5 MUST HAVES for your 2017 MLS Budget

by Marilyn Wilson on September 28, 2016


We’re getting to budget time again and  starting to think about what products and services that MLS’s should offer their members in 2017 and beyond. MLSs, of course, need to continue to offer their core MLS system, but there are a few other areas to consider as you move into your next budget planning cycle that will help your members.  WAV Group believes you should offer products and services that are designed to address a core need of your subscribers.  No MLS should offer a technology just because it’s exciting or new. They ALL need to address a fundamental challenge or create new opportunities for your subscribers.  There are five key needs that we believe are vital to the success of any MLS organization that need to be considered in 2017.  We have outlined the strategies and the proposed solutions below: Making Earnest Money Collection Safer Providing Broader Data Access Helping your Members Succeed with Technology Keeping your Subscribers Safe Making it Easy for Brokers to Leverage MLS data Making Earnest Money Collection Safer Our industry has done a good job of bringing the transition process online.  We now have great methods for filling out, signing and distributing disclosures and forms online via a myriad of document management, transaction management and electronic signature solutions. We haven’t yet addressed the final mile though.  Today, agents are still driving all over town to collect and deposit earnest money checks.  There is more risk within this part of the process than any other yet we as an industry have ignored.  Read this interesting case study about how Northstar MLS is addressing this problem very effectively. Providing Broader Data Access The core job of the MLS is to provide comprehensive, accurate and up to date real estate information that every REALTOR can leverage in their business.   Brokers continue to be frustrated by their inability to get one regional source of data for their websites, back office tools and mobile solutions.  MLSs will be doing their members a great service by finding ways to get them broader data access beyond JUST their local MLS.  While consolidation is the ultimate way to accomplish this task, many regions just can’t get beyond the politics. In the meantime, you can look at a variety of FREE and paid methods for accomplishing broader data access with data sharing efforts. I recently published a white paper on the topic entitled […]


Drones: A Game-Changer for Real Estate Marketing

by Victor Lund on September 27, 2016

Drone flying by house

For most real estate agents, marketing with aerial photography or video has been considered an extravagance reserved only for high-dollar properties and luxury homes. However, a new federal policy now permits Realtors to market properties at all price-points in ways that were cost-prohibitive in the past. The “Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule,” expands the possibility for commercial drone usage for the real estate industry—without the previous restrictions and complicated application process. With this new accessibility, aerial photography and video are shaping up to be the next evolution of transformative real estate marketing solutions. While video has already proven its value for Realtors, drone footage can now deliver a better value proposition. Currently, 70% of home buyers used video to tour the inside of a home. In addition, homes listed with video receive four times more inquiries than those without video. But, now that it is fairly simple to obtain a remote pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a mere $150 by studying independently and taking a test on basic aeronautical rules and concepts. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand: With more people positioned to provide aerial footage of properties, the costs integrating it into an agent’s online marketing strategy will inevitably go down. In an increasingly competitive market landscape, drone photography and video offers a unique approach for differentiating an agent’s services. Aerial shots provide more depth and dimension than standard street level photography, telling a story about the home, neighborhood, and surrounding area while increasing the emotional connection of prospect. This added-value can create an upscale feel for even modest home listings. But, drone imagery not only makes a listing shine above the others, it also showcases an agent’s marketing thought leadership. Of course, as with any disruptive technology, early adopters of drone photography and videography will gain the most competitive advantage—until consumers come to expect it as a standard service offered by all agents. Research shows that there’s a first-mover advantage to technology adoption; pioneers are more likely to experience increased revenue and market share. Other Realtors will follow suit as the technology bears marketing results. As Will Caldwell, CEO of the real estate technology company Rivolix, predicts: “Aerial photography will become another line item under the photos and virtual tour column when marketing a listing. Consumers will begin to demand it, as there is no question more people will enjoy watching it.” Driving […]


Online Marketing

We’ve all been the unhappy recipients of unwanted junk mail and Internet advertisements, yet online marketing has been hailed as the Holy Grail among Realtors for turning up sales leads. However, statistics show that scattershot online marketing does not necessarily translate into sales strength. By hyper-focusing outreach efforts on online portals, agents are missing valuable opportunities to not just create leads but actually increase sales. Agents can optimize their reach and revenue by remembering the roots of marketing principles and embracing an integrated plan that engages more offline strategies. To be sure, the prospect of influence through online channels is enticing, especially when the cost is little or none. Websites are reasonably economical to maintain and Google Analytics is very accessible, with the basic services offered for free. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter also have analytics tools that seem to deliver a sense of outreach impact. Yet the fact is that only 15 percent of sales are the result of online outreach across all channels, including social media. So, what do these analytics tools really tell Realtors about the sales effectiveness of any particular online marketing strategy? It turns out, not much. While the internet provides numerous marketing channels, online analytics tools cannot account for the funnel effect of offline marketing or overall strategy performance. Google Analytics, for instance, doesn’t reflect the root cause of a potential client’s interest in an agent’s online presence, like whether a lead viewed an agent’s Facebook page or website as a result of seeing a yard sign, meeting an agent at an open house, or following up on a recommendation from a friend. Effectively, online analytics blind agents to many of the offline opportunities and leads, which account for 85 percent of all sales overall. Each online channel delivers a different set of demographics, but also leaves some out entirely. According to the Pew Research Center, while each social media site is differentially popular amongst various ethnic groups, all are skewed demographically toward the younger generations or, in Realtor-speak, potential first-time buyers. Other market segments are hardly represented at all. For instance, almost 75 percent of seniors (age 65+) do not use social media. In light of additional facts that more than half of home buyers age 50+ owned their previous home and nearly two-thirds of sales are the result of repeat business or referrals, clearly, there’s a significant lead pool that […]


What’s the Real Value of Portal Marketing?

by Victor Lund on September 19, 2016

Graph Pie

A recent survey of over 120 broker-owners and senior leaders at some of the top real estate firms in the U.S. and Canada revealed an apparent disconnect between revenue goals and business strategies. According to the survey, 85% of brokerages focus their marketing investments on lead generation activities– despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of sales are the result of repeat clients and past client referrals. Clearly, agents and brokers are spending too much time and money marketing on portals when long-view strategies produce a better return-on-investment. While lead generation is an undeniably important tactic for targeting specific market segments, cultivating and fostering person-to-person relationships still offers the best value proposition for both brokerages and agents. Online lead generation can be influential for reaching first-time homebuyers, who are typically technology natives born after 1980. In fact, 95% of Millennials use the internet during their home search, according to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS. From a broker or agent perspective, capturing this pool of potentials via online advertising and outreach seems like low-hanging fruit. However, while online marketing casts a wide net for connecting with younger first-time buyers, this strategy yields only 15% of closed sales transactions. That’s simply not enough to grow a real estate business year-over-year—unless, perhaps, relationships with this class of consumers are cultivated over the long term. Given that the highest percentage of sales are the result of referrals and repeat business, it makes better business sense for brokers and agents to spend the bulk of their marketing dollars maintaining consistent touch-points with clients throughout their consumer lifecycle. Yet, brokers are under-investing in growth-oriented technologies that can advance the most profitable customer-for-life relationships. While individual agents may pay out of their own pocket to access Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technologies, only 28% of brokerages provide this tool. So, instead of prioritizing marketing investments toward relationship-building, brokers are losing a valuable opportunity for increasing sales by gambling on lead generation through portal outreach. With the value of long-term client relationships so appreciable, agent retention is similarly key to driving revenue growth. Research by the WAV Group shows that the number of contacts an agent contributes to a CRM expands significantly as their career matures. In fact, the most accomplished agents have 500+ contacts and those with the largest sphere of influence have been with their firm for over seven years, positioning them to achieve […]


Re-Inventing the Collection of Earnest Money – A Case Study

by Marilyn Wilson on September 15, 2016

Hands Exchanging Money

John Mosey, CEO of NorthstarMLS is known to be one of those leaders that when he finds a business challenge his brokers face, he will do his best to find a solution.  He is not afraid to go first. As such he has helped to bring to market many exciting new products that serve the greater good.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him about the latest gem he has brought to the market for his subscribers. It’s a company called TrustFunds. TrustFunds, led by Lynn Leegard, was inspired by challenges she faced when she was General Counsel for Edina Realty, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Many of you may know Edina Realty. They are the crown jewel of Home Services of America and they hire only the best and brightest. This exciting new service has helped automate one of the last elements of transactions that are not handled online – the delivery and deposit of earnest money. John told me that when he began to talk to his Executive Committee about how earnest money is handled, many became very sheepish. They readily admitted that earnest money is not handled as carefully or safely as it should be. Most transaction documents are processed, signed and distributed from secure online servers.  Earnest money, on the other hand is collected by hand. Many times earnest money checks end up in the front seat of an agent’s car or in the bottom of their purses while waiting to be deposited.  Earnest money is the last process in the real estate transaction that has not been brought online. Inefficient and Unsecure Process Overall the earnest money collection process is inefficient and unsecure at best. First, the buyer takes the check to their agent, and then the Buyer’s Agent delivers the check to the Listing Agent. Next the Listing Agent takes the check to the Designated Trust Account Holder (DTAH), which could be the listing broker or title company.  Fourth, the check gets deposited in a Trust Account. While all of these steps are going on nobody in the process knows the status of those checks.  Everybody in the transaction is waiting for the check to deposit and settle, yet they are all unaware of the status. Unsecure Process This process is fraught with a lack of security.  Copies, scans and faxes of the checks can end up in unknown hands.  Multiple parties including the agent, office assistant, admin, transaction […]


News Release

Why does your news release meet with silence while your competitor makes headlines regularly? There could be more than one answer to that question, but the place to start is the quality of your news releases. Some basics: News releases differ from advertisements, where someone is paying for the time or space to say something, and blog posts, where you can also say pretty much what you want because it’s your website.  In both cases, readers know that they are reading an opinion that may be factual but lacks the credibility that comes from being published by a respected outlet as a news story. A news release is a first step towards getting a news outlet interested in covering something positive about your organization. Its end goal is to generate a news story, not to be used verbatim. Because they are usually well-written and well-researched, they are often used as stand-alone documents on blogs or in social media.  As noted above, news releases that end up as blogs have less credibility than those that end up as news stories. Journalists are looking for news that will interest their readers of information they can use in the jobs or personal lives.  They care about its quality, newsworthiness, legitimacy and appeal to their readers.  A good news release can be a journalist’s nest friend, but if your news release even suggests that it is not going to meet the outlet’s standards (and Every editor or report working for a medium-sized to major news site receives 25 to 500 news releases a day.   Perhaps one or two will be used.  The first thing a journalist does is scan the headline.  Then the first sentence of the release (called the ‘led’ but pronounced ‘lead’). If you have violated any of the following, your news release will end up in the high-tech version of a round file. Fail to proofread. Professionals who edit and write for news outlets and blogs for a living won’t take you very seriously if you don’t meet their high standards of grammar, spelling and style.  If work alone and don’t have a colleague to review your copy, get a good editing program. Lay off the hype. Hype is extravagant; judgemental language used to promote a person, thing or service. Superlatives like “best,” “most popular,” or “highest performer” are giveaways.  Avoid any word that makes a judgment without cold hard fact […]


Looking At VR For Real Estate? AR Will Be Even Bigger

by Kevin Hawkins on September 14, 2016

VR headset

A lot of attention in real estate goes into looking at what the next big thing will be in technology that will impact our business. As a self-confessed closet Geek, I do my best to stay on top of future trends. All things related to data has garnered my greatest attention over the last few years – from Predictive Analytics, to Artificial Intelligence and the emergence of the “algorithm economy.” The future impact of these trends on real estate will be stunning, but there are two other trends closer to the vest for real estate brokerages that could have a much more rapid and practical impact. And that’s what is happening in leveraging technology to allow people to not just see a house remotely, but feel as if they are actually inside the home. VR has the buzz One of the biggest buzzes in real estate continues to be around Virtual Reality. VR gives real estate agents the ability to immerse customers into a property, virtually, through a three dimensional online experience. Matterport is among the hottest technology being used to create the most advanced digital 3D property tours. Just visit their website, and you’ll see the value of what they do. It is being used by some of real estate’s biggest and most forward-thinking brands: Redfin, Alain Pinel Realtors, Halstead, and Apartments.com, to name a few. In fact, Matterport has spawned a cottage industry, giving birth to a nationwide network of professional 3D photographers who have helped drive down the cost of a 3D tour and make it more accessible to agents nationwide. Pushing VR into mainstream America with VR headsets are big brands like Sony, HTC and Oculus Rift (owned by Facebook), which range from $399 – $799. Pushing the price point lower while rapidly expanding market access is Samsung with its Gear VR priced at $99 (just attach a Samsung smartphone) and Google Cardboard at just $16.99, that uses just about any smartphone. There are many more models in or coming to the marketplace, and I believe VR technology will help accelerate real estate’s next phase of property immersion. AR will be bigger But for all the hype that has focused on VR, I think Niantic’s Pokémon GO shows how huge Augmented Reality can be. Far more powerful than a VR, AR is the technology that can make people feel as if they are actually inside the home. Here’s […]


Good PR Sometimes Means Keeping Your Name Out Of The Media

by Kevin Hawkins on September 14, 2016

Bad Publicity

It was a lesson I learned fairly early on in my career in Public Relations and one I will never forget: Good PR sometimes means keeping clear of media coverage. It’s an axiom that not many people understand, but I believe it is actually harder than any other kind of strategic public relations. Let me explain. A deeper understanding I wanted to be in Public Relations since I was a junior in high school. That is quite the anomaly, as even today, most high school juniors do not have a clue as to what PR really is. But I was challenged by the fact that despite my having an A-type personality, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was a fateful visit to the school library where I uncovered this profession called PR. It matched up perfectly with my skillset that was gleaned from my career aptitude test. So did social worker, but the estimated salary for PR was twice as much. I went on to study Communications at the University of Miami, Florida and then attended the School of Journalism at USC to obtain one of the few MPR degrees in the U.S. at the time: a Masters in Public Relations. Early in my career, I had the good fortune of some phenomenal PR mentors, from my first PR boss Lynn Dorr, who let this PR cub book the highly popular TV show “AM Los Angeles” for clients that included a dog psychologist and the sewing lady, to Jamie James, who clients included a slew of early technology related firms, including a software-only store owned by the co-founder of Ashton-Tate (dBase for you historical data junkies) – and the one and only Liberace. Now after having spent more than a couple of decades practicing my profession, having represented and worked with some of the biggest brands in the real estate and finance industry, I especially appreciate the nuisances of what we do at WAV Group Communications and I know my colleagues in the industry share the same enjoyment. Another lesson I have learned is that few things are really “new” because in some similar way, it has been done before. That remains true of trying not to garner the attention of the media for very specific occasions. It sounds like the reverse of PR, but in actuality, it is the highest skilled professionals that accomplish this best […]


3 Takeaways From The Florida Realtors Convention

by Kevin Hawkins on September 14, 2016


In Orlando, Florida, the energy was electric, the attendance was impressive (several thousand) and the headliner was Jay Leno. Florida Realtors marked their 100th anniversary with a bash that will be long remembered, a hallmark salute to the accomplishments of one of the largest and most enduring state trade associations in America. For me, it was a return trip to a convention I knew well, having been an architect of a major sponsorship by my one time employer, Great Western Bank, many decades ago. The quick trip I took from Seattle to Orlando was well worth the investment, and it brought a flash flood of memories: the convention at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, the UM marching band opening the Trade Expo, with the Hurricane Cheerleaders adding their spirit. Great Western was doing private, by invitation only, viewings of its new free video, “Understanding the Home Loan Process.” There was a line for no-shows. Fast-forward to this year’s Florida Realtors confab. Same high energy, many of the same types of exhibitors, helping to illustrate the saying that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Here are my three takeaways from their 100th Celebration: Takeaway #1- Technology is making things good – and bad: The Trade Expo was free to anyone who could make their way to the Rosen Single Creek Resort (an awful name for a hotel by the way; a nice space, but a pretty mundane property by Orlando standards). The big bonus was the free offsite parking with a frequent shuttle service in air condition buses. That was really good. The technology at the Expo illustrates industry trends. Florida Realtors showcased its Realtor-built technology; both its Transaction Management solution – Form Simplicity (great new website, by the way) – and sister company Tech Helpline. Both had prime booth space in the main hallway right outside the main registration area, giving it non-stop traffic. Form Simplicity also hosted some hands-on training and their sessions were pretty packed, illustrating the thirst agents have for what has become a must-have versus a should-have. Tech Helpline had their own Apple-type Genius Bar open at their booth, and I watch their support advisors dive in to fix issues agents had, as well as teach them how to avoid problems in the future. That was probably the best thing I saw at the show. Zillow has a lot of Realtors clamoring around […]


Is Data Sharing Still a Viable Option?

by Marilyn Wilson on September 14, 2016

Iphone Holding Hands

The world we operate in is getting smaller and more connected every day. Now that the real estate market is solid again, brokerages are reaching out and expanding into new markets.  Consumers are getting more sophisticated and expect their agents to be able to provide them access to all listings in their region. Homebuyers don’t care that there may be more than one MLS in the region where they live. They just want ALL of the listings available in their area from their agent. WAV Group thought it would be interesting to take a look at the state of data sharing today.  Due to increased focus on consolidation opportunities, data sharing has not gotten as much press recently as it has in the past, but there are many regions where it is alive and well and solving important business challenges.  Many of our MLS/Association clients are considering data sharing initiatives so we thought it might be helpful to interview those that are already involved in data shares to help future data sharing programs. Check out the attached white paper WAV Group 2016 State of Data Sharing reviewing the latest trends in data sharing.


Intermountain MLS Job Posting

by Marilyn Wilson on September 14, 2016


WAV Group is excited to announce a really exciting job opportunity for progressive MLS leaders.  Intermountain MLS, located in Boise, Idaho is looking for a new Chief Executive Officer. I have worked with this organization for awhile now and they are one of the best run MLSs out there.  And for those of you who went to CMLS when it was hosted in Boise, Idaho you know what an AMAZING place it is!  I would love to talk to you to any of you that may be interested in learning more about the position. Also if you would like to meet with me confidentially next week at the CMLS conference, send me a note and we can schedule some time to talk! Check out the Job Description Below! Chief Executive Officer Intermountain MLS Intermountain Multiple Listing Service (IMLS) serves approximately 5,100 real estate professionals throughout Idaho and eastern Oregon, through relationships with eight REALTOR® associations. IMLS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boise Regional REALTORS® (BRR) and is based in Boise, Idaho. The company is now accepting applications for a Chief Executive Officer to replace the outgoing CEO who is a taking a position with an MLS technology company, after 11 years of service at IMLS. Prime candidates will have experience and connections in the MLS industry, and will continue delivering the outstanding services our subscribers enjoy, while also positioning the organization for future innovation and growth. In addition, Intermountain MLS is looking for a leader who not only knows how to run the administrative and technical aspects of an MLS, but who can effectively manage relationships with the shareholder association, vendors, subscribers, and the Board of Directors, in a collaborative, responsive, and engaging manner. Candidates should have 5+ years of MLS experience, preferably in executive leadership or management roles, possess a strong knowledge of various MLS systems and third-party real estate applications. (IMLS currently uses Paragon for its MLS system and RAMCO for its membership database.) The CEO will provide overall administration and management of the MLS system, staff, and leadership through the following tasks, as others as assigned by the Board of Directors: Update the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Rules and Regulations as required by the NAR Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy, and will submit documents to NAR, as required. Create and implement policies and procedures as directed by NAR, as required, and the IMLS Board of Directors. Oversee […]


How Do Top Homes.com and Realtor.com Compare?

by Victor Lund on September 8, 2016

House Ladder

Since internet is among the top three most important methods of generating real estate leads and online listing sites rank as one of the most valuable tools, every agent is challenged to leverage these resources for creating, capturing, and closing leads. But, how can agents effectively compare the value propositions of marketing on the most popular real estate sites? An analysis of online marketing solutions from Realtor.com and Homes.com show that their marketing tools stack up pretty solidly when compared side by side, offering a range of options to suit any agent’s CRM strategy, marketing budget, and revenue goals. Both online real estate sites possess expansive reach that enables agents to pitch their professional profiles broadly while electing strategies that fit within their budget and plan. The no-cost Realtor.com profiles promote trust relationships with prospects by detailing agents’ listings, client recommendations, ratings, and reviews. Similarly, two programs through Homes.com amplify an agents’ brand while also providing the benefit of decreasing regional competition for carry a nominal cost. For instance, the Local Connect program, available to only a select number of agents within a specific zip code, features links to registered agents’ contact information, profile, or website. An enhanced version, the Preferred Agent program, virtually eliminates online marketing competition by placing regionally-exclusive links to the registered agent’s profile only. Regardless of the price point an agent chooses, all of these programs deliver the ability to cast a wide net for maximizing brand awareness and lead pipeline development. In addition, leading online real estate sites can aid effective CRM expansion with prompt lead response tools. Both the Showcase Listings by Realtor.com and Lead Concierge by Homes.com direct all prospects solely to the registered agent through lead notification, alongside valuable consumer context such as recently viewed properties. While the Showcase Listing program automatically sends prospects an email to let them know an agent will reach out shortly, Lead Concierge answers online queries directly, e licits qualifying information, and transfers the prospect to the agent in real-time. The main distinction between these two online solutions is the degree of third party service, and agents’ needs will vary according to their budget and CRM development plan. Realtor.com and Homes.com also have agents covered for the indispensable integration of social media networking into their CRM strategy, with each site providing solutions designed for the specific scope of content marketing services required.  Realtor.com offers a free Social Connections […]


Growing Agents’ CRM with Solutions from Homes.com

by Victor Lund on September 7, 2016

Homes.com Logo

There’s a significant opportunity gap for agents to grow their CRM through online real estate sites. The statistics are in: While almost half of buyers find their home online, 89% still use a real estate agent or broker to seal the deal. That’s why advertising on a real estate site can do wonders for creating a robust agent CRM for agents… IF the agent understands how online marketing works to secure more traffic, leads, and clients. There are many online marketing options, but Homes.com ranks #1 in terms of lead quality and they offer a range of solutions for building a pipeline of potential clients. Successful agents know a strong CRM depends on never missing an opportunity to place crucial business-driving links their personal website and Homes.com makes an online prospect’s decision to connect with an agent a simple click away. For instance, the Local Connect program highlights the registered agent’s contact information alongside an inquiry form just under the listing agent’s information. The Featured Agent program works similarly but takes the shape of a prominent banner ad featuring an agent’s listed properties. Since these programs are only offered to a select number of agents within any given city or zip code, they effectively decrease online competition for regional CRM expansion. Of course, agents can side step all of the advertising competition by signing on as a Preferred Agent, which enables sole placement of their profile alongside their listing bundle. But while maximizing links to an agent’s contact information and website are fundamental for CRM lead generation, it’s critical to respond to them quickly. One industry study discovered that while 89% of consumers feel response time was a very important factor in selecting their agent, 45% of inquiries generated from real estate websites went unanswered. Homes.com offers a Lead Concierge program that immediately answers online queries from any real estate website (including competitors) and pre-qualifies leads based on elicited information such as whether the consumer already has agent representation or financing. Then, the concierge directly transfers the lead to the agent in real-time. This solution empowers agents to efficiently populate their CRM with high-quality prospects. Other time-saving solutions for developing a promising CRM include end-to-end social media management, an essential task that is often neglected by busy agents. Homes.com can set up and maintain an agent’s accounts on multiple platforms such as Facebook and Twitter by posting regionally relevant content, […]


BHGRE Metro Brokers Shares Zap Story

by Victor Lund on September 6, 2016


WAV Group was very fortunate to spend time with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers (Metro Brokers) Chief Operating Officer, Craig McClelland to learn about their role out of the highly touted Zap platform. The Zap platform is the strategic technology brokerage solution developed by ZapLabs (formerly ZipRealty) that is being rolled out to all of the REALOGY® Franchise Group brands, ergo 250,000 real estate professionals. WAV Group was surprised by the Metro Brokers announcement that they were launching Zap this early in the roll out. Metro Brokers is a huge Atlanta, GA brokerage firm with 1930 agents and 25 offices, making them the largest Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate franchise by agent count. They are also a high volume company processing 7800 transactions a year (100% DotLoop), which ranks them just outside of the top 50 brokers in America, and second among BGHRE firms behind Gary Greene. Aside from size, Metro Brokers owns a technology company. The leadership of the firm own a company called Brytecore, a broker technology platform that includes the broker website, agent websites, and back office solutions. Brytecore is a very advanced solution that we have reviewed as a game changer for large firms. Some of the keys that influenced the decision to go with Zap have to do with Metro Brokers Platinum status as a Principle broker in the Cartus network. Realogy CEO Richard Smith is keenly focused on making Zap particularly successful for relocation, and a common platform for servicing clients is an important element of delivering a high quality, uniform service. Metro Brokers is on track to close over 1500 relocation transactions a year, a significant percentage of their total volume. McClelland opines that Zap is WAY better than lead router, “referral and online leads need incubation, and Zap is outstanding for that.” As you can see from the screen shot below, Metro Brokers was actually a perfect place for Zap to have a successful roll out. Metro Brokers has created a center of excellence around agent communication and training. This is the home screen where agents log into Metro Brokers. You can see the enormous commitment to Zap awareness, education, and training. Every brokerage firm can take a cue from this intranet. It’s visually awesome and content rich. All of the important tools are a link away – email, documents, DotLoop, Agent website, etc. The phenomenal feature is […]



Real estate brokerages waste valuable growth opportunities by over-focusing on new client adoption and agent recruitment instead of implementing solutions for the retention of both. Industry research shows that repeat clients spend 67% more than first-time clients, so agent and client turnover reduces a brokerage’s potential return-on-investment (ROI) for marketing and training dollars. The key to capturing these high yield sales is enabling agents to efficiently communicate with clients throughout the sales process and beyond. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution significantly boosts the ability of agents to foster long-term relationships, driving repeat—and more profitable– sales. The potential benefits of an experienced agent’s digital rolodex, or CRM, cannot be understated. Given that 80% of buyers would use their agent again, or refer their agent to others, an agent doesn’t have to engage in costly marketing tactics to convince prospects of their value—they’ve already proven it. Agents who have been with a firm for a number of years have cultivated a broad network of the most fruitful prospects. Since client acquisition costs five times more than retention, it makes business sense to provide a targeted CRM tool for agents to maintain positive client relations before and long after the sale, with the added benefit of acquiring additional new referrals. A CRM enables agents to show their professionalism and dedication at every client touch-point, maintaining a top-of-mind presence even years after a sale. Agents can create a 360 degree client view to deliver anticipatory service that increases trust and loyalty. This relationship deepens even after the sale through continued outreach via e-Newsletters, drip campaigns, social media posts and personalized communication on important dates such as anniversaries of new home purchases. More powerfully, a CRM can track response metrics such as how many past clients clicked on electronic links, providing insight into potential leads for harnessing repeat business. Providing effective tools to bolster agents’ achievement positively influences a sense of loyalty toward the firm. As consumer expectations continually rise, brokerages are coming under increased pressure to reduce commissions—which makes it difficult to retain top performers. However, an effective CRM can reduce agents’ time spent on attracting new leads, managing the end-to-end processes of closing the deal, and maintaining communication with existing and past clients. In effect, a CRM increases production with less ‘hands-on’ investment from the agent, making their time spent on each transaction more financially worthwhile. A satisfied agent is one who […]

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NNRMLS Shares Best Practice for Data Management

by Victor Lund on August 30, 2016

The Northern Nevada Regional MLS could be considered a middle tier MLS, ranking around the top 100 largest MLSs in the nation. There are approximately 728 MLSs today, down from 750 in the past 6 months. As consolidation runs rampant across America’s MLS, NNRMLS has become a shining light of MLS excellence. Shelley Specchio, CEO of NNRMLS credits a combination of strong broker relationships and the influence of the Council of MLS as keystones for keeping NNRMLS well positioned to serve their brokers, especially in areas of Data Management. Data Management for MLS has three themes. The first theme is the MLS system database. The second is data services to participating firms, like Internet Data Exchange (IDX) or Virtual Office Websites (VOW). The third is Listing Syndication to publishers. It is this last area of Listing Syndication that NNRMLS developed a Best Practice for Data Management. Specchio explains, “When Listing Syndication became a hot topic back in 2013, we realized that while we, the leadership and staff, had been engaging in the national discussion and clearly understood the ins and outs of Syndication, many of our brokers had not thought about it since we launched ListHub in 2007. Focused on their own businesses, they had forgotten the details and we had failed to keep them engaged in the process, the result was frustration.” To redesign their Data Management program for Listing Syndication, Specchio began to organize a series of meetings to better understand the source of the frustration as well as the pain points for brokers. At first, she fielded demands to drop ListHub and Syndication entirely. But as 2014 progressed and more broker meetings were hosted, it became evident that the main complaint was mistakenly founded on the notion that the MLS was syndicating listings without proper broker direction. (To be clear, NNRMLS has always been a broker opt-in for all Listing Syndication and continues to be.) Once brokers were reintroduced to these facts other issues emerged including, data licensing with publishers, access to control of listing distribution, the speed of updates to the publishers chosen by the broker, and a demand to accurately identify the status. Best Practice for Broker Choice One frustration included accessing the dashboard to make syndication decisions. Although NNRMLS has long offered Single Sign on through Clareity Security, ListHub does not, even now, support an SSO solution.  So NNRMLS created a Broker Section on […]

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Gurtej Sodhi Promoted

by Victor Lund on August 30, 2016

Gurtej Sodhi

Two years into being assigned the role of the Chief Strategist in addition to being Crye-Leike’s Chief Information Officer, Gurtej Sodhi has been promoted to the position of Chief Information & Operations Officer for the Crye-Leike Group of Companies. In his new role, Sodhi is chartered with the responsibility of ensuring that all the business units utilize the best systems and processes to operate in the most effective and productive manner. He reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer & Chairman Harold Crye, Technology, systems, and processes are all becoming critical to achieving maximum efficiency, noted Crye. “Gurtej has successfully delivered in all the roles he has undertaken over the past two decades as Crye-Leike has grown geographically, along with diversifying into multiple business units,” said Crye.  “As a key member of the senior executive team, we expect him to guide and assist all the business unit presidents in attaining a unified vision and cohesive goal of sustained growth and profitability in this role.” “I am excited and optimistic to play a part in helping Crye-Leike’s future success and aligning the business operations and technology for all our units in an integrated manner to deliver the best results for our agents, employees and customers,” said Sodhi. “I am thankful and honored by the trust and confidence placed in me.”


How Does Howard Hanna Do It?

by Victor Lund on August 24, 2016

Table with job growth stats

The title to this article may very well become the title of a book someday. The story of Howard Hanna’s ascension to the pinnacle of real estate brokerage in America is certainly one for the Library of Congress. By and large, their growth has come from two streams – market expansion in existing offices and acquisition. Oddly, not much has come from property value growth. I remember my early days in real estate. I was at a conference somewhere and Alain Pinel was speaking about the growth of his namesake brokerage. When asked about his success, he replied along the lines of “when the doctors and lawyers are the poor people in your town, real estate is a great business.” It was a profound statement to take in. During the times of most rapid growth of Alain Pinel, Intero, and others in San Jose, property values were exploding in line with job silicon valley job expansion and income expansion. Clearly the market place in many areas of America is driving the growth of real estate brokerage. If your market share is steady but the property value grows double digits, your brokerage will have double-digit growth. In viewing the antithesis, when your market share is flat but home values go down, so does brokerage volume. It’s a factor of the old business lore that tides float all boats. Like all brokerages, Howard Hanna has experienced extraordinary growth coming out of the recession, but it was not the market that did it. Take a look at this graph that shows metros with the slowest job growth in 2016. It is pretty obvious that Howard Hanna’s growth was not just impacted by the rise in tide of property values. They expanded their market share by purchasing companies and growing same store sales. Howard Hanna has offices across the regions of Upstate New York and Northern PA that were highlighted as markets with lowest job growth. These adverse local economic problems did not seem to hinder Howard Hanna. Contrast this with NRT, the nation’s largest brokerage. NRT just took a hit during their last public reporting whereby they acknowledged that the Franchise business was doing well, but company owned NRT stores were underperforming. The market reacted negatively to the NRT report because they are concerned that NRT is not able to maintain or expand the companies they acquire. In truth, we do not know […]


          Agents using RatePlug technology report faster sales cycle, provide better data to buyers Naperville, IL (Chicagoland) – August 24, 2016 – For the first time, MetroList® agents and homebuyers will be able to view on MetroList – their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – total monthly housing payments for every property listed for sale, including current mortgage rates, taxes, assessments, and home owners insurance information. MetroList Services Inc., the largest MLS in Northern California has released RatePlug’s new mortgage technology to its more than 17,000 real estate brokers and agents in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Western Merced Counties. RatePlug brings mortgage transparency to the home buying process, helping buyers better understand affordability issues at the very beginning of the home searching process, and it helps consumers “buy local,” as local lender data is provided by mortgage providers. RatePlug has become the nation’s leading mortgage technology integrated into the MLS and is now available to more than 60 percent of all real estate agents and brokers in the U.S. – or nearly 750,000 REALTORS® nationwide. “MetroList agents can now provide homebuyers a clear picture of what they really can afford upfront and as they are viewing a property,” said Dave Howe, Director of MLS Operations at MetroList. “Setting accurate consumer expectations will help buyers and real estate agents reduce the number of surprises that can come from purchasing a home.” RatePlug CEO Brad Springer says, “Consumers love doing online comparisons – ‘what if’ scenarios – looking at different interest rate and mortgage products. It’s one of the most used features RatePlug offers. And because all the property costs are up-to-date and mortgage rates are provided in real time, buyers get better, more accurate data as well.” And because RatePlug is dynamic, homebuyers stay on the agent’s listing longer, as Springer says average homebuyers spend up to 6 minutes more viewing an MLS listing featuring RatePlug than one without. Springer also notes that agents using RatePlug get another a big bonus. “Our research shows that agents who use RatePlug experience a faster sales cycle, as the list date to contract date is shortened by 14%,” Springer says. The regulatory environment within the real estate industry is complex and fluid – from the massive record-keeping requirement of the FTC MAP rules, to all of the changes that have come with TRID. The RatePlug […]



JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Aug. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Black Knight Financial Services (NYSE: BKFS) announced that Georgia MLS(GAMLS) has launched the Paragon MLS system after a smooth and successful conversion process. GAMLS extended its long-term partnership with Black Knight by signing a multi-year agreement to use Paragon, Black Knight’s comprehensive, leading-edge MLS system that offers intuitive and straightforward navigation, cross-browser compatibility, multi-tasking capabilities and access from mobile devices. GAMLS is one of the largest multiple listing service (MLS) organization in the Southeast, with over 3,100 offices and more than 31,000 agents and appraisers. “We are committed to providing smooth implementations and exceptional customer support to our clients,” said Black Knight Data & Analytics Vice President and Real Estate Market Leader Chip McAvoy. “We develop a collaborative partnership with clients and take a considerable amount of time to understand their needs before they go live on the new MLS system. With Paragon, GAMLS members can use a solution — including our Client Connect consumer portal — that sets a new standard in MLS performance and capability.” Close attention to detail and a seamless data migration were also important factors in the smooth conversion. Black Knight carefully planned every aspect of the conversion in advance, including the data migration, and worked with the GAMLS team to help coordinate front- and back-end system transition. “The Paragon transition for our large membership was executed seamlessly. The ease of the conversion process, the collaboration between GAMLS and Black Knight, and the team’s hard work led to an exceptional experience for us,” said Richard Boone, CEO of Georgia MLS. “It was imperative that the cutover go smoothly and that timelines were met so our members would experience no service interruptions or difficulties. We have worked closely with the Black Knight MLS division for approximately 10 years, and are looking forward to our continued business relationship.” Recognized in the real estate industry for its flexibility, ease of use, customizable features, continual enhancements and integration with public records information, Paragon has received the top ranking in the annual Clareity Consulting MLS Customer Satisfaction Survey for the past four years, and has recently been installed in numerous MLS organizations that selected Paragon as their MLS system of choice. About Georgia Multiple Listing Service Georgia MLS has provided real estate tools, services and education to real estate professionals for over 50 years. With member offices ranging from the North Georgia Mountains, through […]


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