Every year a bunch of us industry road warriors get together while we are in NYC to have an late night off campus party. This year, we will be meeting up at Tonic West. And as usual, John Heithaus has pulled together some of the best NYC musicians who will be playing a few sets of good old rock and roll along with some features from the hit musical Hamilton. Because it is a private underground event, only a few people have tickets. If you want to come reach out to your friends at one of the following companies: Realtor.com, Buyside, Moxiworks, Imprev, Wolfnet, CloudCMA, NAR Center for REALTOR Technology, Road to Close, and Real Estate Digital. Of course – Victor, Marilyn, and Kevin can also hook you up. As usual, this party starts at 9 PM after dinner and the band plays until Midnight. I am not sure if bars still close in NYC – We buy the first 600 drinks – after that you are on your own. Details: Venue: Tonic West, 727 Seventh Avenue, NY, 10019 Date and Time: 19th January 2017 9pm – 12:00am Dress Code: Party/Casual
Too often, brokers and managers get caught up in recruiting goals that they skip some basic best practices – Background Checks, Customer Satisfaction Checks, etc. Perhaps agents should be checking out the backgrounds of their broker too. Before the New Year, Todd Kohlhepp, a real estate broker was linked to 7 murders and a kidnapping. Todd was the broker in charge of TKA Real Estate. Inman news reported that the guy had spent 14 years in jail for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl. Of course – his agent ratings on popular listing syndication websites gave glowing reviews. (The agent has been removed from those sites). Research Production This case points to some good fundamentals about proper recruiting. You may want to start out by building a target list of agents to recruit. Just as agents focus on customers, brokers should focus on agents. BrokerMetrics® from Teradatum and Trendgraphix are both good for this. You can see things like historic transaction history. How many brokerages they have worked for. Transaction dollar volume. Transaction location. There is a ton of intelligence available. Do your research. Recruit Around Culture Consider the cultural fit. I recently did a research project to look at Agent Profile pages on a broker website. We took stock of the brokerage culture that we could glean from simply looking at the headshots of agents. Diving in deeper, we would look at the profile of office managers and how they looked relative to the agents they recruit. It is astounding to simply look at profiles and pick out agents that look like they fit vs. others that seem out of place (or missing photos all together). Surprisingly, production numbers correlate to profile photos when you ask a group of people to pick the most and least productive agents. A photo says a lot. But deeper than that, take a look at the agent’s social media profiles – look at their friends, their posts, their reach, their engagement. It is never a perfect science, but simple observation goes a long way. Consider the risks. We all know that a bad apple ruins the bushel. But sometimes brokers take too much risk in bringing in agents that don’t fit. That can really demoralize an office, or worse yet – a brokerage. I seriously doubt that consumers are going to want to work with agents form a brokerage that has felons on their roster. […]
WAV Group has participated and observed the mass amounts of merger activity that has hit a high pitch in 2016. It is happening at all levels of our industry – agents merging into teams, brokers merging into mega brokers, Association of REALTORS® mergers, and MLS mergers. Based upon our work schedule for Q1 of 2017, this trend does not seem to have any ebb in sight. WAV Group will facilitate more M&A activity in Q1 than any other quarter in our firm’s history. Company founders and Boards of Directors are often not open-minded about mergers. The first reaction to a merger discussion is naturally defensive because the merger itself often pits a company that is stronger against one that is weaker. The stronger company often overlooks the centers of excellence that the weaker company has. The weaker company often feels dominated and under appreciated. Commit To The Evaluation I fondly recall an awkward meeting where two boards who were considering a merger were stuffed into a junior suite at an industry conference to interview consultants for merger facilitation. My responsibility was to pitch them on WAV Group. I started out by asking them if they had decided to enter into discussions in good faith, had they signed a non-disclosure agreement, were they willing to share financial information, etc. They looked at me like I was crazy. Consultants do not build consensus. They build merger models. I went on to explain that Boards must commit to a full out merger evaluation to have any chance of success. Boards must agree to enter into merger discussions and create merger models that are real. This involves performing customer research, financial modeling, governance modeling, staffing, communications, contract review, etc. In effect, you fully plan your merger before you ever call the question at a board meeting. The role of a consultant is to build the model, collecting information from both sides and working collaboratively to see what the new entity looks like. Both boards should have an answer to every question. The Threat or Opportunity In many mergers, there needs to be some notion of a shared threat or opportunity. It begs the question, what happens if the merger does not go through. If the answer is nothing, then there is probably no reason to merge. However if the answer is tied to protecting both organizations from a mutual threat, or allowing both organizations […]
For most real estate agents, marketing with aerial photography or video has been considered an extravagance reserved only for high-dollar properties and luxury homes. However, a new federal policy now permits Realtors to market properties at all price-points in ways that were cost-prohibitive in the past. The “Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule,” expands the possibility for commercial drone usage for the real estate industry—without the previous restrictions and complicated application process. With this new accessibility, aerial photography and video are shaping up to be the next evolution of transformative real estate marketing solutions. While video has already proven its value for Realtors, drone footage can now deliver a better value proposition. Currently, 70% of home buyers used video to tour the inside of a home. In addition, homes listed with video receive four times more inquiries than those without video. But, now that it is fairly simple to obtain a remote pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a mere $150 by studying independently and taking a test on basic aeronautical rules and concepts. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand: With more people positioned to provide aerial footage of properties, the costs integrating it into an agent’s online marketing strategy will inevitably go down. In an increasingly competitive market landscape, drone photography and video offers a unique approach for differentiating an agent’s services. Aerial shots provide more depth and dimension than standard street level photography, telling a story about the home, neighborhood, and surrounding area while increasing the emotional connection of prospect. This added-value can create an upscale feel for even modest home listings. But, drone imagery not only makes a listing shine above the others, it also showcases an agent’s marketing thought leadership. Of course, as with any disruptive technology, early adopters of drone photography and videography will gain the most competitive advantage—until consumers come to expect it as a standard service offered by all agents. Research shows that there’s a first-mover advantage to technology adoption; pioneers are more likely to experience increased revenue and market share. Other Realtors will follow suit as the technology bears marketing results. As Will Caldwell, CEO of the real estate technology company Rivolix, predicts: “Aerial photography will become another line item under the photos and virtual tour column when marketing a listing. Consumers will begin to demand it, as there is no question more people will enjoy watching it.” Driving […]
There are less than 2% of the homes for sale around the nation today. Typically, that number is 3.5%. Hence we are in a sellers’ market. So the consumer thinks – “Where am I in the market?” What Home Can I Buy? Over 90% of consumers looking to purchase a home have one to sell. The rest are currently renters or second home purchasers. Buying a home is never about buying what you want. It is always about buying what is right for you. The old story of Location, Location, Location is a bit lost on me today, unless it stands for Location Convenience, Location Suitability, and Location Affordability. There may be some others, like Location Timing as well. Regardless of where you live, there are places where you need to go – like work, school, shopping, or whatever. Where you live as a proximity to those things counts for you. I love TLCengine because it allows consumers to plot those points of interest and find properties in the radius of convenience. This also has a major influence on affordability as proximity mitigates commute times, insurance prices, childcare costs, etc. Unfortunately, I think that the application is only available in the NorthstarMLS market area MLS. Suitability is more of a lifestyle question. How do you flow in your home? Beds, garages, yards, kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, and local area amenities change the attractiveness of a location based upon the suitability to the people living in the property and in the neighborhood. This is why I think that lifestyle search engines like Onboard Informatics is so important to consumers. Affordability is perhaps the biggest concern. Consumers choose unrealistic price ranges all of the time when they are searching. They really need to be pre-qualified before they can truly search for a home unless they are paying cash. What about closing costs and estimated and historical property taxes? Most broker websites do not have the information to understand this unless they are licensing data from CoreLogic or some other source. I love that CoreLogic is planning to make this data available to website vendors through their new RETS server called Trestle. It will open the innovation door wide! What’s My Home Worth? That is a loaded question, one that created the most valuable company in real estate – Zillow. Half of the real estate industry pivots around this question, as it […]
The RFP process has been a practice of companies acquiring technology solutions forever. RFP stands for Request for Proposal. The RFP focuses on drawing out product features and functionality. Although RFPs have always asked questions about the company, that is perhaps the most important component of RFPs in 2016. Today, I would argue that an RFP really is a Request for Partnership. This change was caused by a quiet revolution. During the Y2K surge that transitioned software from mainframe to browser, there was recognition that the old process of software development was too bureaucratic, slow, and overly regimented. An alternative to traditional project management that emerged in the early 2000s is called Agile software development. They use terms like Scrum, Extreme Programing, Dynamic System Development Method, Feature-Drive Development and many others. The overarching focus of all of these methodologies is to deliver frequent, high quality working software, delivered in “sprints,” which are measured in weeks, not months. The result is continuous improvement. You are experiencing this new methodology routinely on your mobile devices. If you have notices that your iPhone asks you to update your apps all of the time, that’s it. DocuSign can illustrate an example in real estate. In the first two months of the year, they have done 18 new feature releases for their transaction management solution. The software that they offered in January has evolved in two short months. It’s not just DocuSign, this is the way it’s done for most software developers. Our Typical RFP process for an MLS or large broker is to write a draft, go through an approval and editing process, then provide the vendor with 2-4 weeks to respond. During that time line, the features of the application could change dramatically. That is the beauty of Agile development, and why companies need to adjust the way that they look at vendor selection. My key takeaway: the RFP should focus less on features and more on the frequency and quality of their releases. How fast are they evolving? A new way to learn about your Request for Partnership is to take a look at the epic stories that they are writing for their Agile sprints. Take a look back three months and see how many releases they have made, and what functions were delivered. From this type of research you can see the impact of these releases. It will give you a […]
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.
The most comprehensive list of the most powerful and influential people in the real estate industry has once again been released. Known as the SP200 (Swanepoel Power 200), this annual list is published by Stefan Swanepoel every January. There have been numerous other lists from time to time, but the SP200 stands as a milestone in the comprehensiveness, detail and objectivity it strives to portray. You can review the entire 2014/2015 list in detail at www.sp200.com. Comparable to Forbes, Fortune, JD Powers and other outside the industry lists, the SP200 utilizes a large selection of criteria. It takes hundreds of hours to put something like this together and often the people on the list are gratified, but those who do not make the list are disappointed. I had a phone call Stefan Swanepoel to understand more about his list and why he does it. “Our goal is to create an authoritative list by using information such as position held within a given company, size of company, tenure in the company, tenure in the industry, education, accomplishments, impact the person has had on the industry or is expected to have on the industry in the foreseeable future. We combine all of the stats, facts–as well as 26 years of research in the industry having personally met most of the people on the list–into our own unique SP200 algorithm. The list is as objective and real as we can make it. No pay-to-play, advertising or outside influencing is allowed. “We call this the power list for a reason. It is not just the influence a person has but the impact and control each of these people can exercise. Many of these people command large budgets, multiple resources, buy and sell companies, and can effect significant change. “We divide the SP200 into multiple categories for easier evaluation – Corporate Executives, Brokerage Executives, Technology Executives, Organized Real Estate, Outside Powers, Social Influencers, and Thought Leaders. My team and I, including my executive editor Rob Hahn, invested over 400 hours of specific SP200 research to provide this list as a service to the industry.” A term like Power is pretty elusive to define. So, I asked Swanepoel to provide his definition as applies to the list. “Power is defined as the ability to control, direct or influence people, companies, events, and circumstances. Powerful people cause change. Powerful people make a difference.” There is no doubt that people like Richard […]
I woke up at 3:42 am pacific time this morning, only to realize I was probably one of the first people on the West Coast to see the “official” launch of the latest version of the iPad. While there is no AMAZING new innovation that we’ve never seen before, they have taken the device to new levels in a few interesting ways. First, there is a new high definition screen called a “Retinal” screen that delivers more pixels per square inch than anything we’ve seen to date including high definition televisions, according to the video promotions from Apple. Next, it includes a new 5 megapixel camera which turns the entire iPad into a viewfinder so you can be sure to get great shots which are framed properly. Coupled with the new camera is a new version of iLife media software which makes it even easier to create photo collages and “trailer”-type videos. The new version of Garage Band within the iLife suite allows up to 4 iPads to be networked together to play virtual music together. Pretty fun stuff for those that would have time to do such things. For real estate, the high res camera and viewing screen is going to make viewing homes a whole lot more fun, I would guess. The new iLife suite will make it easier for agents to get creative with the ways they display images. Who needs a virtual tour when you can create your own photo montage in minutes that can be shared easily with clients? It could be a whole new way to break through the crowd in a listing presentation. A savvy agent could be a photo collage while walking around the property with a homeowner.