March 2016

Google Creator Day

by Victor Lund on March 31, 2016

YouTube Creator Day

When some of our readers heard that my daughter Alexandra AKA Sparkles Lund was invited to attend Google Creator Day, they were genuinely interested in hearing about what she learned at this exciting event. She has written a blog post for her own blog, SparklesLund.com and I thought I would share it with you because there is some very interesting information about ways to build the size and engagement of a YouTube channel. Please follow her on Facebook, instagram, Twitter and subscribe to her YouTube channel, Enjoy! As you may know, I have been really publishing a lot of videos on YouTube the past year. It is something that became part of my career development strategy when I became a professional dancer. A lot of it was inspired by Will Willdabeast Adams, and his creative director, Brazil. When I started my channel, Willdabeast had about 500,000 subscribers. Today he has 1.5 million. When I started I had about 25, and recently I got the attention of YouTube when my subscribers neared 10K. First Observation – 10K is a magic number! Because I am in the entertainment industry, I personally know about 20 dancers that have more than 10K subscribers. Many, like Jordyn Jones have over 500K. Because their subscriber numbers are so launched, I really did not see my 10K as a big deal. However, I learned from YouTube that it is a big deal. It puts me in the top tier of YouTube creators in the world. To encourage YouTube creators, YouTube has developed 8 film studios with legit equipment in major cities around the world including Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, New York, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Paris, and Mumbai. When you hit 10K, you can unlock the YouTube space and use their film studios for FREE! Best Practices At YouTube Creator day, I was joined by about 70 other YouTubers to learn about best practices, discuss collaborations with other creators, tour the studio, and layout content plans. There are 10 Keys to Great Content 1. Discoverable – Will the content be found through search or related videos 2. Accessible – can every episode be fully appreciated by a new viewer? 3. Shareable – will viewers want to share these videos? 4. Collaborative – Is the channel working with other talents? 5. Targeted – is the channel targeting a specific audience? 6. Conversational – Is there an element of speaking directly to […]

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The New Process for RFPs in Real Estate

by Victor Lund on March 30, 2016

Display showing bad, average good, person selecting

The RFP process has been a practice of companies acquiring technology solutions forever. RFP stands for Request for Proposal. The RFP focuses on drawing out product features and functionality. Although RFPs have always asked questions about the company, that is perhaps the most important component of RFPs in 2016. Today, I would argue that an RFP really is a Request for Partnership. This change was caused by a quiet revolution. During the Y2K surge that transitioned software from mainframe to browser, there was recognition that the old process of software development was too bureaucratic, slow, and overly regimented. An alternative to traditional project management that emerged in the early 2000s is called Agile software development. They use terms like Scrum, Extreme Programing, Dynamic System Development Method, Feature-Drive Development and many others. The overarching focus of all of these methodologies is to deliver frequent, high quality working software, delivered in “sprints,” which are measured in weeks, not months. The result is continuous improvement. You are experiencing this new methodology routinely on your mobile devices. If you have notices that your iPhone asks you to update your apps all of the time, that’s it. DocuSign can illustrate an example in real estate. In the first two months of the year, they have done 18 new feature releases for their transaction management solution. The software that they offered in January has evolved in two short months. It’s not just DocuSign, this is the way it’s done for most software developers. Our Typical RFP process for an MLS or large broker is to write a draft, go through an approval and editing process, then provide the vendor with 2-4 weeks to respond. During that time line, the features of the application could change dramatically. That is the beauty of Agile development, and why companies need to adjust the way that they look at vendor selection. My key takeaway: the RFP should focus less on features and more on the frequency and quality of their releases. How fast are they evolving? A new way to learn about your Request for Partnership is to take a look at the epic stories that they are writing for their Agile sprints. Take a look back three months and see how many releases they have made, and what functions were delivered. From this type of research you can see the impact of these releases. It will give you a […]

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Is Real Estate Still in a Slump?

by Victor Lund on March 28, 2016

Real Estate Slump

After the crash in the housing market, real estate was hit by the worst recession in our nation’s history. Frankly, brokers took a beating and operated at a loss for a number of years. Since the low point, things have been steadily been improving. There was a lot of speculation that the foreclosure volume in the hardest hit markets were clogging up the supply side. As we turned the corner, these distressed properties were slowly released into the marketplace and they are mostly absorbed. There was a two to three year heyday for brokers and agents who specialized in REO properties. Looking at the production of many of the REO specialists, that business has largely fallen back to normalized levels. CoreLogic reports that the volume of “underwater” mortgages has been on a steep decline and is also returning to normal levels. That is pretty good news. It allows homeowners to trade homes without taking a loss. However, this is not opening up inventory levels for most areas of the nation. For many, inventory is still very low and that is having an impact on pricing. Home values have seen double digit increases, as supply has been so limited. That is expected to flatten out this year, largely because of affordability. Wages have not increased in line with housing values. The biggest slump we see in the market is driven by expansion. The demand for homes is outpacing supply by double digits in many areas like the San Francisco Bay Area. People cannot find housing and there is not enough new inventory being built. Pacific Union held a housing summit in November of 2015 that looked at the three year forecast for housing in the Bay Area – this was my chief takeaway. See more here: http://www.pacificunion.com/jazz. The slump has been caused by a shortage of builders. Many of the top analysts that cover the new home market estimate that even with new construction starts hedging up 10 percent, they have only recovered 64 percent since the bottom. That leaves a lag or shortage of 34 percent behind the normalized demand for new homes. An interesting nuance to the builder story is that multifamily is up 11 percent, and is running about 250 percent ahead of the trough and actually 1 percent above the norm. This is a huge bounce that represents a shift from home ownership to renting. Some Things […]

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Crye-leike IT SEO Award 3.9.16 Posed

Nashville, Tenn. (March 9, 2016) – Crye-Leike, REALTORS®, the nation’s fourth largest privately-held residential real estate firm, was named the winner of the 2015 Most Effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy Award for outstanding website marketing of its Crye-Leike.com website. This coveted SEO award was presented by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE), a global community of more than 500 high-quality independent real estate firms. Crye-Leike.com was recognized for its website marketing strategy in making it easy for consumers to find its website, with competitive positioning on popular search engines, unique content focusing on key markets, effective incorporation of social media and other tactics. This win marks the fourth time Crye-Leike has achieved this distinction, including years 2014, 2011 and 2010. Additionally, LeadingRE® presented Crye-Leike the Website Quality Certification (WQC) Award for being among the best in setting the standard of website excellence in design, technology and service. Among Leading RE’s 136 certified sites, Crye-Leike.com was one of eight websites chosen in 2016 for this award of excellence. Crye-Leike has annually maintained its website quality certification since 2009 when LeadingRE established this certification program to recognize and encourage superior websites among its 500+ member firms. The awards were presented at the network’s annual awards gala in Miami Beach, Fla. which attracted nearly 2,500 real estate professionals from 25 countries. Chief Executive Officer Harold Crye and Chief Information & Strategy Officer Gurtej Sodhi accepted the awards on behalf of the company’s Information Technology Division. Winners were selected by a panel of independent judges who conducted a thorough comparison of 500-plus real estate companies globally in the LeadingRE network, rating and ranking these websites against a long list of performance metrics. Every 12 minutes, the Information Technology Division of Crye-leike updates over 400,000 property listings on Crye-Leike.com to ensure the most accurate information, noted Sodhi. Crye- Leike.com pulls its real estate data from numerous member Multiple Listing Service agencies in nine states where Crye-Leike has a market presence. “With our web site generating over 12,000 visitors per day and 30 million hits per month, you will not find any other local real estate company to come close to Crye-Leike’s internet activity,” said Sodhi who is a two-time award recipient of the Nashville Business Journal’s 2014 & 2015 Chief Information Officer Award in its Large Private Companies (501+ employees) category. “Earning recognition among this elite LeadingRE group is a considerable achievement […]

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Will the Last PC User Please Turn Out the Lights?

by Victor Lund on March 25, 2016

Businessman using modern mobile phone

Mobile has gone global and everyone from Wired Magazine, Gartner, Forrester Research, and Barron’s is writing about it. The headline is almost always the same – “THE DEATH OF THE PC HAS NOT BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED.” The real headline is that PC sales have been negative since 2011 and the 2015 numbers showed the largest drop in sales volume in history. Before you get overwhelmed with the fear of PCs going away, it will take a long time for that to happen. Shipments of new PCs globally is still running at a pace of around 65 million to 70 million a quarter. Interestingly enough, the iPhone ships about the same number of units – and that is just from one smartphone manufacturer. As an aside, Lenovo (formerly IBM) holds the top market share with about 20 percent. HP is second in market share with 18 percent, followed closely by Apple at 16 percent and Dell at 14 percent. The new MacBook Air helped Apple pass Dell. The debut of Windows 10 did not make a big difference. There was a belief that corporations and consumers were holding off and building a demand ahead of the release. There was a little bubble, but nothing strong enough to thwart the 10% drop in PC sales. Heck, because of the move to mobile, Google even revised its revenue outlook. Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are enormously focused on mobile. You should be too! Real estate was super late in moving to mobile. Many would argue that we are still in the teeth cutting stages. A lot of this was caused by the lag of MLSs being crossbrowser compliant and mobile browser compliant. Thank goodness that we are almost there now with the leading MLS vendors. Some, like CoreLogic, have even gone the extra mile to integrate mobile apps like GoMLS. Others are using third party solutions like HomeSpotter (formerly Mobile Realty Apps). Real estate brokers should be jumping on this trend early. There are three keys to success. The first is to make sure that your app is both agent facing and consumer facing. The second is to ensure that the app that faces the consumer is integrated into your website so their saved searches and favorites are preserved across app and browser (like Zillow Group and Realtor.com). The third is to make sure that the agent app has single […]

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office location map

About Northwood Northwood Realty is among the largest independent real estate companies in America. They cover multiple states and their 38 offices are focused mainly on the densely populated areas of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. They are a full service firm with 974 agents, offering residential, finance, relocation, and insurance. Northwood is pioneering a program for agent training that introduces an effective model for other brokers to consider. It’s called Northwood Tech Trainers. About Northwood Trainers Northwood deploys five field trainers to support just under 1000 agents.  The ratio is effectively one trainer to every 200 agents. The field trainers also have one supervisor, bringing their total department count to six. Tech trainers are assigned and integrated into offices and physically visit each office at least once a week. Agents can sign up for 30 or 60 minute sessions as often as they like, covering basically anything to do with technology—from the many Northwood programs, to helping setup a new phone or laptop, social networking and more. They are always available by telephone and email and additional tech support sessions can be held using JoinMe in group sessions or one on one with an agent/manager or admin. Program Costs Northwood considers technology and training a core benefit of their brokerage. They do not charge agents any technology fees nor do agents pay for training. They offer an extensive array of technology products that are all integrated into the CoreLogic AgentAchieve platform, including agent website, agent CRM, agent CMA, Property Panorama virtual tours, Listen 360 Agent Ratings, Gmail, SkySlope Transaction Management, Five Street, zipForm Plus, VoicePad, eProperty Watch AVM, Collateral Analytics and others. If you do the math, you can multiply 1000 agents times the fees for each of these technology solutions and recognize that they are making a major investment in agent productivity. Northwood took a big risk with this strategy a few years ago. They recognized that charging agents would be a barrier to the adoption of these technology tools, so they decided not to charge. They also recognized that offering products without a significant effort to drive adoption and training would lead to low adoption. By creating the Tech Training department to support these products, they have accelerated agent adoption beyond many of their peers. Now, in the fourth year of the plan, production per agent has risen significantly with many more agents lifting their production into the top production categories in their company. In […]

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A couple of years ago, two of our most progressive clients came to RPR with a new vision about how MLS systems could work. They strongly believed that MLS systems should be offered in modules to make it easier and more practical for brokers and agents to be able to choose the MLS interface that works best for them. Tim Dain from the Austin Board of REALTORS® and Walt Baczkowski from the San Francisco Association of REALTORS® both saw the opportunity to de-couple the listing input, search and reporting functions from the database that houses all of the MLS information and listing data. When they proposed the idea a couple of years ago, the idea was just a vision. In fact, the same vision was outlined nearly 15 years ago by my former WAV Group partner, Mike Audet. The idea is not new, but until now nobody took the initiative to actually build it. It is very exciting for me to see that one of the industry’s long-standing MLS system and association management software providers has stepped up to help make Tim and Walt’s vision a reality in partnership with RPR. While the release does not outline specific deliverable dates for the program yet, it does suggest to me that leaders in our industry are committed to trying new things that will help evolve the MLS industry and hopefully continue to make it relevant. Here’s the official word from the press release: Rapattoni Corporation and Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) have jointly announced that Rapattoni customers may be among the first real estate professionals with instant access to live listing data and other MLS resources through RPR’s Advanced Multi-List Platform™ (AMP™). “We’re looking to the future of the MLS business, anticipating the needs of our customers as well as the industry at large,” said Brian Tepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Rapattoni. “Our MLS is architected to facilitate integration with a broad spectrum of emerging technologies, allowing MLSs to pull listing data from multiple sources and present it in a single interface. The new AMP™ integration is a dynamic example of how our MLS software uses listing information from multiple databases.” This is a good first step toward a much more flexible and user-centric MLS experience in my view. It would be great if every broker could define their own unique blend of MLS modules that work best for the needs of […]

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Using Market Data to Drive Media Coverage

by Steve Cook on March 22, 2016

real estate data drive news

Are you getting published in your local media? Is your firm shaping the way opinion leaders and real estate consumers view critical issues in your housing market Associations, MLSs, and brokerages have access to the best local data ever available on trends in their local markets. Sales, prices, inventories, time on market—every day real estate professionals interpret these and other data to win the confidence of their customers and clients. You have a significant opportunity to turn market data into news that attracts business and establishes credibility. National data services like RealtyTrac and CoreLogic as well as sites like Realtor.com, Zillow and Redfin have perfected the practice of building awareness by creating news from their data. As a result, it is easier for consumers to track the non-existent “national” real estate market than their local marketplace. They are hungry for a better understanding of current trends where they live. Market trends aren’t always positive. Lower sales, falling prices, distress sales and tight inventories are part of the real estate business, but they can also generate negative coverage. If you are a credible source and on top of the market, you can mitigate potentially damaging data by putting it into perspective. Remember, the market is always working to someone’s advantage. Lower prices advantage buyers and first time home buyers. Distressed sales create opportunities for property management and investors. Tight inventories drive consumers to sign up with brokers for new listing notifications. Great communications programs highlight the good in everything. Your communications staff or PR firm can help you create news from local market trends, or you can turn to WAV Group Communications to create an effective communications program for your market. Below is an example of how we might handle one of the hottest stories in real estate—chronically low inventories: February Housing Market is Shaping up to be the Sellers’ Market of a Decade February home sales were stronger than normal as demand continued to reduce the average time that houses are selling in Ourtown, according to the latest data available to XYZ Realty. Lower inventories of homes for sale could reflect a national pattern that is creating unusual opportunities for sellers as the spring buying season opens. Sales rose 2 percent from January and now are running 5 percent higher than they were a year ago. New listings also increased 6 percent, but total homes for sale are still below […]

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Late Christmas morning, after the presents were opened, the wrapping discarded and breakfast consumed, my wife sent a text to her real best friend Paige that read, “I have a new best friend!” Paige promptly responded with “Huh?” “Her name is Alexa, as in the new Amazon Echo,” my wife texted back. How lucky am I, as a guy, to have a wife who put at the top of her gift list, a technology item? But more important was her reaction. She genuinely fell in love with Alexa within minutes after turning it on. It was wickedly cool and ridiculously smart responding to our verbal commands without any voice training. Dragon dictation be damned! That signature moment was engrained in my brain as I walked among 125,000 others at the National Association of Home Builder’s International Builders Show earlier this year, gawking at the half-million square feet occupied by 1,400 exhibitors. What I came to realize in the short time I spent in Vegas was that the Smart Home we’ve all been reading about and talking about literally for decades, the one enjoyed by Gazillionaires and hobbyists, is about to be delivered, for real this time – and for the rest of us – by no less than Amazon. Self-disclosure: I’m a closet Geek I’ve always been a gadget guy. In elementary school, I was the kid in the class who fixed the projector when it jammed and the film melted. I started the first Video Club in my senior year in high school, prompted by the school’s purchase of a reel-to-reel Sony black and white video recorder the size of a small suitcase. Later, I would lug a 26-pound Kaypro “portable” PC on a plane to Vegas for my job at a PR Agency in LA so I could work during the Consumer Electronics Show. My addiction began early. I remember how excited I was, maybe 6 or 7, when my dad brought home a transistor Sony radio that was so small, it could fit in your hand. We’d take it to a Cubs game, sit in the bleachers for a buck, and with a single earbud attached by a white flimsy wire, we could take turns listening to Jack Brickhouse call the play-by-play on WGN radio. My mom will tell you that I liked take things apart – old radios, record players – anything electrical to try and […]

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LeadingRE, Miami Beach and Marketing Automation

by Kevin Hawkins on March 16, 2016

The Fontainebleau in Miami Beach recently hosted LeadingRE. It’s always happens during what I like to think of as the real estate brokerage convention season. Keller Williams, with its Family Reunion, preceded it in New Orleans and RE/MAX R4 followed it in Las Vegas. If you really want to get a feel for the real estate market in America, these conferences are a great place to gauge what is really happening on the ground because the preponderance of attendees are broker-owners. Conferences that target industry leaders or tech companies or the intelligentsia of real estate are great for forward thinking, but there’s nothing like visiting the exhibit areas and listening to agents engage face-to-face with vendors that are trying to convince them that they have a solution to their pain points. It’s refreshing and it’s real. A LeadingRE conference, if you have not been to one, is packed with practical information and vendors that speak brokerage. LeadingRE has become a juggernaut for luxury real estate with growing global reach, comprising a group of brokerages that really are a cut above the competition: over 500 firms, 120,000 associates, 3,500 offices in 50 countries. In fact, 14 of the 25 top brokerage firms in the U.S. are part of LeadingRE. The Idea Setting If you have never been to the Fontainebleau at 44th and Collins Avenue, sandwiched between the Intercostal Waterway and the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean warmed by the Gulf Stream just off shore, you need to. My late father was the head of the Service department (Bell staff, Doormen and valet) at the hotel in the 1970s and 80s. I worked there in high school and college, so I know the property – and its history — intimately. Originally built in 1954, it is where the film “The Bellboy” with Jerry Lewis was shot and golden girl in “Goldfinger” was found dead. It also could be seen in the Miami Vice TV show, as Don Johnson’s Sonny Crocket raced towards the Mural on the side of its old Spa building and in many other major films, from Scarface to The Bodyguard. It was also frequented by the biggest names in show business: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Elvis, Ann Margaret, Raquel Welch, and more. It was even home one summer to Muhammad Ali, and in fact, one of the hotel’s bellman (Levi Forte) was his sparring partner. Something […]

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About the Firm When outlining broker excellence, it is always helpful to begin by painting a picture of the company that is executing an effective strategy. There are many dimensions to operating a successful brokerage. Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International real estate finds its success by serving consumers along the North Shore of Long Island from Manhasset to the North Fork where they operate 25 offices to support about 850 agents. Real Trends ranks the firm 59th in the Nation across all brokerage for volume, and fourth in America among Sotheby’s franchises. They are among the first brokerage firms in the Nation to develop buyer data as an asset. We met with their CTO, CIO and CMO to understand their buyer as an asset strategy. Pursuit of Buyer Data As An Asset We interviewed, Susan Poli, Chief Information Officer for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty to learn about a new strategy that we are beginning to see brokers execute around making buyer data an asset of a brokerage. For Daniel Gale, data assets have long been understood in terms of listing data. “The management of a broker’s listing inventory continues to be a center of excellence for Daniel Gale,” says Poli. They have long understood the value of the supply side management in real estate. Now they have branched out to improve the demand side of data asset management. They are moving beyond lead management into buyer asset management. Buyer Demand Is As Important As Listing Supply “When agents present our company services to prospective sellers, we follow the custom of outlining how our marketing excellence will expose their property to the largest audience of potential buyers,” says James Retz, Chief Marketing Officer at Daniel Gale. Daniel Gale Sotheby’s blends the International reach of the Sotheby’s brand with the local expertise of Daniel Gale. Marketing is a center of excellence for the firm. “In the development of our new buyer demand strategy, we go beyond marketing to a inform sellers of the number of buyers we have for their home today!” While most agents are talking about how they are going to market a listing and wait for buyers, Daniel Gale agents are telling the story about how they already have buyers for their home. List with Daniel Gale right now and they will begin inviting buyers to showings immediately. Daniel Gale happens to sell around half of the listings that […]

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Protect Your Content Now

by Victor Lund on March 16, 2016

My 13-year-old daughter provided me with a raw lesson in digital rights management yesterday. It is a pretty simple lesson really – do not let others build their business using your content, at your expense. Background Like every 13 year old, Social Media is a thing. 13 is the minimum age to open an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Kik, and SnapChat. You need to be 18 for YouTube, but a 13-year-old can sign up with a parent’s permission. For those of you who know me well, you know that my daughter already has a social media following that is the envy of even the largest real estate firms in America. Today, my 13 year old has just under 10,000 subscribers on YouTube and more than 1.1 Million Views. Contrast that with Century 21 – 4865 Subscribers, 450k views. RE/MAX is edging her out with 13,000 subscribers and 1.9 Million Views. One of the stunning observations here is that many brands – Franchise Brands, Brokerage Brands, MLS Brands, and Association of REALTOR® Brands cannot get the people that work with them to subscribe on social media. It begs the question, why would a consumer have interest if a real estate agent does not? The Official Century 21 Instagram page has 7449 followers and many of the posts to not eclipse 50 likes. My 13 year old has 14,000 followers and her average post gets 500 to 900 likes. https://www.instagram.com/sparkleslund/ Does Content Sharing Work? My daughter is in the entertainment industry, and is the Dancer of the Year for a National Dance Competition. She has booked some episodes on prime time TV, but has not been a series regular. She has attracted the attention of some advertising companies like DanceOn. DanceOn asked if they could post a recent video that my daughter did on their Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram channels. When you are 13, that is an exciting moment. DanceOn has 258,000 followers on Instagram last night. In 10 hours, the video had 5465 likes on 22,000 views. You would think that she would get some Instagram followers from that – but she did not. They linked to her account the right way and everything. Pretty disappointing. DanceOn posted the video on Facebook where they have 658,000 followers. In 24 hours, her video attracted over 50,000 views. My daughter got fewer than 5 new followers. DanceOn has 598,000 subscribers […]

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Reducing Agent Attrition – Marketing to your Agents

by Marilyn Wilson on March 16, 2016

Brokers across America do a great job of promoting their listings to potential home buyers and sellers with attractive flyers, online promotions, open houses, and effective website promotion, not to mention MLS promotion. Most brokers have a well-oiled system for building attractive marketing materials to sell their listings quickly. In my view, there’s a hole in the focus of marketing departments. Very few of the brokerages that we work focus on promoting their OWN brand and service offerings to their OWN agents. Brokers like to complain about the lack of adoption of tools and technologies. They wistfully talk about the agent they lost to a competitor because the grass looked greener at the other brokerage. Many times the agent leaves because the competitor promises some exciting marketing program. Unfortunately, there are too many times when the broker they just left had the SAME marketing program but the agent didn’t even know it! I believe that both of these challenges can be addressed, at least to some extent with a more concerted effort to take credit for the culture, support, training and programs that brokers offer their agents. Brokerages need to dedicate marketing resources to first clarifying the unique value their brand and culture offers to its agents. In other words, what is the company’s secret sauce? What makes it unique? What makes it the best place for an agent to hang their license? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, any efforts you put forth will likely miss the mark. Second, brokers need to step up their game with the type of personnel they hire for marketing. Gone are the days of marketing “secretaries” that were hired mainly to set up listings in the MLS and make pretty flyers. Marketing is a lot more strategic now. Your marketing team can be one of THE best ways to ensure that your agents hang around because they understand, appreciate and embrace the unique programs and approach that your brokerage provides them. You need to hire marketing strategists that can be your partner in figuring out ways to stand apart from your competitors and retain agents. Next, resources need to be dedicated to ongoing promotion of the tools, training, support and mentoring that your brokerage offers them. You need to regularly take credit for the value they receive from your portion of the commission split. Agents are busy and have short […]

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I Didn’t Hire FOUR Listing Agents!

by Marilyn Wilson on March 16, 2016

There’s nothing like becoming an ACTUAL customer of a product to give you a different perspective. I have looked at Zillow and other third party sites a gazillion times in my career as a consultant, but it took actually selling a home to really open my eyes. We held onto our home in Buffalo, New York for a long time after moving to California. This year we finally decided to sell it. Once the home was live on third party sites, I became very interested in the agents who were featured on the property. I called each one to experience what a potential buyer might. Here’s what happened: First, every one of the premiere agents and my listing agent called me back within minutes. This is not the normal response time I have experience in the past, so I was very pleased. Checkmark for all of them on responsiveness. Now let’s get to the area that was very troublesome to me. I asked each agent to tell me a bit more about the house. I wanted to see how much they actually knew about the property. Had they visited it? Were they familiar with the neighborhood? The town? The Street? I was very disappointed to find out that NONE of the premiere agents had been in the house or even in the neighborhood recently. They knew nothing about the property. They were simply using my property to troll for potential buyers. They were not experts in any way regarding the community or property they were representing. Now all of us in the industry know that agents simply buy zip codes, towns or price points but the average consumer doesn’t know that. I believe that a consumer could think that everyone who is represented on a listing would have at least some cursory knowledge of the property and of the area. That was NOT the case. I came away very angry. I signed a listing agreement with ONE agent, NOT four agents? How dare the other three pretend to know my property when they didn’t have a clue? Once I brought the emotion and personal pride that homeowners feel about their listing, my perspective of the site completely changed. Then I took it another step. I called Zillow and asked for the three non-expert agents on my listing to be removed. I believe you know the answer I received to that […]

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IRES® MLS Passes Zillow® In Consumer Engagement

by Victor Lund on March 7, 2016

The Internet is the largest free market economy in the world. According to Siri™, 2.954 Billion people use the Internet every month. In the real estate industry, more consumers go to Zillow® than any other single real estate website. But that is changing. Some MLSs like IRES are actually drawing more consumer engagement in their local market and it is making a significant difference to MLS participants. MLSs measure listing engagement with their websites and syndication websites using services like ListHub™ and ListTrac™. These companies either get traffic statistics directly from publishers (like Zillow) or put tracking software on websites that collects and reports on listing engagement. Listing Views and Inquiries (leads) In this chart from ListTrac™, we see that the IRES MLS consumer website, www.ColoProperty.com®, and client portal have an almost equal number of views as compared to all real estate portals displaying IRES listings – that’s all portals combined! Moreover, the consumer engagement represented by inquiries (leads) is more than double that of all Portals combined!  (see chart below) Recently, IRES took a bold step by collaborating with other MLSs in the state to display their listings on ColoProperty.com at no charge. Leads continue to be delivered directly to the listing agents and IRES also provides a monthly summary of leads to the partner MLSs or Association, as well as direct access to a ListTrac™ dashboard for their listings. Inquiries are rolling in for the newer areas added, which is exactly what everyone hoped would happen.     Traffic vs. Consumer Engagement There is no doubt that having consumers visit a website carries a lot of value, but it should not be over appreciated. Investors rallied behind traffic value so much in the late 90’s that it nearly collapsed our economy when the bubble burst. We have learned that the true value of the Internet is engagement with a website and the resulting commerce. No doubt, the fact that Portals generate 1/3 of the consumer engagement with broker listings is an amazing feat. Some might review that as a startling risk if the Portal allows FSBOs. The good news is that the MLS is generating 3 times more leads and engagement than publisher sites. In the case of Zillow, traffic is vital to their business. They sell advertising, not houses. The more traffic they obtain, the more they can charge per impression. This year, Zillow announced that they have […]

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When Regional MLSs Go Bad

by Victor Lund on March 4, 2016

There are unfortunate consequences that face brokerages and agents when the relationships between Association shareholders in a regional MLS go bad. They get caught in the crosshairs as the Association shareholders wage war with each other. In many regional MLSs, the governance, vendor agreements, and data rights were not spelled out well enough to enable the regional break up. As a result, the regional MLS becomes a toxic battle of in fighting between Association shareholders that cripples the MLS from functioning. Governance Writing good governance agreements for the regional corporation is very difficult. The best approach is to craft governance like a pre-nuptial agreement. It should articulate the rights of each shareholder in the event that they want to get out. It is a good practice for regional MLS boards to review their governance each year. Consider it corporate hygiene. Create a battery of test cases and run them against your governance to see what rights each shareholder would have in the event of changes in state of each shareholders’ interest in the corporation. These are pretty easy scenarios to construct – shareholder mergers, shareholder corporate dissolution, shareholder withdraw, etc. Is there a buy out? Vendor Agreements Agreements with vendors need to be in line with the rights of shareholders. All to often the vendor agreements do not support modifications in the event that there are shareholder changes that may impact the service. For example, if a shareholder wants to withdraw from and MLS but keep the service and data share, do they have the right to have the same terms without a modification to the existing vendor agreement? Data Rights Too often, regional shareholder agreements fail as a result of not respecting data rights. If an Association wants to leave a regional MLS, there is no pre-assigned provision for taking a copy of the data with them and data share going forward so as not to disrupt the MLS life of participants and subscribers. Does your MLS have a separation policy that allows shareholder Associations to take a copy of the data and go? Study This Now Even today, we see newly formed regional MLSs accepting governance structure that is well suited around the epic stories that make sense in creating the regional. What is missing is the divorce pre-nup. Take a careful look while your relationship is healthy to avoid paralysis in the future when relationships fail.

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It’s one thing for a new tech Startup to grow rapidly, and quite another for a tech service that has been around for 15 years to grow 20 percent in just 50 days. But that’s exactly the incredible accomplishment that Florida Realtors® has registered: 9 new state and local associations and nearly 90,000 new members in 50 days. Tricia Stamper, who manages Form Simplicity and Tech Helpline, and her team at Florida Realtors have done just that. They’re also growing Form Simplicity, their transaction management software firm by targeting Real Estate Brokerages with a highly affordable “white label” service so brokers can offer their own system, something that their competitors don’t have. But the activity at Tech Helpline, approaching a reach that extends to nearly half of all Realtors in North America (they have a very large footprint in Canada as well), is truly a stunning  accomplishment. Here’s their news release: Florida Realtors® Tech Helpline Registers Record Growth in 50 Days Adds 9 State & Local Associations, Nearly 90,000 New Users Orlando, FL – March 2, 2016 – Today, nearly half of the Realtors® in U.S. and Canada – some 500,000 real estate professionals – now have access to Tech Helpline, a service owned by the Florida Realtors® that provides technical support services for a wide range of software and hardware, from smartphones and tablets to desktops, laptops, email problems, virus issues and more. Dubbed “the Genius Bar for real estate,” Tech Helpline is the real estate industry’s number one technology support service and in just 50 days, it has contracted with 9 local and state Realtor® Associations, including Arizona Association of Realtors, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, Oregon Association of Realtors, St. Louis Association of Realtors, Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors, North San Diego County Association of Realtors, Great Falls Association of Realtors, South Okanagan Real Estate Board, and the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. Membership in these Associations total more than 89,600, making support from Tech Helpline available to almost half the Realtors in the U.S. and Canada. “The growth of Tech Helpline has been stunning,” says Tricia Stamper, Director of Technology Products at Florida Realtors®. “But we attribute this record growth to what we offer other Realtor Associations, Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and real estate brokerage firms: A service built for Realtors by Realtors and no nonsense technical advice from a warm and friendly U.S.-based customer services staff. This […]

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