February 2017

Independent Brokers Find Their Secret Sauce

by Victor Lund on February 27, 2017

inman broker summit

Real Estate is among the most competitive industries in America. On Main Street in America, only clothing stores and restaurants have as many offerings. Although Leading Real Estate Companies of the World is the clear leader in the independent broker category; they focus primarily on the largest independent brokerage in a given community. Franchise Organizations have set their eyes on the Independent Broker for many years, offering their brand, technology services, and business guidance as reasons to give up independence and join their flock. For too many years now, the independent broker has been isolated, alone, without a family to call their own. Inman News and 1000Watt Consulting Team Up on the Indie Broker Summit On Monday, August 7th from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Hilton (the day before Inman Connect begins), Inman News will be preparing a special one-day seminar restricted for Indie brokers. If you have been a long time fan of Inman Connect, you may have nostalgia for the years with 1000Watt Consulting’s Brian Boero, Marc Davison, Joel Burslem, and Jessica Swesey ran the company and its conferences. For this special event, Brad Inman has put the team back together. Hot Topics for Indie Broker Summit How to attain high margins and manage like a tightwad, bumping up your cash flow How to fend off Compass, before it recruits more agents How to use the data already inside your company to be 10-times smarter than your luddite competitors How to understand new real estate models and learn to think like they do How to be the coolest real estate company in town How to compete with Opendoor, or else How to partner with Facebook, on your own How to get to know the people who will buy your company How to close 50 percent of your offices and feel no pain How to live with no middle management, and not miss anyone How to outsource everything, including yourself How to boost your valuation in five simple ways How to cultivate and support teams without creating a monster How to embrace powerful agent brands without destroying your own How to compress the transaction timeline by 30 days, without pain How to grow with half the number of agents and half the headaches How to know who is selling their house before your competitors How to level commission splits at 50 percent and get away […]

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MLS Listings

Sunnyvale, CA. – February 23, 2017 – Taking the concept of local real estate to new heights, MLSListings now offers the translation of listing information into Simplified Chinese for agents and their clients. This new program is the first step in removing potential language barriers from the real estate process. “We have one of the most culturally-diverse markets in the country. For many buyers and sellers, English is not their first language. To support our agents and brokers even better, we are integrating translation into other languages, where we can, in the tools we offer, to help them provide listing information in the language most comfortable for their clients,” says Aaron Hyde, Vice President of Product Management for MLSListings. “We implemented Simplified Chinese in the Matrix™ user interface first because we saw it as a more difficult language to integrate. Over time, we plan to include support for additional languages. We’re already starting to work on Spanish next.” According to a survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, 2016 marked the fourth year in a row buyers from China ranked first among foreign nationals purchasing property in the U.S., and the Bay Area is a particularly attractive destination. “We are thrilled that a progressive organization like MLSListings has chosen to offer Matrix services in more than one language,” says Chris Bennett, General Manager of Real Estate Solutions for CoreLogic®. “The Matrix platform is purpose-built with multilingual capabilities in mind and used by non-English speakers in Canada, Mexico and Japan. But more and more CoreLogic clients in the U.S. are recognizing the diversity of their local markets and using Matrix to better serve those needs. The ability of MLSListings agents and their clients to switch between languages at the click of a button is a huge advantage.” The MLSListings Simplified Chinese feature is accessed simply by clicking the Chinese language symbol on the transactional platform used exclusively by real estate professionals. They are then able to send translated reports and auto-emails to their clients. About MLSListings Inc. MLSListings Inc is recognized as a premier multiple listing service in the nation. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley and specializing in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties, MLSListings provides real estate professionals and consumers with accurate data that is updated every five minutes. Facilitating more than $70 billion in annual real estate activity, the MLSListings platform is the intersection of comprehensive real estate data and the transaction for the Northern California marketplace. CORELOGIC, the CoreLogic logo, and MATRIX are trademarks of CoreLogic, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective […]

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Understanding Push Reporting

by Victor Lund on February 22, 2017

victor2

Many technology companies fail to understand the value of push reporting. WAV Group works with many technology firms to appreciate push vs. pull, but so many fail to grasp the importance. Every broker should pay attention to this example to evaluate how the software licensed in his or her company should leverage push reporting to improve the value. For example, I would love to see data and analytic companies like Terradatum, TrendGraphix, and ShowingTime incorporate this type of push reporting to show market trends, office productivity, and productivity by agent (solds, pending, active). In another example, I would love to see CRM solutions remind and encourage agents to contact their clients, add additional customer records, and promote other sales activities that would coach the activities that lead to agent success. There are many more examples, but lets dissect this email from Zillow. Zillow Push Report Case Example Here is an excellent example of push reporting. At some cadence, in this case its weekly, Zillow Group pushes an email to the Realtor® to demonstrate the effectiveness of online property display on their websites. With 4 million or so active listings on the website, you can imagine the volume of emails being pushed out each week. Here you will notice that Zillow Group is leveraging this email for training too. They are encouraging the Realtor to upload a free video tour of the property. Zillow is well aware that video information inside of property listings provides many benefits. The consumer gets an engaging multimedia experience, which is also great for differentiating and improving search engine optimization by contributing additional content and lengthening time on site. Zillow Group does not stop there. They insert two additional calls to action. In the wake of Zillow announcing that they will not allow agents to enter listings to their site anymore, one would misconceive that they do not trust agents to enter contextual information that broadens the quality of the listing. But nothing could be further from the truth. What Zillow has learned over a decade of understanding accuracy on their website is that agents will frequently upload properties for sale then forget to update them with new photos, pricing, etc. Zillow Group has transitioned their website to a living database. They have 100% of every parcel in America on the site regardless of its listing status, and have curated more than 450 million property photos. […]

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Zillow Improves Broker Programs

by Victor Lund on February 15, 2017

Zillow Logo

Zillow Group, which includes the websites of Zillow and Trulia have landed on a broker strategy for marketing that works. Zillow Group, which includes the websites of Zillow and Trulia have landed on a broker strategy for marketing that works. Featured listings are dead, and have been replaced with a product to advertise in ways that drive the largest margin opportunity for a brokerage firm – leads to eTeams and Relocation. I call this “shared display,” where the brokerage and agent are clearly displayed and may be contacted – easily understood as “your listing, same leads.” This functionality works equally well for any brokerage or large team. Display rules Primer. There are three general types of display rules, Fair Display, Shared Display, and IDX Display. Fair Display is pretty simple to understand, if it’s your listing, then only your identity is displayed on the listing. Many people like this display because it’s “your listing, your lead.” It works like the new car dealer. You call BMW to buy BMW. The second type of display is a shared display. This shared display is where Zillow has innovated. Under the ad portal strategy, the listing agent and broker are always displayed on their listing and can receive leads. But the display is a shared display; so three other advertisers may be displayed on the listing if they pay. Lets understand that this is “your listing, same leads.” Our research shows that brokers get the same volume of leads on their listings with shared display as they did with fair display (read on). The third display is IDX display. In this display that is popularized on broker and agent websites, the site owner gets all the leads and the listing broker and agent have a bi-line. This is understood as “your listing, no leads.” This model is akin to a used car dealership where the company will sell all brands of cars. Shared Display outperforms Fair Display WAV Group performed A-B testing on Zillow that pitted two brokers who had the same number of listings on the site (one had 430 listings and the other had 431). The broker who paid for fair display, exclusively featuring the brokerage and agent branding, received 281 email contacts with 660,133 listing views. The broker with the free, shared display of 430 listings featuring competing agents, received 411 email contacts, 590,914 listing views. The free, shared display outperformed […]

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Merle Whitehead – Follow The Leader Series

by Victor Lund on February 15, 2017

Merle Whitehead

Our Follow The Leader Series is an effort to write about the best ideas and best practices of great leaders in our industry who are raising the bar.  In this episode, I am grateful to share the inspirational story of Merle Whitehead, a gentleman who grew America’s 9th largest real estate firm, Realty USA. The intention is to share some background on centers of excellence in real estate that others can be inspired by. Early Career Start Merle Whitehead calls the Buffalo, NY area of Western New York his home. He started his career selling clothing on commission and came to the realization that commission sales are greater when you are selling more expensive things. At the age of 18, Whitehead married his high school sweetheart, Jan – bought a home, and started selling real estate at Lorigo Real Estate.  It was not long before Whitehead became a leading sales associate at the firm, and was inspired by a few others in the office to start their own firm, RPM. The cornerstone of RPM was door knocking. Ron, Pete, and Merle would work on door-to-door solicitation every day. After awhile, Whitehead was invited to join H. Potter Realtors®.  After success in sales, Whitehead became an office manager which led to his 50% ownership in the firm by 1985, operating 11 offices and 400 sales associates. The Big Roll Up Whitehead was able to meet Warren Buffett a few times in his life. Buffett owns the Buffalo News and Whitehead was a big advertiser.   Buffet inspired Whitehead with a story that the real estate industry would consolidate like the automobile industry did.  Buffett mentioned that in the 20’s there were 56 automobile manufacturers that consolidated into the big three.  Buffet said that he believed the same would happen to the real estate industry and Buffett wanted to become one of those three.  Inspired by that projection, Whitehead started growing a regional real estate company. By 1996 Whitehead managed a large transaction to merge Stovroff and Herman and H. Potter Realtors, creating the leading powerhouse in the Greater Buffalo Region.  From 1996 to 2006, Whitehead bought out his equity partners and acquired nearly 60 companies across Western New York and the Southern Tier of New York. RealtyUSA in Albany was purchased in 2000.  He developed significant operations in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Ithaca, Corning/Elmira, and the many communities in-between. His formula for […]

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Join the WAVes of Change Today

by Camilla Harvey on February 15, 2017

Ocean Wave

When conducting strategic plans we hear from brokers and board members that their organization strives to stay current with industry best practices. There are many industry wide initiatives today, spanning areas like MLS Consolidation, New NAR Policy, Broker Public Portal, Upstream, Real Estate Standards Organization, Data Licensing, and more. It’s hard to keep track. WAVes of Change WAV Group has launched a Quarterly Webinar Series to update you and your leadership on all of these trends. The webinar spans one hour, and is delivered by WAV Group partners who are often involved, or close to these industry developments. You get the information first hand. WAV Group also provides a recording of the webinar for syndication to members of your leadership that are unable to schedule attendance. Some State Associations, like Texas, New Mexico, and others have made WAVes of Change a benefit for all of their local Associations. Many Regional MLSs have also extended the series to their Association Shareholders and brokerage participants. Contact Us Today If this sounds like something your organization would benefit from please contact marilyn@wavgroup.com or camilla@wavgroup.com to schedule a call and take advantage!  Please join your Association and MLS colleagues for this insightful series!  You’ll be glad you did!  

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Tech Firms Should Sell Solutions, not Software

by Victor Lund on February 15, 2017

hand pushing social network button on a touch screen interface

For years, WAV Group has noticed that too many technology firms market and communicate to their customers in the wrong way. They spend all of their time in front of customers showing how their software works. It’s wrong. The only time that customers want to spend time looking at how your software works is when they are looking to replace an existing software system. Even then, the primary reasoning for wanting to replace their existing software has little to do with how the software works. The decision to change has more to do with user satisfaction or price. The way to communicate your value to customers is by talking about the solution. Read this testimonial from Teresa King Kinney, CEO of the Miami Association of REALTORS (largest in America): The offer submission and management platform provided by eBrokerHouse and MLS Offers has been extremely beneficial to our members and our association. Since integrating this technology into our MLS, our members have been able to more efficiently manage their offers, especially in multiple offer situations. This has resulted in heavy adoption by our members and decreased the amount of complaints filed with our Association surrounding offers. The team at eBrokerHouse/MLS Offers has been very professional and easy to work with, while delivering a high quality service to our members. I would highly recommend their offer submission technology to any Association or MLS looking to provide a tool to their members that will have a significant positive impact on their businesses. This service provides so many benefits to both list and buy side agents that I envision this eventually becoming the standard method by which offers are submitted throughout the real estate industry. In three paragraphs, Kinney states the sales pitch for MLS Offers. MLS Offers improves offer management, and reduces complaints. MLS Offers understands that training, support, and service are critical to the success of any software application. MLS Offers is what Kinney believes will be a standard in the real estate industry. If I am an MLS or an Association of REALTORS® executive in real estate and see a statement like this from Teresa King Kinney – I want to learn more. Use this lens to think about how you communicate to your target customers. If you need help, WAV Group Communications can fix it.

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Is it really is possible to love your MLS?

by Kevin Hawkins on February 14, 2017

Flexmls love

Every Valentine’s Day, you can smell the roses, taste the chocolates and almost feel that love is in the air. It made me think of how so many companies attempt to “love” their customers, but often few customers actually love them back. In fact, from my own experience, it’s rare when a company consistently gets love letters – and rarely hate mail – from its customers. Over the last couple of decades, I’ve worked in the real estate and technology sectors, with dozens and dozens of companies that include several of the most well known brands, from hot startups to Fortune 500 firms, and I personally have only witnessed this phenomenon just three times. I remember the first time I was working for Great Western Bank, based then in Beverly Hills, California. The Bank ran what can only be described as the most popular TV ad series among Realtors that have ever aired. Actor Dennis Weaver (McCloud, Gentle Ben, Gunsmoke and Duel) told homebuyers, “Looking for a home without a Realtor® is looking for trouble.” Over the next 25 or 55 seconds, Dennis extolled how vital it was to use a professional Realtor and that not all agents were Realtors. It was the hallmark piece of Great Western’s “Realtor Program,” one that I was fortunately lucky enough to help create. We were inundated with love letters from Realtors – hundreds of them – from all over. It was incredible. I would later work with Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and another large regional bank and I can tell you, the hate they got from customers far exceeded the love. The second time I saw the “love” was when I was working for Imprev. Now this one is a bit contrived, as we were running a contest for the RE/MAX Design Center, which Imprev created more than a decade ago and still powers to this day. We asked RE/MAX agents to submit a short essay telling us what they “loved” about the Design Center. We got hundreds of email entries – including video testimonials – and although the motivation may have been to win a prize in a drawing, the entries were heart-felt, personal and genuine. I only know this because I actually staffed the Imprev booth at the RE/MAX R4 Convention in Las Vegas and I was stunned at the number of agents who stopped by just to say how […]

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toh

In a press release today, Prem Luthra of Elm Street Technology unveiled his latest venture, a partnership with This Old House. You may know Prem from his work in marketing at MOVE, Cyberhomes, Real Estate Digital, Xome, and the like. One of his primary and lasting impacts to the real estate industry was the innovation around helping brokers and MLSs monetize the consumer traffic on their website. Real Estate content around listings has been pretty lack luster from the perspective of the consumer on most broker, agent, and MLS consumer facing websites. Simply stated, firms have lacked the internal resources to develop content that consumers love. This Old House has been a category leader in this area, dominating television ratings for decades. The national underwriting for the content has been powered by advertising sponsorship by GMAC, The Home Depot, State Farm Insurance, Lumber Liquidators, and many others. “The simple premise of advertisers trying to reach homebuyers has not waned,” says Luthra. Advertisers understand that the consumer most likely to be an active purchaser of home improvement products is the home buyer and home seller. Many brokerage and MLS sites have enjoyed significant revenue from advertising partnerships. The industry has learned that belly fat ads from networks like Google do not pay much and diminish the consumer experience on their site. Advertising through the This Old House program are contextual and valuable to the consumer. According to a national research release from Home Advisor, consumers spend between $6000 and $8000 on home improvement when they move (http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/report/). At a rate of more than 5.5 Million homes traded each year, this totals an enormous addressable market for companies offering home improvement products. But this partnership with This Old House extends beyond advertising revenue for brokers and other property search sites. The consumer audience has long adored and respected the This Old House brand, and now brokers will be able to align their brand with This Old House, and their 62 Million monthly viewers. Many brokerages have benefitted from brand alliances over the years. Firms like Hunt Real Estate and Windermere have had a lot of success with NFL team relationships. The good news here is that the This Old House content has a more promising contextual relationship with home buying and selling. Brokers will be able to publish from the vast library of This Old House library programming. We forecast that consumers […]

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Texas Map

As always there is chatter in our industry about more MLS consolidation.  After Ann Bailey’s proclamation that there should only be 12 MLSs in the United States at CMLS last year, I often get asked how many MLSs should we have?   Should we go for s statewide MLS? While it is logical in many markets to think about a statewide MLS or even multi-state MLS the politics and emotion surrounding a program like that is daunting.  The chances of getting 50 statewide MLSs is slim to none in the foreseeable future in my opinion. There IS a great way for MLSs to collaborate at the statewide or regional level, however, that is a LOT easier to achieve and yet VERY meaningful. There are several states now that are coming together to create statewide MLS Consumer-facing sites.  The Houston Association of REALTORS has led an effort in Texas and now offers Homes and Rentals.com with listings from all corners of the state of Texas.  HAR.com also invites all Texas agents to complete their profile on the site FREE too. The profiles are full-bodied including a link to agent ratings, current listings, past sales, languages spoken and a whole bunch more. New Mexico is in the game now too.  They recently launched a really attractive site for their region called NewMexicoHomeSearch.com.  In addition to a robust property search, the site also offers  local community content provided by New Mexico True a statewide tourism campaign.  Through a partnership with Listrac, agents will be able to share the listing exposure and leads generated from the site FREE of charge to their clients too. What’s in it for YOUR MLS? So, what’s the motivation for these sites and how it can work for you in your market? FREE Leads and Listing Exposure Agents that are paying for lead generation on other third party sites are spending over $500 per month on average. What better way to build brand loyalty than to provide more than $6000 worth of value every year! Meet Core Standards Requirements Associations are charged with ever increasing performance requirements through Core Standards.  They are the hook to do the following: Engage Consumers in a Meaningful Way Promote the value of the REALTOR® Promote the value of homeownership Provide a method for Consumer Advocacy and engagement in important political issues Statewide consumer sites can be designed to address all of these objectives for every […]

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RESO Real Estate Standards logo

Few people understand industry standards.  “That’s for the computer geeks,” most of us think.  Our busy schedules and our tenacious focus on business priorities rarely allow us to fully understand how standards directly impact us every day. Our ability to easily communicate with one another relies on standards.  Think of computers and operating systems.  Right now, the giants are Apple and Windows.  They each implemented their own standards for communicating between devices. If standards had not been designed and implemented, we would not have cell phones, tablets, laptops and desktops all talking to one another.  Do you remember when Apple devices could not talk to Windows devices? So now, let’s look at the real estate industry.  We all agree that MLSs are our life blood for listing and finding properties suited for our customers, our revenue.  Yet MLSs tend to have different ways of presenting data.  So RESO has created a “data dictionary” that ensures each system speaks the same language and defines real estate data in consistent terms. As real estate listings flow from one place to another, they follow policies and rules through software that facilitates listings from the MLS database to be publicly displayed.  This process is called Internet Data Exchange or IDX.  It allows brokers to reciprocate information. So, I can see that your eyes are beginning to cross.  Let’s stop here and simply remind you to think about how fast information travels today.  Think about all the technology that has dramatically changed our lives in just a couple of decades.  And it’s moving faster and faster BECAUSE of standards. Do you want to get left behind like the guy who insisted 8-track tapes were better than cassettes or, for the younger in the crowd, who still has a fat TV instead of a smart TV? For those of you who take action to learn and understand the brink that the RE industry is on, for those who accept the role as an early adopter, YOU are the leaders who will benefit rather than get left in the dust. YOU will be the innovators who can see the future and who will TAKE the competitive advantage.  You will BE SET APART from the masses who follow. Take that leap to set your business at the top and keep it there.  Join us at the upcoming RESO webinar to discover how to cut operating expenses, to establish […]

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