November 2017

Associations Rethink Forms Licensing Policy

by Victor Lund on November 29, 2017

Document Management

If you were in the real estate business before the days of email, you may recall the experience of driving to the local Board of REALTORS® to pick up a forms packet for a transaction. Alternatively, your brokerage may have had a forms file with every type of printed form that you might need. Simply stated, forms were printed until pioneering State Associations of REALTORS® learned to share them electronically. Today, electronic forms management is a member benefit for all Realtors® as a member benefit of The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). When Realtor Associations learned about this policy and product offering from the National Association of REALTORS®, they started to internalize and rethink their forms licensing program. Why Do We Love Standard Forms? Ages ago, and in some States of America, you had to hire a lawyer to do the documents for a real estate transaction. For the most part, this is busy work for Attorneys. In most States, licensed real estate professionals can complete forms and they are reviewed by their broker and processed by a title company. Most States have taken on the responsibility of creating standardized forms that handle the variety of transactions encountered by most Realtors. Standard forms have all of the legal terminology needed transactions, so the agent fills out the information about the subject property and the information about the party they represent on each form, along with things like price. The standardized forms make the contracting process simple, easy and fast. The Realtor fills in the blanks, gets signatures, and its done. Copyright is Owned by the Forms Author The use of the word “standardized” is a little misleading when it comes to forms. Written works of any kind fall under the protections of the federal Copyright Act of 1976. According to the Act, copyright is available “in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device,” United States Constitution 102(a). When you look at a form, you will notice a copyright statement on the bottom of each page. This tells you who owns the copyright. This is usually your State Association of REALTORS® who updates the forms from time to time as necessary. They invest a lot of the membership treasury in the […]

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An Invitation to Broker-Owners and Other Top Brokerage Execs

by Kevin Hawkins on November 29, 2017

Thought Leader

How confident are you in the US economy? That’s just one of the questions that for the last six years Imprev has asked top executives as part of its annual Thought Leader Real Estate Confidence Survey. Its 2017 Survey is now underway, and if you are a brokerage industry Thought Leader, Imprev wants you to participate. The Survey is designed expressly for broker-owners, and C-level executives – Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Revenue Officers, basically every title that begins with a “C” – who manage real estate franchises or brokerages. You can access it here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/thoughtleader Two great things about this survey, which Imprev CEO Renwick Congdon crafted back in 2012. First, Imprev has been tracking the data for these same questions year-after-year and the results always provide great insight to outlook real estate leaders have going into the new year. Because Imprev has no dog in this hunt, it shares the data with everyone for free. And if you participate in the survey, you get the results first. Second, Imprev uses the survey to help brokerages generate local publicity, again for free. Here’s how the free publicity part works. At the end of the survey, after you have completed all 9 questions, which should take all of about three minutes, there is one more question Imprev asks: “May we share your contact information with journalists as a source for a quote when the survey results are released?” Imprev has this really smart PR firm (that shall remain nameless to protect the guilty and make this column seem less self-serving) that creates local media lists based on everyone who shares their contact info. When Imprev issues the findings in its news release, every local reporter in each market is sent the contact information of the local broker(s) in their area as a potential resource for a quote, since the broker(s) participated in the survey. It’s a win-win as brokerages have been getting free local publicity for years as a result and Imprev has gained more visibility in local markets across the country as a result. Again, if you are a real estate brokerage executive, the link to participate in this survey is below, but please hurry, as Imprev will be closing this survey link within the next few days: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/thoughtleader

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Consolidation: What PR Tactics Can Help?

by Kevin Hawkins on November 29, 2017

Process Integration

2018 could very well be the “Year of Consolidation” in the MLS industry. With the recent NAR move towards an “MLS of Choice” policy, we are likely to see a huge momentum build towards consolidation, especially in the second half of next year. That’s because smaller MLSs are going to find profitability under their current pricing model impossible. The simplest (and most often the best) solution will be to merge. By failing to plan for the role communications and PR plays within a consolidation, you are planning to fail. That’s because an effective communications and PR plan is vital to the success of any consolidation. Without it, at the very least, you will fail some of your members as they will not feel included, and at the worse, you will fail all of them, as they all, may feel, in some way, left out. Importance of PR PricewaterhouseCoopers wrote about mergers “the need for effective communication is often overlooked or underestimated in the flurry of activity surrounding a deal. Executing a strong and clear communication strategy is critical to successful integration.” That came from an accounting firm: the folks that typically ask why you are spending so much money on advertising and PR?! Ask any professional consultant who has lived in the world of company consolidations about the importance of internal communications and external public relations. You’ll quickly understand this is a corner you do not want to cut. It is a vital business tactic. In some ways, consolidations are all about communications. Let’s look at just a few of the practical tactical communications and PR activities that are needed for planning any successful consolidation: Strategic Communications What are we telling our employees, our vendors or strategic partners, our investors, or other stakeholders about the goals, timeline and expected outcomes of the consolidation? When are we telling whom, what and when? What are the best internal communication channels we can use to communicate to our staff? What are the right messages for each phase, and when do we communicate these and why do we use just these channels and the right timing? How do we mitigate the chances of internal communications being leaked externally, keeping internal messages internal? Pubic Relations What is our story, the story we want to tell? What are the key phrases that we want to emphasize and resonate with our key audiences? What are our core […]

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What is a Brand?

by Victor Lund on November 22, 2017

Brand

A brand is the difference between a pair of running shoes and a pair of Nikes. A brand is what people feel about you your product, the service you provide, or your organization. It’s part rational but mostly emotional. People will forgive a strong brand if it makes a mistake. likewise people won’t forgive a weak brand if it makes a mistake, remember Gateway computers? We thought so. WAV Group is not a branding agency – we leave that to leading firms like 1000 Watt. But WAV Group starts every project with an understanding of your brand. Marilyn Wilson, former Exec. Vice President of Marketing at Fisher Price managed the Fisher Price brand for nearly a decade. Fisher Price is one of the most valued and iconic international brands in the world. She did not build or create the Fisher Price brand, but every product they delivered (hundreds every year) had to deliver the brand promise, and everything WAV Group does for a client – strategic planning, communications, recruiting, and vendor selection – starts with brand. So what is the secret of a strong brand? The answer is surprisingly simple, focus. I’ll say it again, focus. Great brands stand for something, not a lot of things. One thing. For decades, Swedish car maker Volvo defined their brand with a single word, safety. Well, it seems to work for them. Sometimes you have to think beyond the category to know what your brand stands for. Harley Davidson makes motorcycles, want to guess what they stand for? Freedom.  Not a more powerful engine and not a more reliable bike or a smoother ride. Freedom. Brands are experienced. Take Starbucks. They differentiate themselves in many ways and offer a consistent brand experience in every Starbucks you visit. They even have their own language. Starbucks has created a unique community of coffee lovers that speak Starbucks-ease, and are true brand ambassadors – it’s customers. It doesn’t get any better than that. Starbucks has realized they aren’t in the business of serving coffee. They are in the business of serving people. What is a brand worth? So can you put a monetary value on a brand. The people at Interbrand research do that. Think about the fine folks at Coca-Cola. Guess what their brand is worth? According to Interbrand, about 61% of the value of the Coca-Cola corporation is brand. That is a lot of […]

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IRES & REcolorado Sign Binding Merger Agreement

by Victor Lund on November 13, 2017

IRES

Approval from Shareholder Boards is Next Step to Form One MLS for Denver and Northern Colorado IRES and REcolorado have taken another step toward creating a single MLS that will serve 26,000 real estate professionals in northern Colorado and the greater Denver Metro Area. Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES, and Kirby Slunaker, president and CEO of REcolorado, today announced the commitment between the two MLSs has now gone from a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU), as announced in September, to a binding merger agreement. The merger agreement has been signed by Hansen and Slunaker and has received approval from both the REcolorado Board of Directors and the IRES Board of Managers. The  next step needed is shareholder approval from the boards of the eight REALTOR Associations that are the owners of the two organizations. REcolorado’s shareholders are Denver Metro Association of REALTORS, South Metro Denver REALTOR Association, and Aurora Association of REALTORS®.  Shareholders of IRES are Boulder Area REALTOR® Association, Fort Collins Board of REALTORS®, Greeley Area REALTOR® Association, Longmont Association of REALTORS®, and Loveland Berthoud Association of REALTORS®.  The shareholders are expected to review and vote on the merger agreement in the coming weeks. “Thanks to the great work of the REcolorado and IRES shareholders and their boards, our vision of creating a future-focused MLS that serves REALTORS, Brokers and consumers along the Colorado Front Range is becoming a reality,” said Kirby Slunaker. “Colorado real estate professionals have told us they want the benefits that can only come from one MLS, which include the best products and services, faster pace of innovation, and world-class customer care.” A merged MLS organization serving the Colorado Front Range would bring substantial benefits to Colorado real estate professionals, which would be passed on to consumers. Benefits include comprehensive data, a broad set of technology tools and services, and powerful consumer-facing websites. “REALTORS, brokers, appraisers, and consumers deserve the most comprehensive, accurate, and timely data possible, as well as technology tools they can use to serve the needs of well-informed buyers and sellers,” said Lauren Hansen. “Bringing our MLS organizations together is what brokers want and what the market needs.” Chris Osborn, with Foster, Pepper PLLC, will continue to facilitate the merger process with REcolorado and IRES. “We continue to move at a steady pace, thanks to open lines of communication between REcolorado and IRES, as well as a shared commitment to work in the […]

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Exciting news from one of the hottest new technologies in the MLS space – REMINE.  They have recently partnered with First American to include detailed property information for 100% of the properties in America. This will allow REMINE customers to conduct even deeper searches to uncover prospecting opportunities through their local MLS. For those that haven’t heard about this new company, their platform analyzes property records, transnational history, consumer data and delivers actionable insights on an intuitive user interface.  With just a few clicks an agent can identify a specific type of audience they would like to target – investors, long-term homeowners, etc. and then seamlessly create a Facebook ad to target those specific customers.  Many of our MLS customers are pretty excited about this solution. Here’s the full press release below: Irvine, CA — (November 10th, 2017) — Remine, a real estate intelligence platform for Agents, now includes detailed property information on 100 percent of the U.S. housing stock from First American Financial Corporation, a leading provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions. The Remine platform analyzes property records, transactional history, homeownership data and delivers actionable insights on an intuitive user interface. “Our MLS clients want deeper data integrations, including autopopulation of property information, our machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions. The demand for this service exceeded our expectations; 2018 is going to be a transformative year,” said Jonathan Spinetto, COO of Remine. “We’re pleased to provide our industry-leading property data to the MLS industry and realtors through our work with Remine, a true innovator in the MLS market,” said George Livermore, executive vice president of First American’s Data and Mortgage Solutions division. “The integration of our data with Remine’s best-in-class platform reflects our commitment to provide innovative businesses in the real estate industry with the data needed to achieve their goals.” About Remine Remine is a real estate intelligence platform for Agents that is delivered exclusively through the MLS. The platform analyzes property records, transactional history, consumer data and delivers actionable insights on an intuitive user interface. Many of the nation’s largest MLSs representing more than 500,000 Realtors have signed up for Remine. Visit Remine.com or call 855-217-0171. About First American First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) is a leading provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions that traces its heritage back to 1889. First American […]

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Hits and Misses from NAR Chicago

by Kevin Hawkins on November 7, 2017

Exhibits

Chicago is a baseball town. Even with the Cubs disappointingly not returning to the World Series this year, you can’t escape seeing someone wearing a Cubs or White Sox hat or shirt every day in Chicago, even in November. McCormick Place, home to this year’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo, sits just two-and-a-half miles north of Comiskey Park, where the Sox play – their South Side team. So you get an idea of how far away this convention center is from the heart of downtown. And the proximity to a pro baseball park also gives me the perfect excuse to use baseball terminology to review some of the hits and misses I found this year’s conference in the City of Big Shoulders. Host city: Grand slam for hotels choices, restaurants, entertainment, and bars. But it’s a strikeout as a convention city when half your meetings are located 30-45 minutes away at hotels on Michigan Avenue. Even with the fantastic busway, an express lane that takes only convention busses from downtown hotels directly to McCormick Place, it took door-to-door, between the average shuttle wait time, at least 30 minutes because traffic clogs the arteries to the hotels. For me, that’s just too much wasted time spent on a bus, even with all the technology we have in the palms of our hands today. Oh, and the weather sucks in November. 2018 Woman NAR President: Elizabeth Mendenhall, a Realtor from Columbia, Missouri was a refreshing sight as she stepped up to the plate at the annual new NAR President press conference to field reporter’s questions. First, it’s been way too long since NAR has had a woman president. Second, she’s at least a generation younger than most of her predecessors. She came across as energetic, smart and politically savvy. She gave props to CAR’s WomanUp, a powerful new Women’s Initiative, and she laid out NAR’s agenda for 2018. She adeptly fielded questions from reporters. She was hitting the questions reporters were throwing at her solidly. That was until Inman News Bernice Ross  threw a curveball at her. Bernice is spearheading a woman’s initiative of her own. So she asked Mendenhall – since it’s been so long since we’ve had an NAR female President – if she had specific plans to support women Realtors during her tenure at NAR. Elizabeth just stood there, and let that beautiful slow pitch Bernice threw at her sail over […]

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Steve Murray Appointed to Lone Wolf Board of Directors

by Victor Lund on November 7, 2017

WAV Group would like to congratulate the Lone Wolf board of directors for expanding their ranks to include Real Trends President, Steve Murray. It’s a great move and brokers should celebrate! About Lone Wolf: If you are not familiar, Lone Wolf is among the largest technology providers in the real estate industry with a focus on broker back office solutions where they are the market leader. Their accounting solutions have profound market share – likely exceeding 50% of all brokerage firms in America. Last month, Lone Wolf acquired Instanet – making Lone Wolf either the #1 or #2 provider of forms and transaction management solutions for brokerage. Lone Wolf has a vast array of tools that complete the full footprint of any technology stack that brokers want to deploy in their business today. If a company is looking for a complete lead to close solution, Lone Wolf may be the only company that has the entire system. About Steve Murray: Real Trends has been consulting with the broker community for decades and Mr. Murray is clearly the most experienced consulting firm at putting together brokerage mergers and acquisitions.  Murray has a keen eye for helping brokerage firms develop profound and meaningful value in their company as an asset. When you look at business development and operations though that lens, Real Trends is expert. WAV Group Observations Lone Wolf is a company in transition. Lone Wolf founder, Lorne Wallace continues to lead the company as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He has handed the operational reins of the company over to CEO Patrick Arkeveld. The remaining director positions are held by the company’s investment banking firm, Vista Equity Partners. Vista Equity Partners are masters at delivering the same kind of advice to software companies that Murray provides to brokerages. Companies need to set goals on customer acquisition, customer retention, lifetime value of customers and dozens of other KPIs. Vista delivers a vast amount of experience helping companies manage to those KPIs and benchmark against their other portfolio companies to keep the business in line with excellence. Call for Celebration The problem with running a software company like a software company is that there is a risk of not staying grounded in the needs and relationships that you have with your customer. We have seen this time and time again in real estate as some of the greatest software companies on […]

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Can You Get Protection Against Cyber Fraud?

by Marilyn Wilson on November 6, 2017

Why Cyber Insurance? With the costs associated with running a business continuing to escalate, additional expenses are hard to justify. Cyber insurance is one of those costs most businesses will gamble on and decide to throw the dice to remove it from the expense sheet. A PWC white paper says that cyber insurance premiums will reach $7.5 billion dollars by 2020. It further says that “cyber-crime costs the global economy more the $400 billion dollars a year”. This is big money and it will only continue to intensify over time. When evaluating the risk associated with systems being compromised by brute force and phishing attacks, cyber insurance can mitigate cost exposure for a business. Remember, it is no longer if, but when your system will be compromised. The cyber thieves have found a nice ‘honey hole’ to phish, in real estate and title companies. They will continue to phish because it has been a very lucrative endeavor. To gain understanding of what happens when there has been one incident of a compromised system by a phishing campaign, read on! The costs for a breached account can spiral quickly. The first expense is to perform a computer forensic analysis. Computer forensic analysis determines how the cyber thieves initially gained access, how far into the system they gained access to, and how broadly and deeply the exposure is of the compromised system. One computer has a potential cost exposure of between $10-$20k. Let’s assume the computer and the compromised account had Personal Identifiable Information (PII) available for access. Evidence of breached PII requires that the account and computer be scanned to determine the breadth of information that could be accessed. It doesn’t even matter if the cyber thieves didn’t access the PII. It is assumed that since they gained system access, they did obtain PII. Add another $20-$30k. If the PII in the compromised system is in a PDF file as a rasterized image, the forensic company has to manually read the file and record the contact of the PII. Why? There are legal and regulatory actions necessary, requiring companies to notify anyone who’s PII has been compromised stating that their personal information may have been accessed by unauthorized personnel. How many documents are in PDF format in your company? Add another $25-35k. Attorneys are needed throughout the entire process to assist in documenting the procedures to identify PII and guide companies […]

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Communications and Public Relations are not Advertising

by Victor Lund on November 4, 2017

Press Release

About four years ago, WAV Group expanded its consulting services to include Public Relations and Communications. Like everything at WAV Group, this service is an extension of our core Strategic Planning services. In our planning experiences, we learned that companies are not doing enough research to measure customer and employee satisfaction. So we started WAV Group Research. We learned that many companies have a hard time recruiting and hiring the right people, so we started WAV Group recruiting. WAV Group communications helps companies develop and implement great communications and PR strategies. Kevin Hawkins is our leader in this segment of WAV Group. His decades of experience are unmatched and he brings a passion that is the elixir to success. We had a discussion about Advertising Value Equivalents of communications and Public Relations. In Hawkins opinion, measuring communications and PR reach (like add impressions, click though rates, etc) by solely using Ad Value Equivalents sets the PR industry back by confusing Communications and Public Relations with marketing and advertising. There are better metrics, and we have a highly robust media platform that helps us benchmark and track PR success more thoroughly. Today, we find ourselves in an era of content pollution. The best example of that is SnapChat streaks. If you have a teenager, you already know that kids send snaps to each other every day to keep a streak alive with a friend. It’s a small gesture of caring and friendship that manifests itself of a photo of the floor more often than not – ergo content pollution. We see the same thing happen on Facebook, Twitter, and other micro-blogging sites. Heck – the whole fake news thing epitomizes the issue. Here at WAV Group, we develop public relations and communication plans that have meaning. Here is a primer: At the core of successful Public Relations is real “NEWS.” Did you purchase a company, hire a new CEO, close a round of funding, create a new product, open a new branch, grow your company though acquisition, etc. Moreover, if you expect a journalist to cover your news, it needs to be news that readers care about. If my company adds a consultant, that may be interesting to the readers of Inman News, RIS Media, Real Trends, and RE Technology – but not the Wall Street Journal. If Forrester purchased WAV Group – that might be news for the Wall Street […]

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Love HELPING REALTORS® succeed? Have we got a job for you!

by Marilyn Wilson on November 2, 2017

We’re excited to announce that WAV Group is working with Carolina Multiple Listing Service (CarolinaMLS) to find a Help Desk Support Manager. Carolina MLS CarolinaMLS is an 11,000 member organization which is a subsidiary of the Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association.  This progressive organization is one of the largest associations in the U.S. and CarolinaMLS is experiencing significant growth.  In addition to providing wholesale service to North Carolina Mountains MLS and adding 3,519 users, it is in the process of onboarding over 600 more users by providing wholesale service to the MLS of Catawba Valley, bringing subscriber numbers to 15,000+.  Additional similar MLS growth is anticipated. This vibrant organization also has a school of real estate (Mingle School of Real Estate) and a 501(c)(3) foundation (the Housing Opportunity Foundation) as well as a Realtor® Store.  All are housed together in centrally located Charlotte, NC and they are in the process of building a new 66,000sq. ft. building with cutting edge technology and services at the same location. CarolinaMLS, as well as the organization as a whole, has remarkable stability and a very low turnover rate.  Retention is high, quality of life and home-work life balance are priorities.  It is a pleasant and casual environment with a culture of mutual respect and open communication but also a culture of service, with the realization that it exists to serve its members, participants and subscribers. Job Responsibilities The Help Desk Support Manager is a critical driver of member satisfaction and loyalty for the organization. This position is responsible for managing a team that is delivering timely, respectful and helpful information. The team is responsible for helping REALTORS® leverage CarolinaMLS tools to sell more real estate. This position is responsible for helping CarolinaMLS members fully leverage the technologies available including the Matrix MLS system, Carolinahome.com, Carolinarealtors.com, Mingleschool.com, Showing Time, SAFEMLS, Realist, Move/ListHub and Statistical Analysis Module (SAM).  They also assist with identifying and writing communications explaining system updates to members. The Help Desk Support Manager will work closely with the VP of MLS as well as the CIO and will also be responsible for working closely with the MLS Committee to ensure that the system continues to evolve to serve the ever-changing needs of CarolinaMLS members.  The successful candidate will participate in MLS committee meetings regarding MLS system updates and assist with implementing MLS committee recommendations to update or improve the MLS system.   They are […]

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