March 2015

Fox and Roach Internal Marketing Excellence

by Victor Lund on March 30, 2015

Fox and Roach is among the largest real estate brokerages in America. They recently published an internal communications piece that is a great case study for how brokers stay connected to their agents using video, and move the needle on adoption of brokerage services. Watch this short 2 minute video Why I like it. First, its short. To many people try to say too much. Make your video quick, clear, and drive action. Second – its familiar – Fox and Roach does a great job of promoting people across the organization – staff, team leaders, top agents. Message – the video hits a single message – the number 1 reason why past clients do not repeat business with an agent is because the agent did not stay in touch – Solution delivered. Never miss repeat business again. WAV Group did not produce this video, but we do provide video production services through WAV Group Communications. If you need support executing on an internal or external communication strategy using video or public relations – we can help.

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Association MLS Service Provider Controversy

by Marilyn Wilson on March 26, 2015

WAV Group is a leading provider of satisfaction research to a large number of MLSs in the United States and Canada. This type of research is often performed annually by mid-sized MLSs and quarterly by large MLSs. Our satisfaction research is unique in that we support MLSs to benchmark off of their prior performance along with benchmarks against their peer group. WAV Group does not ever share another MLS’s data with any other MLS. But we do extract observations about what strategies are most effective at improving satisfaction in areas where MLSs are weak. As we have voiced on many occasions, the number one way to crush subscriber satisfaction with MLS services is to change MLS systems. Circumstances being what they are, switching MLS systems is a necessary tactic to serve the long term needs of agents and brokers. CoreLogic’s sunset of the MLXchange system has caused an enormous number of conversions. Since change of any type (for better or worse) causes a reduction in customer satisfaction, there is very little that any MLS can do about it. However, we have seen some do better than others. MLSs that have the most successful conversions tend to be those who have full-time training, a full-time help desk, and direct contact with the subscriber. MLSs that have the least successful conversions tend to be those who outsource training, the help desk, and direct contact with the subscriber to Associations of REALTORS®. Before you have a heart attack, please appreciate that I am speaking in broad-brush strokes here. There are plenty of AORs which support system conversions, as well, and even better than some MLSs. This is not a condemnation of all Associations. But the customer satisfaction surveys say that the model of Associations providing MLS service centers is generally less effective than the model of MLS service centers. To understand this trend, WAV Group looks carefully at individual Associations in regional MLSs that have Association service centers. We can rank the performance of service centers by indexing the customer satisfaction survey by Association. Some Associations perform better than others. The number one influencer of performance is tied to dedicated trainers and dedicated customer support staff. This issue of dedicated resources is the root of the service provider controversy. There is rarely a minimum requirement or standard for an Association to be measured against as a service provider for the MLS. The only […]

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WAV Group partner Victor Lund will be attending the Swanepoel T3 Summit in Las Vegas April 8th-10th. He will be giving a presentation entitled, “The Perspective of a Consultant.” Our firm is honored to be invited to this conference, which has quickly evolved into one of the most valuable conferences for CEOs in our industry to discuss big issues and opportunities for real estate. T3 is the flag that represents the three areas that the conference aims to deliver for attendees: Transcend, Transform, Thrive. What to expect Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group, will be sharing his thoughts on the future of our industry and the role that portals can have in supporting the industry and consumers. Zillow Group engages more consumers in real estate than any other entity and they are always willing to share their best practices that have driven their success. Alex Perriello, CEO of Realogy Franchise Group, will share his perspective as the world’s largest real estate franchise organization. His expertise operating differentiated consumer brands and the enterprise organizations that support those brands is beyond comparison. Ryan O’Hara will be introduced as the new CEO of MOVE – operators of Realtor.com. I was able to meet Mr. O’Hara at Inman Connect in New York City in January. I look forward to hearing his perspective now that he has been in office almost 100 days. Organizations take on the personality of their leaders, and I am excited to get a feel for the future of MOVE with him at the helm. Dale Stinton, CEO of NAR, is leading the largest trade organization in America. The success of NAR has always been driven by evolution of the value proposition that REALTORS® receive. Mr. Stinton will be providing the T3 Summit an exclusive overview and background to a huge new study and report they will be releasing in Washington in May. Helen Hanna Casey, President of Hanna Holdings, is one of the fastest growing large independent firms in America today – representing a full service firm with diversified business holdings in residential real estate, commercial real estate, mortgage, title, insurance, and property management. She has always been among the greatest supporters of our industry and sharpest critics. Few executives in our industry have as much experience in operating comprehensive and holistic service companies at the scale of Howard Hanna. Pamela O’Connor, CEO of the Leading Real Estate Companies of […]

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A broker friend of mine downloaded the WAV Group 2004 Broker Transaction Management study recently and gave me a call. Like every real estate broker in America, she has long adapted her business to online forms. Like most brokerages, she also confesses that they have a forms box of printed forms in every office. A few years ago, she made a decision to purchase digital signatures for all of her agents. Today, she is considering transaction management. Again. This is not her first visit to this consideration, but rather an annual trek that is part of her end-to-end customer experience analysis. She agreed to my recording of the call and the publishing of this article as long as I do not identify her. Here is my synopsis of her thinking. Why did you decide to adopt digital forms? It was so long ago that I am not sure I remember. We used to go to the Association of REALTORS office and pick up a forms packet. When we installed internet and email back in the late 80s or early 90s, we started getting the forms electronically. What is the benefit of digital forms today?  Our state forms are probably one of the most important member benefits we get from the REALTOR Association. Having a standard form is the cornerstone of compliance. I also know that printing forms has risks. The primary risk we experience is an agent using the wrong form. Aside from that, there are privacy and security issues to printed forms that are challenging to manage. Why digital signatures? Well, we waited a bit on digital signatures. It was kind of a catch-22. A digital form without a digital signature was pretty useless. Many fundamental usability issues came into play. First, you needed to be connected to the Internet. Second, all parties had to be comfortable with digital signatures, including the banks! The ability of managing forms and signing forms online did not really become easy until everyone had an internet-enabled smartphone and an eFax service. That is where we are today, so many of the barriers to adoption are taken care of. What is the benefit of digital forms today? Only about 1 in 10 of our transactions stay electronic throughout their life cycle. I am guessing at this statistic, but based upon the deal flow that I see, that seems about right. The highest use case […]

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Back to Basics

by Kevin Hawkins on March 26, 2015

The other day I was on the phone with Mark Z. He’s a leader of one of the top producing Keller Williams Realty teams in the country. The Mark Z. Home Selling Team closed over $59 million in sales transactions, just short of 500 deals, last year. He and his team are on target to eclipse 500 deals in 2015. That means they are closing more than 2 sales every business day this year. With that kind of volume, I was certain Mark Z. must be West Coast, East Coast or Texas based. That’s where most of the hottest housing markets are, right? But here’s the thing: Mark Z. isn’t an associate broker on either coast, and is based nowhere near Texas. His market is the Detroit metro area – the most maligned city in the U.S. for goodness sake! I’m especially taken aback because I was born just outside of Detroit and have watched its downfall for decades. For the first year of my life, we lived on Seminole Street off East Jefferson Ave, near the then glamorous Whittier Hotel where my dad and uncle worked. The Whittier was the grand dame of the Motor City. It was where the Beatles spent the night on their Detroit stop during their 1964 U.S. tour. Mark Z. and his team built a business around an area that’s home to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, is notorious for its exceptionally high major crime rates, has record unemployment and there are over 70,000 abandon homes in the city. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that Mark Z. and his team’s numbers are not a fluke. They closed $10 million in sales in 2007; more than doubled that number in 2009 with $22 million; and more than doubled it again in 2012 with over $51 million in closed sales. When you visit his website — www.markzproperties.com– you may immediately think you know why Mark Z. and his team have been so successful. His site is kickass: A simple killer search at the top, a video with real estate guru Barbara Corcoran “endorsing” Mark Z., a well-written and timely Blog, an “About” section that uses infographics to convey his team’s success using stats and graphs, and of course, his “Guaranteed SOLD or I’ll Buy It” offer. Interview Mark Z. and you’ll learn he uses the best technology and has a secret sauce (he’s […]

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The Powerful Magic of Telling Your Story via Video

by Marilyn Wilson on March 26, 2015

Sometimes your children really can teach you meaningful things about how to be more successful in your life. In our case the lesson of the power of telling your story via video came from our daughter Alexandra AKA “Sparkles” Lund. As many of you know “Sparkles” is engaged in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. About four months ago, she set out on a path to build her following among casting directors, agents, choreographers and producers. She deployed three powerful tools. First, she blogs regularly so her voice is being heard. Second, she creates “vlogs” or video stories talking about stretching, interviews with famous choreographers and dance clips from her many dance events. Third, she is working with an amazing video production team that has brought her to talent to the forefront by choreographing “concept videos” that tell the story of the song through dance. Back when we began this adventure in November last year she had just 140 subscribers on her YouTube channel, many of which were our friends in the real estate industry! Today, just four months later, she has nearly 3,000 subscribers, an increase of over 2000% and nearly 350,000 views of her video stories. One of her dance concept videos has nearly 70,000 views and grows every day!  The other good news?   Views on all of her videos increase every time she launches a new one. Why do I tell you all of this? Of course, I’m a proud mom, but more than that I have an insatiable appetite for finding better ways to find marketing tools that break through to customers. Since she has begun this work, we have brought the video idea to our business and to several of our customers. Our video production team has a depth of experience with corporate work like McDonald’s and Walgreens commercials as well as compelling TV like Mythbusters. They bring the innovation that comes from working in the entertainment industry to corporate work. That’s what makes their videos so engaging. One of our MLS Clients, TheMLS located in the Beverly Hills/Malibu area is expanding its footprint by partnering with neighboring MLSs to offer them their proprietary MLS system. They have extremely satisfied customers, which I have written about before. What’s their secret sauce? Customer Service. So what’s the best way to talk about the quality of a company’s customer support: Their customers of course. WAV Group partnered […]

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Broker Public Portal Exceeds Funding Milestone

by Victor Lund on March 20, 2015

Arroyo Grande, CA – March 19, 2015 – A nationwide group of leading real estate brokerage firms and Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) have exceeded their initial benchmark of raising $250,000 towards a National Broker/MLS consumer-facing website in just 10 weeks. The initiative, known as the Broker Public Portal, was first made public in January and includes participants from 32 MLSs and 24 real estate brokerages who each contributed $5000. A webpage for the project is available at www.brokerpublicportal.com. To launch the initiative, this group established a milestone of raising $250,000 to fund the project’s start-up expenses and gauge interest in the project. The effort to raise the funds was launched in January2015 and the goal was met in 10 weeks, on March 10,, 2015. According to Victor Lund of the WAV Group, a consultant for the project, 21 additional brokers and 18 MLSs are processing their agreements, which will add appreciably to the talent pool supporting the organization and to the resources available to it. “The group met their milestone quickly,” Lund said. “And we won’t turn additional contributors away. The wider the industry support is for this initiative, the more likely its success and durability,” he added. Lund explains that MLSs have long provided regional consumer facing property search websites. In December 2014, a group of real estate brokers and MLS  leaders met to discuss the possibility of  building a National consumer-facing website.  “This is an effort that is good for the real estate industry today and will benefit brokers and sales associates for many years to come,” said Robert Moline of HomeServices of America. Cameron Paine of Connecticut MLS added, “We have just over one-third of the real estate industry and many of the largest MLSs and brokerages in the country currently involved in this project.  By the time we have completed our build out of the Broker Public Portal initiative, the benefits to the brokerage community, the MLSs, and the public will be so clear that I believe we will see even broader support from the industry. ” The group gathered support for the project by engaging broker networks, franchise organizations, MLS networks, attending conferences, and providing information to the media. The first meeting of the contributing organizations was held on March 18, 2015 by telephone conference where an interim executive committee was announced. The first in-person meeting of the organizers is scheduled for April 22, 2015. […]

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Looking for an Amazing New Career Opportunity?

by Marilyn Wilson on March 18, 2015

Looking for an amazing way to leverage the network of relationships you have built in the industry?   How about selling one of the most insightful, relevant and effective educational tools in the industry today – RE Technology.com, WAV Group’s sister company? We’re looking for a few amazing sales warriors to help us expand the reach of our platform to even more agents and brokers and in turn, take their sales careers to the next level. Currently the site is available to over 750,000 agents and brokers.   It is one of the most popular tools available in nearly 100 MLSs around North America today.  It contains more relevant articles and product information than anybody else to help agents, brokers and MLSs be the best they can be. This fascinating position allows you to learn about all of the latest technologies designed to help agents and brokers serve their customers better and build lifetime relationships. You can help shape the marketing programs for many of the nation’s leading firms as well as launch some of the most disruptive new technologies we’ve seen. If you’re up for a new exciting sales opportunity and would like to learn more about it, please email me at Marilyn@wavgroup.com and I’ll be happy to tell you all about these exciting opportunities!

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Struggling with your Direct Feeds?

by Jenna Woodruff on March 17, 2015

Direct to portals, syndication platforms, virtual tour companies, online marketing products…the options for brokers to distribute listings seem endless. They all offer varying features, benefits and service levels, making it hard to determine what will give their businesses a competitive edge. Many brokers are at the mercy of agents using services that distribute listings without their knowledge; creating inaccuracies and liabilities, and eroding their brands. MLSs are in the unique position to offer brokers unmatched listing distribution services through strong data licensing agreements. A key benefit that only MLSs can offer is faster listing updates. When listings are not delivered and updated quickly, the risk of error increases along with the liability for inaccuracies, loss of quality leads and negative customer experiences that harm your members’ brands. Today, more tech savvy brokerages are experimenting with direct-to-portal data feeds, while more traditional firms are turning to their MLSs to help them compete. Direct feeds ensure the accuracy of data and are the fastest way to deal with the urgent need to get listings in front of consumers first. Join WAV Group partner Marilyn Wilson as she moderators this RE Techinar™ on what the best path for achieving this is. You’ll hear the perspectives of 4 industry experts with over 70 years of combined experience in a wide variety of roles. Special guests include: Kipp Cooper, CEO of The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors and the North Alabama MLS Dave Garland, Manager for Rainmakers Consulting Group and Principal at Pacific States Capital Alon Chaver, VP of Industry Services, Trulia John Whitney, Director of MLS Business Development, Trulia Moderator: Marilyn Wilson, WAV Group and RE Technology Register now to join the discussion!

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I had the honor of working with the Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS® today. They hosted a Town Hall asking for input on whether or not their brokers would like them to negotiate a Direct Feed from the Zillow Group on their behalf.  Michael Bustamante did a great job of framing the issues that need to be discussed and ultimately decided upon. While the issue is anything, but clear cut, there were interesting questions posed that may be helpful for you to use in your market as you try to think your way through your market’s decision about direct feeds. 1.     Potential Need/Impact – What percentage of your market’s listings are already being syndicated through franchises?  In this market, more than half of the listings were being syndicated through about 7 franchises.  You may want to check and see how many of your franchises already have a direct feed in place. This will help you understand what percentage of your listings are actually affected by a direct feed coming from the MLS. 2.     How many are participating?  If you currently have Listhub in your marketplace, you can get a sense of how many of your listings are currently being syndicated to Zillow and Trulia. 3.     What are the trade-offs?   The Zillow Group is offering priority placement for Listing Agents, prominent MLS attribution and a few other goodies.  Ask your members how important these trade-offs are for them.    Each MLS will likely negotiate their own terms, but you can begin with the program that has been outlined publicly. 4.     How committed are your brokers?  How important is Zillow and Trulia to your broker’s success?  There are a lot of schools of thought are the role and importance of third party sites in broker success.  Poll your brokers and find out where they come out on this topic.  If they believe these sites are an important part of their marketing mix then the next question is whether they want the MLS to negotiate a program on their behalf or if they would prefer to go it alone. 5.     Longer Term implications – While many brokers believe that Zillow and Trulia help them secure listings, some are worried about the long-term impact of such a fundamental partnership.  Ask them what their longer-term concerns are. What happens when third party sites have data that is high quality as broker sites?  What could happen to […]

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Forward Looking Technology

by Victor Lund on March 12, 2015

2015 and 2016 will be years of incredible change in real estate technology. For too long, the real estate industry evolved in an eggshell whereby data, applications, and presentation layers were composite to one another behind most fragile and isolated shell walls. Today, we see systems that separate these three components of the technology to maximize the usefulness of this information to the industry and the consumers it serves. We Got You “We got you” is a statement that can have two meanings when a technology provider speaks it. It can take on the meaning of “we screwed you” or it can take on the meaning of “we have your back.” As the needs of MLSs or real estate brokers or agents evolve, it is important that the vendors of services are evolving with or ahead of their clients. If your vendor is not evolving at the pace of the industry, you are screwed. If the vendor is staying ahead of you, they have your back. WAV Group is seeing the division of “We Got You” play out across our client group is pretty significant ways. We saw quite a bit of it between 2010 and 2014 as the industry struggled to adapt to the mobile revolution. Many technology providers ducked their chins and excused themselves with contract babble or “we are working on that.” Others were out ahead of their customers with ready-to-go applications that met or exceeded the need for mobile well before the adoption curve grew exponentially. New Rules One of the biggest challenges that face our industry today is the interoperability of applications used in real estate. Each application or product lives in its own silo with a disparate database. Few solutions “talk” to each other, creating dysfunctional workflows that causes users to jump from application to application. Single Sign On has taken care of the biggest barrier – logging in and out of a half dozen or more tools that the user needs every day. But true integration is only beginning to reveal itself. The new rules that are emerging are related to data standards and application programming interfaces (API). These new rules are poised to break down the barriers between applications and allow them to talk to one another. Any information that a user would expect to be carried across different applications will begin to happen. To clarify my point, please enjoy the simple […]

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Direct Feeds to Zillow Group

by Victor Lund on March 7, 2015

MLS RETS servers are designed to deliver IDX, VOW, and Full Data feeds to brokers and their vendors. With few exceptions, they were not purpose built for sending listing syndication feeds to publishers. Syndication feeds are the domain of Listhub. With Listhub’s support of Zillow Group’s websites going away, you must act now to determine what your plans are. MLS RETS Servers are emerging with new features that blend in Syndication support for Direct Feeds to Publishers like the Zillow Group. The defining difference between Listhub and direct feeds may be complex or simple. The complex path is considered by most legal strategists to be the best practice. Complex Give brokers a dashboard that puts them in control of their data being transmitted to the Zillow Group. To imagine such a dashboard, log into Listhub. It was purpose built for this. As I write this, my understanding is that only Bridge Interactive, Corelogic, RE DataVault, FlexMLS and Listhub have such a dashboard for your RETS server. RE Data Vault and Bridge are complete. Corelogic is being rolled out. Be mindful that this Zillow Group issue is new, and has sent everyone scrambling except for FlexMLS, Bridge Interactive, and RE DataVault who have been providing this solution for years. To be clear, systems like FlexMLS, RE DataVault, Corelogic, and Bridge Interactive have a different set of features. MLSs can configure the RETS server with fields specific to that publisher. The broker can turn it on or off. Only the data authorized will be sent. There are lots of reporting tools for servicing both the broker and the publisher when things go wrong. Simple The simple solution is to provide Zillow Group with a RETS feed with all data. Broker opt-in may be handled by solutions like Clareity CDC. You may also make a modification to your listing input page in your MLS system for Syndication Yes or No. I consider this a simple solution because it allows a flag to be distributed with the RETS data indicating the preference of the agent. At least for now, the MLS would be sending all of the data, but telling the Zillow Group not to use some of it. This may not be the best strategy because you are sending data to a third party and telling them not to use it. Clareity supports broker choice, but the MLS system probably puts the decision […]

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