach the biggest audiences. Advertisers know that, and that’s why they still spend big dollars on mass media: Where else can you reach an audience the size of the Super […]

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Audit Third Party Portals Today

by Victor Lund on February 25, 2015

Brokerages publish listings to third party portals as a method of advertising homes for sale. As we mentioned in our paper, the Syndication Rats Nest (Download Report), every portal displays listings differently. Moreover, portals apply different rules on the same listing if it comes from a different data source. Confused? You are not alone. Portals are constantly battling on multiple fronts. They are innovating constantly to return better value to consumers and advertisers. On any given day they segment their consumer traffic to test innovation strategies. Sometimes your listings are folded into the mix in ways that you did not intend. If you are not monitoring your listings, your inactions may undermine the effectiveness of your online advertising. Don’t Syndicate Without and Agreement Publishers may only display your listings in line with the license agreement you have in place with them. If you are a franchise broker, the data sent from the franchise to the publisher is governed by the agreement between the franchise and the portal (i.e. Coldwell Banker and Zillow).  Your MLS may have an agreement with Listhub who has agreements with their publishers.  Some MLSs send data directly to publishers under a direct agreement. Some MLSs may syndicate one way in your local MLS area but data share with another MLS that syndicates the same data without your consent. Publishers have no alternative but to install a trumping order that may oppose or violate the agreement you have in place. It’s tricky and confusing. Single Source Syndication The best practice for brokers is to only syndicate your listings to a publisher from one source with one agreement. This fixes the problem with trumping. Don’t blame publishers if you send the same listing from multiple sources and they choose to display a listing from the wrong feed. How would they know which listing feed source to display from? Audit Your Listings Each firm will need to figure out what the best frequency is for auditing listings. Large firms hire WAV Group or dedicate staff to monthly audits (1000+ listings). Midsized firms (250 to 1000 listings) audit quarterly. Small firms with fewer listings may choose bi-annual or annual. Be Responsible As the seller’s representative, your firm is 100% responsible for all advertising. Controlling how advertising content is used has become more and more difficult in the digital age. With good policies and agreements in place, your firm has the […]

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Association and MLS leaders have it tough today.  The best leaders are staying on top of the latest trends, considering how emerging ideas affect their subscribers and proactively making changes to keep their organizations relevant.  Sounds like the kind of leader we all want to be right? So if this is what all leaders strive for, why is it so hard to create sustainable change? I have recently run across a few examples where the Board of Directors believed they knew the path that was best for their constituents yet they were not able to implement the path that made the most sense. For example, an organization was trying to implement lockboxes. Their market has resisted the adoption of these tools even though the evidence clearly shows that the safety and security of properties represented and the REALTORS® who show them are improved when lockboxes are in place.  The Board clearly understood the positive impact lockboxes have had in other markets. They believed it was truly the right thing to do for their region, yet the program was not put into place. Why was that? Because the vote whether to implement lockboxes was brought to the entire membership.  While there is a solid thinking why you would involve your membership in a decision of this sort, the general populous was used to the tradition of the marketplace.  The REALTORS® in that marketplace had not reviewed the evidence from other markets where the program has worked flawlessly for many, many years like the board had.  The members rallied to say they couldn’t afford the cost instead of thinking about the safety implications and risk they may be putting themselves and their clients in. Bottomline, they didn’t have the whole story. While a full membership vote can be helpful sometimes, I would argue that there are times when leaders simply have to lead and make decisions that might not be completely embraced.  They need to look at the greater good and make the tough calls.  At the same time, they need to stand proudly in front of their decisions, using their amazing sales skills honed by selling properties, to convince their fellow agents and brokers why their decision makes sense. Recently, I heard of another example where a decision to move forward with an MLS selection was put to the popular vote. Again, while it’s great to get membership input, the bulk […]

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Down Payment Resource™ Job Opportunity

by THE WAV GROUP on February 24, 2015

JOB OPPORTUNITIES Account Manager   Down Payment Resource™ is seeking an Account Manager responsible for establishing and growing collaborative relationships with our customers and partners. With the goal of maximizing the growth and value of our existing client base, objectives for this position include strategic customer lifecycle management, customer adoption of Down Payment Resource products and services and customer satisfaction. Job requirements: Ability to work remotely Ability to travel frequently Thorough understanding of the real estate industry Knowledge of the home buying process, mortgage finance and homeownership programs 10 years of experience in real estate and account management Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher and Gmail & Google Docs/ Google Drive Prior experience working in a CRM program is desired Strong interpersonal and relationship building skills Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Business, Marketing or other related field Strong verbal and written communication skills Negotiation and selling skills and experience is a plus Objectives: Support and maintain regular contact with customers’ leadership and functional teams to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction. Includes quarterly meetings to ensure growth objectives are met, product adoption momentum is maintained and customer retention is secured Manage the onboarding of new customers, establish trusted relationships with appropriate leadership and develop aggressive goals for customer adoption of Down Payment Resource products and services Collaborate with customers to monitor product adoption opportunities and grow usage of Down Payment Resource products through all available channels Track customer communications, events, opportunities, partnerships and data for ongoing visibility into progress Represent Down Payment Resource and our products at industry events as well as local customer trade shows, meetings and events Promptly respond to and anticipate customer needs Collaborate with Down Payment Resource teams to contribute insight and expertise toward improved marketing content, customer support efforts, training opportunities and statistical analyses Retain existing customers and support identification and acquisition of new business opportunities Timely response to new customer leads Conduct web-based meetings with customers The role is under the direction of the CEO and will work closely with Down Payment Resource leadership with the support of all specialized teams. Compensation will be determined based on knowledge and experience. Please submit resumes to recruiting@DownPaymentResource.com. About Down Payment Resource™ (DPR) was developed by Atlanta-based Workforce Resource®, a web-based software company with a mission to connect people with hard-to-find financial resources. Found in 2008, the company launched DPR to help potential homebuyers become qualified […]

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RETS Servers and Direct Feeds

by Victor Lund on February 20, 2015

The National Association of REALTORS MLS Issues and Policy Committee made a bold move to require RESO data dictionary complainant by Jan 1, 2016, and RESO RESTful web API by June 30, 2016. Further complicating the matters is the groundswell of considerations with third party portals making requests for MLS direct feeds. Data sharing between MLS systems, RETS Update, and system conversions taking place across the industry today deepen the data transport considerations. Wrapping it all together with a lit match could easily lead to mass hysteria. WAV Group took a look at what the largest MLSs in the nation are doing and we came upon a similarity that is worth noting. Large MLSs do not always represent best practices, but more often than not they do. Along with size comes complexity and a wider group of data management needs. Flexible Data Feed Configurations By Vendor One of the most significant problems facing MLSs when it comes to data management is managing variations of data feeds. A straight IDX feed can be configured in a pretty standard way. But feeds to other MLS systems, VOW Feeds, Broker Feeds, feeds to publishers with broker opt in or agent-opt in, or special other feeds become untenable. Most MLSs just bail out on variations and simply send all of the data with an agreement that says: “only use what is permitted.” This is a disaster waiting to happen and the worst business practice with data management. A friend gave me the analogy that sending all of the data but telling someone they can only use a portion of it is like depositing all of your money into someone else’s bank account and telling them they cannot use it. Moreover, sending all of the data when only a portion is necessary requires additional data feed bandwidth even if the vendor is throwing away the parts they don’t need. Most MLSs already use 3TB to 4 TB of data per month. Big markets use 10TB to 12TB per month. To solve this problem many of the large MLSs like the Houston Association of REALTORS provision a feed according to the exact data license agreement and only send the licensed data. They can even get fancy and turn watermarking on or off by data feed or any number of other interesting and flexible configurations. Becoming MLS Vendor Agnostic There are two styles of storing and managing […]

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National Broker Portal Launches Website

by Victor Lund on February 9, 2015

The national broker portal project continues to gain momentum as brokers and MLSs agree to participate in the formation of the company to explore the launch of a national MLS consumer facing website with broker governance. Although only a month into the funding period, the group is well on its way to raising the $250,000. After the holiday, the Council of MLSs hosted two online webinars on the topic. The Realty Alliance and The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World also hosted two webinars. This activity was followed by the delivery of information at the CEO Summit as part of the Real Estate Connect conference. Leading franchise organizations including Home Services of America, Realogy Franchise Group, RE/MAX and Keller Williams have also had executive briefings on the project. SAVE THE DATES The initial fund raising process is expected to be finished by March 18th, 2015 – the first scheduled phone meeting of the initial supporters. The first meeting of the initial supporters is scheduled for April 22ed. The April 22ed meeting will establish a leadership group to shepherd the project through the formation process where the governance of the corporation will be filed. A parallel initiative will seek the construction of a Request for Proposal that can be used as a scope document for the initial minimum viable “go to market” product. It is important that all interested parties visit the new website at http://brokerpublicportal.com for more information. The website is nothing fancy – just a simple grouping of pages that will allow the industry to get access to the information about the portal and to access documents to participate. There is also a news page that may be subscribed to by interested parties who want to track the progress of the project. WAV Group is acting as the interim consulting and communications firm for the project. For more information, contact Victor Lund 805-709-6696 or victor@wavgroup.com  

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We lost a One of a Kind Gem this Week

by Marilyn Wilson on February 9, 2015

My heart sank this morning when I heard the news that we had lost Bob Hewes.  Bob was one of my absolute favorites in the industry – could be because he kind of reminded me of my dad who I miss desperately too. Bob had that rare dry sense of humor – you always had to pay attention or you would miss his subtle nuances and quips.  He was a born negotiator. He wasn’t happy unless he was getting a big deal for his beloved Association. the Naples Area Board of REALTORS®.   He got the best of me pretty much ANY time we talked – but I didn’t mind – in fact I liked it because every conversation with him was fun, silly yet targeted and focused.  What a gift, huh? You knew deep down inside he had a heart of gold and genuinely loved his interactions with me and the rest of the us in the industry. When I heard that he was 73 when he passed I was shocked. While that might have been his chronological age, it certainly wasn’t his psychological age. He was always talking about the latest technology breakthrough and was constantly on the hunt to find the next great thing that would help the REALTORS® of Naples.  He was one of the youngest and most progressive people I knew in the industry. He was also a unique kind of volunteer. While he was not officially employed by the Association he certainly acted like he was. He acted on behalf of NABOR many times, even when Charlie, Irena or Mike were not around.  If you didn’t know better you would think he was a full time staffer. What can I say. I’m heartbroken.  He was a great guy – a rare gem that genuinely cared about the greater good.  I will really miss him.  He has left a some big shoes to fill in Naples and in our industry. Here’s the full obituary. You’ll see he was a great contributor and left a great legacy. We’re going to miss you Bob! You were one in a million!

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