real estate

Inviting Peers To MLS Boards of Directors

by Victor Lund on July 8, 2018

Board Member

The role of a member of an MLS Board of Director is multifaceted, but divided in part to areas around voting control, and in part around strategic guidance. A trend emerging at the largest MLSs in the nation is to invite outside directors into the board room.

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Zillow Logo

Real Estate is a fickle industry, cycling back and forth from favoring buyers to favoring sellers. It does not take an economist to develop a strategy for when to advertise for buyers and when not to. Certainly, real estate is in a condition of buyer saturation today. Brokers and agents who are advertising for buyers are mismanaging their advertising spend.

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Victor Lund, founding partner of the WAV Group, and I recently returned from the National Association of Real Estate Editors Conference in Hot Vegas. 107 degrees hot. One of the hottest topics was the iBuyer, and Victor headed up a panel that took that topic head-on. Let’s say it was one of the livelier sessions of the conference. The one thing I was sure of, Victor made a great impression among reporters based on the feedback he gave me.

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MLS Terms of Use Changes and Copyright FAQ

by Victor Lund on March 27, 2018

This post is the result of a collaborative effort amongst the Council of Multiple Listing Services, The Realty Alliance, The National Association of REALTORS®, and Larson Skinner PLLC. 

Many MLSs have been making changes to the way they file copyright applications and their MLS terms of use. Those changes have raised some questions from participants and subscribers. This FAQ is intended to answer some of those questions and emphasize that the MLSs are not forcing participants or subscribers to give up ownership of listing content.

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Elm Street Technology Announces Acquisition of Agentjet

by Victor Lund on February 12, 2018

Elm Street Technology

February 12, 2018 – Greensboro, NC – Today, Elm Street Technology (EST) announced the acquisition of Agentjet, Inc., a digital marketing, lead generation and technology provider for top producing agents and teams. Today’s announcement marks the fourth transaction in the company’s two-year history and provides a scalable lead generation compliment to the company’s Elevate productivity suite of technology and client servicing platforms.

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HUNT Real Estate Buys Large Boston Brokerage

by Victor Lund on February 7, 2018

Another member of The Realty Alliance is kicking up activity on the acquisition trail. As Real Trends CEO Steve Murray has spotted, large firms are getting larger. HUNT Real Estate, the second largest ERA franchise in the world has expanded from the Upstate New York market into the Boston, MA market by acquiring ERA Key Realty. WAV Group congratulates the Hunt family and the Taylor family for opening another major demographic market area. I would expect that HUNT Mortgage and other affiliated companies in commercial, property management, insurance, and title will get added to the Boston market area. HUNT will now be integrating their company into MLSPIN, one of the largest and most successful broker owned MLSs in America. HUNT is already an owner in MLSs spanning Upstate New York. This is off topic, but I am more than a little surprised that in this era of consolidation of MLSs, doesn’t anyone see the natural consolidation of the broker owned MLSs in the northeast? MLSPIN (custom system), Upstate New York (Matrix), Pittsburg (Matrix). Between NRT, Howard Hanna, HUNT, BHHS, Northwood, etc. Here is the full press release:   ERA Key Realty Services merges with HUNT Real Estate ERA Combination creates family of real estate brokerage companies boasting a strong foothold in Upstate New York and New England Buffalo, NY and Northbridge, MA (February 7, 2018) – HUNT Real Estate ERA, the second largest brokerage firm in the ERA® network, today announced it has joined forces with ERA Key Realty Services, which also ranks in ERA’s top ten. This merger significantly expands the reach of the combined companies, increasing options for homebuyers and sellers, especially in the Northeast. HUNT Real Estate ERA brings to the merger its expertise and deep connections in four fast growth real estate markets in Upstate New York – Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Albany, as well as Phoenix, Arizona. ERA Key Realty Services brings markets in Massachusetts – north and west of Boston, as well as Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The combined company will have more than 50 offices and nearly 1600 experienced affiliated agents. The offices will continue to do business under their existing trade names and local management will remain in place. To support the continued growth and achieve the full potential of this merger, this combined organization will continue to leverage the suite of digital tools and best-in-class infrastructure provided by the […]

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Swanepoel Trends Report Overview

by Victor Lund on February 7, 2018

Each year, I review the Swanepoel Trends Report. It’s a nod of respect for Stefan Swanepoel and the work that he does. His reports deliver exactly what they intend. They provide a few hours of reading that will stimulate you to absorb various perspectives and reflect. I have a full library of the reports and find myself pulling them off the shelf throughout the year for one reason or another. The real estate industry is a living thing that is fundamental to society. Like the history that comes before it, we watch change happen and are influenced by our years of experience. Each year, Swanepoel scribes a snap shot though his lens. It’s an annual chapter that is added to a lifetime of work. There is no right or wrong. There is no good or bad. The facts are right, and the authorship is sincere. For me, Swanepoel Trends Report is like reading a chapter of history. My 15-year-old daughter is learning about the revolutionary period in Europe. She is learning that there was a time when all property was owned by noble blood with absolute rule. Then some non-nobles were able to acquire property and inherited the right to vote as a property right. After the revolutions continued, business owners were afforded the right to vote. And so on and so forth to modern day. My most profound moment of reflection for me came from the Forward, as written by Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. He reflected on how he had a revelation one day that as much has he and his company have sought to be different than traditional real estate, Redfin’s heart and pulse is not really much different than that of any other brokerage. Redfin has developed a center of excellence around delivering consumers a property search solution that they love. It’s an ambition of many firms. They coupled their online efforts to a brokerage business model that incentives both the consumer and the real estate agent. They have grown a very nice business, one of the largest in America. They cooperate with MLSs like every other broker. Redfin has not disrupted real estate or ignited a trend. They do their thing and they get their piece of the market. It’s an outstanding piece of writing. It was appropriate to have Mr. Kelman kick off the trends report. There is a lot of material in the report […]

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IRVINE, Calif., February 7, 2018—CoreLogic® (NYSE: CLGX), a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, today announced it is adding DisclosureSave to the Clareity® SSO Dashboard to enable nearly twenty-thousand California agents simpler access to natural hazard disclosure reports required to close each transaction. Three multiple listing organizations throughout the state now display DisclosureSave as an option for their members—allowing them to conveniently select and order reports directly from the Discover Network panel within the Clareity SSO Dashboard. “We brought DisclosureSave into the CoreLogic family to offer real estate professionals in California a high quality, data-powered product and a simpler way to order,” said Chris Bennett, executive leader of Real Estate Solutions for CoreLogic. “Home sellers must provide natural hazard reports in California—and we have leading edge underlying data and world-class processes to stay current. That’s product quality that agents, escrow officers and home buyers can feel confident about.” “We touch over 1.2 million agents, almost every day, with our combined Matrix™, Realist®, and Clareity platforms,” adds Bennett. “With this volume of daily agent-touch, we’re always asking ourselves how we can take more work off an agent’s plate by making it as simple as possible to do a job they spend time worrying about today. And we’ve done that with DisclosureSave by adding it to the Clareity SSO Dashboard. We think our California members will find it easier than ever to order a report they’re tasked to chase down for every closing.” For more information about DisclosureSave, visit DisclosureSave.com About CoreLogic CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) is a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider. The company’s combined data from public, contributory and proprietary sources includes over 4.5 billion records spanning more than 50 years, providing detailed coverage of property, mortgages and other encumbrances, consumer credit, tenancy, location, hazard risk and related performance information. The markets CoreLogic serves include real estate and mortgage finance, insurance, capital markets, and the public sector. CoreLogic delivers value to clients through unique data, analytics, workflow technology, advisory and managed services. Clients rely on CoreLogic to help identify and manage growth opportunities, improve performance and mitigate risk. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., CoreLogic operates in North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information, please visit www.corelogic.com.    CORELOGIC, the CoreLogic logo, CLAREITY, MATRIX and REALIST are trademarks of CoreLogic, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective […]

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Inside Real Estate Acquires Circlepix

by Victor Lund on February 1, 2018

Circlepix has sold everything. They operated an extensive network of photographers that they sold to VHT Studios in January. Now they have sold the rest of their company to Inside Real Estate. If you have not followed Inside Real Estate lately – pay attention. Inside Real Estate is the incredible company that recently landed Keyes – one of the largest firms in South East Florida among others. They are taking a piecemeal approach to purchasing world class software providers to complete their suite of an end-to-end solution for brokers, teams, and agents. At the heart of Inside Real Estate is Kunversion – a competitor with Commissions Inc and Boomtown. What’s different is that Commissions Inc. and Boomtown do not really have an enterprise broker solution. Inside Real Estate invested a year of development to extend the original Kunversion platform to make it a fully enterprise broker solution. For brokers looking to run significant digital marketing campaigns, you need to look at systems like Inside Real Estate. Inside Real Estate calls their broker platform KVCore. It’s great website solution for lead capture off of online media buys. Behind the lead capture, they have an impressive CRM. It does everything that other CRMs do, but is built to look fresh and impressive to agents. It is among the best broker-in-a-box solutions – broker facing website and co-branded agent websites with impressive integrations supporting SSO and Web APIs.  WAV Group has written extensively about how brokers can remargin their business by generating online leads and referring consumers to their agents for a referral fee. What is interesting about Inside Real Estate is that they are building their application stack by purchasing known companies with lots of customers. Kunversion was their first big purchase. Reimagined as a platform, KVCore provides broker website, intranet, and agent websites. It also incorporates an excellent CRM that is pretty competitive to other CRM leaders. Inside Real Estate handles digital marketing and lead capture on Social Media and other platforms as well. Inside Real Estate is integrated with around 450 of the 690 MLS markets supporting RESO certified data feeds. Their system internalizes about 85% of all listings in America. Inside Real Estate purchased an amazing company called BrokerSumo a few months ago. They have a commission accounting solution that is lighter than LoneWolf, AccountTECH, or ProfitPower – but pickup up the full accounting ledger with Quickbooks integration. With […]

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      Industry effort ”blows the doors off estimates;” Should quiet critics, leaders say ROCKVILLE, MD, January 23, 2018 – Broker Public Portal (BPP) since its launch with Homesnap in January last year has grown from serving 45 Multiple Listing Services to more than 120 MLSs today, representing 800,000 real estate agents and brokers. As a result, Homesnap has become one of the nation’s most collaborative consumer real estate apps. Real estate agents have invited more than 19 million clients and contacts to access MLS listing data, and 8.5 million consumers have engaged with their agents through Homesnap. Broker Public Portal is owned and operated by real estate brokerages and MLSs to deliver, through Homesnap, a better home search experience, with the same comprehensive, real-time MLS data used by real estate professionals – the people who list and sell homes, not ads. “In just 12 months since the Broker Public Portal went live with Homesnap, our growth blows the doors off even the most optimistic estimates,” said John Mosey, Vice Chairman of BPP. Mosey, who also heads up NorthstarMLS, which supports over 17,000 REALTORS® in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, said, “This should quiet the naysayers who wrongly believed that a well-designed industry-led effort couldn’t succeed. Well, millions of consumers and hundreds of thousands of agents have demonstrated that the industry was in fact searching for just this solution,” he added. Broker Public Portal with Homesnap is designed to help real estate professionals generate listing exposure and leads and encourage prospects and clients to connect and collaborate directly with an agent. Mosey said that it has already become one of the most successful, “if not the most successful industry-born technology initiative in real estate history,” noting Broker Public Portal with Homesnap now features over 100 million property records and over 59 million active and sold listings. “We have created the industry’s largest private real estate marketing network delivering more listing exposure opportunities and direct client engagement opportunities to agents than ever imagined. Finally, real estate agents have a real alternative,” Mosey added. A better, ad free experience Steve Barnes, co-founder of Homesnap, attributes the breakneck pace in MLS, agent and consumer adoption and engagement to delivering what consumers and agents want, and what the real estate industry needs. “First and foremost, Broker Public Portal with Homesnap is free of advertising pollution, which makes us different,” Barnes said. “We deliver a […]

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Hyperlocal Whitepaper

Social media, mobile technology and marketing automation: those are the three ingredients that are changing real estate in a profound and everlasting way. And, unlike many skeptics, I believe it’s for the better. My proof is the emergence of a “HyperLocal Movement” in real estate that the confluence of these three has fueled. Now there is really nothing new about the “idea” of HyperLocal in real estate. No other industry has been more focused on being local than ours. Many agents have legitimately been practicing hyperlocalism for years, if not decades. What is new is what’s happening NOW with hyperlocalism, or more importantly, what’s NOT happening across America. That’s the conclusion of a brand new White Paper from the WAV Group — HyperLocal Movement in Real Estate – that we just issued. It was sponsored by a very hot Colorado real estate tech startup zavvie, a broker technology provider that specializes in HyperLocal marketing. It’s 100% free. The beautiful 40+page report is filled with graphics, statistics, and information from expert sources inside and outside of real estate can be downloaded here. Survey says… It all started when the WAV Group conducted real estate’s first HyperLocal Survey, in partnership with zavvie. The HyperLocal Survey of 340 leading brokers, agents, team leaders, and industry executives had a shocking finding: agents and brokers said one thing, and did something completely different. The survey showed this great disconnect between agents and teams, saying they were neighborhood specialists, or hyperlocal, but they reported that they actually were doing very little neighborhood focused marketing activities. For example, more than 60% of agents and 65% of teams said they “specialize” in a large regional or metro area. But that’s not specializing. You can’t specialize in a city or town, hyperlocal experts like Stefan Peterson, the COO of zavvie will tell you. “It’s just too big of an area to be the ‘go-to expert’ who knows every single home in that market,” he said. Stefan is so right. His business partner, Lane Honung, the other cofounder of zavvie, nails the behavior when he explains that agents and teams are just so afraid of losing out on business, “they cast a wider net.” Instead, hyperlocalism tells you to do the opposite: specialize and focus solely on a neighborhood or area of about 3,000 homes or less. Lane knows his stuff: he’s in the RE/MAX Hall of Fame and ran […]

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Brokers Need to Know that Bitcoin has an Economic Flaw

by Victor Lund on January 10, 2018

But the biggest gains may be ahead. If you took economics class in college, you understand that currencies of any type have a relationship between four very important metrics: MV=PQ. M is the total amount of money supply in circulation. V is the velocity of money and the frequency that it is being circulated. P is the price level Q is the inflation adjusted index of goods and services. The economic flaw with Bitcoin is that you cannot buy much with it. Sure – we hear these isolated discussions about people buying houses with Bitcoin, but those are isolated one-offs. There are companies like Filecoin that pay people in coin for hosting files, another called Steam that allows bloggers to earn coin by writing. Many more are emerging every day, but generally speaking, bitcoin is investors investing in a currency that nobody uses for goods or services. This is a major problem for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and others. Investors Caused the Bitcoin Bubble Here is where the speculation comes in. There is no government involved in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It is a truly free market economy. You can learn how to buy bitcoin in Australia, here. Sovereign currencies are managed. The United States and other nations use the equation of MV=PQ to keep the economy balanced with artificial stimulation – government spending, putting money into circulation, setting interest rates, issuing or buying bonds or treasury bills, etc. The ability to tax the economy is a big control lever. There is no doubt that the money pouring into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is outpacing the economic output. The value run up in Bitcoin value after an 8 year trend of about $1000 that has been caused by the capital markets buying Bitcoin. The buy side demand is outpacing the sell side. We believe that Bitcoin and many other crypto currencies are being driven by hedge funds and electronic traders. They have electronic buy and sell points that are executing. When a few major investors follow the same trading pattern, the currency gets erratic. If a bunch of people sell, then the currency will fall to the bottom. As long as speculators continue to buy and hold – it will go up. In the case of Bitcoin, the traditional value that lasted from 2008 to 2016 was $1000. Investors poured a lot of money into the currency in 2017, driving the price […]

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Google Tag Manager – A Broker’s Best Friend

by Marilyn Wilson on January 8, 2018

Google Tag Manager

Real Estate brokers need to leverage reporting to know what is working in their digital marketing assets. The good news is that Google Analytics can provide answers to the performance of your website pages and campaigns if you train it. The tool to deliver these reports is called Google Tag Manager, and if you are not using this utility in your brokerage today, you need to start. Google Tag Manager (GTM). Brokers now have more accessibility to track usage for all their Internet assets. GTM easily installs on your website and intranet, and is available for native mobile applications on Android and iOS. What is Google Tag Manager? GTM is a tag management system tracks user activity on pages without requiring a developer to do anything special. Once the developer has installed the GTM code, you have the ability to make changes to the site to collect data on how consumers use their web site or mobile applications. If you are tracking your intranet, you can see how agents are using that site. This video is an introduction to the concepts of Google Tag Manager. https://youtu.be/7FXbsCWsEi8 How does Google Tag Manager Work? This article is not a technical guide, but offers a general understanding of GTM. There are three basic elements to setup a Google Tag Manager: a tag, a trigger and variables. Triggers Triggers are an action which tells the tag to fire. When driving your car up to an intersection, street lights are a trigger which cause an action. When the light turns red, it triggers a piece of code in our brains says it is time to push the brakes and stop the car. In GTM, when someone lands on a web page or performs an action which meets the condition of the trigger, a piece of code or a tag executes. What to know if the consumer prefers map view vs. gallery view when looking at listings – no problem. GTM will allow you to track that, allowing you to set the most favored consumer default without guessing. Tags A Tag is a block of code usually from a third-party source which need to run on web site or mobile application. Instead of inserting the block of code like JavaScript within the code of a web site or mobile application, it’s inserted as a tag in GTM. You may have heard people talking about the Facebook […]

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Real Estate brokers and MLSs are pretty familiar with Collateral Analytics®. Collateral Analytics provides real estate brokers with a variety of tools including market trends, market share, and AVMs. Collateral Analytics is particularly interesting to real estate brokers because of the unique blend of MLS data and Public Record data. Brokers believe that MLS data introduces a level of accuracy and timeliness to analytics products, making them profoundly more accurate than Zillow Group’s® Zestimates®. Many of America’s top real estate firms also participate in the Collateral Analytics network of firms that provide Broker Price Opinion(BPO) services to the capital markets.  More than any other market analytics company, Collateral Analytics has developed a philosophy and suite of products that associates the brokerage firm into the process of home valuation and market analytics. The lawsuit discloses that Nationstar®, via their subsidiary Xome®, are customers of Collateral Analytics, and have been since 2013. It is not clear from the filing if Xome simply resold Collateral Analytics products or licensed the Collateral Analytics AVM and BPO products for use in their other software applications that Xome provides to the banking and title industry. Specifically, the filing of the lawsuit claims that Xome provided Collateral Analytics trade secrets to Quantarium®, a company acquired by Xome in 2015. Collateral Analytics claims that Xome tasked Quantarium with making a copy of the Collateral Analytics product. Moreover, the lawsuit claims that Xome is actively reselling white label versions of products that use the stolen trade secrets to other companies in violation of their licensing agreement. Collateral Analytics indicates that they have lost two major clients to Quantarium. CoreLogic® and Black Knight Financial® have long offered competitive products to Collateral Analytics. On the surface, the difference here is that Nationstar was a customer of Collateral Analytics first, then developed a competitive product as a result of their experience with Collateral Analytics. WAV Group has reviewed the filing, which is heavily redacted – as you might imagine. This is very common in these types of law suits. The court marks certain information confidential because the very nature of the litigation is the protection of trade secrets. WAV Group provides expert testimony witness services in these types of litigation, but is not engaged on this case by either side. There is quite a bit that lies in the outcome of this litigation. Should Collateral Analytics prevail, their broker partnerships (typically exclusive […]

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RESO: Fairy Tale or the Future?

by Marilyn Wilson on January 8, 2018

RESO

It’s hard to argue that standardized input, distribution and display of real estate information is not the desired path for our industry to follow. There aren’t many technology companies that would PREFER to map nearly 700 individual MLS data sets if they have the data and a choice. The Real Estate Standards Organization has set out on a path to remove millions of dollars in cost to real estate technology development and deployment while encouraging more innovation.   Download the results of the study here: When you get past the obvious technical advantages what does it really MEAN to have data standards? What practical ADVANTAGES does a company that is RESO Certified AND connects to RESO Certified data REALLY gain from going down this path?  Why should an emerging real estate technology company CARE about RESO?  What will it buy them?   And importantly, why should MLSs focus on promoting the availability of standardized data to the technology companies they work with? RESO asked myTheo, an emerging technology company, to examine this important question. What advantages does a standardized data feed bring to technology companies and their customers, in reality? Henry Gooden, CTO of myTheo worked with CRMLS in Southern California as well with MRED in Chicago to answer this important question. myTheo was chosen as one of the RESO Case Studies because they are an emerging MLS data-dependent company facing similar issues of expansion and growth as many start-ups in real estate.  The results of the myTheo examination are very enlightening AND very encouraging for the future of data in our industry. myTheo’s findings suggest that RESO standards clearly ARE the FUTURE and not an exercise in futility. Faster to Market, Less Man hours myTheo was able to precious time and resources when opening up new markets to sell their product.   myTheo reduced the their time to market, and saved on man-hours while launching into of the most sophisticated MLS markets in the country. Download the White Paper here: Is it WORTH the effort? Is it WORTH it to convert to RESO Certified Feeds for a technology company? Is there a short and longer-term return on investment and does it truly make sense for newer companies to engage with RESO even in their earliest installations? myTheo says that it is definitely worth it. Here’s their answer: “For any technology firm looking to expand rapidly into other markets, the ability to save time […]

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Bitcoin

As a real estate broker or MLS executive who is reading headlines like “Man Buys Texas Estate with Bitcoin,” you may be scratching your head to understand what this stuff is all about. Here is a primer that may help you to understand it. First of all, a cryptocurrency is a digital currency. It is not a coin or a bill. It is not backed by any nation’s treasury. It has a theoretical value that can be used for the exchange of goods and services. Bitcoin is only one of the digital currencies. There are many. In fact, anyone can create a digital currency in a few hours. Bitcoin is the largest and most widely known currency. Ethereum and Litecoin are gaining in popularity. Cryptocurrencies are a form of money that can be used for payment. It is nothing more, and nothing less. Funny thing is, we do not read headlines like “Woman Buys New York Penthouse with Pesos.” However, to all extents and purposes, the Bitcoin transaction and Peso transaction are effectively the same, you exchange one currency for US Dollars. But there is one catch that you need to understand. Currencies that we are familiar with are naturally attached to sovereign nations like the Dollar in America. When you want to use your American Dollar in some other nation, you need to exchange your currency for the currency of that nation. Exchange is the very nature of why currencies exist. In housing, people exchange currencies for property all of the time. Since housing is marketed here in America in US Dollars, if a seller wants to get paid in Bitcoin, then the buyer will need to use a cryptocurrency exchange like Coinbase to convert dollars into Bitcoin. Similarly, if a buyer has Bitcoin and the seller wants US Dollars (which is assumed), then the exchange will be used to move Bitcoin to dollars. Cyber currencies are not controlled by any bank or government. To all extents and purposes, the currency is established by a group of people mutually agree to its value and it trades on the open market like any currency with bids and asks. High risk investors are driving the market more than the use of Bitcoin for products and services. On April 3rd of 2017, Bitcoin was valued at about $1000 per theoretical Bitcoin, a relative value that was stable and lasted from 2009 to […]

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Associations Rethink Forms Licensing Policy

by Victor Lund on November 29, 2017

Document Management

If you were in the real estate business before the days of email, you may recall the experience of driving to the local Board of REALTORS® to pick up a forms packet for a transaction. Alternatively, your brokerage may have had a forms file with every type of printed form that you might need. Simply stated, forms were printed until pioneering State Associations of REALTORS® learned to share them electronically. Today, electronic forms management is a member benefit for all Realtors® as a member benefit of The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). When Realtor Associations learned about this policy and product offering from the National Association of REALTORS®, they started to internalize and rethink their forms licensing program. Why Do We Love Standard Forms? Ages ago, and in some States of America, you had to hire a lawyer to do the documents for a real estate transaction. For the most part, this is busy work for Attorneys. In most States, licensed real estate professionals can complete forms and they are reviewed by their broker and processed by a title company. Most States have taken on the responsibility of creating standardized forms that handle the variety of transactions encountered by most Realtors. Standard forms have all of the legal terminology needed transactions, so the agent fills out the information about the subject property and the information about the party they represent on each form, along with things like price. The standardized forms make the contracting process simple, easy and fast. The Realtor fills in the blanks, gets signatures, and its done. Copyright is Owned by the Forms Author The use of the word “standardized” is a little misleading when it comes to forms. Written works of any kind fall under the protections of the federal Copyright Act of 1976. According to the Act, copyright is available “in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device,” United States Constitution 102(a). When you look at a form, you will notice a copyright statement on the bottom of each page. This tells you who owns the copyright. This is usually your State Association of REALTORS® who updates the forms from time to time as necessary. They invest a lot of the membership treasury in the […]

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Consolidation: What PR Tactics Can Help?

by Kevin Hawkins on November 29, 2017

Process Integration

2018 could very well be the “Year of Consolidation” in the MLS industry. With the recent NAR move towards an “MLS of Choice” policy, we are likely to see a huge momentum build towards consolidation, especially in the second half of next year. That’s because smaller MLSs are going to find profitability under their current pricing model impossible. The simplest (and most often the best) solution will be to merge. By failing to plan for the role communications and PR plays within a consolidation, you are planning to fail. That’s because an effective communications and PR plan is vital to the success of any consolidation. Without it, at the very least, you will fail some of your members as they will not feel included, and at the worse, you will fail all of them, as they all, may feel, in some way, left out. Importance of PR PricewaterhouseCoopers wrote about mergers “the need for effective communication is often overlooked or underestimated in the flurry of activity surrounding a deal. Executing a strong and clear communication strategy is critical to successful integration.” That came from an accounting firm: the folks that typically ask why you are spending so much money on advertising and PR?! Ask any professional consultant who has lived in the world of company consolidations about the importance of internal communications and external public relations. You’ll quickly understand this is a corner you do not want to cut. It is a vital business tactic. In some ways, consolidations are all about communications. Let’s look at just a few of the practical tactical communications and PR activities that are needed for planning any successful consolidation: Strategic Communications What are we telling our employees, our vendors or strategic partners, our investors, or other stakeholders about the goals, timeline and expected outcomes of the consolidation? When are we telling whom, what and when? What are the best internal communication channels we can use to communicate to our staff? What are the right messages for each phase, and when do we communicate these and why do we use just these channels and the right timing? How do we mitigate the chances of internal communications being leaked externally, keeping internal messages internal? Pubic Relations What is our story, the story we want to tell? What are the key phrases that we want to emphasize and resonate with our key audiences? What are our core […]

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What is a Brand?

by Victor Lund on November 22, 2017

Brand

A brand is the difference between a pair of running shoes and a pair of Nikes. A brand is what people feel about you your product, the service you provide, or your organization. It’s part rational but mostly emotional. People will forgive a strong brand if it makes a mistake. likewise people won’t forgive a weak brand if it makes a mistake, remember Gateway computers? We thought so. WAV Group is not a branding agency – we leave that to leading firms like 1000 Watt. But WAV Group starts every project with an understanding of your brand. Marilyn Wilson, former Exec. Vice President of Marketing at Fisher Price managed the Fisher Price brand for nearly a decade. Fisher Price is one of the most valued and iconic international brands in the world. She did not build or create the Fisher Price brand, but every product they delivered (hundreds every year) had to deliver the brand promise, and everything WAV Group does for a client – strategic planning, communications, recruiting, and vendor selection – starts with brand. So what is the secret of a strong brand? The answer is surprisingly simple, focus. I’ll say it again, focus. Great brands stand for something, not a lot of things. One thing. For decades, Swedish car maker Volvo defined their brand with a single word, safety. Well, it seems to work for them. Sometimes you have to think beyond the category to know what your brand stands for. Harley Davidson makes motorcycles, want to guess what they stand for? Freedom.  Not a more powerful engine and not a more reliable bike or a smoother ride. Freedom. Brands are experienced. Take Starbucks. They differentiate themselves in many ways and offer a consistent brand experience in every Starbucks you visit. They even have their own language. Starbucks has created a unique community of coffee lovers that speak Starbucks-ease, and are true brand ambassadors – it’s customers. It doesn’t get any better than that. Starbucks has realized they aren’t in the business of serving coffee. They are in the business of serving people. What is a brand worth? So can you put a monetary value on a brand. The people at Interbrand research do that. Think about the fine folks at Coca-Cola. Guess what their brand is worth? According to Interbrand, about 61% of the value of the Coca-Cola corporation is brand. That is a lot of […]

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IRES & REcolorado Sign Binding Merger Agreement

by Victor Lund on November 13, 2017

IRES

Approval from Shareholder Boards is Next Step to Form One MLS for Denver and Northern Colorado IRES and REcolorado have taken another step toward creating a single MLS that will serve 26,000 real estate professionals in northern Colorado and the greater Denver Metro Area. Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES, and Kirby Slunaker, president and CEO of REcolorado, today announced the commitment between the two MLSs has now gone from a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU), as announced in September, to a binding merger agreement. The merger agreement has been signed by Hansen and Slunaker and has received approval from both the REcolorado Board of Directors and the IRES Board of Managers. The  next step needed is shareholder approval from the boards of the eight REALTOR Associations that are the owners of the two organizations. REcolorado’s shareholders are Denver Metro Association of REALTORS, South Metro Denver REALTOR Association, and Aurora Association of REALTORS®.  Shareholders of IRES are Boulder Area REALTOR® Association, Fort Collins Board of REALTORS®, Greeley Area REALTOR® Association, Longmont Association of REALTORS®, and Loveland Berthoud Association of REALTORS®.  The shareholders are expected to review and vote on the merger agreement in the coming weeks. “Thanks to the great work of the REcolorado and IRES shareholders and their boards, our vision of creating a future-focused MLS that serves REALTORS, Brokers and consumers along the Colorado Front Range is becoming a reality,” said Kirby Slunaker. “Colorado real estate professionals have told us they want the benefits that can only come from one MLS, which include the best products and services, faster pace of innovation, and world-class customer care.” A merged MLS organization serving the Colorado Front Range would bring substantial benefits to Colorado real estate professionals, which would be passed on to consumers. Benefits include comprehensive data, a broad set of technology tools and services, and powerful consumer-facing websites. “REALTORS, brokers, appraisers, and consumers deserve the most comprehensive, accurate, and timely data possible, as well as technology tools they can use to serve the needs of well-informed buyers and sellers,” said Lauren Hansen. “Bringing our MLS organizations together is what brokers want and what the market needs.” Chris Osborn, with Foster, Pepper PLLC, will continue to facilitate the merger process with REcolorado and IRES. “We continue to move at a steady pace, thanks to open lines of communication between REcolorado and IRES, as well as a shared commitment to work in the […]

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