October 2015

Damien Huze, founder of Wake Interactive, has joined W&R Studios to focus on design of W&R Studios’ products and services. HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA (October 29, 2015) – Privately held software company, W&R Studios, announced today that Damien Huze will be joining their leadership team as the Chief Design Officer. Damien has been involved with the company since 2008. He designed W&R Studios’ corporate identity as well as consulted on the UI/UX and identity of their flagship product, Cloud CMA. Damien grew up in Paris, France. Both his parents were in creative fields. “It wasn’t until much later that I realized the impact of growing up in house where there was always a sketch being drawn, a story being written, a canvas being painted, or an object being fabricated. The trash bin full of concepts gave me awareness of the grind a designer has to go through to do valuable work.” stated Damien. Later, when he was a teenager they moved to Florida. “We have been working with Damien and his company for many years, and could not be more thrilled to have Damien join us full time.” stated Dan Woolley, co-founder of W&R Studios. “W&R Studios products have always have the reputation of great design and we can’t wait to have Damien’s influence on every aspect of our company.” W&R Studios’ products include, Cloud CMA, a web-based report generating software application and Cloud Streams, a listing alert and collaboration tool that helps agents keep more buyers. “I’ve always enjoyed working with Dan and Greg.” said Damien Huze. “Their success has been incredible. When I was asked to join their team I was thrilled at the opportunity and potential.” “Design matters.” stated Greg Robertson, co-founder of W&R Studios. “The stuff Damien and the dev team are working on is phenomenal. I can’t wait for our customers to see what’s in store” concluded Mr. Robertson. Damien now lives with his wife and 3 daughters in Boulder, Colorado. To learn more about W&R Studios and their products please visit, http://wr-studios.com About W&R Studios Founded in 2008, W&R Studios is a privately held web software company located in Huntington Beach, California. The company focuses on creating the next generation of web-based software solutions for the real estate industry. By providing a “less is more” approach to software design, elegant user interfaces, and using the latest in agile programming, W&R Studios’ software applications are at […]

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It is RESO week. The week when CIO and CTO types gather together in Austin, TX for the Annual Real Estate Standards Organization meeting. This year’s conference was sold out for the first time with a rumored count of more than 700 participants. Kevin Hawkins of WAV Group Communications says that the environment and buzz at the conference is amazing. You can follow Kevin’s RESO updates on Twitter @RESO_RETS  or follow the RESO hashtag at #reso15 to listen to the conference chatter. One of the astonishing calls that I got today was from an MLS asking me if CoreLogic was providing their new RESO compliant/certified Trestle solution to non-corelogic MLSs for free. The Answer is YES! We verified that Black Knight Paragon customer Coastal Carolina MLS is going through the certification process on the Trestle RETS platform from Corelogic. WAV Group’s understanding is that Black Knight and other MLS system vendors may be charging a reasonable one time fee for their customers to update their RETS servers and go through the certification process. We did not check with every MLS vendor to find out the policy. We have learned over time that these types of fees are often calculated on a market by market basis anyway. CoreLogic is not charging any fees for compliance at this time. Brokers and technology vendors who rely on RETS have long been frustrated by the lack of a single standard and a RESTful API for too long. The National Association of REALTORS MLS policy committee made the RESO standard a requirement for NAR-affiliated MLSs over 16 months ago. The deadline for meeting that requirement is December 31st of this year. The requirement to provide the RESTful API is July. This is a huge endeavor for every one of the 770 MLS in America today. RESO has not announced how many are certified. WAV Group has watched for the announcements and it seems like about 50 to 100 have gone through the process. There are only 60 days left for MLSs to get certified! In truth, every vendor of MLS services is involved in RESO and it is not unreasonable for a vendor to charge a fee for the service. It is a major undertaking. The biggest challenge is that the MLS must fill out the paperwork and pay the RESO application fee before the vendor can do anything to update the system in time for the […]

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Some 13,600+ Agents Get Unlimited Tech Support from “Friendly” U.S.-Based Staff  Orlando, FL., (October 28, 2015) – California’s Orange County real estate agents are more dependent on technology to help them buy and sell homes than ever before, and now when a computer crashes or a smartphone glitches out, they can get immediate assistance. Tech Helpline, the real estate industry’s #1 tech support service, is a new, included member benefit available to more than 13,600 members of the Orange County Association of REALTORS®. These Southern California agents and brokers join nearly 400,000 REALTORS® throughout the U.S. and Canada that have access to this service. “Tech Helpline will help our members boost their productivity by increasing their ‘uptime’,” says Rita Tayenaka, President of the Orange County Association of REALTORS®. “Technology has become a key part of every real estate transaction, and that’s why we want to help our members to quickly and conveniently resolve technical problems by simply making a phone call,” she adds. OCAR REALTOR® and Affiliate members can call the dedicated OCAR Tech Helpline number or access support from its online chat service. Once connected, Tayenaka says a friendly US–based analyst – located in Orlando, Florida – verifies membership in the Association and then assists with all computer and technology-related issues. For OCAR REALTORS®, the new Tech Helpline member benefit includes: No limit to the number of calls No time limit per call Multiple questions and topics may be addressed in a single call Analysts connect to one’s computer via remote software to diagnose and repair (if needed) Assistance is available in English or Spanish Support Monday-Friday, 6:00 am – 5:00 pm and Saturdays 6:00 am – 2:00 pm PT Tech Helpline was created by Realtors® for Realtors®, notes Tricia Stamper, Director of Technology Products at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates the services. “Realtors think of us as the Genius Bar for real estate staffed by a team of savvy tech advisors who specialize in supporting real estate agents and brokers,” she says. Today more than 70 Realtor® Associations, Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and real estate brokerage firms offer Tech Helpline to their members and agents, which has become the fastest growing company of its kind in real estate. Tech Helpline supports both Windows and Mac operating systems, smartphones, tablets and more than a dozen different hardware products from computers, monitors and printers to scanners and storage devices. […]

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Preparing for Success in the Coming Year

by Marilyn Wilson on October 27, 2015

As we approach the end of another exciting year in real estate, now is a great time to sit back and reflect on the best ways to help prepare your members and organization for success next year. We have talked many times over the years about the importance of staying in touch with what is happening in the industry today. Here’s what can happen when an organization is out of touch: They can delay decisions because they seem difficult or controversial causing the organization to fall behind or lose its competitive advantage. Instead of responding to the waves of change, organizations can be torn apart by the jaws of defeat. MLSs and Boards that do not stay close to trends can enforce outdated rules and regulations that hinder member success. They can make decisions in isolation of the needs of homebuyers and sellers, weakening the relationship of their members with the buying public. Worst of all, a Board of Directors that does not stay in touch may not even know it is out of touch if it does not reach out beyond its local community to see where the real estate industry is going. When conducting strategic plans we hear from brokers and board members that their organization is out of touch with today’s reality. So how do you get your board in touch? Here are some of our suggestions and ways we can help. Attend an Industry Conference Many of these events can be very valuable for the content that is presented and the networking and peer to peer learning. The NAR Annual conference, CMLS conference and the AEI conference are great opportunities for MLSs and Associations to get in touch. WAVes of Change™ Educational Series WAV Group offers another method for staying in touch with trends and learning from progressive MLSs and Associations around North America. We call it the WAVes of Change™ Series. This exciting new online program allows every one of your Board members and department heads to keep in touch on the ever-changing trends in our business WITHOUT leaving home. This quarterly live webinar will include exclusive, early looks at WAV Group research as well as the ability to learn from industry experts about technology trends, consumer insights and broker and agent issues. Consumer Research Panel WAV Group has been working with Associations for some time on engaging the consumers in their markets, most notably Houston Association of REALTORS®. Through our […]

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REDPLAN directors Victor Lund of WAV Group and Merri Jo Cowen, CEO of My Florida Regional MLS had a call to discuss REDPLAN’s new Prior Art and Forms Library. Lund: When did MFRMLS join REDPLAN? Cowen: MFRMLS joined REDPLAN a few years ago. I joined the Board of Directors shortly after. Lund: Why did MFRMLS join REDPLAN? Cowen: Our Board of Directors was motivated by the need that they see for this kind of non-profit entity. Among MLSs today, there is little education that delivers best copyright practices or collaboration for MLSs to fight patent trolls.  Our hope is that the industry can work together to temper these issues before they escalate to court battles. Lund: What was the most surprising benefit of REDPLAN that you did not expect? Cowen: It’s a great resource for our legal counsel. We have learned about cases that are looming. We went through our copyright review and got good guidance on our related documents . Lund: What is the Prior Art and Forms Library and why should people care? Cowen: The Prior Art and Forms Library was recently launched in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Council of MLS. REDPLAN members like MFRMLS brought our Forms and other materials for the library and handed them over. We believe that the library adds value to membership in REDPLAN. With a library of information cataloged in one place, MLSs and Associations can get out in front of the expensive and time consuming effort of gathering evidence well before due diligence for a case. I suspect that future cases will not even go to trial once the Library is fully installed. MFRMLS has a policy of copyrighting our subscriber’s compilation of listings on a quarterly basis.  Now, our engagement with REDPLAN has become a vehicle to model how to protect other assets on behalf of our subscribers. Our listing input form is a great example. Lund: How can other MLSs and Associations contribute to the REDPLAN Library? Cowen: Send them everything. Once the information registered with REDPLAN, the library and REDPLAN can support you at protecting them as needed. About REDPLAN REDPLAN stands for Real Estate Data Protection Legal Association Nonprofit. REDPLAN is an organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of the intellectual property rights of MLSs, Associations, real estate brokerages, real estate technology firms and any organization that compiles real property information. The organization […]

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WAV Group Partnering With MLSs On Zillow Survey

by Victor Lund on October 27, 2015

WAV Group is recruiting MLS and broker participants for a study to get an understanding of what these groups of people think about their relationship with Zillow. This study is funded internally at WAV Group. What do home buyers think of the service? What do home sellers think of the service? What do renters think of the service? What do Property Managers think of the Service What do Premier Agents think of the service? What does Premier Mortgage think of the service? What do real estate brokers of all sizes think of the service? By participating in the study, you will send our survey link to the audience(s) that you have access to. Primarily, we are inviting MLSs to survey agents and brokers. You will get a free copy of your survey results and a free copy of the National results. Why are we doing this? Zillow is in the process of doing a similar study right now. I was asked by a Zillow executive – Why is WAV Group doing this? WAV Group has clients all over the spectrum with Zillow. Some of our clients are raving fans and others are staunchly against the company. We find that businesses that strategically integrate Zillow services into their business can find success in the strategy. We also find that companies that strategically delist themselves from Zillow also find success. Brokerage leaders are good operators and have the ability to thrive regardless of their strategic direction. Zillow is about to release an historic price increase in January. They are going to Zip Code based pricing. For some of our broker customers, that would take their Zillow advertising from $5000 per month to $25,000 per month. In the purest form of lead capture, incubation, and conversion – the investment in advertising does not work. Zillow advertising does more than generate buyers for homes. It is a listing tool, a recruiting tool, a retention tool, and may support other business lines of full service brokerages like mortgage, title, insurance, property management, commercial, etc. If you would like to support WAV Group with this research project, please reach out to Victor Lund.

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Broker Public Portal Update – October 2015

by Victor Lund on October 27, 2015

Many participants in the Broker Public Portal project were in attendance at the Council of MLS annual meeting in Kansas City. It was an extraordinary event, and one could not walk away without a sense that brokers and MLSs are communicating and working together better today than ever before. The BPP, LLC leadership in attendance was able to have meetings with prospective and partner MLSs, providing status updates on our progress.  We also spent the day before the conference to make progress on two fronts – the data license workgroup and the technology workgroup. Data License Workgroup Update Representatives from the legal advisors, Larson Skinner, attended the CMLS legal summit and there was some discussion of the data license agreement between the broker public portal and MLSs. Aside from some clarifying questions, there was strong support for the agreement template among all in attendance. No significant changes were suggested. Technology Workgroup Update The BPP, LLC will be among the first applications to be driven off of the RESO RESTful API that is mandated by NAR for MLS adoption by mid summer 2016.  This will provide the opportunity to add new MLS markets in hours rather than days. A number of our more than 50 MLS supporters will be providing API access for development. The Broker Public Portal product itself will be both responsive and come with native app support for iOS and Android. Business Update In October, three more brokers and two more MLSs joined the BPP. We welcome @Properties of Chicago, BHHS Bruce Mulhern, BH&G Gary Greene of Houston, and the Heartland (Kansas/ Missouri) and RealTracs/Middle Tennessee Regional MLS’s. Although we are getting strong industry support now numbering more than 50 Brokers and 50 MLSs, it will take more than that to be successful. Please check out this webpage to see the industry leaders who are participating. http://www.brokerpublicportal.com/founders.html – please encourage others to help. Vision The BPP aims to provide a home search experience as it was meant to be, simple, direct from the MLS, and based on the common sense principle of connecting consumers to the people who create the listings and are best able to help them. We will be successful through the support of our current community of BPP, LLC unit holders combined with the ever-increasing encouragement of brokers and agents all over the country. We aim to delight the consumer while adhering to Fair Display […]

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Millennials and Home Buying Revisited

by Kevin Hawkins on October 27, 2015

The great statistical debate continues on the impact of Millennials today on home buying. About a year ago, I wrote about the conflicting data (“Millennial Marketing Madness”) that argued Millennials were not going to drive the majority home sales in 2015 despite what marketers and self-interested parties were claiming. Fast-forward today, and it looks like the hardcore data was accurate and the marketers missed the mark. Today’s headlines have taken quite a turn from those we saw last year. Now those pundits who said Millennials would be driving today’s housing market are scrambling to explain why they are not or aggressively marketing to Millennials to tell them why they should buy. Among recent headlines: Millennials face tough obstacles to buying a home (Boston Globe) Whether They Want to Rent or Buy a Home, Millennials Are Basically Out of Luck (Slate) Why Millennials Are Having a Tough Time Buying A Home (The Street) 4 Reasons Millennials Still Aren’t Buying Houses (Forbes) Millennials better off buying a home than renting (Houston Chronicle) Why Millennials should buy a home today (Builder magazine) It’s Better for Millennials to Buy Than Rent—For Now (Bloomberg) If you want a dose of what is really going on, talk to mortgage loan officers who are in the trenches every day trying to help folks navigate the mortgage morass that exists today. They will most likely tell you top three things that are keeping most Millennials from buying homes are: DTI, DTI and DTI. I reached out to Matt Culp, whom I consult for and who owns Bainbridge Lending Group, a small, successful brokerage firm on Bainbridge Island, WA. In the articles (above) they often discuss DTI thresholds, credit score minimums, and interest rates, yet they fail to point out that these three things are interconnected. Matt, who grew up in the mortgage business and has a couple of decades of experience, reminded me these factors are much more like a matrix, with one impacting the other. You can’t just say that a Millennial who has a DTI of 43 percent and credit score of 620 is going to get a 30-year fixed rate loan with no points for 3.75%. A higher credit score is going to get you the better interest rate. To get the best rate, you need a credit score of at least 740 or higher today (most stories keep reporting 720; just not true in […]

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3 Ways to Leverage Your PR

by Kevin Hawkins on October 27, 2015

A potential client called recently to engage the services of WAV Group Communications. Typical to most initial conversations with many potential clients in the real estate industry is the misunderstanding of what public relations is. I assured him it was much more than simply writing a good news release and publishing it on a paid wire. That topic alone is another column. But the conversation reminds me of how little time PR people take to educate our industry about what PR is. To help in this effort, let’s explore a crucial area that shows how powerful strategic PR can be using leverage. 3 Ways to Leverage Your PR A major component of public relations is publicity. Once you successfully gain the attention of news media and they run a story about you, your firm or your new product, a lot of companies just sit back and move on to the seeking out the next reporter for the next story. Don’t do that, because once a story runs, you’ve just gotten started. This is where leverage plays a crucial role is strategy public relations. There are three crucial channels you must leverage: External, Internal and Influencers. External Leverage The entire reason you sought publicity in the first place was for a specific purpose, right? Perhaps to help raise awareness, drive sales, incrementally increase revenue, introduce a new product, create a buzz, build moment and interest – whatever your goal, you should take that coverage and leverage it. For example, imagine a story that runs in the NY Times that mentions your new product. Your first act of leverage is to socialize it. Share it through your social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram – focusing on the ones you use regularly, even if it is only one. Using popular hash tags are crucial to this act of leverage. Mastering these will exponentially increase your total audience reach. This is where most folks stop. What they forget is not only does your target audience love the NY Times, but so do the major TV news networks. And other newspapers, trade reporters, and bloggers who follow your industry. PR pros will use this story as leverage to gain the attention of other media outlets. The Times coverage not only legitimizes your news, it gives you the opportunity to find another angle to build on what they have reported, giving other media outlets a […]

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Larson Skinner founder named to industry hall of fame

by Victor Lund on October 22, 2015

Minneapolis, October 19, 2015: Brian N. Larson was inducted into the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) Hall of Fame at the CMLS Conference in Kansas City on October 8, 2015. According to CMLS, “The honor is a means of recognizing and acknowledging a lifetime of leadership, energy, and intellect that improves and elevates the real estate multiple listing service industry.” During its 58-year history, CMLS has been the trade association of the MLS industry in North America, now supporting 178 member organizations that serve more than one million subscribers. Larson is the fourth leader to be inducted into CMLS’s Hall of Fame. “To many of us, Brian has been a mentor, a counselor, a contributor, a confidant, an organizer, a director, an advocate, a leader, and a friend,” said Shelley Specchio, president of CMLS and CEO of Northern Nevada Regional MLS. “He has made enormous contributions to the MLS Industry, including the refinement and promotion of IDX or Broker Reciprocity, a national policy that empowers brokers to grant listing display rights to each other for advertising on the Internet.” Larson is “of counsel” to Larson Skinner PLLC, the law firm he founded more than 13 years ago. He has been an attorney and business adviser with a national reputation for serving the real estate vertical. The firm is pre-eminent among those serving real estate multiple listing services and trade associations. Under Larson’s leadership, it focused on strategic legal advice, especially relating to collaborations of MLSs, including copyrights, data sharing, the formation of new regional MLSs, and national collaborations like the MLS Domains Association. As a lawyer, Larson has focused much of his work on intellectual property, e-commerce, databases, web branding issues, the real estate industry, and rule making for online communities. Larson left his position as managing member of Larson Skinner to take up an appointment as assistant professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in August 2015. There he researches rhetoric and argumentation, especially in legal and professional communication, and teaches technical and professional communication. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Larson’s induction into the CMLS Hall of Fame was preceded by those of Pat Bybee, Jeannette Biddle, and Peter Shuttleworth. The honor recognizes the contribution of the inductee to CMLS and the MLS industry at the close or culmination of the inductee’s career in […]

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Upstream Agent Record

by Victor Lund on October 22, 2015

Many assume that Upstream is only about listings. In fact, there are six database categories that are contemplated for the application that solve a lot of problems for brokers of any size. The Need For A Single Agent Record Depending on the brokerage, the Agent Record – their office address, office phone, bio, headshot, cell number, social media profile, et. al. Agent Records are used in a lot of applications across the brokerage. Here is a partial list, but a common list for a brokerage of 1 agent in 1 MLS market. Broker Website/Agent Website MLS MLS Consumer Site Mobile App Virtual tour CMA Flyer/Marketing Accounting System Realtor.com/Zillow Group et al Newspaper/Magazine et al Drip Marketing Lead Management Buyer Listing Notifications Franchise/Network Agent Ratings Contact Management System Transaction Management Document Management Digital Signatures For an agent to update their profile across all of these systems is cumbersome. For a brokerage to try to manage the identity of their agents in all of these applications is even worse. Consider the added complexity of multiple offices, multiple MLSs, and in many cases, multiple marketing solutions. Brokers and agents die the death of a thousand cuts when it comes to managing disparate databases. It is equally problematic for technology vendors who want to launch or migrate users. With Upstream, any broker can add/edit their data in one system – and permit any vendor to access their data records from one system. It’s simple, elegant, and necessary. This solution will be available in Q1 for certain Alpha markets. If you are a vendor who is interested in getting access to the Upstream API as it becomes available, please send an email to Victor Lund – victor@wavgroup.com. We are beginning the process of developing application requirements. If you want to get an overview of Upstream – download our Upstream Report here.

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Pacific Union acquires The Mark Company

by Victor Lund on October 19, 2015

Pacific Union is a company of proud heritage in the San Francisco bay area. They are among the premiere brokerages spanning from Napa, through San Francisco, around the East Bay, and down into Silicon Valley. They have about 600 sales associates and approach $7B in sales. Today, they made an announcement that they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Mark Company. The Mark Company focuses on marketing and sales for new housing developments. The combined company expects to represent over 22,000 units and $12B in sales. WAV Group wishes to congratulate both of these extraordinary companies on their transaction and wish them increadible success as they grow together. Here are some of The Mark Company projects 300 Ivy – San Francisco http://300ivy.com/ Spire – Denver http://www.spiredenver.com/ Evo – Los Angeles The Martin – Las Vegas http://www.themartin.com/landing/ 181 Fremont – San Francisco – http://181fremont.com/offices/gallery/

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Upstream Revealed

by Victor Lund on October 15, 2015

As many of you know, WAV Group has been working with a group of brokers and franchises for more than a year on a project called Upstream. Today, Upstream is a corporation with one of the strongest board of directors in our industry. It has been an honor to work with the board along with the CIOs and CTOs of their corporations to define the Upstream application and talk to enterprise level technology firms who have the capacity to deliver such an enormous solution. Until now, very little information has been shared openly across the industry. Until the company’s governance was established, the application specified, and a vendor sourced – there was little to say. Upstream has been theoretical. It is about to become operational. We have created a report onUpstream that you can download and share. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. victor@wavgroup.com Download the complete report on Upstream here.  

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Getting The Word Out Through Agents

by Victor Lund on October 15, 2015

WAV Group works with a number of different company types. We work with large brokerage and franchise organizations, technology firms, MLSs, and Associations of REALTORS. Our specialty is enterprise strategy and enterprise systems. For a long time now, we have seen our customer segments struggle with communications. “Agents Don’t Read” The chief complaint with communications in our industry is that agents don’t read. At WAV Group Communications we call that stinking thinking. Agents do read, but only things that they consider to be important to them. Most communications strategies are deployed through bulk email with open rates that rarely go beyond 50%. Either the quality of the communication is undervalued, or the communication channel that you are using is flawed. One of the best strategies for reaching real estate agents today is through social media, or specifically Facebook. Agents spend hours a day on Facebook and now you can direct your communications directly to them and only them. Did you know that you can pay to display Facebook messages directly to people if you have their email address? When you have a message that is critical to communicate – be sure to use more paths than just sending a bunch of email. Direct Mail, Office Meetings, System Messages, Social Media messages, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and phone calls create a pretty comprehensive assault on every channel of communication to the agent. B to B to C Many brokerages and Associations of REALTORS have a deeper challenge. In marketing, it’s called Business to Business to Consumer. If a broker or an Association wants to reach the consumer, they can either go direct to consumer or go through the agent who has developed a trust relationship. A company called Reach Communications has been delivering B to B to C solutions for a long time now. http://www.reachcommunications.com/ – I have not spoken to Lois Landau in a long time, but I think that Alain Pinel and a number of other large firms use the solution. It creates a newsletter that is sent to the agents. In turn, the agents edit the newsletter or just hit the send button and it goes out to their customer database.  Agents don’t share their customer database with their broker, so this solution fixes that problem. Hootsuite Amplify Yesterday, Hootsuite launched a product called Hootsuite Amplify. If you have a communications manager, or hire a firm like WAV […]

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Understanding the MRIS-TREND Project

by Victor Lund on October 14, 2015

      The highlight topic for the CMLS conference last week was the overview provided by Tom Phillips, President and CEO of TREND; Gene Millman, TREND Board Chair and David Charron, President and CEO of MRIS on their shared vision for bringing their two regional MLSs together. The keynote for me is that these organizations and their boards of directors started with a clean whiteboard. Nothing was held back from the development of the strategy, including dissolving both companies. The two organizations do not have the answers yet, but they are on the path to figuring it out. Why would they do this? Great organizations start ambitious projects with answering the question of Why. TREND and MRIS came up with this list of Whys that are on their project website, MLSevolved.com Consumers and Brokerage firms do not have boundaries, why should an MLS? Core Values of each organization are the same. Better position to meet broker and subscriber demands. Be expansive and inclusive Acquire or develop better services. Address and lead industry initiatives better Innovate Move quickly People who listen to their customers usually succeed A friend of mine always reminds me that if you asked consumers what they wanted, Ford would have developed faster horses instead of cars. That sentiment aside, there is a thunderous outcry from across the industry to provide better MLSs that span markets more efficiently. Brokers want MLSs that provide services that overcome their technology challenges of overlapping market disorder, redundant data management, disparate rules and regulations, lack of data standards, lack of standard business rules, etc. Today, there are over 770 MLSs that provide the same service differently. The differences between MLS services are driven more by protectionism than they are by service levels. Brokers who never leave their MLS area do not really feel these problems unless they are in one of those arbitrary border zones between two or more MLSs. Perhaps that is the point. The arbitrary border zones are rampant. We have 50 States in America – an average of 15 MLSs per state. That’s insane. Moreover, there are between 1200 and 1400 Associations of REALTORS® each with different lock box solutions, rules and regulations, forms, etc. It is a nightmare for broker operators as well as agents who span any more than one. Governance Issues I am pretty sure that the business operators of MLSs can handle the mergers. […]

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Better Market Reports

by Victor Lund on October 13, 2015

Graphs, Actives, Pendings, Recently sold, yadda, yadda. I have been reviewing the market reports across a variety of brokerages recently. They all seem to be missing the same little touch of information – an AVM. What Is A Market Report? The definition of a market report is hard to pin down. They are automated reports that tend to change based upon the state of the consumer. If the consumer is actively looking to buy or sell, the market report is like a listing alert. If the consumer is not in the market, the market report is like a stock portfolio summary. Why Brokers Need to Deploy AVMs Automated Valuation Modeling, or AVMs were developed to help banks measure their loan portfolio. You put hundreds of thousands of homes into a mathematical equation and it spits out estimated home values. These AVMs are considered excellent when they come within 5% of the value of a home 90% of the time. In other words, the best they can do is get close enough for horseshoes. Perhaps you may have had experience with AVMs on a consumer site called Zillow®. Their AVM is the Zestimate™. When Zillow launched their Zestimate, they crashed their servers. Consumers were so excited that they overwhelmed the young start up. They replaced a lead form on broker and agent websites. That was in 2006, nearly a decade ago. Today, only a scarce few number of brokers have Zestimates on their website. AVM Best Practice The industry hates Zestimates because pricing a home is sacred ground. Even if the Zestimate were perfectly correct every time, the industry would still hate it. Its time to get over it and introduce AVMs into all of your consumer facing products. Don’t deploy AVMs with one solution. You know and I know that they are only horseshoe accurate, so show that to the consumer. When you deploy AVMs, put two or three of AVM solutions on the property. Fox and Roach launched this solution last month. When you show more than one, the consumer recognizes the margin of error for each solution. It invites a conversation with the consumer about what AVMs are, how they work, the range of error, and most importantly – pricing strategies. AVMs will actually set the REALTOR® up for the conversation that they need to have with every buyer or seller. Be sure to tell them that mortgage […]

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Brokers Must Immediately Audit Mobile

by Victor Lund on October 12, 2015

Mobile traffic is 50% for most brokers today. Sadly, the mobile solution that you purchased a year or two ago is probably behind the times. Not only does your website need to be “responsive” to any mobile browser, but you’d better have a damn good app too. The first thing that you should do is try it. Make sure that you download your app, and use it every time you need to look up something on property. Moreover, be sure to use the mobile browser. This consumer experience is lost on most brokerage operating principles. The second thing to do is audit your agents and office managers. Ask them to show you the company’s app on their phone. You will be astonished at the number of agents and managers that do not have the app installed. It’s a good time to ask them “Why not?” There may be a very good reason. Promote Your App On Your Website Sometimes the simplest things can make enormous differences in your business. After getting everyone in your firm to download the app, market it everywhere. We audited a brokerage firm’s online strategy recently and made a simple suggestion. We asked the broker to code in links to their mobile app on every page of their website. It is a simple procedure; place the icons and links to the download sites. We were astounded by the results. Their app downloads went up by more than 3000 percent. The funny thing is that consumers visiting their mobile website were already presented with the “Download Our App” option when they first hit the site. The website would detect the mobile solution and make the appropriate recommendation. Unfortunately, that option disappeared if the user did not select it immediately on the first page. I guess what we learned is that the consumer wants to access the content first, then download your app after you have demonstrated that your website is the one they want to use for home search. In other words, app conversion is happening at a much higher rate on page view 3 or 4 than on page view 1. Promote Your App On Yard Signs Most brokers have some form of mobile call to action on their yard signs. I have seen everything from sign riders to banners, to QR codes. They all work, but perhaps something more elegant is to simply put the […]

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Quarterbacking the adoption of the RESO Data Dictionary

by Marilyn Wilson on October 8, 2015

An inside look with the Workgroup’s Chair, Rob Larson of CRMLS By Jeremy Crawford He’s at the helm of what has been hailed as real estate’s “Rosetta Stone.” Rob Larson, the Chief Information Officer of the nation’s largest Multiple Listing Service, CRMLS, chairs the RESO Data Dictionary Workgroup. The Workgroup is responsible for the real estate industry’s new and growing set of property data listing standards, which is quickly approaching the NAR mandated deadline of January 1, 2016 for Data Dictionary adoption. Larson and CRMLS are testaments to the old adage “Practice what you preach.” At CRMLS, Rob has lead a holistic Data Dictionary effort – called Data Dictionary Plus – that not only deploys the required Data Dictionary core property data fields (161), but CRMLS is converting all fields whose definition matches an entry in the Data Dictionary. Larson also notes there are additional fields in his MLS system that are not in the RESO Dictionary, but is renaming those fields to match the Data Dictionary naming conventions. Following the naming convention on non-required fields is Larson’s “Plus”, but it is not a RESO requirement. RESO Data Dictionary Certification has several levels of Certification. Today, the focus is on the mandate – Core Certification – yet MLS firms also can achieve Bronze, Silver, Gold and the highest level, Platinum Certification. Once CRMLS is Data Dictionary certified, they will have leapfrogged to achieve Platinum Certification, joining MetroList in Sacramento, which is already Platinum Certified. Though Larson admits, “implementing the platinum level dictionary not only in RETS, but all the way back into our MLS system will be a challenge.” “When I started the Dictionary, I included the concept of adopting the Dictionary, not just in the RETS interface, but in the MLS Input, Search and Display as well. From the get-go I felt this was the right course of action because I believe in a consistent experience for my members and their clients,” Larson says. He explains, “Application vendors who use RETS are inevitably going to have their search and display mirror the fields they see coming from RETS. By taking the unrequired step of adopting the Dictionary in your MLS system, you’ll standardize the members experience as they use the variety of software options available today.” Larson points to the fact that MLS members are accessing MLS data in a lot more places than just through their MLS system; […]

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CAMBRIDGE, ON (OCTOBER 7, 2015) – Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies, the North American leader in real estate solutions and services, announces the appointment of Rich Igou as the Solutions Architect for their office productivity platform, WOLFconnect. WOLFconnect integrates listing data from associations and real estate boards into the front and back office components of nearly 10,000 real estate brokerages in North America. “Rich joining our technology team is part of our strategic growth plan and continued investment in the eco-system of technology, partners and real estate boards that integrate with the Complete Enterprise Solution,” says Rob Overman, Chief Technology Officer at Lone Wolf. “Rich will play a key role as Solutions Architect of our front office platform, including loadingDOCS transaction management and mobile apps.” Mr. Igou joins Lone Wolf with 17 years of experience in technology development and production with expertise in project management, software development, user interface design, product management and marketing, and client consulting. Mr. Igou founded Concentric Software and built the first go-to-market next generation flex-based MLS system, which was the first truly cross-browser, cross-operating system MLS software. Mr. Igou also helped build the first iPhone, Android, Blackberry Mobile MLS with Concentric’s mobile partner and acquired multiple mobile contracts. During this time, Mr. Igou successfully installed Mobile and IDX products suite to Sandicor MLS. “My passion is building enterprise level products with a strong focus on the user experience,” says Mr. Igou. “Lone Wolf prides itself on providing exceptional client experiences and I look forward to being part of the team to continue this vision forward.” Mr. Igou’s move to Lone Wolf follows the company’s recent acquisition of ListCENTRAL, previously known as Millennium Real Estate Solution, which operates the DMS product supplied to real estate boards and association for management of all member listing data and has added to Lone Wolf’s growing portfolio. About Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies For more than 25 years, Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies has been the trusted source of real estate software solutions for the North American real estate industry. Lone Wolf’s experience and unmatched knowledge of the industry has provided a unique opportunity for the company to develop the Complete Enterprise Solution – an eco-system of seamlessly integrated real estate technology, services and partnerships which serve every facet of the industry, enabling brokerages and agents to operate more efficiently and increase opportunities for profitability. Each element of the eco-system […]

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Heading to CMLS? Know your BBQs

by Kevin Hawkins on October 6, 2015

It was Wilbert Harrison in 1959 who sang “Kansas City, here I come, I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come . . . I’m gonna be standing on the corner 12th Street and Vine, With my Kansas City baby and a bottle of Kansas City wine…” (song is here) I don’t know about Harrison, but I’m going to Kansas City for CMLS and some barbecue. If you’re going to Kansas City too, I thought you might want to brush up on your barbecue. So I did a little research on the different types of BBQ, because I know the natives of KC wholeheartedly believe theirs is the best. So what is the difference between the different styles of barbecues? Here’s a quick primer on the basics, courtesy of Mathew Kane’s piece from the Huffington Post: Kansas City Meat of Choice: Mix of All Meats (KC has influences from all other regions because of geographic location) Wood of Choice: Mix Famous Dish: Burnt ends (beef or pork), BBQ Ribs or Chicken Sauce Style: Sweet Tomato Based Sauce with Molasses Memphis Meat of Choice: Pork Wood of Choice: Hickory (Oak, Pecan, Apple, Cherry also used) Famous Dish: Pork Ribs “Wet” (slathered with sauce after smoking) or “Dry” (no sauce, just dry rubbed with seasonings and smoked) Sauce Style: Tomato & Vinegar Base Texas Meat of Choice: Beef Wood of Choice: Oak Famous Dish: Sliced Beef Brisket, Link Sausage Focus on dry rubs Sauce Style: Spicy & Tangy Tomato Based Sauce with Some Sweetness Carolinas Meat of Choice: Pork Wood of Choice: Hickory; Oak also used Famous Dish: Pulled Pork, Whole Hog Sauce Style: Vinegar Based in East; Tomato Based in West; Mustard Based also Served in Georgia & South Carolina According to the Outdoor Cooking Channel, KC style barbecue is America’s most dominant, noting, “Local grocery store more than likely has shelves packed with Kansas City style barbecue sauce. Kansas City style barbecue is so well recognized and so celebrated that the world’s largest barbecuing and grilling organization, The Kansas City Barbecue Society, purposely includes the name of this BBQ Mecca city.” It goes on to say “Kansas City style barbecue is ruled by the sauce – you’ll experience a sweet and thick sauce that is usually made up with tomato and molasses base… (and that) Kansas City style barbecue also is home to a barbecue “holy grail” – […]

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