September 2015

Can You Predict Housing Trends Better than NAR?

by Victor Lund on September 30, 2015

The Council of Multiple Listing Services has long discussed the idea of being the source of homes sales data, but has never acted on this. So, ahead of the CMLS2015 conference, we’re conducting an experiment to see how successful we might be if we gather that information direct from agents, brokers, and MLSs. How to Participate Many of you are already compiling this housing data. If you could copy us when you send your local data to NAR, that would be helpful. Alternatively, we’ve created a brief survey that asks about pricing, closings, and market conditions in your local area. Please take just five minutes to fill it out and submit it. We will publish the results of the poll next week and have it available for discussion at CMLS. Let’s see if we can predict the numbers of the NAR report–before the NAR report comes out. Then, following the release of NAR’s data, we’ll compare your answers to the official report. Ready to participate? Take the housing trends poll now!

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Brokers Partner On Technology

by Victor Lund on September 30, 2015

Long and Foster and Windermere are both brokerages that are family owned and operated. They are large firms and they struggle with build vs. buy whenever they consider a technology solution for their companies. Windermere supports 7000 agents across 300 offices. Long and Foster has over 200 offices supporting 11,000 agents. There are a number of technology solutions that each company builds and supports. Moxi Works, the technology company founded by the Jacobi family of Windermere, builds a plethora of core technology solutions used by Windermere. Moxi Works provides the Windermere broker website, co-branded agent websites, lead management, drip marketing, company intranet, and their keystone product, TouchCMA. TouchCMA is a listing presentation tool that Long and Foster licensed exclusively for their markets back in 2014. WAV Group is very excited to see these two companies own the technology company that serves them. This philosophy is component to broker ownership of Upstream, and broker control of the board for the Broker Public Portal. Both Windermere and Long and Foster have significantly increased their closing rates on listing presentations with Moxi Works. We have written about this before. WAV Group confidently believes that brokers build better technology solutions for real estate agents than technology firms that have never sold a house. Together, Windermere and Long and Foster have nearly 20,000 agents on the Moxi Works system. The only CMA tool that is close to their equal is CloudCMA. However, CloudCMA is usually offered through the MLS, meaning that the possibility of more than one agent showing up to a potential seller meeting with the same listing presentation is highly likely. Windermere and Long and Foster never want their agents to be pitching their services using the same tools as a competitor. Differentiation is what defines brands. The CMA is the cornerstone of the sales presentation to a buyer or a seller. Sales presentations demand uniqueness. In a larger sense, I would expect this trend to continue. Although it takes a bit of technical acumen to understand this, the foundational architecture of real estate software is changing. Today, most products used in real estate are built the old way. The application has a database associated with it. The new architecture is similar to Apps that are on your smart phone, or Salesforce.com. In the new architecture, the database is separate from the application, and normally in the cloud. Applications no longer need to […]

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Features allow broker compliance workflow to be digitally managed Orlando, FL – September 30, 2015 – One of the real estate industry’s most popular and advanced paperless transaction solutions, Form Simplicity, has added Broker Transaction Management into its cloud-based platform. Broker Transaction Management creates a single place inside Form Simplicity for real estate brokers to manage, review, approve, track and store every agent’s transaction activity from beginning to end. Form Simplicity’s new Broker Transaction Management tools allow real estate brokers to reduce their risk through a customizable, automated, paperless review process that helps safeguard brokerage transactions to remain compliant. Brokers may collaborate with agents throughout the transaction review process to ensure accuracy across the streamlined workflow. For office transparency, the new Broker Transaction Management feature also tracks email and text correspondence for every transaction, gives brokers visibility into each agent’s transaction activity, and allows brokers to evaluate, comment on and approve all forms digitally submitted by their agents. Eric Forsman, Vice President of Technology Services at Florida Realtors®, says that the development of the Broker Transaction Management features for Form Simplicity was driven by client recommendations. “Form Simplicity was made by Realtors® for Realtors® and was improved upon based on users’ feedback,” Forsman says. “Form Simplicity truly puts everything in one place that a Broker and agent need to process a paperless transaction from beginning to end.” Tom Baker, Regional Sales Manager for The Keyes Company and 2015 Florida Realtors Vice President District 3, who has been beta testing these new features, says, “We are in the process of implementing the Broker Review transaction management platform companywide. We evaluated competitor platforms and made the decision that Form Simplicity was the best solution for transaction management.” Among the new features that Broker Transaction Management brings to Form Simplicity is access to the detailed history of each checklist review as well as a fully customizable, color-coded, checklist system that allows Brokers to easily see agent activity by transaction type. The new Broker Review feature allows agents to submit electronically their completed contracts to their broker for final approval. During the digital review process, when brokers or agents add comments, each party is automatically alerted, which expedites the process online. When the broker marks the submission as complete or incomplete, Form Simplicity automatically notifies the agent of the change in status. For easy reference, the review process logs all comments and activities made […]

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NAR REACH Panel Slings 8 New Products at REALTORS®

by Victor Lund on September 29, 2015

The NAR Reach program is interesting. It establishes a gateway where companies who wish to express their products and services to the REALTOR® family pay fees and often equity to the National Association of REALTORS®. Access Avenue is a loan finder product that is primarily aimed at helping Realtors introduce loan products to the investor community. As I went through the presentation, the first place I got stuck was the statement “Competitive rates as low as 7.99%.” The product shops property loans to institutional investors rather than traditional mortgage banks. I think that the product would be superior if it included traditional and investor backed funding sources. August SmartLock – My initial instincts are that a company offering a lock box solution will need to combat a lot of headwind against some excellent lock box providers like Sentrilock and Supra. Those companies offer great products already deployed in every market across the USA. However, when I watched the presentation, I learned that the August SmartLock is part of a smart home solution. When you are near the lock, it works with Bluetooth to open the door. When you are away from the home, you can manage entry and access via an app on your phone. Installation on a deadbolt takes about 10 minutes. Each unit costs $250. As a backup for the inevitable “technology failure” problem, as a backup, your existing keys still work. I am a gadget guy, so I may consider this for personal use, but not as a replacement for our current lockbox system. BoostUp – a product that helps consumers with down payment assistance by matching their down payment. The idea is that there is a structured savings plan that the agent provides to their buyer. As the buyer saves, the REALTOR® matches the savings by offering discounted commissions on the sale. Realtors can offset their discounts by getting service providers like the Brokerage, a lender, or a title company to contribute funds to the boost. The company offers a landing page where people seeking down payment matching can get started in the program. I am pretty neutral on this one. Guardllama – a personal security solution that offers a button on your keychain to call for help. It calls the police. Realtor security is an important issue today. The NAR PAG is addressing it. I am aware of this system. It’s kinda like “I have […]

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Partners Trust Joins The Enterprise Network

by Victor Lund on September 28, 2015

Recently, Partners Trust launched a new fully mobile responsive site designed to dynamically change for over 250 different screen sizes. Along with the “mobile first” web site, they launched new mobile apps for android and iOS. The design was done by 1000watt Consulting in collaboration with Partners Trust and the proprietary technology is provided by Booj.  Booj (Be Original or Jealous) is the platform that powers The Enterprise Network. Booj is an interesting technology provider because they deliver a very good and well-supported solution that is exclusive to a single brokerage in a market place. I got to meet the team behind the technology last year when I was invited to take the stage and share my perspective on syndication at their annual conference. Many WAV Group broker clients are on the Booj platform and you can see the full list of brokers using their system here: http://www.independentre.com/members. 1000watt did a great job of focusing the site on sellers first – which was well executed by the development team across the entire consumer facing solution. Partners Trust’s communication strategy started with an internal rollout that included an all day Tech Summit at The W Hotel in Hollywood for the company and its agents. The campaign then moved to customers, media and then paid media at LA Times, Google, and Facebook to support the launch. Congratulations to Booj and Partners Trust on a great web site and solid communications strategy.  It’s a great reminder that communications is a key component to any technology launch.  By the way, it is our firm belief that technology always looks better when it is dressed in properties from Beverly Hills, CA. You can see the new site here: http://www.thepartnerstrust.com/ Check out the apps here: https://appsto.re/us/HxdS9.i ( iOS) https://play.google.com/store/ apps/details?id=com.activewebsite.partnerstrust ( Android)   All too often, companies communicating new solutions to agents forget to communicate the new solution to consumers. Be mindful that there is a consumer story in launching a new service even when the application is not a consumer application. Obviously, launching a product or service that will be a new consumer benefit needs to be communicated to consumers. You would be amazed at how often brokers or MLSs will launch a new platform for the consumer benefit and not send out a press release; not market the change or benefits in the local media including radio, TV, and print. WAV Group communications can help. Our […]

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Helps agents monitor, compare listing performance on real estate websites Maitland, Fla. – September 23, 2015 – My Florida Regional MLS, Florida’s largest Multiple Listing Service (MLS), has become the first MLS in Florida to allow its agents and brokers to monitor and compare how their property listings are performing on real estate websites in real time across the Internet, helping agents to monitor their success and strengthen their marketing efforts for sellers. My Florida Regional MLS now provides ListTrac, known as the “Google Analytics for Listings,” to its 40,000+ member real estate agents and brokers in the 14 central and southwest Florida counties it serves. “For the first time, real estate professionals in Florida will have a complete and unbiased view of how their listings are performing online across IDX and other consumer-facing websites,” said Merri Jo Cowen, Chief Executive Officer of My Florida Regional MLS. “Understanding that real estate website X helps them sell more homes than real estate website Z will make the marketing of their property listings more effective, and that benefits both home sellers and homebuyers,” she added. My Florida Regional MLS customers will be able to monitor how many leads each real estate website provides as well as unique users, total views, the number of properties shared with others, the duration of visitors on each site, and more – consolidated all into a single dashboard. ListTrac also provides agents with the ability to see data in “real time” with heat map technology, visually showing on a map where homebuyers viewing each website are located. Agents will be able to automatically send their sellers a weekly “Seller’s Report.” For the first time, this Seller’s Report will show clients — in a consolidated format — the tremendous amount of buyer engagement their listings are getting both inside the MLS system and on every other website that displays MLS property information, including portals, agent websites and brokerage websites. “By providing data intelligence with consolidated reporting, My Florida Regional MLS customers can improve their marketing plans because they can see what is working and what is not,” said Trent Gardner, CEO of ListTrac. “Agents and brokers no longer need to rely on the self-reporting of metrics or faulty data that is difficult to understand and nearly impossible to compare,” added Gardner. “Unbiased information delivered in real time on one dashboard is what agents have told us they want, […]

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In the real estate industry, the collection and distribution of real estate listing data has been a hot issue for many years, and The Great Lakes Repository (GLR) has made tremendous headway toward solving those data issues. The GLR is comprised of a group of MLSs and REALTOR® Associations (participants) in Michigan that have agreed to share listing data with other participants using a repository method of sharing. Under this method of sharing data, all participants of the GLR run their own MLSs; enforce their own set of rules; manage their own membership; control their own MLS products, but cooperate by sharing listing data in one central location. The sharing of listing data benefits all GLR Members and the consumer by providing all the listings data to all GLR Members, and at the same time eliminating the need for a REALTOR® to belong to more than one MLS, i.e.: offering MLS of choice. Over the last seven and a half years, the GLR has grown from zero to 11 Members all sharing data in their home database. The GLR recently finalized agreements with the eight (8) REALTOR® Associations that are Shareholders of Realcomp II Ltd., an MLS in Farmington Hills, MI. “We are excited to welcome these new Members to the GLR, giving the GLR a total of nineteen (19) Members representing twelve (12) MLSs sharing data,” said Dave DeRees, President of The Great Lakes Repository. Currently, the data is being mapped and is scheduled to go live on March 1, 2016. Once the new data is live, the GLR will be estimated to have over 55,000 active listings in the state, and is also estimated to have 67% of the REALTORS® in Michigan and 66% of all active and historical listings in the state. Powered by CURE Solutions Group, an MRIS subsidiary, the GLR is able to overcome the technical barriers associated with sharing MLS content through multiple geographic areas. This makes the GLR an indispensable resource for brokers and agents in the Great Lakes area. “MRIS is thrilled that the GLR is making great strides in expanding access to listing information across the state of Michigan,” said Jeff Jennings, MRIS Director of Strategic Alliances. “Over the past seven years, the GLR has proactively continued to make it easier for brokers and agents to access the information they need, and we look forward to their continued growth and success.” […]

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Black Knight Financial Services (NYSE: BKFS) announced today the execution of an agreement with the California Regional MLS (CRMLS) to deliver its Paragon MLS system to CRMLS’ more than 75,000 members. With the addition of Paragon MLS, CRMLS strengthens its position as a leader in the real estate industry and demonstrates its commitment to its professional members who rely on fast and easy access to MLS information. Offering intuitive and straightforward navigation, cross-browser compatibility and multi-tasking capabilities – all of which are mobile-optimized, Paragon MLS will enable CRMLS subscribers to increase productivity and grow their business. CRMLS has been steadily expanding its presence in California, now serving 35 local real estate associations, three boards of REALTORS® and one multiple listing service (MLS). In August 2015, CRMLS won Inman’s Most Innovative MLS award. Black Knight’s Paragon MLS system has received top ranking in the annual Clareity Consulting MLS Customer Satisfaction Survey for the past three years, and recently was installed in numerous new markets for MLS organizations. “It is time to break through the barrier of being limited to one MLS platform,” said CRMLS CEO Art Carter. “We have wanted to do this for some time, and we are pleased to form this partnership with the Black Knight Paragon team. Our industry is constantly evolving, and we need to be more responsive to agents, brokers and consumers who are redefining the way they work. The result of this project will give our members better choices as the vendors vie for user selection.” “It is an honor to be selected for this CRMLS initiative,” said Rich Lull, managing director for Black Knight MLS. “We commend them for their vision and leadership, and look forward to working closely with CRMLS to continue providing leading-edge solutions as the industry evolves.” About California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS) California Regional MLS (CRMLS) is the nation’s largest and most recognized subscriber-based MLS, dedicated to servicing over 75,000+ real estate professionals from 35 Associations, 3 Boards of REALTORS® and 1 MLS. CRMLS is the industry powerhouse and thrives on providing the most relevant products and services to its subscribers. www.crmls.org About Black Knight Financial Services, Inc. Black Knight Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE: BKFS), a Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF) company, is the mortgage and finance industries’ leading provider of integrated technology, data and analytics solutions that facilitate and automate many of […]

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REcolorado Joins Homes.com’s® MLS Partnership Program

by Victor Lund on September 17, 2015

Norfolk, Virginia (September 16, 2015) – Homes.com®, leading online real estate destination and provider of real estate marketing solutions, has announced the addition of REcolorado to its MLS Partnership Program. The new partnership will offer REcolorado’s 18,000 real estate professionals free exposure for their 9,500 active listings by gaining access to Homes.com’s audience of more than 13 million monthly transaction-ready consumers. REcolorado brokers can now offer their agents direct access to syndicate their listings on Homes.com, ensuring those listings are advertised accurately and updated regularly. Consumers visiting Homes.com will benefit from the improved quantity and quality of available listings in Colorado, and will have a clear path to connect directly with the local brokerage and agent representing each listing. “Our new partnership with Homes.com offers REcolorado brokers and agents listing-level control where their listings appear, while improving the quality of listings available for consumers on Homes.com,” said Kirby Slunaker, president and CEO of REcolorado. “By driving engaged consumers back to either the broker’s website or recolorado.com, everyone involved wins.” The benefits provided by Homes.com’s MLS partnership program include: Data Accuracy – More timely and accurate listing data. Prominent Branding – Clear attribution and branding for the listing agent and broker on listing detail pages. Consumer Leads – All leads from Homes.com are emailed directly to the listing agent. MLS Branding – Prominent branding for REcolorado.com as the trusted source of the listing information. Direct Links – All listings on Homes.com can include “deep links” back to the broker’s website or REcolorado’s consumer website, REcolorado.com. “The primary objective of Homes.com’s MLS partnership program is to provide timely and accurate listing information to consumers searching for their next home, and to ensure those consumers are able to connect directly with the listing agent representing the seller,” said Andy Woolley, Homes.com’s vice president of industry development. “By prominently displaying the listing broker and agent, and always sending leads directly to the listing agent, Homes.com ensures REcolorado members are able to connect directly with our transaction-ready consumers.” For more information on the benefits Homes.com can provide MLSs and their subscribers, visit http://connect.homes.com/mls/. About Homes.com  Homes.com is a leading provider of real estate marketing and media services, including brand advertising, property listing exposure and syndication, search engine marketing and instant response lead generation. Homes.com Connect offers the real estate industry’s first-ever all-inclusive marketing platform for agents and brokers featuring single-login convenience. Homes.com is visited by more than […]

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Unless you are an agent who actually has Tech Helpline, you may not be aware of this agent-centric, genuinely friendly, U.S.-based tech support created by Realtors for Realtors. Here’s a news release from the Florida Realtors® about their Tech Helpline services: “Friendly” U.S.-Based Staff Helps Agents Solve Computer, Software, and Smartphone Glitches Orlando, FL., (September 15, 2015) – During a hot real estate market, what happens when a real estate agent is printing a Purchase and Sale agreement and the printer freezes or the computer crashes? Today, nearly 400,000 Realtors throughout the U.S. and Canada now turn to Tech Helpline for immediate help to resolve these technical issues and more. A service owned by Florida Realtors® and based in Orlando, Florida, Tech Helpline has become the real estate industry’s number one technical support team, used by more than 70 Realtor Associations, Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and real estate brokerage firms, and growing. “Tech Helpline is a service created by Realtors for Realtors,” says Tricia Stamper, Director of Technology Products at Florida Realtors®. “Think of us as the Genius Bar for real estate with one huge advantage: Our team are experts at understanding not just the technology real estate agents and brokers use, they also understand the real estate business. That makes a huge difference because real estate is a highly deadline-driven industry.” Stamper says Tech Helpline supports both Windows and Mac operating systems, Smartphones and more than a dozen different hardware products from computers, monitors and printers to scanners, and storage devices. “If an agent is having a Wi-Fi issue or just needs help exporting contacts from Outlook or Gmail, Tech Helpline is available to help solve problems,” Stamper adds. Unlike most tech support services, Tech Helpline allows agents to ask for assistance with multiple issues on a single call. For agents like John Mike, a RE/MAX agent in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, calling Tech Helpline is a welcoming relief as the U.S.-based support staff is the most “friendly and helpful” he has experienced. “I have dealt with a lot of IT customer service over the years: Dell, Comcast, Apple, Verizon, AT&T, etc. This was without question the most positive experience I have ever had with IT [Customer Service], anywhere,” Mike says. Uniquely, Tech Helpline services are unlimited and free for real estate agents through their association, MLS or brokerage: There is no limit to the number of calls an agent […]

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Nashville, TN. – Crye-Leike Group of Companies congratulates Gurtej Sodhi on receiving the 2015 Chief Information Officer Award in Large Private Companies (501+ employees) category by the Nashville Business Journal. For Sodhi, who serves as Chief Information and Strategy Officer, Corporate Executive Vice President, this is his second consecutive year to win the award. The NBJ CIO Awards winners are the top technological executives in Middle Tennessee who are using IT in innovative ways to create a competitive advantage, optimize business procedures, enable company growth and impact the company’s bottom line. Winners were selected by a panel of judges based on nominations from across the community. “I am honored to be presented again with this prestigious award,” said Sodhi. “Receiving this award for the second time confirms Crye-Leike is the leader in providing innovative technology solutions to its internal and external customers, Crye-Leike’s website is also nationally recognized as a leader in providing the highest exposure for our listings while serving our customers and sales associates in the most effective manner possible.” Under Sodhi’s leadership, Crye-Leike’s Information Technology division receives year over year recognition for their award-winning work on Crye-Leike’s web site, www.crye-leike.com. Over 400,000 listings are updated every 12 minutes on Crye-Leike’s website to ensure the most accurate information. With over 12,000 visitors per day and 30 million hits per month, no local company comes close to Crye-Leike.com on internet activity. “I commend and congratulate Gurtej on his leadership and commitment to providing Crye-Leike associates and our customers with the most current technology resources,” said Harold Crye, Crye- Leike founder and CEO. Sodhi will be recognized with fellow winners at a special luncheon on Oct. 23. Crye-Leike is a full service real estate company that was founded in 1977 by Harold Crye and Dick Leike. Today, Crye-Leike is ranked as the 6th largest real estate firm in the nation and the #1 real estate company in the Mid-South. Crye-Leike has a network of more than 3,000 licensed Realtors and 112 offices located throughout a nine-state region in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma. More information about Crye-Leike can be found at www.crye-leike.com.

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