June 2015

Trulia in the Zillow Era

by Victor Lund on June 25, 2015

As an analyst for many brokerages, franchises, and MLSs, WAV Group looks carefully at reports from publishers to understand dynamics that can be leveraged to enhance performance. Sometimes, we encourage firms to keep their strategy the same. At other times we encourage trying something new or redeploying investment. I like Trulia’s reporting. It is something that other publishers (including their parent company) could benefit from. Below I will provide a discussion about each. Leads – in their purest form, leads count. Even bad leads. If you are a broker and you are not producing leads for your agents, you may have another problem. Good leads are better. Have the office managers look at the leads every week. Lets face it. There are not that many to call it a huge job. Look at the ratio of leads to listings. Is that number going up or down. Generally speaking, most brokers see the most volume of leads per listing from Trulia and the highest quality of leads from MLS consumer sites or Realtor.com Visits – The whole idea of having a link to the broker website is to drive consumer traffic to your broker website. Hopefully your website will delight them and the consumer learns that they can get great service on top of great listing content there. Look at your lead conversion ratio by publisher. How many leads do you convert from traffic that comes from Trulia or other publishers? What is your bounce rate? If you do not know how to track this stuff, WAV Group can help. Listings – The key number here is accuracy. Are all of your listings on the site? Most brokers find that the number is off. Do an audit! Look at the data sheet to see which ones are missing or should be removed. Look at the listing price to make sure it is accurate. There are always problems with this because of overlapping data feed disorder and trumping rules. It is spaghetti that solid broker data management policy can repair. Views – We tend not to look at views very carefully, mostly because we do not know if the views are machines scraping data from Trulia or real consumers. It is more interesting to see analytics on property detail page views and I would love to see more granular information like time on page, photos viewed, and exits. Reading The Changes These […]

{ 0 comments }

5 Ways Towards a More Perfect Panel

by Kevin Hawkins on June 25, 2015

The old cliché “You get one chance to make a first impression” still resonates with me, particularly when I attend a real estate conference and listen to panels and presentations Each speaker, moderator and panelist has the opportunity to make a powerful impression with the audience, but to do that right; most people can’t just wing it. Nearly everyone who speaks at a conference needs to take NFL Quarterback Russell Wilson’s advice: “The separation is in the preparation.”  You need to prepare, and not on the plane on the way to the conference. The hubris of so many executives thinking they can pull it off by preparing at the last minute and winging it is incredible because so few can ever pull that off. Recently, I witness a textbook example of how to prepare and present a panel the right way at the recent Real Estate Standards Organization or RESO Spring Conference in Chicago. Marilyn Wilson, founding partner of the WAV Group, organized for the first time a broker panel, How and Why Standards Help Brokers, to showcase that this conference was for more than just MLS geeks. It was a bold move by RESO to showcase this group, but RESO understands how vital brokers are to the success of industry standards adoptions, like the RESO Data Dictionary. The most important thing Marilyn did was to assemble an All-Star cast: Dan Troup of RE/MAX; Michael Garner of Keller Williams; David Grumpper of Michael Saunders; Alex Paine of Pacific Union and Tei Baishiki of NextHome. Now some people would have just let this panel take care of itself, considering the players involved. But if you’ve been doing this long enough, you realize there is a tremendous value in not winging it. So here is Marilyn Wilson’s formula to prepare and present a panel: Corral them all on a conference call BEFORE the event begins. This accomplishes several objectives: Panelist get to know one another, you can review format, discuss topics, run through potential controversial questions and issues, gauge everyone’s style and identify and resolve issues that might present obstacles. The goal is not to rehearse: That could have negative consequences, but to decide what to talk about to make sure there is a takeaway for the audience. Do your homework. It sounds trite, but this advice is vital. The conference call helps make everyone realize the responsibility they have to the […]

{ 0 comments }

NAR announced its Core Standard program for local Associations just over a year ago.   In essence it is designed to help every association ensure that they are delivering a minimum standard of code of ethics enforcement communication, advocacy, consumer outreach and fundraising to its members. The program is a good start.   At last count it had led to at least 90 mergers, likely with smaller associations who simply did not have the resources to meet the minimum standard. The number will probably be higher than that after the deadline of June 30th has been reached.   I applaud the effort to raise the bar for Associations. The viability of the real estate industry is threatened in markets where REALTORS® are not getting the support they need from their board. While I appreciate this effort I think it’s time to encourage and reward those associations that have gone WAY beyond the core standards. This group of boards can lead the way to a new generation of real estate association. They can test and prove out new methods to improve the relevance and value of real estate associations in the future. They can make bold moves to meet the needs of tomorrow’s REALTOR® and home buyer/seller.   Much like the game changer program of a few years ago, this new Gold Standard can be achieved by only breaking the mold, trying new things and demonstrating a dogged commitment to anticipating and meeting the needs of all Association constituents. So what would an industry-leading Association do differently? Here are the tenets I would suggest to get this discussion going: Consumers Become the Center of our Thinking First, the association will drive the focus on anticipating and exceeding the needs of real estate consumers. Without buyers and sellers, NONE of us have a job and yet we focus most of our attention on the needs of agents. Of course agents are important, but if we don’t drive our industry to higher levels of customer service we are going to be extinct. The best Associations will regularly engage with consumers, forming consumer research panels and asking consumers the tough questions that will make the local real estate industry stronger. Putting Teeth in the REALTOR® Brand Since a Gold Standard Association regularly engages with consumers, they will use the feedback from consumers to drive change in real estate training, services and technology. They will raise the bar on […]

{ 3 comments }

An Industry At Risk

by Victor Lund on June 25, 2015

I am an optimist, so I live under the warm blanket of confidence that everything is going to be all right. But during the past month of traveling to every corner of our nation, I have encountered the twisty, curvy road to progress. I found greatness, and I found stagnation. I found agile innovators alongside good ol’ keep-it-is-ers. It’s hard to characterize our industry. We use most of the same words to describe our flocks of agents, brokers, Associations of REALTORS®, and MLSs. At times, is it is unfair to call some by their name. Are you an agent if you don’t sell real estate? Are you a broker if you do not have any agents or do any transactions? Are you an Association of REALTORS® if your chapter does not have enough dues to employ at least one full time staff member? Are you an MLS if your only duty is to collect fees? The one thing that we do have as an industry is freedom of choice. Agents have the choice to become REALTORS® or not. Brokers can maintain their license with little effort and use it as a shell corporation for data access. We have Association of Choice. There is also MLS of choice as long as you do not expect to take a copy of the data with you when you move. If you do not like something about your flock, you can move on quite easily. Indeed, if you are breathing you are likely being recruited. What could possibly disrupt all of this? Is the disruption likely to be constructive or destructive? What will divide us on our path as we face the intersection of doing nothing or doing something? We have among us some passionate leaders who are igniting constructive disruption from within the rank and file. They are organizations doing something like the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) who has set a goal to have every MLS RETS certified by the end of the year. There is Project Upstream that seeks to create a unified process for brokers to originate, copyright, and distribute their data to maintain their rightful ownership and prohibit misuse. There is the Broker Public Portal that sets out to deliver on a national consumer facing website fed by MLS data – adhering to the fair display guidelines – and giving brokers a new alternative to property display their listings […]

{ 2 comments }

Austin Board of REALTORS® Seeks New MLS Director

by Jenna Woodruff on June 23, 2015

The Austin Board of REALTORS® is seeking an MLS Director to lead its 11,000 member Multiple Listing Service, ACTRIS. The company is looking for a progressive Leader and Manager adept at creating positive change for MLS systems and services to help increase the value and relevance of their MLS operation. The ideal candidate is someone who thinks creatively about ways to make the MLS more relevant and profitable. The Director of MLS will have a proven ability to drive an organization to be more customer-centric while finding creative and affordable ways to take the MLS to the next level; positioning the organization for the future. Position Summary:  Successfully direct the operation and delivery of all Multiple Listing Services to meet and exceed the expectations of members of the Austin Board of REALTORS® and ACTRIS by performing the following duties and responsibilities: Plan and direct all policies for addressing customer satisfaction for all services and products delivered Work closely with other internal and external groups on resolving product escalations. Work closely with marketing and the field on service offerings. Builds the organization and processes capable of delivering services including procurement, product testing, evaluation, contract negotiation, product selection and implementation. Plans and directs development of policies and procedures. Plans and directs the strategy to comply with regulatory requirements and relevant industry trends. Ensures contract compliance. Establishes goals for all functions and implements strategies to meet the goals. Relies on and applies extensive experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. Leads, coaches and directs the work of others. Responsible for budgetary management and continually looking for cost-effective methods to improve the quality of the services provided at an affordable price.  Other duties as assigned Experience with regional MLS’s is helpful as we are looking to enhance partnerships with surrounding Associations and MLSs. To learn more about this position and view a complete description, please contact: Jenna Woodruff email: Jenna@wavgroup.com phone: 805.720.3567

{ 0 comments }

Change and Balance

by Victor Lund on June 16, 2015

WAV Group holds a quarterly webinar called the WAVes of Change. It allows companies and senior executives to get a one-hour overview of change that is happening in our industry. We wear a lot of hats in our capacity as industry researchers, investors, capital markets advisors, consultants, RE Technology publishers, and though our newest endeavor – WAV Group Communications. WAVes of Change webinars aim to pack all of this into a big ball and throw it your way so you can hit it out of the park in your business. Another way to look at change is innovation. Some call it rethinking. It is a process whereby you try to summarize external and internal forces that impact your mission and adapt in a way that improves your success. WAVes of Change helps with finding the right innovation by providing an overview of both external and internal trends. Externally, WAV Group research looks at consumer expectations and agent expectations to measure attitudes about our industry (consumer and agent satisfaction research). We look at how companies in different segments in the marketplace are changing to become more competitive (like publishers and franchises). We remark about the need for new technology (like agent safety) that may now find light. We watch the regulatory process (Dodd Frank) and stay close to the pulse of industry structural changes (RESO, Upstream, AMP, Partner InfoNet, Data Sharing, business consolidation). Internally we reflect on trends in business decision-making (like syndication and data management). We talk about problems in operations (lead responsiveness, business intelligence). We endeavor to understand why companies are growing or declining; the impact of leadership changes, and changes to alliances between organizations. My dad was a boat builder. He put everything he could into manufacturing the best possible product on the market. But he taught me more about business psychology than anything else. Honestly, I do not know anything about building a boat but have dedicated my life to business building. From him, I learned that people run businesses on emotion and justify their decisions with logic. His teaching was to ask more questions about WHY something is happening than following WHAT is happening. WAVes of Changes was created by Marilyn Wilson to look at the WHAT in an effort to understand the WHY. I don’t like change very much. It disturbs the balance of a company internally and externally. But I love innovation. Innovation is […]

{ 1 comment }

Historically, the words, “location, location, location,” have guided the real estate industry; but today, a strong argument can be made to suggest that, “portal, portal, portal” has replaced location as a symbol of mysterious change and almost certain disruption. Forecasters and trend watchers such as Stephan Swanepoel, Jeremy Conaway, and Steve Murray have, for several years, warned us we were witnessing the final unraveling of our increasingly dysfunctional status quo. Our collective tone-deafness to broker concerns, including their desire to own profitable businesses and control their listings, the endless wave of new third party portal competitors and the ever present innovative teen in his parent’s basement all have contributed to this new reality. Over and above these factors is our increasing connection with Wall Street and the life of American big business with its constant pressures, change and high competition. This is our new world. One of the most impressive “shots across the bow” in this transition came from our own National Association of REALTORS® in May of this year. In a series of stunning moves starting with the 2014 Core Standards strategy, NAR broke the mold on 100 years of cozy rela- tions with REALTOR® associations and multiple listing services and moved organized real estate directly onto a path that will promote everyone’s best business interests. Following the stellar leadership of CEO Dale Stinton the NAR Board approved $12M in funding over the next three years to undertake two exciting initiatives, Project Upstream and AMP. Project Upstream is a direct and positive response to the broker community; it creates: A private database of real estate-related information designed to give RE practitioners control over their data A data entry and collection platform between real estate firms and recipients of their data – will change flow of data, making Upstream the starting point Upstream takes away the MLSs’ need to syndicate and broker’s ability to protest. Upstream means MLSs will continue to provide the cooperation and compensation rules, while brokers are free to experiment with their consumer-direct advertising Upstream will complement and leverage the Realtors Property Resource® (RPR) project in the works called Advanced Multilist Platform (AMP) As we watch the emergence of these two critical projects over the next year look for rules and roles to change. They must and they will. On other fronts, watch another project called the Broker Public Portal project. This project is designed to provide […]

{ 1 comment }

Putting Marketing on Autopilot

by Kevin Hawkins on June 10, 2015

Today, not a single agent among the nearly 3,000 that staff 170 RE/MAX of New Jersey offices is marketing a single listing. That’s because their marketing is on ‘Autopilot.” That’s the name of RE/MAX of NJ’s new marketing automation solution. Not one of their agents has to lift a finger to market a listing: It is being done for them, automatically, for every single listing. Autopilot creates, publishes and distributes both digital and print marketing material, including a printed “Just Listed” flyer and postcard, a digital ePostcard, a Single Property Website for the listing, a Virtual Tour and posts a YouTube Video slideshow of the listing photos. Using responsive web design, everything is mobile friendly, meaning it all looks great on every device. RE/MAX of NJ is literally creating a marketing campaign for each listing. Perhaps best of all, it’s all being created from listing data, which means it uses the information the agent has already entered. Let’s do the math. Say it takes just two hours for the average agent to create, publish and distribute all of these materials. It probably takes a lot more than that, but let’s be conservative. After 5,000 listings, that’s 10,000 hours. That’s 1,250 workdays (8 hours) or more than three years of productivity savings. So the question is why isn’t everyone jumping on the marketing automation bandwagon? I believe the answer is, they will be. With these kinds of numbers in terms of productivity add, the ROI is ridiculously sweet. But there are other reasons automation will be a mainstay in real estate marketing. After productivity boost comes the benefit of brand consistency. This is where real estate marketing is unique: Agents often create the vast majority of their own marketing materials. Attempting to maintain brand consistency and quality control in marketing materials created by more than a million licensed agents is harder than herding cats. Franchises and major regional brands know this. Marketing automation solves this problem. Next comes guaranteed frequency. Broker owners love this about marketing automation. They know that all of the key materials needed to promote a property are not only being created and published, but they are being distributed. That’s huge because the idea that every agent creates all of the marketing pieces for each property is a fairy tale, because life happens. Autopilot has one more feature that is key to marketing automation: Automatic updates. Business rules […]

{ 0 comments }

Broker Public Portal Elects Executive Committee

by THE WAV GROUP on June 4, 2015

The Broker Public Portal announces that the Board of Managers has selected the first Executive Committee. Chairman: Merle Whitehead, CEO Realty USA Vice Chairman: John Mosey, CEO NorthstarMLS Secretary: Craig McClelland, Director Metro Brokers Treasurer: Paul Wells, CEO RE/MAX Barrington At Large: Cameron Paine, CEO Connecticut MLS At Large: Chris Heller, CEO Keller Williams Realty “It’s an honor to contribute to this vital initiative,” says Chairman Whitehead. “The resolve to introduce a new type of property search portal for consumers has never been stronger. Now that we have our new Board of Managers and Executive Committee in place, the talented team can advance the portal project.” John Mosey, Vice Chairman, said, “I am proud to be able to contribute to this initiative. It is a great example of how MLS’s and the broker community can work together to bring some balance back to the industry such that brokers have a new choice in how and where to display their listings. Moreover, consumers will now have a direct pipeline to the same kind of quality property information that their agents experience every day when they sign on to their MLS.” Nominations for the Executive Committee were drawn from the roster of the Board of Managers and duly elected by members of the board. The Board of Managers is as follows: Large Firms – 5 Joan Docktor – Fox and Roach Hoby Hanna – Howard Hanna Real Estate Chris Heller – Keller Williams Robert Moline – HomeServices of America Merle Whitehead – Realty USA Midsized Firms – 3 Richard Haase – Latter and Blum Craig McCelland – BHGRE Metro Brokers Dreyton Saunders – Michael Saunders Small Firms – 3 Christina Ishabishi Bonner – Pacific Union Mitch Ribeck – Tropical Realty Paul Wells – RE/MAX Barrington MLS – 4 Rebecca Jensen – Midwest Real Estate Data John Mosey – NorthstarMLS Cameron Paine – Connecticut MLS Kirby Slunaker – REcolorado   Media Contact: Kevin Hawkins WAV Group Communications (206) 866-1220

{ 0 comments }

 Four Major MLS Firms Adopt Data Dictionary Morrisville, NC – June 4, 2015 – The real estate industry’s Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) is fast becoming the industry’s “innovation enabler and cost-saver,” as technology firms serving the real estate industry will be unleashed as property data becomes standardized by the nation’s estimated 850-plus Multiple Listing Service (MLS) firms. Driving the welcome change is the National Association of REALTORS® mandated deadline for the adoption by Realtor affiliated MLSs of the RESO Data Dictionary by Jan. 1 of 2016 – just six months away to ensure industry adoption on enabling standards. Four of the nation’s largest and most respected MLS firms are now Data Dictionary compliant: MRIS, serving the Mid-Atlantic region; MRED, or Midwest Real Estate Data serving Chicagoland; MetroList Services serving Sacramento; and MLSListings, serving the Silicon Valley. Combined they serve more than 100,000 agent members and drive tens of billions of dollars in real estate transactions each year. “The role of RESO is clear,” says Jeremy Crawford, Executive Director of the nonprofit organization. “We are real estate’s innovation enabler and cost-saver through data standards development, implementation, and adoption, which is what every major industry experiences when data becomes standardized.” “RESO empowers the real estate industry to more rapidly innovate and iterate by creating an environment through standardization that eliminates redundancy. What we all are trying to achieve is better experience for consumers when they buy or sell a home,” Crawford says.  “For real estate technology startup TLCengine, RESO efforts like its Data Dictionary, Web API and RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standards) specifications, create a faster path to success,” says its CEO and Founder, Krishna Malyala. “RESO efforts will give us the ability to deploy our new technology faster, lower our development cost, and allows us to update and improve our product features far more rapidly,” Malyala says.  Malyala argues the key will be the continued embracing of new standards delivered by RESO by all players in real estate. “RESO and its impending standards, including the Data Dictionary, are not just an MLS thing or an MLS vendor thing,” he says. “Everyone in the industry will be positively impacted by RESO and new standards so everyone needs to get involved now, and not wait for a deadline. We are involved because we want to have a voice in real estate’s future.” Crawford adds that “everyone” Malyala refers to includes real estate broker-owners […]

{ 0 comments }

There has been a lot of discussion about the challenges of separating listing add/edit from MLS systems. This has long been the practice is many MLSs and this announcement today adds yet another to the list. Instanet Solutions Implements New Listing Upload Interface for NWMLS NWMLS members reduce redundant data entry using InstanetForms® in TransactionDesk® ​ June 3rd, 2015 Austin, TX – Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) members can now create an MLS listing from a listing input form in TransactionDesk®. With one click, the data entered in the listing input form is processed and uploaded to the MLS as an incomplete/draft listing. The forms can also be saved for future use, allowing the agent or brokerage to finalize and review the data before the listing is uploaded to the MLS. This faster, completely paperless process provides NWMLS members with better data accuracy and reduced redundancy. Members can now enter data while at the property rather than having to try to remember property details later. Additionally, MLS metadata and input rules are incorporated into the listing input form, allowing members to select data options from drop-down lists rather than entering each option manually. This integration makes the entry process easier and more accurate. “Northwest MLS is excited to make this service available to our members. It launched a few weeks ago and we’ve received nothing but positive comments,” said Tom Hurdelbrink, President and CEO of NWMLS. “We’re able to provide our members with another interface for adding listing data; one that is seamlessly integrated with their online forms and their electronic signature system, InstanetForms® and Authentisign®.” Instanet has integrated and deployed this solution with several other MLS systems. The data can be uploaded to the MLS using RETS Update, a web service, or other methods. The upload can be made RESO compliant or can be made to adhere to virtually any MLS data format. “In just a few weeks, we’ll have over 100,000 MLS members around the country using this listing upload interface. It’s a great solution in markets where signatures or initials are required on the profile sheet, if assistants or brokers are helping with the listing upload process, or where brokers want to get the data before or at the same time that it’s entered into the MLS,” said Martin Scrocchi, CEO of Instanet Solutions. “Nobody wants to have to remember which features a property has the next […]

{ 1 comment }

Are you Obsolete as a Leader?

by Marilyn Wilson on June 1, 2015

According to NAR’s newly released D.A.N.G.E.R report, one of the threats facing Associations today is the average tenure of its leaders. The report goes on to say that Association leaders run the risk or burn-out and lack of action because they have been at the job too long. While I clearly understand why this one made the list I would also like to make some suggestions about how to deal with the reality of where we are today. If you’re one of those Association Executives or MLS CEO’s that have been in your position for a very long time, here’s a few things for you to consider: Am I still motivated? It’s easy to get burned out when the day to day issues facing Associations and MLS stay relatively consistent. Do you find yourself getting frustrated or worse when a subscriber or board member brings up a topic that has faced the industry for years? Is your first reaction to think or even say “we tried that 7 years ago and it didn’t work” or “why would we do that” or “my brokers drive me crazy” or “why don’t agents just pay attention?” Am I staying up to date? While the basic premise of Associations and MLSs has stayed the same for many years, external and internal industry forces are in play changing the game regularly. Since January of this year, the pace of change has never been higher. Between Zillow, AMP, Broker Public Portal, Upstream, RESO, IDX Changes, and the CFPB (and these are just the big topics from inside the industry), the world we operate in is changing radically. Are you taking the time to get up to speed and importantly embrace the changes coming our way? Are you leading efforts with your boards to carefully think through these topics and provide meaningful and proactive solutions to our members? Do I consider the needs of ALL of our customers? Today, every organization in real estate has a LOT of audiences to address. If you think that the only group that matters is agents you are gravely mistaken. Every Association needs to have deep engagements with its brokers, technology partners and importantly the real estate consumer. Whether we want to admit it or not, home buyers and sellers are at the center of a lot of the changes that are coming our way. If you still believe that they […]

{ 0 comments }