NAR Mobile App

My theory about conventions is this: if you plan your schedule well, your convention will go well. If you don’t, it won’t. It’s as simple as that. With Second City, our next destination, good planning could make or break how you measure the success of your NAR experience in the Windy City. Each year before I head out to the largest annual gathering of real estate agents and brokers, an estimated 20,000+ from across our nation, I like to look for some of the golden nuggets tucked away in the schedule and on the Expo floor. I cull through the info that NAR and others send out, as well as share some of the information WAV Group has. Full disclosure: this often includes insider stuff we get from our very own clients. The goal of all this stuff is simply to make your NAR ventures more interesting, and, well, easier to plan. NAR Chicago Officially called the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, November 3rd to 6th, it’s largely held at the McCormick Place, 20 minutes on a good traffic day south of the 27 official NAR hotels that are dotted around Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. Meetings also are sprinkled among these hotels so the logistics are going to be, well, interesting. A listing of all the official hotels with their locations and addresses are here. Bus Routes The 27 NAR official hotels are served by 7 Bus Routes, all color coded and listed online in this handy-dandy PDF here, and in the App. The buses start early and run at least every 30 minutes, and at peak times, they run every 10-15 minutes. The link on the NAR Website for the Shuttle bus frequency is here, as well as the locations at the hotel where the exact pickup/drop-off will be. NAR Smartphone App Touted as “the fastest, easiest way to navigate the Conference & Expo from your mobile device,” I would have to add it’s probably the only way to navigate the Expo from a mobile device unless Google Maps has added it. Good news is all the sessions, meeting schedules and booth numbers for the exhibitors you need to meet with or visit are in the app. One feature that can save you time is you can select the “Star” image next to the event in the top right corner and it will save it to a personalized […]


Highlights and Lowlights at NAR Midyear

by Kevin Hawkins on May 25, 2017

NAR Brochure

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


The Industry Has Risen

by Victor Lund on May 10, 2017


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


2016 NAR Annual Moments and Musings

by Kevin Hawkins on November 15, 2016


Like many Americans, I was glued to the television on election night, and seeing the Javits Center instantly reminded me of my first NAR Annual Convention. It was in 1986 when the brand new Javits Center opened in Manhattan. I was a young PR Turk fresh into my first full year at Great Western Bank (then Great Western Savings). I went there to plot our long-term trade show strategy. It was also my first NAREE – National Association of Real Estate Editors – meeting, a dinner at a classic NYC steakhouse. That’s especially hard to forget because it’s where the legendary real estate columnist, the late great Bob Bruss, instantly greeted me. It was also my first personal encounter with David Jeffers, then of Fannie Mae fame, who gave the most politically incorrect slideshow presentation. Both encounters convinced me that this was my kind of organization. Fast-forward 30 years to last week’s NAR Annual Convention in Orlando, and most of the traditions remain the same. Here is my attempt at recapping my highlights and offering three takeaways: Journalist are back at NAR: I walked into the Press Room at the Orlando Convention Center and was delighted to see so many reporters working away in the press room. While the numbers don’t compare to what was common a couple of decades ago, there were more reporters attending then in the last three NAR Annuals combined. In addition to perennials attendees, such as Steve Brown of the Dallas Morning News and the godfather of real estate columnists, Lew Sichelman, there were many fresh faces, including those from the new bread of media that can’t be categorized as journalists, but who create a plethora of real estate content. One example is Chris Cain, once the head of PR for the Florida Association of Realtors, Chris is both a RE/MAX agent in the Orlando area who both writes extensively about and specializes in selling vacation homes. A long-time member of NAREE, Chris was sharing his book called “Your Made in the USA Vacation Home.” Another stellar writer in the room was Bernice Ross, an Inman Columnist who also writes one of my favorite weekly newsletters, The Real Estate Coach. The big three trade media outlets were there: RE Technology, RISMedia and Inman News. Inman was very well represented, as Amber Taufen, Inman’s top editor and Deputy Editor, Andrea Brambila, were writing non-stop. Kudos to […]


We would like to share that the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) is accepting applications for its newly created Manager, Multiple Listing Service position.We are looking forward to working with this individual and believe this role will help to grow our cooperative relationship, inform policy development, and keep the MLS perspective part of the discussions.Know the perfect candidate? Help identify the individual that will maximize the potential of this position by passing along this information. A complete job description can be found below along with the link to the NAR job portal where candidates can apply.   Position: Manager, Multiple Listing Service Reports To: Vice President, Board Policy and Programs Division: Board Policy Position Summary: Provide support to NAR members, REALTOR®-association owned MLSs, and the MLS industry. Candidates should have experience working for an MLS and strong knowledge of the technical and administrative MLS operations. Major Duties and Responsibilities (Not all-inclusive): Actively connect with MLSs and REALTOR® associations, the Council of Multiple Listing Services, and the Real Estate Standards Organization by attending relevant meetings and cultivating relationships with the organizations’ leadership and executives. Track and issue reports on progress. Participate in strategic creation of educational and operational resources supporting REALTOR® association MLSs. Assist NAR MLS Committee Staff Executive in preparation of committee and advisory board meetings. Implement projects arising from NAR’s MLS committee and NAR’s collaboration with CMLS. Research, identify, analyze, and keep current on developments and events effecting MLS operations. Make presentations and help prepare other informational material as necessary. Work on other departmental projects as needed. Experience and skills: B.A./B.S. preferred 2-7 years of working in Operations at an MLS Knowledge of the organization and rules for REALTOR® associations and MLSs Tech savvy Knowledge of/participation in RESO is a bonus Self-motivated Strong written and verbal communication skills Effective and persuasive relationship building skills Strong problem solving and analytical skills Outstanding interpersonal skills Positive attitude Travel up to 5 to 10 trips per year Please find the link to the NAR job portal where candidates can upload a resume:


SAN FRANCISCO, July 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/— Reflecting the strategic and operational importance of eSignature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) across the real estate, property management and mortgage industries, thought-leaders Alex Lange from UpstreamRE, Bob Goldberg from National Association of REALTORS®, and Jeremy Crawford from the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) today added their expertise to the xDTM Standard Association’s advisory board. The xDTM Standard provides in-depth guidelines and best practices that Digital Transaction Management vendors should address to create a trusted online environment for their customers, including data ownership, transparency, security and the ability for data integration across applications. This is especially important in the real estate industry, given the standard includes requirements that personal information is used only for the purpose it was intended. This aligns directly with brokers’ and agents’ priority that the data collected be used appropriately and only in a manner to which brokers and agents have consented. “Standards are integral to the health of the real estate industry – they lay the foundation for improved collaboration between parties and promote efficiency in real estate transactions,” said Jeremy Crawford, Executive Director at the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO). “We’re pleased to bring our real estate expertise to the xDTM Standard advisory board, and we’re looking forward to working with the group to ensure the right levels of privacy, validity and security are in place for all our members who use eSignature technologies.” The appointment of these new members is testament to the real estate industry’s importance as one of the earliest adopters of eSignature and DTM technology. And it comes at a time when the xDTM Standard Association is seeing increased interest from the sector to ensure improvements in technology can benefit brokers, agents, buyers, sellers and everyone involved in the complete transaction – from listing to close. “All digital transactions – especially real estate transactions, which contain some of the most sensitive and time-sensitive information – will benefit from the xDTM Standard,” said Alex Lange, CEO, UpstreamRE. “UpstreamRE is thrilled to join the xDTM Standard Association advisory board and further the work of the body to foster trusted digital transaction environments that allow for choice, privacy, flexibility, security and control – critical elements for brokers, agents and their clients.” More than 300 companies already endorse the xDTM Standard – with several prominent Board of Governors including individuals from SAP, BASF, Dow Jones, News Corp, Visa, Intel, Hewlett Packard, FedEx, NBC Universal, DocuSign, the United States Postal Service, BuckleySandler, […]


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 […]


Each year, the National Association of REALTORS releases a study of homebuyers and sellers, which is my favorite REALTOR research publication. The NAR Research Group publishes publishes excellent research  — including its superb daily Economists’ Outlook — but this one is especially chocked full of golden statistical nuggets, which is ideal for a data junkie like me. These are the kinds of facts I love to pull from research because these data points are what help tell a story, and that’s a great way to earn the attention of a reporter who covers our industry. Here are seven facts from this brand news report that you may or may not find surprising, but my guess is your clients would: Most home buyers have no kids at home. A full 63% of home buyers did not have a single child under the age of 18 living at home. What are we going to do with all these McMansions? Home buyers in the South are more diverse than those in the Northeast, or Midwest. Southern diversity (82% White) among home buyers significantly eclipses both the Midwest (93% White) and Northeast (90% White), and almost ties the West (81% White). We have a lot more work to do as an industry in this space. The Northeast by far had the most First-Time Buyers in the last year: As a percentage, 43% of all home buyers in the Northeast were First-Time Buyers, compared to 26% in the West, 30% in the South, and 38% in the Midwest. One would think the Midwest or the South, with lower price homes might be higher, but lower incomes clearly play a role. First-time home buyers have plummeted as a percentage of all buyers: First- time buyers only account for 32% of buyers, that’s down from 42% in 2001, a high of 50% in 2010 and was even down from last year (33%). Millennial research may provide more insight here. Only 1 percent of all buyers say “Tax Benefits” was a primary reason they purchased a home. Please don’t tell this to your Congressional leadership. Nearly one in four home buyers say they will never buy again: 23% of buyers say they are never moving, as they are in their forever home. Think how this could impact your lead nurturing strategy. Yard Signs are still cool. More than half of all homebuyers (51%) counted the Yard Sign among […]


5 Hot Trends in 2016 to Look for at NAR

by Kevin Hawkins on November 11, 2015

This year’s REALTORS® Convention & Expo in San Diego traces its origins to the first Chicago meeting of the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges held May 12-14, 1908. One hundred and seven years later, some 20,000 real estate professionals will visit the San Diego Convention center where more than 400 organizations will display their offerings and pitch their products. 2016 promises to be a pivotal year of rapid adoption of sweeping innovations and the emergence of new powerhouses in the residential real estate matrix. Here are five hot trends to look for and listen at the workshops to learn about to get the most out of NAR to help you next year. Full disclosure: All of these trends identified here come from my own personal biases and prejudices, having delved deeply into these subjects over the last several months. Trend #1 – Marketing Automation It’s is a no-brainer that Marketing Automation will dominate the minds of broker owners in 2016. This is what solves the low adoption rates by agents of new technology offerings their firms provide. It’s also a huge boost for broker ROI as it removes agents from the quagmire of self-created marketing materials. Agents waste a huge amount of time creating marketing materials to promote a listing and themselves, and Marketing Automation allows them to focus instead on the things they are good at: Generating listings and closing sales. Take the agent out of the equation when it comes to creating, deploying and promoting listings by automating the marketing for them and you have 100% agent adoption and deliver zero wait time to promote properties for every seller. Bill Yaman, President of Imprev, a leader in this effort, has written extensively about this topic in his blog, here. Trend #2 – Mobile everything It’s go mobile or go home in 2016. It’s not just Google driving this accelerated change, it’s also your clients. Zillow is saying that 70 percent of its weekend search traffic is coming from mobile devices. Mobile First remains the best strategy and companies that understand the difference that this approach brings – versus the shortcut of building responsive websites or just mobile apps – are going to distance themselves from the competition when it comes to lead gen. At NAR, look for firms that really are committed to a Mobile First strategy. Trend #3 – Mobile Admin Speaking of mobile, forward-thinker Randall […]


Preparing for Success in the Coming Year

by Marilyn Wilson on October 27, 2015

As we approach the end of another exciting year in real estate, now is a great time to sit back and reflect on the best ways to help prepare your members and organization for success next year. We have talked many times over the years about the importance of staying in touch with what is happening in the industry today. Here’s what can happen when an organization is out of touch: They can delay decisions because they seem difficult or controversial causing the organization to fall behind or lose its competitive advantage. Instead of responding to the waves of change, organizations can be torn apart by the jaws of defeat. MLSs and Boards that do not stay close to trends can enforce outdated rules and regulations that hinder member success. They can make decisions in isolation of the needs of homebuyers and sellers, weakening the relationship of their members with the buying public. Worst of all, a Board of Directors that does not stay in touch may not even know it is out of touch if it does not reach out beyond its local community to see where the real estate industry is going. When conducting strategic plans we hear from brokers and board members that their organization is out of touch with today’s reality. So how do you get your board in touch? Here are some of our suggestions and ways we can help. Attend an Industry Conference Many of these events can be very valuable for the content that is presented and the networking and peer to peer learning. The NAR Annual conference, CMLS conference and the AEI conference are great opportunities for MLSs and Associations to get in touch. WAVes of Change™ Educational Series WAV Group offers another method for staying in touch with trends and learning from progressive MLSs and Associations around North America. We call it the WAVes of Change™ Series. This exciting new online program allows every one of your Board members and department heads to keep in touch on the ever-changing trends in our business WITHOUT leaving home. This quarterly live webinar will include exclusive, early looks at WAV Group research as well as the ability to learn from industry experts about technology trends, consumer insights and broker and agent issues. Consumer Research Panel WAV Group has been working with Associations for some time on engaging the consumers in their markets, most notably Houston Association of REALTORS®. Through our […]


NAR REACH Panel Slings 8 New Products at REALTORS®

by Victor Lund on September 29, 2015

The NAR Reach program is interesting. It establishes a gateway where companies who wish to express their products and services to the REALTOR® family pay fees and often equity to the National Association of REALTORS®. Access Avenue is a loan finder product that is primarily aimed at helping Realtors introduce loan products to the investor community. As I went through the presentation, the first place I got stuck was the statement “Competitive rates as low as 7.99%.” The product shops property loans to institutional investors rather than traditional mortgage banks. I think that the product would be superior if it included traditional and investor backed funding sources. August SmartLock – My initial instincts are that a company offering a lock box solution will need to combat a lot of headwind against some excellent lock box providers like Sentrilock and Supra. Those companies offer great products already deployed in every market across the USA. However, when I watched the presentation, I learned that the August SmartLock is part of a smart home solution. When you are near the lock, it works with Bluetooth to open the door. When you are away from the home, you can manage entry and access via an app on your phone. Installation on a deadbolt takes about 10 minutes. Each unit costs $250. As a backup for the inevitable “technology failure” problem, as a backup, your existing keys still work. I am a gadget guy, so I may consider this for personal use, but not as a replacement for our current lockbox system. BoostUp – a product that helps consumers with down payment assistance by matching their down payment. The idea is that there is a structured savings plan that the agent provides to their buyer. As the buyer saves, the REALTOR® matches the savings by offering discounted commissions on the sale. Realtors can offset their discounts by getting service providers like the Brokerage, a lender, or a title company to contribute funds to the boost. The company offers a landing page where people seeking down payment matching can get started in the program. I am pretty neutral on this one. Guardllama – a personal security solution that offers a button on your keychain to call for help. It calls the police. Realtor security is an important issue today. The NAR PAG is addressing it. I am aware of this system. It’s kinda like “I have […]


Respond to the Threats That may Kill Off Your Business

by Marilyn Wilson on July 23, 2015

NAR has launched a new program called the D.A.N.G.E.R. report. The goal of the interactive program is to help every brokerage, MLS and Association think through some fundamental threats and changes that may be coming to our industry.  The program is well put together and brings up some significant issues that may change the game of real estate forever. WAV Group has a suggested path for Brokers, Associations and MLSs to follow to get the most out of this important NAR program. Have your leaders read the entire Danger Survey for all segments of real estate – First and foremost, make the D.A.N.G.E.R. report required reading for all of the leaders of your organization.  Have them read each and every part of the report Invite every board and staff member to complete the Danger Survey – Second, have every one of your leaders complete the portion of the survey relevant to your business. For Associations and MLSs I would also recommend that you complete the survey for Agents and Brokers as well. It’s really easy to complete the survey and then you will get your own version of the survey results in an easy to read report. Discuss each participants prioritization and reasoning – Once each of the leaders have completed their surveys, have them bring it to a meeting where each participant can share their findings and the logic they used for their conclusions. Use each of these individual results as the basis of a discussion to outline what the group collectively believes are the biggest risks to your organization. Outline key issues for your organization to deal with its vulnerabilities and what ifs even though its scary and counter to how we like to think – Once your group has prioritized a list of the most imminent and dangerous threats to your business, brainstorm ways to think about how to prepare your organization for what may be coming.  Think about ways you can proactively address issues so that your organization will be able to thrive while others might not survive. 5. Develop a Plan of Attack and Stick to It – While many organizations might talk about the threats facing them, few actually DO anything about it.  The smartest organizations will build a plan of attack and execute against it, spending time, money and resources to proactively address issues. WAV Group has facilitated discussions using the process outlined and will be happy to […]

{ 1 comment }

Who Will Install The Giant Rats of Real Estate?

by Victor Lund on July 10, 2015

If you visit New York City regularly, you will sometimes encounter a giant inflatable rat on the sidewalk outside businesses experiencing union disputes. Organized labor has also joined in the fight against companies like Airbnb and Uber. Ken Jenny of Trancen often remarks that: “with Airbnb, you have one of the largest hotel companies in the world who does not own a single hotel room. With Uber, you have the largest taxi cab company in the world who does not own a single taxi.” I would add that Facebook has become the largest publisher in the world and they do not write a single word. YouTube is the largest broadcaster in the world and does not make a single video. Incidentally, my 12 year old reads Instagram more than newspapers and watches far more YouTube than television. There is little doubt that in the future, the largest real estate brokerage in the country will not have a single listing or show a single property to a buyer. Anyone can compose a list of who will disrupt real estate. But the more interesting list to create is who is likely to defend the industry. The most obvious answer is the NAR. But I do not see that happening. The National Association of REALTORS is not a Union. It is a trade association that lives on the cornerstone of a code of ethics. If it is in the best interest of the trade group and the consumer to fend off the uberification of real estate, then they should stand up and deliver a few inflatable rats in front of businesses that are objectionable. I have witnessed the NAR march on Washington during the Midyear. I wonder if we will see a digital march or a financial march in our future.

{ 1 comment }

What ever happened to Trade Show Etiquette?

by Kevin Hawkins on May 22, 2015

It could be just me. I may have attended too many trade shows. Yet somehow I believe Emily Post would have been appalled if she walked the exhibits at NAR Midyear. To add a little context, I have attended, exhibited, sponsored and run trade shows. In fact, I’m afraid to count the number of miles I have walked on trade show floors, having attended many NAR-FAR-CAR annuals, NAR Midyears, HomeBuilders/IBS, PCBCs, COMDEX, CES, IBC and others. I have also been the lead for many firms exhibiting at these same shows, and have found myself staffing exhibits, including too many hours at a booth that was in the bowels of a covered bus garage at the Sheraton in Hawaii (NAR 1987). I helped Brad Inman produce more than a half-dozen of the first Real Estate Connects, so I have done more than worked the floor or staffed a booth: I sold all the space and sponsorships. So I am probably being a hard ass about all this when I ask: What ever happened to Trade Show etiquette? Rules to follow Less than a minute after I walked inside the hall on Thursday at 2 pm at NAR Midyear, I was taken aback. I looked around the room and I saw body language at almost every exhibit that said “Stay away, I’m busy.” People were eating and drinking (water, sodas) at their booths. The attitude is ” Hey, read our Feather Flags and banner, that’s what we do, want an information hand-out?”  as they wipe their hands on their clothes. It is laughable. Rule #1: Never eat or drink at a booth, do it somewhere else. Yes, if budget constraints leave you as the sole staffer, you need to drink water and stay hydrated. But do it discretely. I’m not going to come talk to you if you are leaning up against a counter in the back of your booth with a water bottle in your hand. If you are eating at your booth, well, think about the message that sends: We can’t afford to have anyone else here, so I have to eat at my booth. I don’t think that’s a message that you want tied to your brand. People were sitting in chairs, behind and next to counters. Rule #2: Stand, don’t sit. This is where most people make the biggest mistake. The best way to engage people is when […]


No HATERS in Real Estate Please!

by Marilyn Wilson on May 22, 2015

After just coming back from the NAR Mid-Year meetings I harken back to one of our greatest spiritual leaders of all time – The Dalai Lama. He has an amazing quote that I feel bears repeating – “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasing resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. You have always the choice.” For those of you that are following the latest real estate news, NAR Mid-Year was a very exciting meeting. There were great strides taken with the Broker Public Portal and RPR’s AMP program. There were great discussions about ways NAR through it’s RPR division could provide a whole new way to help brokers become more efficient, differentiated, innovative and maybe even more profitable. Just days before the NAR Mid-Year conference Zillow announced that it would provide public records to MLSs – another potential game changer in the industry. Are these programs “real” yet? Will any of these programs make it? Will they roll out as originally outlined? Not likely. Like all software products and new businesses their business model, revenue stream and even core value proposition might change. While I believe all of these programs present interesting opportunities for all of us to consider, this article is NOT promoting or critically evaluating ANY of them. It’s about our industry’s REACTION to new ideas.   As soon as a new idea is presented the HATERS come out in bounds. There are a million theories about why it won’t work or about the “TRUE” motivations underlying the initiative. Instead of spending a quiet moment to contemplate the potential opportunities that each idea presents, we start immediately talking about why it WON’T work. Why is it that we don’t even give ideas a chance to germinate before we throw them under the bus? Not only did I hear people panning the new initiatives being proposed, I also heard deep criticism of those that had the guts to reach out and try something new and different in the spirit of creating a stronger and more vital industry.   I find that very disappointing. The world is littered with now-defunct industries that refused to believe that disruption was inevitable or even an exciting opportunity to strengthen an industry. Instead of carefully considering a new approach to satisfy the needs of today’s customers, these industries held doggedly […]


Brokers & MLSs: Collaboration vs. Confrontation

by Kevin Hawkins on May 14, 2015

The real estate industry come a long way from the fall of 2013, when The Realty Alliance’s Craig Cheatham warned a crowd of MLS executives attending CMLS in Boise, “You’ve got 10 days.” That moment in time – described by blogger Notorious Rob as “the most interesting 30 minutes in the history of real estate conferences” — poignantly captured the mood of real estate brokerages towards the MLS industry. Fast-forward to NAR Midyear 2015, and confrontation has clearly turned into collaboration. This week, RESO or Real Estate Standards Organization, heralded the great strides the organization has made in fostering participation by America’s leading brokerage organizations. Once thought of as solely the province of the MLS, RESO recently added Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, the largest network of over 500 premier locally-branded firms responsible for more home sales than any other real estate network, to its membership roster. Importantly, Leading RE joins Cheatham’s The Realty Alliance, which is already a member of RESO and represents a network of North America’s elite real estate firms, whose members serve most every major market on the continent. Add to RESO’s key real estate brokerage membership ranks Realogy (Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, CENTURY 21®, Coldwell Banker®, Coldwell Banker Commercial®, The Corcoran Group®, ERA®, and Sotheby’s International Realty®, and ZipRealty®), RE/MAX LLC, and other independent firms, such as Michael Saunders and Company, and you have literally the who’s who of real estate brokerage that now have a seat at the table and a voice in shaping future real estate industry standards are deployed. Kudos to Leading RE LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor points to the value of RESO to the brokerage community, including the industry’s adoption of its Data Dictionary, which is going to fuel new innovation, and generate more efficiencies. For brokerages, this will reduce costs and untether the ability of brokerage firms to grow and expand into new markets, as finally, all MLSs will talk the same language. Pam’s message is spot on and positive: “The RESO Data Dictionary and the other standards being implemented will help all of our members,” O’Connor says. RESO’s new Executive Director, Jeremy Crawford, a high respected MLS veteran, knows collaboration is the best way for his not-for-profit organization to succeed. “Collaboration is vital,” Crawford said., noting the long-term goal of RESO is highly pragmatic and much needed, “National data standards and industry collaboration across all aspects of real […]

{ 1 comment }

Midyear Recap: CMLS Brings It to the Table

by Victor Lund on May 12, 2015

CMLS is an acronym for the Council of MLS. It is an organization that allows MLSs to share best practices in their pursuit of delighting the brokers and agents that subscribe to MLS services. A few years ago, they began the successful practice of having a primer conference the Tuesday before the NAR Midyear Legislative meetings. This year’s meetings were held at the City Club of Washington D.C. with 130 in attendance. Diamond sponsors for the event included MLS vendors Black Knight Financial and CoreLogic. They were joined by,,, and, all of whom overtly recognize and support the role of the MLS in delivering data to their publications. Agenda: RESO Data Dictionary Certification, 1.5 hours. Certified Best Practices, 1.5 Hours. RESO Data Dictionary Certification WAV Group has written pretty extensively on the topic of RESO Data Dictionary Certification. CRMLS CEO, Art Carter, introduced five panelists, each of whom represent MLSs using different vendors: Sean Murphy, TARMLS (FBS Data) Mike Cotrill, CTAR/NORES (CoreLogic) Lauren Hansen, IRES (self-developed MLS system) Dave Howe, MetroList (Rapattoni) Greg Manship, Intermountain MLS (Black Knight) There is an assumption that the MLS vendor is going to take care of MLS certification for their customers. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of this work must be done by Jan. 1, 2016. You must be certified! Your server must go through a certification process before the end of the year. Why Data Standards? Data Standards are the set of rules that must be followed to ensure compatibility and interoperability between all of the different parties in a real estate transaction. It is incumbent on MLSs and brokers to join RESO to stay informed of these important standards. According to Jeremy Crawford, CEO of RESO, “the beauty of RESO standards is that data feeds in every MLS will be identical so there is no engineering required by application developers to enter different MLS markets.” Step 1 – Contact your vendor’s RETS implementation team. RETS is “real estate transaction standard.” It is a structured data format that allows vendors to access MLS data for the purpose of serving technology applications for use by agents and brokers. Keynote: MLSs should contact their vendor ASAP.  Step 2 – Data mapping. Every MLS has a unique set of fields. Mapping is a process of aligning MLS data fields to the Data Dictionary standard. The standard not only names […]


Major Changes In Real Estate

by Victor Lund on April 28, 2015

Behold, changes are taking place in real estate. We are seeing significant efforts like Project Upstream, RPR AMP, Broker Public Portal, Fair Display Guidelines, and RESO mandates that are shaping the future of our industry. It makes you wonder what is driving this explosive cocktail of industry wide initiatives. At the heart of many of these developments are brokers. When they survey the world around them, they rue the existence of poor data management and profit taking by others. Poor Data Management I believe that it was MRIS CEO, David Charron who coined the term Overlapping Market Disorder. He was referring to situations where MLS areas overlap. It is a condition that causes brokers and agents to participate in more than one MLS and struggle to keep data clean and abide by different regulations. MLSs have long established unique data schema and rules to “differentiate” themselves from a neighboring MLS. MLS of choice caused this. And in many ways, Association of choice amplified it. Today, nearly every MLS supplies brokerages with different IDX and VOW data feeds. For the broker and their vendor, maintaining these different types of feeds and rules is time consuming and painful. The Real Estate Standards Organization seeks to make it better. They are doing an excellent job and the Data Dictionary – the effort to normalize field names and attributes will see the day of light by the end of this year and into 2016. It will be a slow transition, but brokers will finally be able to get a data feed that is normalized across multiple markets. At least we are optimistic. The lever to cause the data dictionary to be adopted is the NAR MLS Policy Committee. Technically, MLSs not adopting the standard would be subject to penalties from NAR for non-compliance. We will see how seriously NAR and MLSs take this requirement. For its part, the MLS Policy Committee has done an excellent job of evolving the MLS model rules. For example, last year they standardized rules relating to the access and display of sold property data in the IDX model rules. Profit Taking Ask different brokers around the nation what they hate the most and they will tell you stories about how others are profiting from their data unfairly. Some will tell you that third party listing websites have been making extraordinary profits off the backs of agents and brokers. The […]

{ 1 comment }

What should we look for at NAR Midyear?

by Kevin Hawkins on April 23, 2015

Real estate’s annual May pilgrimage begins in a couple of weeks. Its formal name is “REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo,” but I’ve never met anyone outside of NAR that doesn’t call it NAR Midyear. Even the url for the location on labels it “midyear” ( For several days – this year May 11-16 – local associations as well as state and regional associations leadership descend on Washington D.C. It’s a time largely filled with policy meetings, committee confabs and a full-court press for face-to-face meetings with legislative reps. Tucked in the middle of all this is a trade show that runs for just two days: Wednesday, May 13 and Thursday, May 14, from 10 am until 6 pm. This year more than 100 vendors will be vying for a few minutes of everyone’s time. After all, many have flown 1,000 miles or more, have invested thousands of dollars on their booths and travel expenses, all for just that 16-hour window. The scope of the Midyear Trade Show is nowhere near the size of the exposition at the NAR Annual so it doesn’t always feature the biggest players nor their mega-exhibits. On the contrary, the vendor list is often comprised of the most ardent NAR supporters of all sizes, providers of “official” NAR this or that, and many also are in someway, connected to the MLS industry, which is ever-present at Midyear. Yet every once in a while a new company, new business model or new technology use NAR Midyear for its coming out party. Sometimes these firms are exhibiting; sometimes they are just hosting a suite in a nearby hotel, or meeting with CEOs in the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel because they are bootstrapping it. Years ago, as the first Marketing Director for HomeGain, which at the time was a hot-new startup during Internet 1.0, the head of sales and I attended NAR Midyear with our pop-up HomeGain booth, tucked in the back of an annex that was added to accommodate last minute exhibitors like us. We didn’t make a lot of sales, but we generated a buzz and introduced ourselves, in person, to a lot of industry ‘thought leaders and influencers’ (whom we called ‘movers and shakers’ back then). This year, at Midyear, the WAV Group wants to know what should we be looking for? Is there a new business model, a hot new […]

{ 1 comment }

Millennial Marketing Madness

by Kevin Hawkins on November 14, 2014

The fervor about marketing to Millennials peaked for me during the National Association of REALTORS® Convention in New Orleans last week. Surely you’ve seen some of the recent headlines: “Millennials could hold the key to housing recovery,” “Millennials need to be wooed,” “Insights about Millennials’ path to homeownership,” etc. One of the seminars at NAR had this in its title:” “Generating Referrals from Millennial Home Buyers.” Say what? Try this headline: Millennials are broke. Yes, Millennials (a.k.a. Generation Y), those who ages range from about 19 to 38, may comprise the largest segment of the U.S. population at 86 million strong, but they don’t have any money. They are student debt rich and cash poor. Worse they don’t make much either. Millennial Malaise I was awakened by this fact by one of my favorite daily bloggers, economist Elliott Eisenberg, Ph.D. who pens a 70-word blog five days a week (see He shared these facts: In 2010, households headed by those under age 35, the Millennials, had median income of $37,600, now it’s just $35,300. Worse, 41.4% of them have student loans, up from 33.6% in 2007 and 23.3% in 1998 Their student loan balances are up from $10,000 in 1988 to $17,300 in 2013. Moreover, just 38.6% hold equities, down from almost half in 2001. Their median net worth is a paltry $10,400 Re-read these numbers: Median income is $35,300 and median net worth is $10,400. If you do the mortgage math and assume all of their other monthly debt totals no more than $500, the maximum home the average Millennial can afford is about $87,000. That’s why Millennials are renting, or living in mom and dad’s basement. The total student debt number in America is staggering: Over $1 Trillion – that’s $1,000,000,000,000 dollars, more than double what it was just 8 years ago. As demographer Peter Francese told Barron’s,“These people have a mortgage and no house.” And they are not just talking out loans, they are defaulting on them: Ten percent of all borrowers defaulted on their student loans in the most recent year available, the highest since 1995. That’s going to kill a lot of credit scores for a very long time. “Hopefully, they are saving,” said the NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yu during his press conference last week, who also noted job creation will help them significantly. But half will still likely be renters. For those […]


Page 1 of 3123