broker

Redfin Offers Method To Modernize IDX

by Victor Lund on September 19, 2017

“Let’s modernize IDX by linking to the listing broker!” IDX or Internet Data Exchange is a thesis that was developed by the collaboration between Brokers and MLSs that outlines a set of display rules for listings on broker websites. The idea behind IDX is that of cooperation among brokers. Fundamentally, the IDX policy states that a broker allows all other brokers participating in an MLS to display their listings on any broker (and usually Agent) website. Over the years, the IDX policy has evolved. And today, Redfin CEO, Glenn Kelman suggests a radical new change. Kelman would like the IDX policy to require that every display of IDX listings provide a link to the listing broker’s website. As the screenshot illustrates, the National Association of REALTORS® MLS Policy on IDX requires the Broker to be identified as shown here. Displaying the listing agent is a local election and sometimes required. In the illustration below, everything is static. The big idea is to add a requirement to include a hyperlink to the broker/agent website (canonical source of information). Kelman goes further in the development of his concept to suggest that the broker name and link be prominently displayed above the fold (top of the page before you scroll). WAV Group joins Redfin in the belief that this would massively increase the traffic to listing brokers’ websites form search engines. Having hundreds of real estate websites link to the listing brokerage for each listing should completely re-orient search rankings. Search Engines are always looking for the most authoritative source of information – including real estate information. Kelman has strong beliefs and enormous respect for the listing firm. “The listing broker is the one who pays for, reviews and uploads all the photos. The listing broker updates and validates all the data about the property, and writes the marketing description. The home-buying consumer should be able to find her way to the full listing on the listing broker’s site, where she may also be able to see virtual tours, three-dimensional scans, and additional marketing materials about the listing, not to mention details on how to ask a question about the home or even arrange a tour with another agent at the listing brokerage if that’s what she prefers.” WAV Group’s research and analytics team finds that Redfin is, by a factor of two or three, the most popular brokerage website today. The leading […]

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Looking for Job Security? Brokers are Looking for THIS!

by Marilyn Wilson on September 5, 2017

Job Security

By far, an IDX feed is the most heavily used broker tool offered by MLSs today.  Most brokers offer IDX data including active listings and many also include SOLD and PENDING listings thanks to the NAR IDX policy changes which allow brokers to leverage all statuses. One progressive MLS recognized how important IDX feeds are. RMLS in Portland, took the proactive step to transition every one of their IDX feeds to a RESO Certified collection of data.  This bold step allows all brokers to take full advantage of the rich collection of data relevant to their market available with Platinum Certification. Key Takeaways IDX Providers LOVE the idea of evolving all IDX feeds in a market to RESO Compliant standardized data. It saves them a ton of time and money and lets them focus on innovation and not data challenges. MLSs can help make the transition to RESO Certified IDX feeds much easier by following three simple steps: Concurrent Access – Give your IDX suppliers access to BOTH the current IDX feed as well as the new RESO compliant feed to make it easier for them to check the new feed is pulling data just as the current IDX is doing. That makes it much easier to test the new feed. Comparison Spreadsheet – Provide a spreadsheet that shows all of the fields currently offered and then show what the new data field will be called. Also show what fields are being added, removed or changed. Do not Increase Column Size – In all cases the length of the columns in the new RMLS IDX feed did not increase. They stayed the same size or decreased. From a database perspective, that makes it so much easier because the IDX providers do not have to change anything on their side. While we were thrilled to find out that the process was not that difficult from the MLSs perspective, we wanted to find out what the technology companies required to make the transition thought of the move. We interviewed Chris Freeman, CTO of Wolfnet Technologies to find out what he thought of the move.  Wolfnet aggregates data from 640 MLSs today so they are no stranger to data migrations. Chris was thrilled with the seamless process implemented by RMLS in Portland.  He told us, “It was one of the simplest data transitions we have had to make. The RMLS IDX feed was […]

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Moxi Cloud

MoxiWorks is a brokerage application development company that was founded by Seattle’s leading brokerage company, Windermere Real Estate. The software was originally developed for Windermere’s brokerage company until the company expanded the offering to include brokerages around the nation. Today, Moxi Works is a separate company that serves a brokerage base that is representative of more than 90,000 agent users.  Some of their leading brokerage partners include Windermere, Long and Foster, Howard Hanna, Pacific Union, Seven Gables and many others. Faced with the challenge of integrating their own applications into a broker’s suite of agent tools and data sharing across each solution – Moxi Works developed a unique platform called Moxi Cloud.  “Imagine a plug-and-play power strip for brokerage systems and solutions and that is basically what we have created”, stated MoxiWorks CEO, York Baur. Using a standardized API, Moxi Cloud enables brokerage firms to integrate varied applications and provides data sharing across an entire organization. In many ways, the company’s thesis resembles a portion of what UpstreamRE is developing. Today, companies like Imprev, Quantum Digital, Buyside, LanTrax Profitpower, Offrs, RealScout, Zillow, Spacio, Totomic, DocuSign, DotLoop, SkySlope, testimonial tree, Google G-Suite, and Microsoft 360 are all fully integrated with the Moxi Cloud.  In total there are more than 35 different companies that are fully integrated with the Moxi Cloud platform. In an announcement made by Moxi Works last week, Intuit’s Quickbooks – the leading provider of accounting software to agents and small or mid-sized brokers, has joined the family of companies on Moxi Cloud. Intuit has a product called QuickBooks Self-Employed that is perfectly tuned to help agents separate their personal expenses from their business expenses and identify Schedule C deductions. According to Intuit, 77% of all real estate agents do not feel confident about managing their finances. Now with Moxi Cloud, brokers who offer the service to their agents have a great new tool for recruiting and retaining agents with a service that really matters. Quickbooks reports that agents using the system find an average of $4,340 in tax savings per year, a worthy investment for a product that sells for $12 per month. Here is the full press release if you want to learn more. http://moxiworks.com/blogs/intuit-quickbooks-platform-partner

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Data is Power and You Have the Power Brokers!

by Marilyn Wilson on August 23, 2017

Reso Fall Conference

The smart money is on brokers who figure out how to differentiate themselves online by leveraging MLS data in new and exciting ways.   Brokers really DO have the power to take back their leadership position online if they fully take advantage of the rich and engaging MLS data that is available today. What’s the best way to learn how to make your website more interesting than other online sources?  Learn how to leverage standardized real estate information that has been built by the Real Estate Standards Organization. Thanks to the great work of four brokers that serve on the RESO Board of Directors – Alon Chaver, CIO of HomeServices of America, Craig Cheatham, CEO of The Realty Alliance, David Gumpper, CTO of Michael Saunders and Co., and Tom Flanagan, CTO of The Group, RESO standards are designed specifically to help brokers gain a competitive advantage online.  The recent Data Dictionary 1.6 Release includes literally thousands of ways for brokers to attract and engage consumers online. If you want to learn more about the best ways to take advantage of the great work produced by the hundreds of RESO volunteers and staff, join me at the RESO Fall Conference.   It’s a GREAT conference – it’s intimate so you can have meaningful conversations with brokers and their tech companies to learn how to get a competitive edge online. Register NOW New this Year!  Broker Business Solutions Workshop Standardized data is now being leveraged in practical ways to make it easier for brokers to expand into new markets, and make broker websites more engaging.  There will be a host of brokers on-stage talking about the marketing advantages and cost-savings being realized by using RESO Standards. REGISTER TODAY! Learn About These Exciting Business-Building Topics! Effective ways to capture the Green consumer How to tap into tomorrow’s online search The Brokerage of the Future with predictive analytics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence Capture significantly more leads with your mobile app and website. And many more….. REGISTER TODAY!  I look forward to seeing you there!

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RMLS, arguably one of the most progressive MLSs in America today took a brave new step to make it easier for their brokers to promote their brands online leveraging rich, comprehensive and timely MLS information. They have REQUIRED every one of their IDX suppliers to move to a RESO-Compliant data feed. They made this bold move in just a few short weeks. The move has been applauded by Brokers and Technology companies alike. Learn about why MOVOTO, a large broker with one of the top 10 property search sites in America, believes aligning against the RESO standards is a great IDEA. Key Takeaways The move for MLSs to transition to ONLY RESO-compliant IDX feeds is not that difficult. Moving to offering only a RESO-compliant IDX feed is not that difficult.  RMLS™, one of the first MLSs in the country to distribute only RESO-Compliant IDX feeds, made the move in just FOUR weeks. They launched a campaign to their IDX providers showing them the fields that needed to be transitioned to be RESO-compliant and requiring them to transition completely ONLY to a RESO-Compliant IDX feed. Promotion is Key According to RMLS™, to make the move MLSs will need an effective promotional campaign to be sure each of your technology companies is aware of the reasons for the change and knows exactly what they need to do to make the transition successfully. Set a deadline Be sure to set a deadline with a reasonable timeframe to allow each of your IDX providers can meet the deadline. Since many of the largest IDX providers have already made the transition in RMLS™, it should make it easier for them. Brokers Endorse RESO-compliant IDX feeds   Brokers support the idea of making IDX feeds RESO-compliant. They applaud MLSs that make this bold move.  Join forces with RMLS™ and make the move in your MLS.  It’s hard to argue that standardized real estate listing data is not good for our industry. It makes it easier for brokers to collect and distribute information from multiple MLSs on their website.   It allows technology companies to move into new markets more quickly.  It allows MLSs to collaborate in new and exciting ways. The leaders at RMLS™ in Portland, Oregon decided to take a bold step designed to help brokers and agents achieve all of the benefits of standardized information for online marketing. RMLS™, one of the pioneers in the […]

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Reso Fall Conference

Brokers, even those that invest significant money in their online presence struggle to engage potential customers. In just about every market, brokers have taken a backseat to venture-backed sites that are constantly launching new bells and whistles to capture the attention of potential home buyers and sellers. There’s been a group of hard-working technology leaders at work creating the Real Estate Standards Organization or RESO, as it is called. This smart community of thinkers, led by many of the largest broker organizations including Keller Williams, Home Services of America, REALOGY, Watson, Crye-Leike, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, The Realty Alliance, Michael Saunders and Company, The Group and many others, has built a standardized way to describe real estate used for websites, marketing tools, back office systems and just about every system that brokers use today that are dependent on MLS information. So, what does that buy a Broker in everyday, practical terms? Lots of things.  I am going to explain just one of them that can be a huge advantage for a broker website. Consumers bounce around a lot today when they’re searching for properties. They might look at a home on their phone as they drive by it. They really like it from the outside and want to save it for later to share with their spouse and their REALTOR®.  That evening they might be at home reviewing properties on their laptop while they’re watching television. They find a few more that they like. They want to save them so they can share it with their REALTOR in the morning. Because they’re actively looking for a home, they also have set up a saved search on their broker’s website so they can watch the market. Today, most consumers save properties in multiple websites and on multiple devices making it really difficult for them and their agent to keep track of all of the homes they might be interested in. RESO now allows  a broker to be able to sync what a consumer is doing into their lead management tools and their mobile solution seamlessly, as an example… As the consumer changes the search in one of the places, the agent is notified of the consumers updated preferences and can better assist. Richard Renton, CEO of Triad MLS and Secretary for RESO says “RESO has created a standardized way of defining and displaying saved searches and favorite properties […]

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Ben Caballero

America’s number one real estate agent isn’t from Manhattan or Beverly Hills. You won’t find him when you’re filing through the programming guide for HGTV, and he’s never graced the cover of Real Estate magazine. He doesn’t cater to the rich and famous. Ben Caballero is the broker-owner of HomesUSA.com®, based in Addison, Texas, and sells new homes to Texans for more than 60 top builders in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Ben is not only arguably, real estate’s most successful agent, he may well be its most unconventional one. The World’s Most Successful Agent On the success side, he’s the first individual real estate sales professional (Realtor®) in the history of the World to generate more than $1 billion in total annual home sales: he did that in 2015. Ben Caballero has done it again. He’s shattered his own billion-dollar record. His business soared over 40% last year alone, and that means he booked $1.444 billion in total home sales, once again landing the number one spot on the REAL Trends “The Thousand” list of America’s top producing agents, which was just published in the Mansion section of the Wall Street Journal. He is also atop the coveted REAL Trends “The Thousand” list for most transaction sides. The total is simply stunning: 3,556 of his new home listings sold last year. That means Ben sold seven times more homes than his closet competitor. You read that right: the number two agent had 467 of his homes listed sold last year and Ben outsold his competition 7-to-1. That’s crazy. To give you an idea of what that number really means, Ben sold an average of more than 68 homes per week: that’s nearly 10 homes a day, every day of the week, or more than one-and-a-half sales every business hour. Want to know something that’s even crazier? During a decade when the real estate trade media has been fixated on teams, Ben has crushed their numbers. That’s correct: Ben out-produced every single real estate team in America last year in BOTH categories of total transactions and total sales volume. The top team in the USA closed 1,980 total transaction sides. Ben closed more than 1,500 more transactions sides than the number one team in America – 79% more business than they did! How does Ben compare to the number one team in the USA for total sales volume? […]

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Zillow is a Broker – So What?

by Victor Lund on June 21, 2017

Zillow Logo

“Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, NRT, Redfin – all brokers. Do brokers drop out of IDX because they are selling homes in their market? Brokers share their listings with these large firms everyday. If Zillow joins the list, what’s the diff?” This is the conversation starter that an investment banker had with me today. I appreciate having conversations with people in the capital markets. Bankers see the world differently. They believe that markets shape themselves and that great companies lead markets. Perhaps Zillow Group has its heart in its current service offerings today. The company protests against becoming a brokerage, but everyone got very upset recently when they launched a pilot for Instant Offers that seemed broker-like: it’s a program whereby Zillow helps investors buy property by submitting offer letters directly to homeowners. Brokers don’t like it. Some agents really like it. The pilot is in its early months and restricted to a couple of large cities. Inman News reports that it has not translated into any investor purchasing any homes yet. Perhaps the pilot is a bust. On the other hand, the way the pilot was designed has an added component of delivering leads to Premier Agents. Instant Offers gives the consumer a choice – take the offer from the investor, or connect with an agent to get information about listing your home. News reports indicate that agents are getting listing leads, so the pilot is not all lost. An important thing to keep in mind when companies like Zillow test, is that innovation sometimes goes awry. Innovation sometimes produces different outcomes than expected. Zillow has been masterful at driving consumers to their websites and generating buyer leads. Now they may have stumbled upon a new way to generate seller leads more successfully, and that is their job! The investment banker made a statement that was crystal clear: “If Zillow Group’s Board of Directors believes that it is in the best interest of stockholders for Zillow to open a brokerage, or a mortgage bank, or a title company or whatever…. that is what the company will do. For now, they are doing great with the track that they are on.” P.S. Zillow surged past an $8.5 billion valuation and closed at $46.76 today (a market cap of $8.6 billion). The company is doing very well. Will brokers go nuclear if Zillow does become a broker? The only nuclear option for […]

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Big Data Can Drive Bigger Broker Margins

by Victor Lund on June 9, 2017

customer reports

WAV Group spends a lot of time consulting with brokers on how to re-margin their business. We published a paper in 2013 called Harvesting Business From Broker Data.  That paper characterized the methods that we developed with a number of brokers to harvest business from across the enterprise of title, mortgage, residential, relocation, insurance, commercial, and property management businesses. It has worked very well for many brokers to recapture repeat transactions and new business though cross sell. In many ways, the rethinking that went into the thesis around harvesting business across the enterprise was the first intellectual break from the linear approach of Advertising for Lead Generation to Lead Maturation to Lead Conversion. Brokers were spending too much time trying to onboard new customers and far to little time staying connected with customers they have already won. Strangely, there has been a shift in advertising dollars away from the broker and more toward the team and agent. This shift is largely reflective of commission economics. But also driven in big part by Zillow remodeling their brokerage platform. If top producing agents and teams are capping out and getting 80% to 100% commission, there is no contribution to broker budgets for advertising. How does the broker get commission margin back? Referrals! WAV Group is now in a position to support brokers to re-margin their business with big data programs that we have been maturing. The programs key off of the relocation and referral commission programs that brokers retain about 35% commission on. Brokers who increase their referral business stand to reap greater margin rewards. Brokers are in a position to purchase big data solutions that use predictive analytics to generate leads for consumers upstream of Internet leads from websites or portals. CoreLogic, SmartZip, Opcity, and a host of other companies are framing up these solutions for brokers today. WAV Group works with brokerage firms to make these programs pay out. Here is the rub. The broker must become competent at developing these opportunities and purchasing solutions efficiently. The challenge for brokers is taking this strategy, understanding how it fits into your business plan, allocating resources, implementation, and managing effectiveness. You cannot just buy the service and expect the checks to start rolling in. This strategy needs to be developed as a center of excellence in your company. Brokers Can Win! WAV Group has done some experimenting with market buy-outs. In some […]

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How Loyal Are YOUR Customers?

by Marilyn Wilson on June 6, 2017

It is critical for MLSs and Brokers to measure the relationships they have with their customers.  While most MLSs do not have DIRECT competition, they have tons of indirect competition.  MLSs compete against companies that generate leads for agents since that it one of their key roles. They compete against training companies providing CE credit and teaching about technologies. MLSs also compete. MLSs also compete with companies that provide ways to aggregate and distribute real estate listing information for the purposes of monetizes the information flow.  While MLSs have survived well in the real estate ecosystem, some are more well-regarded than others. Brokers, on the other hand have TONS of competition from their fellow brokers.  Understanding customer loyalty is even more critical for them. To really know how well you are doing in building and strengthening customer relationships, it is critical that MLSs measure customer satisfaction. There are two measures that WAV Group recommends for its clients – the Net Promoter Score® or NPS. Second is the Customer Effort Score or CEF®. What is a Net Promoter Score (NPS)? Net Promoter Score, or NPS is a customer experience metric developed by Fred Reichheld, aimed at determining the level of customer loyalty. NPS was introduced by Reichheld in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article “The One Number You Need to Grow“.  Net Promoter Score measures a customer’s willingness to recommend a brand’s product and services to their friends, family and colleagues. NPS is a simple metric, based on a single question that measures customer loyalty: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company’s product and services to a friend or colleague?” Respondents answer by choosing a number from 0-10, with 10 being the most likely to recommend.   While this question can work well for brokerages and technology companies where there are lots of competition in the marketplace, we have seen it not work as well for MLSs, mainly because in most markets REALTORS® do not have a CHOICE of MLSs organizations to work with. Sometimes it angers MLS subscribers and they will say things like “I have no choice so I would have no need to recommend my MLS to anyone. Depending on the score they give, customers are then classified as promoters (score 9-10), passives (score 7-8) and detractors (score 0-6).  The more 9 and 10 scores you receive the higher your Net Promoter Score will be. Those that […]

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Coach

None of the brokers we’ve worked with believe that their office managers are doing what they are supposed to be doing — sales training. Instead, they act more like den mothers. When they could be working on sales coaching or recruiting, office managers are consoling agents who lost big deals, troubleshooting broken printers, or retrieving lost MLS passwords. It’s too easy for office managers to spend the day putting out a series of small fires. Its easy to use all of those daily tasks as excuses for not focusing on the most important roles that managers are responsible for. The path toward a More Profitable Office The first thing for brokers to understand is: You are going to have to change the way you — and everybody in your office — thinks about success and productivity.  Office managers are stewards of productivity. You need to arm them with resources and tools they need, and you need to shift the expectation (both in yourself and in your agents) that the office manager is any kind of glorified fire marshal. Here’s how you do it. The 5-step process You probably already have the basic tools you need to make this shift work — the array of technology offerings that you’ve made available to your agents, and your hard-working office managers. Step 1: Clear the decks. Everyone in the office needs to be trained on how to manage basic administrative tasks. A transaction coordinator is a good hire at this point, someone who understands the law and can help agents with sticky deals or contract negotiation scenarios that the agents haven’t seen before. Step 2: The “reset” meeting. Hire a facilitator to come in for a planned meeting; this person can explain to managers how their jobs will change — and get them excited about it. The facilitator should explain the renewed focus on sales success and shift away from administrative tasks. They will also have to talk about the gentle balance of retention and how helping agents sell more real estate will be the BEST way to retain them in the long run. Step 3: Training the trainers. You want to turn your office managers into technology trainers, and that means they’re going to need to understand the technology. Ideally, they will use appropriate technologies in their own business. How about learning how to use the CRM system to manage recruiting efforts […]

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Zillow Improves Broker Programs

by Victor Lund on February 15, 2017

Zillow Logo

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

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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

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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