broker

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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Brokers Need To Fix Their YouTube Channel

by Victor Lund on January 11, 2017

YouTube

WAV Group has studied the effectiveness of video marketing for brokers over number of years. By and large, firms are not seeing the level of engagement on video marketing that justifies the trouble or expense. Having a video on YouTube with 2 or 3 views is not a conveyance of success. The promises of video marketing are pretty significant. By using video, a property is marketed more dynamically than photo and text marketing. Videos are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text. Simply stated, it’s a better consumer experience. Prima facie – people enjoy a video television experience over a magazine or newspaper experience. Homebuyers spend more time looking at the property (minutes rather than seconds) at a much higher cognitive level. The average consumer with an Internet connection watches roughly 206 videos per month according to Nielsen. Brokers are also failing to syndicate the branded and unbranded videos effectively. WAV Group audits portray that unless the insertion of the videos into the MLS is done automatically, Realtors® or staff do not consistently complete the chore. IDX syndication of virtual tours drives a lot of views, and done correctly will provide some additional SEO benefits that can accrue to the broker website in the form of back links. Moreover, the branded virtual tours are not being syndicated well on third party listing websites like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com or others. Again, syndication drives views. Social media also plays a significant role in video engagement. We do not propose that brokers automate the publication of property videos on the wall of their social media pages. Rather, we suggest that you build a channel for videos and socialize the channel. If you pollute your wall with automated tour publishing, you will find that consumers will abandon. According to research by Usurv, Consumers are 39 percent more likely to share content if it’s delivered via video, and 36 percent more likely to comment and 56 percent more likely to give that video a coveted “like.” Brokers and agents would serve themselves well to deliver performance on their YouTube page by boosting the views with a few ad dollars. We have seen some interesting results whereby a broker who tags and advertises their videos correctly can actually display an ad as a pre-roll on a competitors’ video. That’s fun, and not very expensive. On average, video advertising is only about $0.02 per […]

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Should Brokers Do REALTOR Background Checks

by Victor Lund on January 4, 2017

Background Check

Too often, brokers and managers get caught up in recruiting goals that they skip some basic best practices – Background Checks, Customer Satisfaction Checks, etc. Perhaps agents should be checking out the backgrounds of their broker too. Before the New Year, Todd Kohlhepp, a real estate broker was linked to 7 murders and a kidnapping. Todd was the broker in charge of TKA Real Estate. Inman news reported that the guy had spent 14 years in jail for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl. Of course – his agent ratings on popular listing syndication websites gave glowing reviews. (The agent has been removed from those sites). Research Production This case points to some good fundamentals about proper recruiting. You may want to start out by building a target list of agents to recruit. Just as agents focus on customers, brokers should focus on agents. BrokerMetrics® from Teradatum and Trendgraphix are both good for this. You can see things like historic transaction history. How many brokerages they have worked for. Transaction dollar volume. Transaction location. There is a ton of intelligence available. Do your research. Recruit Around Culture Consider the cultural fit. I recently did a research project to look at Agent Profile pages on a broker website. We took stock of the brokerage culture that we could glean from simply looking at the headshots of agents. Diving in deeper, we would look at the profile of office managers and how they looked relative to the agents they recruit. It is astounding to simply look at profiles and pick out agents that look like they fit vs. others that seem out of place (or missing photos all together). Surprisingly, production numbers correlate to profile photos when you ask a group of people to pick the most and least productive agents. A photo says a lot. But deeper than that, take a look at the agent’s social media profiles – look at their friends, their posts, their reach, their engagement. It is never a perfect science, but simple observation goes a long way. Consider the risks. We all know that a bad apple ruins the bushel. But sometimes brokers take too much risk in bringing in agents that don’t fit. That can really demoralize an office, or worse yet – a brokerage. I seriously doubt that consumers are going to want to work with agents form a brokerage that has felons on their roster. […]

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WAV Group DMCA Safe-Harbor Alert

by Victor Lund on December 6, 2016

DMCA

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides some protection to website owners from tiresome litigation when an image or other copyrighted content is found to be on their website.  Before December 31st 2017, you should electronically register your designated agent. Even if you filed before using the old paper method, you must refile electronically by Dec. 31, 2017 or your DMCA safe-harbor will no longer be in effect. By now, I think that every website owner has gotten some form of letter from Getty Images or other copyright trolls – and this will continue. In fact, now that the Copyright office allows firms to electronically submit thousands of images for copyright protection, it is likely to cause more copyright claims for photos. The safe-harbor provision works something like this. First, you must have a DMCA notice on your website. WAV Group recommends that you have an attorney review your DMCA and your Terms of Use each year to assure that you are in compliance with current laws. While you are at it, plan to update the copyright on your site to © 2017. Also make sure that you incorporate the National Association of REALTORS® guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act by adding a statement into your terms of use like “If you have a disability that is preventing you from experiencing this website, call…….” The most important part of compliance with the DMCA safe-harbor is that you pay a fee and designate an agent for any copyright violations.  Under the safe-harbor act, if you are found to be infringing, the copyright holder will notify you to take it down. If you comply with the notice, the issue should be resolved unless there are extenuating circumstances. There is a lot more information on the copyright.gov site below. https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/onlinesp/NPR/faq.html Many thanks to Mitch Skinner of the law firm, Larson Skinner for this heads up on this! While you are thinking about copyright, I would also recommend that you review your photography policy at your brokerage.  Make sure that you secure the copyright on every photo, or get perpetual rights to use it. Many professional photographers have template agreements that only provide you with the rights to use the photograph during the marketing of a home – which means that you are responsible for getting those photographs off the internet and the MLS. The best practice is to have a work for hire […]

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MLSs and Brokers Misunderstand RESO

by Victor Lund on October 7, 2016

Working Programmer

Our industry is in the dawn of a new day. With some measure of struggle, the Nations’ MLSs and their Vendors have endeavored to adopt a set of standard fields for standardized data transportation from the MLS system to applications that support the real estate industry.  I consider this the dawn of the effort because, for the very first time, MLS adoption of the real estate standards are more strictly mandated by the National Association of REALTORS® MLS Policy. For years, the National Association of REALTORS® supported and funded the Real Estate Standards Organization, which is referred to by its acronym, RESO. Despite being a free standing non-for profit with an independent board of directors, the bulk of the funding for this standards organization came from NAR, and was supplemented by MLS vendors and a few others. Today, the Real Estate Standards Organization has blossomed into one of the most collaborative industry wide efforts we have ever seen, with funding from vendors, brokers, Associations, and MLSs. The effort ties MLS Vendors, Broker and Agent Technology Vendors, MLS Operators, Associations of REALTORS® and many brokerages together. This group is funding and directing a massive overhaul of how information (data) is used today, and laying a strong foundation for the future. It is inspired transformation. Like anything new, different, and technical, there is also a massive level of misunderstanding that is frustrating the efforts. In some small way, my hope is to clarify some things to set some people straight. We try hard to understand before disagreeing, and disagree without being disagreeable. The MLS system has a native database. When agents enter listing information into that database, they most often enter data that is not RESO certified. We refer to this as entering data into the NATIVE MLS Database. Despite the 1,078 fields and 1,475 values within the most current version of the RESO Data Dictionary, the MLS has additional fields, business rules, database logic, and numerated values that are beyond RESO standards today. With few exceptions, NATIVE MLS Databases and listing input forms have not been converted to the RESO Data Dictionary standards. If MLSs were to adopt the RESO Data Dictionary standards for MLS fields, it would require an MLS conversion. I imagine that most of you reading this have suffered through an MLS conversion, so you can appreciate the expense and pain that it would cause to convert all […]

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RESO

COMPLETE THE SURVEY NOW The Real Estate Standards Organization, RESO, has been hard at work creating consistent data across MLS regions and across the country by creating the RESO Data Dictionary.  To date 1.1 mm agents across the country now have access to RESO Data Dictionary thanks to the hard work of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, The Realty Alliance, NAR, MLS system providers and MLSs across the country. This normalized data built from years of work with technology leaders from around the industry is being used to fuel Upstream, Broker Public Portal (Homesnap) and the AMP program.  RESO standards are making it easier for brokers to expand into new markets and to work with innovative technology providers. WAV Group, along with RESO and its industry Ambassadors, is very interested in learning more about the challenges you and your brokerage face with data management today and what RESO can do to aid in your challenges.  We would like to gather insights from you as a broker about RESO and candid feedback about the challenges you deal with when trying to ingest and manage MLS data. If you can spare about 5 minutes we would love to get your input! If you are a broker interested in completing the survey, CLICK HERE! If you are an MLS interested in distributing to your brokers, CLICK HERE! If you would like to learn more about RESO and how you can be involved, contact Marilyn@wavgroup.com.

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phone dial

One of my favorite people in real estate is John Reinhardt of Fillmore Real Estate based in Brooklyn, New York. I am not sure why, but everything competitive in the New York City area seems amplified. Like his peers, John is always building his business, one great agent at a time. Among John’s favorite recruiting lessons is the spot. In John’s case, his spot is Peter Luger’s Steakhouse. “It is the one place that agents cannot deny a free meal.” John is a recruiting machine – among the best in the business. The last time I sat down with John, I shared a story about a phone call that I received from an agent. In this case, the agent shared that her brokerage of 20 years had just been taken over. She was very uncomfortable with the new owners, so she split out with some other agents that started a new firm. The one thing that she did not contemplate in the transition was the loss of the transaction manager, the loss of the broker website, the loss of her listing presentation, and so on. And, although she did not mention it, probably a loss of her office friends. My sixth sense told me that this agent was having a case of buyer’s remorse. The decision to join the new brokerage was emotional. Now that reality has set in, the agent was rethinking her decision. It occurred to me that if her old broker had called her back that day, she would have promptly returned to her old office, back to that familiar group of friends, and back to the tools that she knew how to use to service her customers. The soft call back – Sotto Voce. Change is Hard Real Estate agents hate change. They love new things, but they hate change. Change is hard work. Change is disruptive. And, whenever you change something for the better, you wind up losing something in the process. This agent lost everything that she had “set up” and was facing the consequences of rebuilding and relearning. WAV Group has researched the productivity results of agents who switch firms. Our methodology for this research is to use BrokerMetrics by Terradatum. When a firm is under a recruiting attack or on a recruiting mission, we look for data points that that help tell a story. Unfortunately, the data rarely supports the cause. As […]

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Drip Training

by Victor Lund on April 28, 2016

Leaf dripping water

I love a morning call with a report of success. A broker that I am working with moved their chips around the board, renewing a core vendor agreement and adding five new services without any incremental costs. Bust out the champagne, right? Not so fast. The panic moment hits you when you understand that you will be launching five new products. A few of them are background products that support the operation of the brokerage – accounting type stuff. But a few of them are consumer launches and agent launches. Put the champagne away and start to whiteboard out the launch of each product. Launch event, video training, webinars, tips of the day, help desk training, manager training, individual agent training and support, consumer advertising, website update, public relations, reporting, benchmarking, satisfaction monitoring. All of that is being added to a staff that is already fully utilized. The term drip training popped into my mind. Drip training is not an original concept. I Googled it and found an article from BrainStorm dating back to September 9th, 2015. It’s a great article that you should read. Drip system Seed (input) Nourishment Delivery method Harvest (output) The BrainStorm article is a bit out of context for the types of product launches that we support here at WAV Group. We help brokers launch to thousands of agents and MLSs launch to tens of thousands of agents. Typically, the consumer audience for broker and MLS products aims to reach millions. It’s all good! These are problems that are nice to have. But there is a lesson here that we all should be reminded of. Kevin Hawkins of WAV Group Communications hinted at it last month: “a goal without a plan is a wish.” And WAV Group is always aware that many times, something old is better than many things that are shiny and new. Before you take on a list of new products, make sure that you are not disposing of some old goodies that people love. And, make sure that your new stuff is properly launched and supported right out of the gate. WAV Group does a lot more than help our clients with vendor selection. We help usher the products into your organization so you obtain the strategic objectives of the company. It’s never about the tools you have; it’s always been about the way you use them. WAV Group will be at NAR Midyear. We […]

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Blow Away Your Broker Profit Goals

by Marilyn Wilson on April 20, 2016

Leverage

Top 5 Reasons to Leverage MLS Listing Data in Your Brokerage Today MLS data can make a lot of the systems in a brokerage work more smoothly and can create new ways to serve the needs of your clients while helping your brokerage be more competitive. I have been working a lot recently with brokers who are finding new ways to provide better service to their agents, sellers and home buyers by integrating their systems with MLS data in new and meaningful ways. Here are five benefits of integrating your systems with MLS data and how they can help your business be more profitable. 1. More Traffic to Your Website Today, every MLS is REQUIRED to offer you SOLDs in your IDX feed if you so choose. Why can SOLDs be a benefit? First, they can make your site more competitive with the depth of content offered on third party sites. Second, it can give consumers a reason to engage earlier on your site while they’re in the early research phases of their search. It can also help engage potential sellers looking to see how much their home is worth in today’s market. 2. Improve Professionalism Today, many of the online transaction management companies out there like Docusign, Form Simplicity, ZipLogix and others have easy ways to populate forms with live MLS data. The data then passes through to all of the documents that will be used in the transaction seamlessly eliminating the need for redundant data entry which inevitably leads to mistakes. A lack of attention to detail is one of the things that consumers complain about most. This is a great way to eliminate that problem. 3. Close Deals Faster Time is of the essence when an agent secures a listing. By using marketing automation systems like Imprev and others, property flyers and additional marketing materials can be built in real-time using MLS listing information saving hours and even days of turnaround time. These systems help you create a more consistent brand presence, provide better service to your agents and help you start to market your properties much more quickly with a push of a button. Our clients who use these types of systems LOVE them. They have freed up their marketing team to focus on corporate marketing programs, brand enhancements and other more strategic projects. 4. Reduce Staff Time and Cost Many of the industry-centric accounting packages […]

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3 Ways for MLSs to Frustrate and Alienate Brokers

by Marilyn Wilson on April 20, 2016

No!

SOLDS, VOWS and the RESO Data Dictionary are NOT Optional for MLSs Some MLSs are creating unnecessary and even illegal challenges for their brokers as well as for the technology suppliers that support their brokers, by not complying with NAR rules…some of which that have been in place for YEARS! I hear regularly from brokers and technology vendors that they run into roadblocks all the time when they try to access SOLDs for their IDX feed, a Virtual Office Website (VOW) data feed and most recently, the RESO Data Dictionary dataset. I’m going to start with a little history lesson to help MLSs understand there are three data programs that are part of the NAR family, that are NOT optional for MLSs. IDX feed including SOLDS Required Brokers from the Leading Real Estate Companies of the world fought hard for MLSs to provide the option for brokers to include SOLDs in their IDX data feed. Some brokers really like the idea of including SOLDs on their website. They believe it helps them to be more competitive with third party sites, it provides a better consumer experience as well as encouraging more traffic and engagement. To address these important broker needs, the NAR MLS Policy Committee approved a rule that requires an MLS to provide SOLDs in the IDX data feed as requested by a broker. The first rule was approved in late 2014, the language was then amended to address non-disclosure states more specifically in late 2015. Here’s the official language: “If “sold” information is publicly accessible, display of “sold” listings may not be prohibited.” Even though this rule was put in place almost two years ago there are still several MLSs and some technology vendors who do not offer this option to their brokers. NAR rules state that any approved IDX policy must be live in every MLS no later than 90 days after the ruling has been ratified. I’m not sure why an MLS thinks that limiting the data and ultimately the value they can deliver to their customers is a good idea, but there are several that still do. If you are one of these MLSs that has refused to comply with this regulation or is simply not aware of this requirement, it’s time to get on with it! If you are an IDX or website vendor that has not yet complied with this rule and does […]

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The New Process for RFPs in Real Estate

by Victor Lund on March 30, 2016

Display showing bad, average good, person selecting

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

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office location map

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

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Brokers Talk Marketing Webinar Invitation

by Victor Lund on January 15, 2016

  WAV Group supports brokerage companies in selecting and implementing marketing automation software. Firms of all sizes need and easy to use, a one stop shop for agents to access all of the marketing tools that power their success.  Last year we worked with Hunt Real Estate and others as they integrated their chosen solution into their broker back office solution.  Dan Mirsky of Hunt Real Estate will be joined by marketing executives from Berkshire Hathaway, Coldwell Banker, and RE/MAX to share their perspectives on the experiences they have had with marketing automation. Joining the call with be automated marketing software provider, Bill Yaman, President of Imprev. Yaman will outline current and future trends that his firm is developing against. Please accept this invitation and join us on February 2nd, 2016 at 10 am PST/ 1 PM EST. The webinar will be recorded and distributed afterwards. If you cannot make it, that is ok – just register and we will send you the video to review at your leisure and for sharing with your leadership. The integration allows the broker and agent marketing plan to be triggered around specific business marketing strategies. Marketing Listings Recruiting New Customer Marketing Customer Retention Marketing

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An Exciting Opportunity Awaits

by Jenna Woodruff on January 14, 2016

WAV Group is working with a company in the southeastern United States  to find a skilled Senior Technology Director to join their team. The company is a large broker  committed to offering amazing service. The businesses are driven by a dynamic leader whose vision permeates each business unit. That vision, always putting the customer first and going a “step beyond” that, which is expected, has made the company the area’s #1 service-oriented real estate firm, year after year. FUNCTION/ROLE: The company enjoys an extremely strong brand that has established a reputation for delivering solid, and thoughtful integrated technology solutions for its agents and clients. The Sr. Technology Director will be responsible for purchasing and maintaining a suite of lead generation, brand building, and transaction processing tools second to none. This position will also drive the success of corporate IT solutions finding more effective and efficient ways to support the needs of the staff and sales professionals. Third, the Director will work closely with the marketing team to continually improve the engagement and lead generation capabilities of the highly trafficked broker website The successful candidate will be responsible for formulating and implementing the Technology plan that will help achieve the corporate strategic plan goals. While the ideal fit for this position will have strong leadership skills and technology vision, they will also have strong operational skills with the ability to oversee and seamlessly execute the complete operation of the company’s technology infrastructure as well as office, agent and consumer-facing tools. The Sr. Technology Director will need to be a charismatic leader capable of earning the trust of the leadership team as well as effectively leading, guiding, directing, inspiring and evaluating the work  the technology team. The successful Sr. Technology Director will also be a strong manager and developer of people, adept at forming, staffing, guiding, leading, and managing. They will be expert at inspiring and guiding a progressive internal technology team. The successful candidate will also have proven skills at leveraging external development and systems integration resources where appropriate. The role requires a strong ability to work in partnership with marketing, and leadership to digest the needs of the company staff, training team, offices and sales professionals as well as sensitivity to the ever-changing demands of home buyers and sellers.  They will work closely with the President to ensure full transparency of the technology path, communicating all plans, budgets, milestones and any […]

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Recruiting or Retention of Agents

by Victor Lund on April 30, 2015

In a recent meeting I attended of broker owners, there was a questions posed: What’s more important in your business – Recruiting or Retention of agents? There seemed to be an overwhelming lean toward recruiting and it is hard for me to understand why. When we look at operational effectiveness in a brokerage, we look at things like brand, leadership, and culture. Brand is measured by the opinion of agents and customers. Leadership is measured by the popularity of executives among staff, managers, and agents. Culture is the happiness measurement of executives, staff, managers, and agents. The common goal of building strong brands, leaders, and culture is accomplished over time. These are things that are developed through trust. Are we overly concerned about getting people in the door to the detriment of the people already amongst us? Sometimes broker are. Is the brokerage more concerned with lead generation than customer for life? Is the brokerage more concerned with recruiting new agents rather than completing the process of developing a successful agent who loves their company? For me, great companies are like families. Everyone is a part of something that they are vested in and have pride in. The fastest growing companies I know are succeeding by firing disruptive, selfish, and unproductive agents and managers. In doing so, they became recognized for quality by many of the elite agents from other firms. The company becomes attractive. They run their business like a private club for the best of the best. Obviously the answer to the question is that both recruiting and retention are vital to growth. Recruiting becomes the outcome of retention. My point is that retention precedes recruiting. Essence precedes existence. What are you recruiting people to? What are your core values? What are your core beliefs? How are you benchmarking or indexing those things? When you truly believe in your business, its impossible not to invite others to join the company. But you recruit selectively because you owe it to your colleagues to invite people who will add value, not detract from it. Of course it will add unit and revenue value, but more importantly you add to the culture. As business people, we all have a tendency to look at the logic and not pay enough attention to the emotion. How many companies pull monthly reports but fail to do a survey to ask agent and customers about […]

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Real estate leaders share 2015 outlook on housing, economy

by Kevin Hawkins on November 6, 2014

Imprev arguably has come to own the real estate “Thought Leader” space with its bi-annual survey now in its third year, largely because it’s not a self-serving exercise. What we get from their latest Thought Leader Survey is a refreshing, unfiltered view from a broad cross-section of the leadership of America’s real estate brokerage and franchise operations, large and small. Collectively, the real estate execs surveyed represent firms and brands that generate about half of all real estate transactions each year. Individually, there’s solid representation among small and large firms: 15% of the respondents have 50 agents or fewer, 18% have 51-100 agents, 35% have 101-500 agents; 14% have 501-1,000 agents and 18% have more than 1,000 agents. Among the most interesting findings: Housing market enthusiasm is cooling, almost tepid, among real estate leaders. Two years ago, 70 percent of top real estate execs saw the market improving over the next 12 months. Last year that number dropped to 58 percent. Today it is 52 percent. No more exuberance: It’s now a glass half-full, half-empty scenario among a group that is often characterized as eternal optimists, which means this new data may alarm some. The bigger you are, the more bullish you are. Leaders of larger brokerage firms are typically far more confident about the outlook for the U.S. economy than leaders of smaller brokerage firms. Nearly two-thirds of top execs with firms of 1,000 or more agents say the U.S. economy will “improve,” compared to 34 percent of leaders of brokerage firms with 51 to 100 agents. The smaller you are, the better your outlook on profitability. Leaders of smaller brokerage firm are far more confident in their ability to be more profitable than larger brokerage firms over the next year. More than half of the leaders of the smallest brokerage firms are “very confident” in profitability over the next 12 months compared to 32 percent of the leaders of the largest brokerages. World economy outlook has tanked. This is significant and the biggest change year-to-year among all of the data Imprev released. More than half of real estate leaders surveyed this year – 55 percent – have become less confident in the world economy over the last 12 months. That’s more than double the percentage last year, which was 24%. Expect more news headlines in the future on the struggles of the world economy. Real estate leaders still […]

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Broker Non-Compete with Portals

by Victor Lund on October 29, 2014

The great real estate portals of America are trusted partners to brokers. As trusted partners, they are able to collect a lot of information that brokers have held close. For example, portals have access to a broker’s agent roster. They know which agents respond to consumer inquiries the fastest and the best. They even know which agents sell the most number of homes and which ones have the best consumer reviews. Beyond the information portals have about listings and agents, they have collected a massive amount of consumer information including the identity of the consumer. Moreover, with direct consumer email marketing, portals have built a trust relationship with consumers. There is nothing harmful about any of this. Indeed, it makes portals great partners to brokers as long as they stay on their side of the fence. Executives with portals have been consistent in their remarks claiming that they do not intend to get into the brokerage business. That is a good thing, because if a leading portal became a brokerage they would be a powerhouse right out of the gate. Could it happen? It is not going to happen, but it could. Many leading portals have brokerage licenses in every State in America. I do not know why, but they do. Many portals also provide products to agents and brokers that leverage IDX data – the same data that is used by agents and brokers to power solutions from other vendor partners, and the same data that brokers use to power their own website. Every day, the number of full IDX feeds to portals expands. If a portal wanted to get into the brokerage business tomorrow, they would have all of the ingredients. It is kinda scary to think about, but do not fret. Portals adamantly deny any plans or prospects of becoming a brokerage. Who could blame them? Brokerage margins are razor thin. Maybe they would consider becoming a franchise, but again – the executives of portals have denied any likelihood of this. Lets make sure. There is a simple way to make sure that the partnership between brokers and portals remains non-competitive. In the portal license agreement, or any other agreement between the parties, should contain a non-compete clause (even as an addendum to current agreements) that outlines the the understanding. Given that the understanding is implicit in the relationship between the two parties today, putting it in […]

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Coldwell Banker Chooses Imprev

by Victor Lund on September 29, 2014

Today’s real estate firms, franchise or otherwise, need to provide a robust marketing solution for agents that especially support them with digital marketing tools: Video, virtual tours, eMail marketing, and social media marketing. In an announcement today, Coldwell Banker announced a partnership with Imprev to power their digital marketing suite for all of their franchise companies. There are a number of firms that offer marketing solutions, but the two firms that have dominated the selection among franchise organizations in the past years include Marketleader and Imprev. Strangely enough, until a few years ago, Imprev was Marketleader’s partner for their marketing suite, jointly providing a full solution to Keller Williams, unit Marketleader purchased SharperAgent in 2011. At the time of the acquisition, SharperAgent claimed 30,000 customers and Marketleader claimed 50,000 customers. Marketleader then went on to sign up a number of large franchise organizations, including Century 21. Today, the Marketleader suite is a business unit owned by Trulia who is in the process of being acquired by real estate portal leader, Zillow. No doubt, this announcement for Imprev is significant. Imprev has had a nearly decade-long standing relationship with RE/MAX and recently launched an automation platform with Berkshire Hathaway’s largest brokerage, Fox and Roach Realtors (a solution that is tightly integrated into CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve platform). Imprev shows with Coldwell Banker that it can connect to Leadrouter, which is a standard used by other Realogy franchises. Congratulations to Imprev and to Coldwell Banker’s 84,000 sales associates. Since over 80% of a firm’s business comes from sphere marketing – marketing suites like Imprev are critical service offerings. disclaimer – WAV Group has provided consulting services to all companies mentioned in this post. Press Release Coldwell Banker Unveils New eMarketing Platform Madison, N.J. (Sept. 29, 2014) – Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today announced an agreement with Imprev, Inc. to power the Coldwell Banker® brand’s fully mobile eMarketing platform. Coldwell Banker eMarketing is part of the new Coldwell Banker 360 suite of products that give Coldwell Banker independent agents and brokers access to a platform that delivers an extensive range of exclusive designs and marketing content and allow them to easily engage with consumers via the Web, email and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. “Our new Coldwell Banker eMarketing platform will make it easier for Coldwell Banker agents to connect with prospective home buyers and sellers while increasing productivity,” said Sean Blankenship, senior vice president […]

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And the Lead Goes Round and Round

by Victor Lund on September 23, 2014

I had a rather interesting conversation about lead management and lead sales today. The story went something like this. A broker enhances listings and purchases zip code leads from a portal. The broker believes that there is some form of exclusivity on the leads generated through the system in so far as the lead is only distributed once. In his case, he distributes the leads as they come in to one of his agents. To test the system, the broker had a staff member go to the publisher site and generate a lead. The lead came through to the broker as promised. However, the broker (pretending to be a consumer) also got a call from a mortgage company to pre-qualify for a loan. During the call with the loan officer, they suggested that he work with one of the mortgage company’s network of agents and asked if he needed help finding an agent. To the broker, that caused the lead to be “sold” twice. He was rather upset. The portal takes the lead that they provided to the real estate agent and also sells that lead to the mortgage company. In this case, the mortgage company also has a lead network where they take leads that they generate for mortgage and provide that lead to a real estate agent partner. So the same consumer lead went to the publisher’s broker partner and the mortgage company’s broker partner – one lead just became 3 – 1 to the publishers premium broker; one to the mortgage company (unbeknownst to the premium broker); and again to the mortgage company’s real estate agent network. Poor consumer gets hit 3 times just for asking if the fireplace is wood burning or gas. I do not see that the portal sold the lead twice – so in my opinion, the portal is not undermining their product sold to the brokerage. But they may be conspicuous if they are not telling the premium brokerage that they are selling the lead to other home services companies like the mortgage firm. The publisher probably just said that they only sell the lead to one real estate broker/agent. In 2009, WAV Group did an analysis of the “fine print of listing syndication.” The paper can be viewed here http://waves.wavgroup.com/2009/11/10/listing-syndication-be-sure-to-read-the-fine-print/. The take away is that, unless you have a well crafted agreement with a publisher, all of your content – listings […]

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Idea #1 – How to Take Credit for the Industry’s Service Quality Every real estate association I have the pleasure of working with is struggling with how to re-invent themselves. Everybody knows it’s a problem at some level, but yet there has been no fundamental change in the focus, governance or scope of associations in several years. Are we just going to sit by and watch the association business go away?  Should it go away?  Has the value of an association run its course? My fundamental belief is that Associations CAN and DO play an important role in the industry, but there needs to be more tangible evidence of the important roles that boards play. Here is the first of several ideas that I will be publishing to identify specific ways Associations can find ways to become more relevant to their members Promote Customer Satisfaction Levels When I ask the question how strong are you on professional standards in your market, I ALWAYS get the response “we’re really good at it”. Then when I ask how many people have suspended from your organization for nefarious or other code of ethics violations I usually hear none or maybe one over the past 10 years. Then when I ask a third question how many of you today are working with people that you believe violate the code of ethics just about every hand in the room goes up. There is definitely a discrepancy between perception and reality. So how can we change this circular logic and protectionism behavior? Here’s one way to start: I’m sure that many of you have heard of the J.D. Powers survey. Here is their role according to their website: “J.D. Power captures the opinions and perceptions of millions of consumers annually. Our data and insights are used by companies worldwide to improve quality, satisfaction, and business performance, while our ratings aid consumers in making more informed purchase decisions. “ So what if we tried this approach in our industry?  An association could deliver a valuable service to every one of its members if it tracked the satisfaction levels of every transaction and then rolled it up into one satisfaction number.  Then it could put teeth behind a REALTOR® ad campaign.  Just like J.D. Powers, the association could use an objective, third party brand that measured satisfaction. Then the local association could confidently claim “Your local REALTORS® deliver […]

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