Highlights and Lowlights at NAR Midyear

by Kevin Hawkins on May 25, 2017

NAR Brochure

The REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo is a mouthful, so we all just call it NAR Midyear. This one was a scorcher: both inside, as Upstream was the hot topic, and outside, as the temperatures were in the 90s in mid-May and the humidity made me remember why everyone leaves D.C. in August (except the tourists). CMLS Brings it to the Table For me, this was the highlight of the conference and it really isn’t even officially part of Midyear. It’s a tangential track that the Council of Multiple Listing Services hosted at American University, about 15 minutes north of the Marriott and Omni. The setting was in a meeting room inside its new Innovations building at AU that was so new, it wasn’t even on GPS, so finding it was a challenge for Uber and Taxi drivers. The content was stellar. Brian Boero of 1000watt introduced this clever, simple slogan to define what an MLS is with “Making the Market Work.” Brian did give me my favorite quote of the day: “No other group of 1 million people could be more different than REALTORS®.,” he said. Marilyn Wilson, our founding partner at WAV Group was tasked at presenting the results of the MLS Benchmarking survey that WAV Group conducted for CMLS. The benchmarking survey sampled the behavior of more than 200 MLSs representing over 1 MillionREALTORS®. There are certainly opportunities for improvement and CMLS best practices education leads the way. Fewer than 1 in 5 MLSs do an annual technology review Fewer than 1 in 3 have a marketing program, yet 2 in 3 say they promote products regularly Less than half measure customer satisfaction 40% use customer satisfaction benchmarks Fewer than 50% track calls Only 40% require board training for understanding financials 58% have no written succession plan Throughout the day, some of the best minds of the MLS industry shared their thoughts and visions, candidly, including Lauren Hansen (consolidation), David Charron (consolidation), Kathy Condon(broker engagement) and Chris Carrillo (The Grid). I loved what David observed: what prevents consolidation is a clashing of cultures. How true! It was at lunch that Upstream’s Alex Lange made the announcement that was heard around the industry almost immediately, creating an instant debate among PR people about whether the word “pivot” should have been used – or not. Upstream will now integrate with MLSs like a data share – allowing brokers a […]


The Industry Has Risen

by Victor Lund on May 10, 2017


I had a feeling during the recession that the pillars that held our industry in trust had cracked. The first of two pillars of trust is the National Association of REALTORS® as fully constituted by its local, state, national, and international chapters. The second pillar of trust is the Multiple Listing Service. History has taught us that when you apply pressure to any society or organization it is likely to fracture. No doubt, these industry pillars came under massive scrutiny from their constituents. The real estate brokers who founded these noble entities became conscientious objectors to the organizations and their operations. As the distress of the recession began to ease, our industry began to reshape itself. The restoration of the National Association of REALTORS® and the Multiple Listing Service since 2012 has had a single key focus, careful consolidation. Consolidation is everywhere today. Portals are consolidating to create our industry’s largest and strongest public company. Yesterday, Zillow nearly kissed the $8 Billion dollar ring on Wall Street. Technology firms like Lonewolf, Boston Logic, Elm Street, and others are absorbing smaller firms at an astounding rate. Brokerage firms have consolidated too – represented by the tremendous roll up by Berkshire Hathaway.* But most of all, we have seen massive consolidation in our REALTOR® Associations and Multiple Listing Service providers. MLS Consolidation One of the most astute strategic thinkers in the MLS industry is David Charron. He coined the term Overlapping Market Disorder (OMD). Overlapping Market Disorder is a plague that erodes organizations that are contributing to the chaos. OMD happens when brokers and agents must become members to two MLSs in order to serve a consumer looking to buy or sell in an overlapping area between the two firms. OMD causes friction between the two MLSs whose duty it is to serve the broker and agent. The consumer is also trapped in this friction. Everything is duplicated in OMD areas as the data and operations fabric that is constituted by bifurcated organizations pits those forces against each other. On one hand, Charron provided a solution to the problem with a database for sharing data. It’s largest and most handsome installation was California Real Estate Technology Services. The technology solution to merge the databases was the first step. Then the participants recognized that data sharing was only a suspension of the inevitable. In the wake of data sharing came consolidation. The California […]


SEO Or Search Marketing For Brokers

by Victor Lund on March 28, 2017

SEO logo

We just escorted a client though a double audit of their search engine optimization on their broker website.  We reviewed Domain Authority and ranked it against their competition and saw a range of authority from 44 to 48 for leading broker websites. We reviewed Moz Report, CheckPageRank.net, and others. We carefully analyzed all area search keyword traffic using a combination of searches that include Neilson, ComScore, Google Analytics, and Hitwise. You can ignore any site data from a third party that is free (i.e. Quantcast and other free services are way off). Too often, firms look too closely at their Google Analytics. Google Analytics can only tell you what is happening on your site. Nielson, ComScore, and Hitwise give you a vision into the size of the online audience in your Demographic Market Area or DMA. They provide you with competitive matrix against your category competitors. These competitive sites include your brokerage competitors, national sites, and MLS consumer sites. They give you a look at the whole picture, not just your website stats. When you understand the total size of your consumer audience, you can review your share of consumer audience. You can understand your demographic audience vs. competitor sites. Armed with this information and the proper web development tools, you can develop your web strategy to be very focused and very targeted in your local audience. You can map your progress against competitors, and make sure that your strategy is working. To create your success, you will need a combination of SEO strategy, content strategy, social media strategy and search Marketing. Mostfirms fail by not having a good balance between these. It is very easy to be boring online, and the minute you are too promotional, you become spammy.  The last thing you want is for your real estate brand to be viewed by the consumer in the category of a belly-fat ad. Veteran online marketers, Prem Luthra and April Elgas are launching a new media network in partnership with This Old House. It offers super compelling content that can compliment a broker’s own content development. Brokers are doing well if they create one well-produced video per month (a.k.a – not something shot on a cell phone – a real, well edited video that you have invested $5k into). But firms should be pushing out a post every day on social media. This Old House has a huge repository […]


2017 Housing, Economic Outlook from Boots on the Ground

by Kevin Hawkins on December 20, 2016

It seems in real estate, the same handful of economists are always making the news about their annual housing predictions. Then mortgage interest rates jump a full percentage point practically overnight, and all of them scurry to readjust their predictions. Starting 2012, in the fall, Imprev real estate’s leading marketing automation firm has conducted a survey of top real estate executives: broker-owners and real estate franchise C-level leaders (CEO, COO, CMO, CTO, etc.), to get their perspective on what they think will happen in the economy in 2017. We keep hearing from the Generals, but if you really want to know what is happening, you have to talk to those who have boots on the ground: those who are battling it out in real estate every day. The Imprev Study this year was remarkable for a few reasons. First, it was conducted just before the election, so it is a snapshot in time before all the post-election political gyrations and wrangling. Second, it secured feedback from 240 respondents, not just the opinions of a handful of economic geeks who never sold a home or originated a mortgage loan in their life. Third, the survey talked to the leaders in the business who collectively are responsible for organizations that provide more than half of all U.S. residential real estate transaction last year: 15% of the respondents represented firms with more than 1,000 agents; 17% represent firms with 501 to 1,000 agents; 42% represent firms with 101 to 500 agents; and 26% represent firms with 100 agents or fewer. Key Findings Conventional wisdom says that real estate folks are optimists, and that a survey of their views on subjects like the economy and housing might be skewed towards a positive view. Even if we assume this is true, the magic of the Imprev survey is they’ve been asking the exact same questions of real estate leaders for the last several years. So that could mean that any change in direction of opinion – positive or negative – is significant. The major headline this year was clear: Real Estate Leaders’ Outlook for Housing, Economy Softens for 2017. So there goes the idea that leaders are always optimistic. As Imprev CEO Renwick Congdon said, “In fact, confidence for 2017 is lower across nearly all questions related to housing and the economy.” How much has it soften? Compared to two years ago, the number of […]


The Power of Sharing

by Steve Cook on November 17, 2016

Woman reading blog on tablet

Today many leading news sites and blogs welcome by-lined posts and articles from respected professionals willing to share valuable knowledge and insights with their readers.  Good, free content helps boost their SEO, readership, and prestige. For companies who sell to brokers, agents, lenders, and consumers, the explosion of real estate blogs locally as well as nationally creates unprecedented opportunities to build brands, advance careers and position products and services.  The only cost involved might be the time of a professional writer experienced in the residential real estate to turn concepts into great copy. The publishers who operate these sites make a living from advertisers who pay for space.  Allowing contributors to fill their pages with posts that are blatantly free ads not only costs them money but will quickly diminish the value and credibility of their site or publication to their readers. If you are intending to submit by-lined articles to bloggers or other media, you must make sure that it is news. So, blogs and publications that accept outside contributions have very clear guidelines outlining what kind of content crosses the line.  One leading mortgage publication for originators, for example, encourages quality contributions by will not allow any references to companies, their employees or their proprietary products; the author’s name and affiliation are considered adequate payback for the quality content.  Most accept—and reject—pieces on a case-by-case basis, on writing quality and their value to their readers. Here is some advice on how to make guest contributions a powerful tactic in your outreach efforts: Begin by inventorying potential outlets.  Start with a solid understanding of the opportunities available to you and what they are looking for in contributors. Spend some time surfing sites, not just those you read daily but others you may not know.  List them by the audiences they reach brokers and agents, lenders, vendors, consumers.  Include local as well as national.  Locally, include weekly business you Think broadly and remember that your professional audiences read consumer outlets and that an article in a consumer or business publication.  Build a large list.  You will reach more people and build a “surround sound” image by appearing in several outlets. As you are researching, subscribe. Also be sure to make a plan to engage with their content by sharing your favorite articles on social media and by commenting on the article in thoughtful ways (i.e. don’t just say “great article, […]


Redux: Minding Your Trade Show Manners

by Kevin Hawkins on October 19, 2016


Last year, I wrote about the 5 rules for trade show etiquette. Several clients and non-clients have told me they share this with their teams just before they attend a trade show.  However, the last couple of trade shows I attended were still brimming with exhibitor faux pas. As we enter the heart of trade show fall mania, with two of our industry’s biggest ones on the horizon – MBA Annual next week in Boston and NAR in a couple of weeks in Orlando – hopefully, even more people will realize that trade show manners matter. The RESO Conference in Nashville is up next. There, I’m hopeful that these rules will be followed because large or small, every trade show offers unique opportunities for belly-to-belly engagement that’s become highly prized in our increasingly digitized universe. Trade shows offer remarkable convenience. You can get on a plane, travel to a half dozen cities, and go through 10-grand or more to see a few dozen people. Or you can go to a trade show and reach a few hundred, with an opportunity to engage with some who would never be able to pencil you in on their calendars. The upcoming RESO Conference is that kind of place, and so being strategic in how you manage your trade show appearance is vital to achieving the best outcome for you firm. Let’s do two things: First, let’s revisit an abbreviated version of the 5 rules for trade show manners, and second, look at 3 ways you can improve your team’s effectiveness at your booth. 5 Trade Show Rules Redux Don’t drink the water (unless you do it discretely). Food and beverages are best consumed elsewhere, and not at your booth. Remember, your goal is to get people to approach you when you are at your booth, not leave you alone. If you’re eating or drinking at your booth, they’ll keep walking by. Stand, don’t sit. Over 90% of communication is non-verbal. When you are standing at a booth, you are signaling that you’re approachable. When you are sitting, you’re signaling that you are either tired or not engaged. If you have to sit, take a break somewhere away from your booth. Booths with barstools signal laziness. Is that the message you want to convey? Buy comfortable shoes instead. Eyes forward, please. And don’t forget to smile often. This is not a time to surf […]


Today, all MLSs in America are prepared to provide a standard set of data from across the nation. It’s the kind of data that portals have been aggregating for years, which is now being made available to real estate brokers. With great effort Redfin championed this strategy to become one of the most successful broker websites in America. We will be hosting a webinar surrounding these topics on Tuesday October 11th at 10:00am PDT. Register here today! Our panelists on this exciting webinar include:                                 For too long, brokers and their vendors have struggled with the difficulty of managing the different data structures and business rules of more than 700 MLSs. Today marks the beginning of a new era, where each MLS is synthesized into a single common format allowing brokers to provide services, across MLS boundaries without differentiation.  Be sure to register below for this one hour webinar to be hosted on: Tuesday October 11th at 10am PDT CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!


Meet Patrick Arkeveld, CEO of Lone Wolf

by Victor Lund on July 28, 2016

Recently, Lone Wolf Founder Lorne Wallace stepped up to the role of Executive Chairman of the real estate software firm and appointed Patrick Arkeveld to step in as Chief Executive Officer.  The transition came at a key time in the evolution of Lone Wolf. The firm has been on an aggressive path of launching new products and acquiring real estate technology companies warranting an additional capital investment by partner firm Vista Equity Partners. WAV Group founder, Victor Lund connected with Mr. Arkeveld to create this article for the RE Technology Follow the Leader Series. Everyone who knows Lone Wolf founder Lorne Wallace understands that his core passion in business comes from his love of the real estate industry coupled with a deep understanding of accounting and operational best practices within a real estate brokerage. Lone Wolf grew from 50 employees to more than 300, causing the founder to seek ways to strengthen Lone Wolf’s bench by engaging specific operational expertise from large software companies. “There are a lot of great software products in the market today. But there is a difference between having a great product and running a great software business. That is why I brought on Patrick Arkeveld,” says Lorne Wallace. Patrick Arkeveld joins Lone Wolf from Constellation Software, the global software conglomeration that operates hundreds of software products across multiple industries. Constellation trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange at a $10 Billion valuation (TSE:CSU). While at Constellation Software, Mr. Arkeveld worked in a wide variety of industries ranging from product groups with $2 Million in sales to groups with in excess of $100 Million in sales. In many ways, Constellation is a huge version of Lone Wolf.  Coupled with onboarding Arkeveld, Wallace has engaged the operational excellence of the consulting group within Vista Equity Partners.  With Vista’s guidance coupled with Arkeveld’s executional expertise, Wallace believes that his firm is poised for exceptional growth while continuing to enhance their product development and all the while focusing on customer satisfaction.  Patrick’s LinkedIn profile is here. In speaking with Arkeveld, we learned instantly that the biggest surprise in joining Lone Wolf had little to do with their products, balance sheet, or P&L. It had everything to do with the culture of the staff and the relationship that the company has fostered with its customers. “Real Estate is a special industry when it comes to the relationships with customers,” said Arkeveld. […]


Don’t Switch Software Vendors

by Victor Lund on May 2, 2016

Change Switch

WAV Group constantly tries to educate MLSs and brokers to stay with their current vendor. We have long preached that making a change costs a lot more than you think and sets the company’s goodwill back years. We see this in user satisfaction research gathered from both agents and consumers. Unless your vendor is impossible to work with, stick with them. Recently, I was directed to research published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) that substantiates this issue even more. The article is titled Eager Sellers and Stony Buyers : Understanding the Psychology of New-Product Adoption. The article starts out with the famous quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.” Unfortunately, Emerson is too often correct as executives are too quick to purchase shiny objects that promise greater benefits than the trusted product that is doing its job just fine every day. The fancy new product replaces the old one and nobody takes the time to learn it, causing a multi-year quest to get agents to use it. In the meantime, you crushed the productivity of the business. According to HBR, replacement products fail at a rate of between 40 percent and 90 percent depending on the category. Indeed, 47 percent of new products fail, too. So much for pioneering, right? There is a psychological factor to change that does not factor into new product selection. The bar to create change is extremely high! “People irrationally overvalue benefits they currently possess relative to those they don’t.” In 2002, an economist named Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize for figuring this out. Here is the money quote: “…[users] overvalue the existing benefits of an entrenched product by a factor of three, while developers overvalue new benefits of their innovation by a factor of three. The result is a mismatch of nine to one, or 9X.” The strategic bias is to stick with the incumbent unless you must change. An alternative strategy is to run systems in parallel. We have seen the parallel system battle work really well. Of course, it duplicates the level of effort, but it may be a better system than throwing one out. California Regional MLS is doing this today, and more MLSs […]


Consumer Questions a Broker Website Must Answer

by Victor Lund on April 25, 2016

There are less than 2% of the homes for sale around the nation today. Typically, that number is 3.5%. Hence we are in a sellers’ market. So the consumer thinks – “Where am I in the market?” What Home Can I Buy? Over 90% of consumers looking to purchase a home have one to sell. The rest are currently renters or second home purchasers. Buying a home is never about buying what you want. It is always about buying what is right for you. The old story of Location, Location, Location is a bit lost on me today, unless it stands for Location Convenience, Location Suitability, and Location Affordability. There may be some others, like Location Timing as well. Regardless of where you live, there are places where you need to go – like work, school, shopping, or whatever. Where you live as a proximity to those things counts for you. I love TLCengine because it allows consumers to plot those points of interest and find properties in the radius of convenience. This also has a major influence on affordability as proximity mitigates commute times, insurance prices, childcare costs, etc. Unfortunately, I think that the application is only available in the NorthstarMLS market area MLS. Suitability is more of a lifestyle question. How do you flow in your home? Beds, garages, yards, kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, and local area amenities change the attractiveness of a location based upon the suitability to the people living in the property and in the neighborhood. This is why I think that lifestyle search engines like Onboard Informatics is so important to consumers. Affordability is perhaps the biggest concern. Consumers choose unrealistic price ranges all of the time when they are searching. They really need to be pre-qualified before they can truly search for a home unless they are paying cash. What about closing costs and estimated and historical property taxes? Most broker websites do not have the information to understand this unless they are licensing data from CoreLogic or some other source. I love that CoreLogic is planning to make this data available to website vendors through their new RETS server called Trestle. It will open the innovation door wide! What’s My Home Worth? That is a loaded question, one that created the most valuable company in real estate – Zillow. Half of the real estate industry pivots around this question, as it […]

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Robots are cool. High school students building 120-pound robots in just six weeks to compete in sporting-like competition with and against other robots is cooler. Being a mentor for a local FIRST Robotics team, Spartronics Team 4915 of Bainbridge Island, Washington since it’s inception three years ago is the coolest, most rewarding, non-profit volunteering experience I have ever had. I have learned so much, and it got me to thinking about a couple of concepts that define FIRST and how it relates to what I do. So what could the real estate industry learn from FIRST Robotics? First About FIRST 25 years ago, Dean Kamen, an inventor extraordinaire, and MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor Dr. Woodie Flowers, created FIRST Robotics. They wanted to find a way to transform our culture from celebrating our sports and entertainment stars, to creating a world where students dream to become science and technology leaders. FIRST – or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – offers robotics programs for grades K-12. The top tier – FIRST Robotics Competition or FRC – is comprised of high school-aged teams who compete head to head on a special playing field with robots they have designed, built, and programmed. The game that is played changes every year and combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology and why it is called the “Sport for the Mind.” More than 3,000 FRC teams, 75,000 students, 19,000 mentors in 24 countries all start their robot build on the same day in early January and must finish and “bag” their robot on the same day, six weeks later. The kickoff day for the “build season” unveils the game to be played each year. This year’s game is called Stronghold, and consists of two Alliances: a red Alliance and a blue Alliance. Each Alliance consists of three teams, randomly selected for the initial matches. Each team has four players (coach, driver, shooter, and human player) and their robot, which is custom designed and built. No two robots are ever the same. Cooperating and Competing Unique to FIRST Robotics is a philosophy and culture that may sound very familiar to real estate agents. Real estate sales may be the only business where your competitor is also your collaborator, and the person you are competing against also may be responsible for your next paycheck. In FIRST, this concept is called Coopertition®. […]


Mobile Realty Apps has experienced outstanding growth over the past 12 months and has established itself as a leader in mobile technology for MLSs and real estate companies.  Winner of the 2012 “Most Innovative Real Estate Startup” at the Inman Conference in July 2012, Mobile Realty Apps offers a full set of leading edge mobile products for real estate professionals and the consumers they serve, from their custom branded native apps to their augmented realty technology HomeSpotter. Mobile Realty Apps is currently interviewing individuals who will lead their  sales to MLSs  nationally.  This individual will work closely with the national Broker sales manager to reach company sales objectives. WAV Group has been retained to help find the ideal candidates to continue to drive new growth for the company and to manage existing account relationships. Interested candidates should be experienced sales professionals with an established network of MLS relationships, looking to move into the new core technology of our industry. POSITION TITLES: National Sales Manager MLS Accounts REPORTS TO: Chief Executive Officer CLASSIFICATION: Exempt OPPORTUNITY: Mobile Realty Apps a leading provider of mobile products for the real estate industry is seeking to hire a sales executive for the position of National Sales Manager MLS Accounts.  The position will be responsible for building revenues by securing new MLS customers for their mobile technology products and for managing existing account relations and renewals.  The position reports directly to the CEO. Mobile technology is the new core technology for each level of the real estate industry.  Mobile Realty Apps offers a full range of leading edge products for the full range of mobile devices, combined with deep integration with existing MLS systems to allow for photo upload and mobile editing as well as their award winning augmented mobile realty technology, HomeSpotter.  Learn more about why Mobile Realty Apps is the choice for MLSs and real estate companies nationwide. ORGANIZATIONAL DESCRIPTION: Mobile Realty Apps is a profitable, funded startup that has experienced substantial revenue growth in the last twelve months. Founded in 2009, the company provides best-of-breed, white-labeled tablet and smartphone app solutions to the real estate industry. The company was recognized as the “Most Innovative Real Estate Startup” at the Inman Conference in July 2012 – in large part due to its industry leading solutions, including its augmented-reality HomeSpotter technology and its unique approach to deep MLS integration with its edgeMLS product line. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the […]


WAV Group

by THE WAV GROUP on April 20, 2011


WAV Group always begins with a clear understanding of the needs and objectives of the customer as well as the end user.  Our team can help you outline a new strategic direction for growth, product or service improvement. We can help you better understand your member and clients needs by proven research methodology. We can assist you to make wise technology decision and stay with you and drive implementation. In short, we work with your organization to help you successfully reach your specific business objectives! WAV Group always begins with a clear understanding of the needs and objectives of the customer as well as the end user.  Our team can help you outline a new strategic direction for growth, product or service improvement. We can help you better understand your member and clients needs by proven research methodology. We can assist you to make wise technology decision and stay with you and drive implementation. In short, we work with your organization to help you successfully reach your specific business objectives!


zillow logo

Do you know where your listings are going? Realtor.com and realestate.yahoo.com have been battling it out for the top spot in the nation for real estate property search.  Now a rising contender is in the mix, zillow.com in a move that could break the virtual tie between zillow and trulia forever. An early secret to realtor.com was the extension of thier property search site to more than 100 other prominent domains – now zillow.com has answered by winning the business of more than 180 newspapers, drawing them in direct competition with the top search sites and especially Homefinder.com.  This added traffic volume should have a tremendous impact on zillow’s traffic – and moreover the volume of leads they generate to thier broker partners. Newspapers needed to make a move to shore up the relevance of their real estate channel online.  Newspaper advertising has more than dipped – is has been all but cancelled by more than half the advertisers who formerly considered that the paper was the number one spot for advertising effectiveness.  The secondary effect of the reduction in listing advertising is a dwindling in the number of listings on the newspaper website.  No Listings = No Traffic = No Advertisers. It is no surprise that 11 major newspaper holding companies banded together to form the Zillow Newspaper Consortium.  This strategy directly competes with the success that Classified Ventures has had with Homefinder.com and Homegain.com.  The big difference here is that every broker who syndicates listings to Zillow today will benefit from this extended reach – and they are likely to find thier listings on their local newspaper website without participating in print advertising. The Zillow Newspaper Consortium includes Hearst Newspapers; Media General; Scripps; MediaNews; Community Newspaper Holdings; Morris Communications; and Philadelphia Media Holdings.  101 sites are launching today. Homefinder.com and Homegain.com supply property search solutions to the Classified Ventures Group which includes Belo; Gannett; McClatchy Company; Tribune; and Washington Post.  My understanding is that they only display listings on thier site that have been advertised in one of their print channels – so if a broker does not advertise, their listings do not appear. With zillow in the mix now, I may need to retract my post about Newspapers being like Nursing Homes – click here to view – its funny.