How Will You Expand in 2017?

by Victor Lund on January 3, 2017

Businesses have a simple strategy – MORE! If you are brokerage, you want more revenue. To get more revenue you need more transactions. If you want more transactions, you need more productivity per agent, or more agents. If you are an MLS or a technology company, you want more subscribers. More, More, More. The problem with more is that it typically does not involve listening to your current customers. In real estate, that means listening to customers. WAV Group is always astounded at the lack of focus groups and customer surveys in our industry. To our knowledge, we are the only consulting firm that specializes in customer research. On any given month, we are running about 10 research projects. That seems like a lot, but given that there are hundreds of MLSs, hundreds of technology vendors, and hundreds of brokers – we arrive at the consensus that the real estate industry is not listening to its customers very well. The McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish A classic business story comes from McDonalds. They are a huge research company. They never guess and do not make decisions without asking customers and testing their food. Makes sense right? They are an example of how to listen. Back in the 1960s, McDonalds noticed sales numbers went down on Fridays. They talked to their customers and quickly learned that Catholics eat fish on Fridays – so McDonalds was a hook with no bait on Fridays. They decided to sell the Filet-o-Fish on Fridays and as you know – it remains on the menu today as a result of the success. Survey and Focus Group Research Survey and focus group research should be part of your annual budget. It is something that you can do yourself, but if you do not have the skills to know how to build surveys, test surveys, and build survey reports – you may have less success than you expect. The same is true of Focus Groups. These disciplines are sciences. A number of companies will hire a firm like WAV Group to do the work the first time, and rinse and repeat in successive years to benchmark improvements. The important thing here is that you know your limitations and seek support if research is not your people’s strength.  Incidentally, be mindful that your customers will tell independent researchers things that they do not want to tell you directly. Truly great leaders are […]


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 […]


What’s Your Big Idea?

by Victor Lund on December 18, 2014

Our lives become intense at this time of year. As the door closes on 2014, we are consumed with things undone, like holiday shopping. We also consider the goals that we expected to reach, and the number of days to reach them. If you are thinking about your next big idea for 2015, it is a good time to build some lists and to get rid of clutter. It took me a few years, but I finally learned to leverage the Notes feature on my Apple devices. Unlike paper, I have them with me most of the time and can open up my list on my phone, ipad, or laptop. I find myself adding notes in-between things, like meetings, stop lights, elevators, or flights. Some of my notes are to-dos, others are things to ponder, business ideas, things I want to do for my family, or any other note I need. I get up a little earlier this time of year to take a look at that list and see what I can accomplish. This time of year that I also find myself to be more liberal than usual at simply deleting things that I can never build up the energy or courage to do. Without a burning desire, many things are not worth doing. If you spend much time around me, you know that I tend to divide things into two categories I call painkillers or vitamins. If you are keeping your list, you may want to consider doing the same. A painkiller is something that you must have. A vitamin is something that is nice to have. Focus on the painkillers first. It’s only human to do so. Having a long list of vitamins is a symptom of taking on too much, and possibly focusing on the wrong things. It is difficult not to think about sacrifice this time of year. It is a major theme of the holiday season that is curiously juxtaposed against a gluttonous abundance of top rated cool stuff and gift giving. As you look at your list, try to find things that you can sacrifice. Sacrifice is interesting because you learn how easily it is to go without many of the things you hold sacred. There is a peace that is found in minimalism that few of us ever realize except in small ways. Clean out your inbox. Try as I may throughout […]


As we end 2014 now is a great time to sit back and reflect on the best ways to help prepare your organization for the inevitable evolutions and revolutions we may experience next year. Do you sometimes feel like your Board of Directors and key staff are out of touch with what’s really happening in the real estate industry today? Do you sometimes feel a bit isolated and would like to know if other organizations are facing the same challenges you are? Is your organization suffering from stifled and cumbersome decision-making? 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 home buyers 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? You can pay thousands of dollars for several of your board members to attend industry events. Many of these events can be very valuable for the content that is presented and the networking and peer to peer learning. The CMLS conference and the AEI conference are two great opportunities for MLSs and Associations to get in touch. WAV Group is now offering 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 […]


Real estate leaders share 2015 outlook on housing, economy

by Kevin Hawkins on November 6, 2014

Imprev arguably has come to own the real estate “Thought Leader” space with its bi-annual survey now in its third year, largely because it’s not a self-serving exercise. What we get from their latest Thought Leader Survey is a refreshing, unfiltered view from a broad cross-section of the leadership of America’s real estate brokerage and franchise operations, large and small. Collectively, the real estate execs surveyed represent firms and brands that generate about half of all real estate transactions each year. Individually, there’s solid representation among small and large firms: 15% of the respondents have 50 agents or fewer, 18% have 51-100 agents, 35% have 101-500 agents; 14% have 501-1,000 agents and 18% have more than 1,000 agents. Among the most interesting findings: Housing market enthusiasm is cooling, almost tepid, among real estate leaders. Two years ago, 70 percent of top real estate execs saw the market improving over the next 12 months. Last year that number dropped to 58 percent. Today it is 52 percent. No more exuberance: It’s now a glass half-full, half-empty scenario among a group that is often characterized as eternal optimists, which means this new data may alarm some. The bigger you are, the more bullish you are. Leaders of larger brokerage firms are typically far more confident about the outlook for the U.S. economy than leaders of smaller brokerage firms. Nearly two-thirds of top execs with firms of 1,000 or more agents say the U.S. economy will “improve,” compared to 34 percent of leaders of brokerage firms with 51 to 100 agents. The smaller you are, the better your outlook on profitability. Leaders of smaller brokerage firm are far more confident in their ability to be more profitable than larger brokerage firms over the next year. More than half of the leaders of the smallest brokerage firms are “very confident” in profitability over the next 12 months compared to 32 percent of the leaders of the largest brokerages. World economy outlook has tanked. This is significant and the biggest change year-to-year among all of the data Imprev released. More than half of real estate leaders surveyed this year – 55 percent – have become less confident in the world economy over the last 12 months. That’s more than double the percentage last year, which was 24%. Expect more news headlines in the future on the struggles of the world economy. Real estate leaders still […]


Consumers Prefer Referrals

by Victor Lund on January 18, 2012

National Association of REALTORS

WAV Group Research does a lot of consumer research on behalf of MLSs and Associations. We also do research for State Associations of REALTORS and the National Association of REALTORs. One of the best member benefits is the research that is provided to the real estate professional by these groups. The National Association of REALTORS has a great research team. The data that they publish on consumer attitudes about Real Estate and the process of buying and selling homes using a REALTOR are awesome sources of education, training, and strategic development for your business. One of my favorite ways to stay connected to this valued information is to subscribe to the Economic Outlook blog. Here is an article that explains how consumers choose their REALTOR. Not surprisingly, Referrals are the #1 source of business for real estate professionals. Why is this important to know?