consumer research

WAV Group Partnering With MLSs On Zillow Survey

by Victor Lund on October 27, 2015

WAV Group is recruiting MLS and broker participants for a study to get an understanding of what these groups of people think about their relationship with Zillow. This study is funded internally at WAV Group. What do home buyers think of the service? What do home sellers think of the service? What do renters think of the service? What do Property Managers think of the Service What do Premier Agents think of the service? What does Premier Mortgage think of the service? What do real estate brokers of all sizes think of the service? By participating in the study, you will send our survey link to the audience(s) that you have access to. Primarily, we are inviting MLSs to survey agents and brokers. You will get a free copy of your survey results and a free copy of the National results. Why are we doing this? Zillow is in the process of doing a similar study right now. I was asked by a Zillow executive – Why is WAV Group doing this? WAV Group has clients all over the spectrum with Zillow. Some of our clients are raving fans and others are staunchly against the company. We find that businesses that strategically integrate Zillow services into their business can find success in the strategy. We also find that companies that strategically delist themselves from Zillow also find success. Brokerage leaders are good operators and have the ability to thrive regardless of their strategic direction. Zillow is about to release an historic price increase in January. They are going to Zip Code based pricing. For some of our broker customers, that would take their Zillow advertising from $5000 per month to $25,000 per month. In the purest form of lead capture, incubation, and conversion – the investment in advertising does not work. Zillow advertising does more than generate buyers for homes. It is a listing tool, a recruiting tool, a retention tool, and may support other business lines of full service brokerages like mortgage, title, insurance, property management, commercial, etc. If you would like to support WAV Group with this research project, please reach out to Victor Lund.

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Top 5 Ways to Become More Relevant with Consumer Research

by Marilyn Wilson on August 16, 2013

The real estate industry suffers from what I call the “lowest common denominator” phenomenon. Every one of the business models in the industry – associations, MLSs and brokerages are built on attracting and retaining as many agents as possible.   Many real estate entities collect monies every month from every participant – regardless of their productivity.  While these models each have their own reasons to exist, they have created a major problem in my view.  Real estate organizations are so busy attracting sales professionals that many ignore the needs of the most important group – the customer. It’s no wonder that the real estate industry focuses mainly on the needs of agents – every business model depends on them.  The problem is this focus has distracted us away from paying attention to the real drivers of the industry – consumers. We forget that without them we will have no business.   They decide what inventory levels will be available in a market. They decide when supply will exceed demand and when prices will increase because of a buying frenzy.  The economy sets the stage for buying behaviors, but consumers ultimately decide how healthy the real estate market is going to be. I believe it’s time for our industry to expand its focus beyond agents and start thinking about the needs of consumers.   When I say this in meetings, some people respond to me politely and say, “Yes, I get that the consumer is important, but ultimately my business depends on agents. I need to consider their needs first and foremost. If I don’t I will lose them and they will move to a different brokerage or they switch to a new association or worse yet, they may leave the REALTOR® family completely.” I really believe it’s time for us to get over this outdated perspective. Let’s look at what our ignorance of consumer needs has gotten us so far…..anybody remember the Zestimate?   The industry refused to share AVM’s with consumers so they found their solution somewhere else.   How about sold data? There are many MLSs today that refuse to share solds via their IDX feed because agents do not want them to. How crazy is that when solds are available on literally thousands of third party sites today? So how do we avoid the next major faux pas that opens up even more opportunities for every company EXCEPT those in organized real […]

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customer-centric

I can’t tell you the number of times I have had a conversation with someone in the real estate industry where they tell me that the consumer is NOT their client.  We prefer to think of the agent as the primary audience and simply ignore the fact that agents do not provide the checks. As the saying goes…follow the money…If you want to succeed in real estate, you have to address the needs of those that secure mortgages to buy and sell homes, not simply those that get a commission check from the sale. That seems like a simple concept, doesn’t it?  But a consumer focus simply eludes us in real estate.  Every business model in the industry helps us justify the fact that it is all about the agent.  Associations need members for advocacy so they focus on agents. MLSs need agents to fuel investment in technology so they focus on agents.  Brokers need sales associates and technology fees so they focus their energies on recruiting agents. Is it any wonder that the industry’s reputation with consumers is not as stellar as it could be when we focus more on our own needs than theirs? As many of you know I come from the world of consumer products and I am passionate about trying to change this very dangerous and potentially lethal belief system we cling to. It’s more than time for us to open up our eyes and realize that when you ignore the needs of the buying public, it’s only a matter of time before you get replaced….Oh wait, isn’t that already happening?  When you ask consumers what brand they think of when you say real estate they say Zillow.  When you ask consumers where to find an agent they tell you Yelp. We’re already losing a ton of ground because we refuse to believe that the needs of the consumer have to be considered and responded to, even when their requests are uncomfortable to us. Why does Zillow exist? Because the industry refused to provide AVM’s. Why does Yelp exist?  Because we believe consumers are not well-equipped to provide feedback on the transaction so why give them any transparency into customer feedback from past transactions? So what do we do to change this life-threatening trend? Well here’s one small step that brokerages, associations and MLSs can take on to begin to stem the tide of this […]

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RENTAL CYCLE

If you visit any of the large third party property search sites today you will see a significant focus on the rental market. In most cases, rentals are now getting just as much focus as residential sales.  A few months ago Zillow purchased Rentjuice again underlines the growing importance of the rental market. They paid $16mm for the company to take advantage of its younger, renter focused 2.8 million viewers. Zillow, once again, is closely watching what real estate consumers are looking for.  They are addressing their needs with an aggressive push into the rentals space and are WAY ahead of brokers and MLSs in the rental space. MLSs and Brokers historically have not paid that much attention to rentals because the commission rates are much lower and the offers for cooperation and compensation are much more muddy.  That’s starting to change among the most progressive MLSs, however. Utahrealestate.com, for example, has launched their own rental site, Propertypond.com. The Houston Association of REALTORS® recently completed a study that clearly demonstrates the need for every Association and MLS to quickly embrace the rental market to help their subscribers take advantage of this important consumer trend. Through the industry’s first dedicated consumer research panel, made up local Houston residents, HAR conducted a study to find out more about the rental phenomenon in their market. The study revealed some astounding results. Historically, the real estate industry has thought of rentals as a separate process and a separate set of customers from homebuyers.  According to the study, this is simply not true. Nearly 40% of the respondents to the survey said they had previously owned a home. Second it is clear that a portion of those that were historically committed to home ownership are now moving to rentals because they believe it is more affordable or requires less maintenance and hassle. It appears as though the prestige of homeownership is being eroded at least to some level. Third, conventional wisdom would suggest that renters are generally young people who cannot yet afford to buy a home. While renters do skew younger overall than residential homebuyers, there is a significant portion of renters that are over 45 as well.               Renting is part of a family’s life cycle.  When we’re young and just starting we rent, then we purchase a home to raise a family.  When children grow up […]

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