Technology

It’s real estate tech’s best sleeper story of super success. Tech Helpline, created and owned by Florida Realtors, is the real estate industry’s number one tech support service. By a county mile. I will bet you can’t even name who is ranked number two. Or three, or four, or any of their direct competitors for that matter. I can’t, and I am a consultant for them. Where else in real estate tech or proptech can you make that claim?  Where does a real estate related tech firm dominates a category so profoundly? Tech Helpline is currently available to nearly half the Realtors in North America – more than 600,000 in the U.S. and Canada. You can meet some of its staff in person at NAR Midyear, Booth 818. But take a look at the maps below to get a perspective on its massive physical reach.   So why has this story not been told more broadly? Is the story not sexy enough? Tech Helpline has flown mostly under the radar perhaps because the media sees it as too boring. They keep doing the same thing again and again. The same way. While they are doing it better, it’s not because they are improving their technology as much as they are increasing the skills of their people. How do you write about that? It’s easy to write about a tech product that adds an Artificial Intelligence feature as a cutting-edge improvement. That’s sexy. But how do you make the fact that Tech Helpline’s team, including its staff of professional tech analysts, with almost 300 years of combined IT experience, helps agents fix printers that won’t print contracts, smartphones that won’t text clients, and laptops that crashed and won’t start up? That’s pretty boring, right? Counter-argument: Tech Helpline is super-model sexy if you think of it from an agent’s or broker’s point-of-view. A shiny object doesn’t make their car payment or pay down their mortgage. Tech Helpline saves their bacon. Keeps them producing, gets them back to doing what they do best: making sales, closing transactions. Tech Helpline is a godsend for so many agents who are about to close a contract or run to a closing, but a piece of their tech fails. If agents didn’t have Tech Helpline to reach out to and save the day, they would be stuck and so would some of their transactions. Customer service ratings […]

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RESO sold out its Spring Tech Summit in Denver last week three times, organizers said. Demand by industry tech and business leaders wanting to attend within the last two weeks forced the nonprofit to re-open registration twice until it pushed to capacity. The Real Estate Standards Organization filled the main ballroom to the brim, with just short of 300 people, at the hip Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver. Art Carter, RESO Chair and head of the largest MLS in the nation CRMLS, noted how far the organization had come in the last five years. One of the most vital breakthroughs: the number of women attending RESO – and presenting on stage. Two other big highlights were the announcement of the two winners of its Innovation Competition and the honoring of more two dozen of RESO members and leaders for “thousands of volunteer hours” to create, implement and advocate for real estate industry standards. Innovation winners Shawn Whitaker of MLS Data Tools based in Boise, Idaho and Robert Humphreys of Predicted Property based in British Columbia, Canada, were the Innovation winners. They were flown in to present their breakthrough ideas that leverage artificial intelligence and automation at the summit, built on top of a standardized RESO data set that was provided to them by Austin Board of REALTORS®, CoreLogic, and RESO. Predicted Property, founded by Robert Humphries, collects micro insights from predictive speech analytics enhanced by artificial intelligence to give agents intelligence on properties and improve their ability to close sales. Tapping into the RESO provided data feed, he discovered that standardized data can be used to surface actionable data points about properties that match clients’ interests. The result is a more efficient and cost-effective lead generation tool for agents. MLS Data Tools, created by Shawn Whitaker, developed software that solves for the tremendous amount of technical labor that is required to aggregate MLS data nationwide using automation. Its white label software and tools can significantly decrease the amount of time startups, brokers, and agents would spend aggregating RESO standardized data that powers industry solutions. RESO Volunteers honored Summit host Jeremy Crawford, CEO of RESO, honored 19 individual members, eight Chairs of RESO Workgroups and a key committee, as well as four RESO leaders for their outstanding personal contributions with 2018 Spring Tech Summit Awards. Crawford noted that collectively these individuals contributed “thousands of annual volunteer hours to RESO Workgroups, and […]

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Data Talk and the Consumer Experience

by David Gumpper on April 30, 2018

Real Estate data talk and the consumer experience

Over the last month, a lot of people are talking about data. Inman Disconnect crafted a data statement as one of its Parker Principles, Real Estate Standard Organization (RESO.org) Spring 2018 Conference was all about data, and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held a panel to discuss how real estate can be more competitive with technology, which included data as a component of its theme. Here are some thoughts on the good, bad and ugly uses of data.

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GDPR - EU protecting personal data

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance crisscrosses every business in the real estate industry. Yes, it’s another acronym and it is not tech driven. Well, almost not tech driven.

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A Tech View on Consolidation

by David Gumpper on March 19, 2018

Puzzle piece - Consolidation of MLS's and Associations.

Consolidation of Associations and/or Multiple Listing Systems (MLS) at any level has its pros and cons. Consolidation can tip the scale in the way that it improves the business, the industry and most importantly, how it impacts all the stakeholders. This of course includes the consumer who is at the top of pyramid!

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Buyside Makes It Real

by Victor Lund on February 20, 2018

If you know anything about Hunt Real Estate Corporation, you know that they are a family owned and operated brokerage with high integrity and a fierce approach to competition. Since 1911 they have been a market leader in upstate New York, cities like Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and the many Southern Tier communities that border Pennsylvania. They recently expanded into the Boston marketplace though a significant acquisition. We have known the Hunt family since Marlyn and I lived in Orchard Park, NY. We became friends though our interactions at The Buffalo Club and The Country Club of Buffalo. At the time, Marilyn ran marketing at Fisher-Price and I was spinning up my first start-up companies.

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Are Brokerages using BI Visualization Tools?

by David Gumpper on February 20, 2018

Google Data Studio and Microsoft Power BI Time of Day Lead Analysis

In talking with various people inside brokerages, I hear the same challenge time and time again. “My data is all over the place and I have no way to figure out what it means.” Driving information out of your data is Business Intelligence (BI). There are free or low-cost solutions to help analyze data in your control and derive the answers needed to make better business decisions.

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In an announcement made to their membership, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) have entered into a definitive agreement with MoxiWorks® to provide LeadingRE Cloud™ to their 565+ brokerage members. The solution is called LeadingRE Cloud. Franchises and networks like LeadingRE have been providing data services for their brokers over decades. No doubt, the most notorious version is the legacy CREST system at Realogy Holdings Corporation®. Keller Williams® CEO, Gary Keller has kicked off a Billion dollar investment in technology. RE/MAX® is in a process to buy a company or outsource to a vendor. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services® has projects underway but have not released their ambitions to the media. Remember, all franchise systems are required to have some sort of data base for tracking payments from the broker to the franchise on transactions. They all need data systems to power up their franchise software solutions. Realogy made a $220 Million investment in the acquisition of ZipRealty® to upgrade their technology. Formerly CREST, this system is now called Dash, a data management system that allows the franchise to delivery all of their software as a service systems like Zap™ (Lead Managment, CRM and Agent Website), DotLoop® (Transaction Management), etc. Each of the brands does something a little different in their software stack, but core solutions like Listhub™ and LeadRouter™ carry across them all. Remember too that Realogy is also the world’s largest brokerage, NRT®. Operating in more than 100 MLS areas, they are handling a lot of data aggregation. A lot of the features in LeadingRE Cloud are on the roadmap for Dash and Zap, but they are not available yet. LeadingRE Cloud is not a competitor to Upstream, but has some similar benefits to brokers. All of these activities are representative of brokerage and franchises collaborating to disrupt themselves. Unlike the taxi industry that got rolled by Uber and Lyft – or the travel industry that was rolled by Expedia and dozens of others – brokerage is fixing itself before any third party disrupters take over. Admittedly, brokers and franchises were already rolled by Realtor.com and Zillow Group in online search. But data strategy is open territory to get it right before the newcomers step in. LeadingRE just took the lead. How apropos. How LeadingRE Just Passed the Franchises There is a keynote of significance to the move made by LeadingRE. Today, WAV Group is unaware of any franchise […]

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NAR’s Goldberg Kills Amp and Powers Up Upstream

by Victor Lund on February 2, 2018

We’re starting to see the impact of a new leadership team at the National Association of REALTORS® led by Bob Goldberg, a strategic, yet practical leader that is SERIOUS about making the industry function more effectively.  He also seems to be critically evaluating every investment in technology and making some bold moves to re-focus efforts. NAR announced yesterday that is shutting down development on its Advanced Multilist Platform, or AMP. AMP was under development for a few years at a burn rate of $6 Million per year. The concept behind AMP was solid – consolidate MLS data into a single data repository and allow developers of systems like Matrix, FlexMLS, Paragon, Stratus, Rapattoni, Navica and others focus on the front-end software development. Most of all, the ambition was to provide more choice for MLS members to access MLS information and reduce costs to MLSs. There were a number of contrarian opinions about the idea. First of all, the price of AMP was estimated to be $5 per user per month. This was way off the goal of saving money. Large MLSs pay less than that for the entire MLS system. For AMP to succeed, they would have needed to hit a price point of about $1 or $2 at the most. My hope is that NAR will donate the code to RESO and/or make it open source. At a recent broker town hall meeting in California, CAR President Joel Singer talked about the merits of a single MLS database with local service providers. I do not think that this idea will die along with AMP. Two MLSs in California are working on MLS Front End of Choice. Both the Los Angeles based California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS) and San Jose based MLSListings have CoreLogic®’s Matrix® product as their primary system and are integrating Black Knight Financial®’s Paragon MLS® as a secondary system. Both companies have been working on the project for about 2 years or more. Both companies already have an AMP-like database that is connected to Matrix. When the system goes live, agents will vote with their log in preference for one system over the other. The vendor’s only get paid for the users they support. Both Paragon and Matrix will be in a heated battle to serve the agent or watch their market share of users dwindle to their competitor. It will be interesting to watch. It […]

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Inside Real Estate Acquires Circlepix

by Victor Lund on February 1, 2018

Circlepix has sold everything. They operated an extensive network of photographers that they sold to VHT Studios in January. Now they have sold the rest of their company to Inside Real Estate. If you have not followed Inside Real Estate lately – pay attention. Inside Real Estate is the incredible company that recently landed Keyes – one of the largest firms in South East Florida among others. They are taking a piecemeal approach to purchasing world class software providers to complete their suite of an end-to-end solution for brokers, teams, and agents. At the heart of Inside Real Estate is Kunversion – a competitor with Commissions Inc and Boomtown. What’s different is that Commissions Inc. and Boomtown do not really have an enterprise broker solution. Inside Real Estate invested a year of development to extend the original Kunversion platform to make it a fully enterprise broker solution. For brokers looking to run significant digital marketing campaigns, you need to look at systems like Inside Real Estate. Inside Real Estate calls their broker platform KVCore. It’s great website solution for lead capture off of online media buys. Behind the lead capture, they have an impressive CRM. It does everything that other CRMs do, but is built to look fresh and impressive to agents. It is among the best broker-in-a-box solutions – broker facing website and co-branded agent websites with impressive integrations supporting SSO and Web APIs.  WAV Group has written extensively about how brokers can remargin their business by generating online leads and referring consumers to their agents for a referral fee. What is interesting about Inside Real Estate is that they are building their application stack by purchasing known companies with lots of customers. Kunversion was their first big purchase. Reimagined as a platform, KVCore provides broker website, intranet, and agent websites. It also incorporates an excellent CRM that is pretty competitive to other CRM leaders. Inside Real Estate handles digital marketing and lead capture on Social Media and other platforms as well. Inside Real Estate is integrated with around 450 of the 690 MLS markets supporting RESO certified data feeds. Their system internalizes about 85% of all listings in America. Inside Real Estate purchased an amazing company called BrokerSumo a few months ago. They have a commission accounting solution that is lighter than LoneWolf, AccountTECH, or ProfitPower – but pickup up the full accounting ledger with Quickbooks integration. With […]

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WAV Group Announces New Technology Consulting Division

by Victor Lund on January 30, 2018

WAV Group is pleased to announce David Gumpper as the latest addition to its growing suite of executive leaders.  David Gumpper, former Chief Technology Officer for Michael Saunders & Company and Founder of the Gumpper Group, a strong industry advocate will be leading the company’s Technology Consulting division. David’s depth of experience helping brokerages increase market share uniquely qualifies him to help technology companies, brokerages and MLSs  drive success by delivering technology and marketing programs. David is expert at o leading the development of sound technology strategies that position a company well for success and then develop workable and practical plans to implement initiatives for technology infrastructure, security, cloud deployment, telecommunications systems, web and mobile application development, lead generation processes, business workflow efficiencies, measuring and analyzing marketing campaigns, and leveraging data for informational knowledge to help brokerages make more well-informed decisions. Victor Lund, Founding Partner of WAV Group noted “David comes from one of the most highly respected real estate brokerages in our industry.  His experience and real world knowledge addressing the technology, data and security challenges brokers face today is invaluable to our clients.” David is great at both technology infrastructure as well as consumer-facing marketing technologies. In 2015 Real Trends awarded Michael Saunders and Company as the #1 Web Site in the U.S. as voted by 70 of the top CMO’s and CIO’s in real estate.. David’s strong leadership skills led him to become the chairman of the Marketing Technology Advisory Council, the group that drives technology initiatives and partnerships for the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. In addition to a strong technologist, David has been an effective advocate for technology policy which has helped all brokers compete more effectively.   He was instrumental in driving the on-going overhaul of IDX Policies which have given brokers more flexibility to offer pendings and solds on their website, co-mingle data among multiple MLSs, and supporting RESO data dictionary and web API standards. His effective advocacy efforts earned him a position as a broker serving on the Multiple Listing Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board and Multiple Listing Issues & Policy Committee for the National Association of Realtors®. Marilyn Wilson, Founding Partner of WAV Group says, “We are absolutely thrilled to have David join us at WAV Group. He is one of the most strategic, hard-working executives I have met. He’s that unique person that can outline an exciting vision […]

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MLS and Association consolidation has delivered a path to solve many problems for Realtors® and brokers operating in markets where there is overlapping market disorder. With the exception of the San Francisco Bay Area, most large NFL cities have removed the need for Realtors® and brokers to subscribe to multiple MLSs, pay duplicate fees for MLS services, and manage listings in multiple systems. There are plenty of markets that should continue to purse consolidation discussions, but by and large, the MLS industry is on the right track and that is cause for celebration. However, real estate forms continue to be cloistered by the same antiquated policies that listings faced a decade ago. It’s time to rethink forms licensing to Realtors® and brokers, and for the betterment of serving consumers through the transaction process. We call for a standard license agreement and data standard that allows all transaction management systems to integrate Association, MLS and Broker forms with “live” data that can be, with the broker or agent’s opt-in permission, securely shared across software applications. Where Forms Come From When WAV Group works with brokerage firms to integrate their transaction workflow across multiple markets of Associations and MLSs, the first question we address is “Who is the forms provider?” It’s a difficult question to answer because “it depends.” Forms come from multiple sources in each marketplace. The State Association of REALTORS® The best news for Realtors® is that, for the most part, real estate transaction forms are available through a branch of the National Association of REALTORS®. Typically, there are forms that are crafted by State Associations of REALTORS® that cover the buyer and seller representation agreements and contracts for most transactions. To some degree, there are also a number of common disclosure documents that are applicable statewide. The State Association normally includes the forms license costs in member dues, contributing an enormous value for membership in the REALTOR® Association. These forms are copyright protected by the State Association. The value of the forms needed for a single transaction more than justify Association membership. The Local Association of REALTORS® Before the digital age, Realtors® would drive to the local Association of REALTORS® to pick up their forms packet for a transaction. The local Association was in the printing business. It is important to understand that this was a key source of revenue to the local Association (along with lock boxes and […]

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FBS Acquires Solid Earth

by Kevin Hawkins on December 4, 2017

If 2018 does indeed turn out to be “The Year of Consolidation” in the MLS world, then the stage was set today in the MLS technology world by FBS. One of the most respected and innovative tech firms serving the real estate industry just helped with the consolidation trend. Michael Wurzer, who heads up FBS, creators of Flexmls System and the API that started it all (Spark Platform), announced today the acquisition of Solid Earth’s Spring software platform and the hiring of the Spring team, including its CEO Matt Fowler. This marks FBS first acquisition. Ever. Considering the company was established over 30 years ago, this is a BIG deal. FBS is known for industry “firsts” in the MLS tech world. It was the first to offer a native mobile app, first to create a Web API with its Spark API technology, and earlier this year, first to power on-demand IDX websites for agents with AgentSquared. Now it has its first acquisition. Read the full news release here: FBS acquires Solid Earth’s Spring software platform to achieve powerful industry vision Fargo, North Dakota – December 4, 2017 – FBS, creators of the industry-leading Flexmls® System and Spark Platform, announce acquisition of Solid Earth’s Spring software platform and the hiring of the Spring team. The trio of the Spring® Portal, the Spark® API, and the Flexmls® System creates a new, powerful platform that puts MLSs, brokers, and agents in full control of their data and brand to clearly and beautifully showcase their unique value propositions to their client-bases on both web and mobile platforms. Michael Wurzer, CEO of FBS, says he looks forward to building on the foundation established when FBS and Solid Earth announced a partnership earlier this year to build the Spring Portal on the Spark API. “Spring is the best MLS consumer portal in the market and powering it with the Spark API reduces duplicate entry and data lock-in for brokers and agents,” Wurzer said. “Today, MLSs, brokers, and agents need to clearly and beautifully communicate the full-breadth of the powerful value proposition they deliver together, and Spring is laser-focused on creating the best portal to deliver on that value proposition.” With Spring MLS consumer portals already being deployed in a number of MLS markets, both Wurzer and Solid Earth CEO and co-Founder Matt Fowler (who will continue his role leading the Spring team at FBS as a […]

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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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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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