strategic planning

It is indeed a bright day in the MLS. The largest MLS consolidation in history is on the countdown to launch. A memo was released today to REALTORS® who will be impacted by the project called MLS Evolved – revealing the new name of their future MLS – Bright MLS Memo from Tom Phillips, CEO of Trend MLS As we continue to update you, TREND, MRIS and 7 other organizations are working to consolidate and create the next era of the MLS. I am excited to announce the name of this new MLS organization will be Bright MLS. 

We chose this name based on our vision for the new organization and a desire for it to: Inspire belief that each day is an opportunity to give real estate professionals all they need to shine, today and tomorrow. Instill the vision of something that empowers our customers for a successful future. Lift us out of the sea of acronyms most MLSs use. These acronyms are often based on geographies or basic descriptions of informational databases. Be imaginative, clever, empowering, and supportive. Project leadership and innovative thinking. As I’ve mentioned before, you likely have questions about the new MLS and in January we anticipate being able to provide you with more information.   MLS Evolved is one of the most impressive initiatives in America. It is a shining example of how organizations can place self-interest to the side and have an open and transparent business discussion and critical evaluation of the future of our industry. And, the role that MLSs must play to support REALTORS and Brokers in the best possible way. Anne Bailey of Pranix Consulting had a very moving discussion on stage at CMLS with David Charron of MRIS, a company that, along with Trend MLS, is at the heart of this MLS consolidation. Charron asked Bailey the question of “How many MLSs should we have in America?” It was a longish answer that centered on the notion that over 700 is too many, and one is probably too few. MLS Evolved covers multiple States, demonstrating that State lines are not necessarily the answer. There are many statewide MLS initiatives. Perhaps the number is 10 or 20 or 30. We do not really know. With Bright MLS, and California Regional MLS, we are seeing the emergence of two mega MLSs. For the first time, we will see multiple MLSs with […]

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Strategic Planning – More Critical Than Ever Now!

by Marilyn Wilson on November 17, 2016

Strat Planning

Never before has our industry been moving more quickly.  Industry initiatives like UpstreamRE, Broker Public Portal and AMP are coming are way.  Consumers are looking for more and more transparency.   Agents must learn how to use technologies effectively if they are going to survive working with Millenials. What is YOUR organization doing to adapt and adjust to the fundamental changes that are upon us? WAV Group conducts strategic planning sessions regularly for MLSs, Associations, Brokerages and Technology companies. There are five fundamental questions that every organization needs to ask itself today. What’s our organization’s TRUE value?  If your organization was going to market today, would it be viable?  Would it have unique value to its customers?  Would it have what it takes to attract customers of all shapes and sizes?   Would you be able to secure funding?   How would you quantify that it has value? If the answer is no, then its time to do some thinking about what your customers really need and how you are going to provide vital solutions for them. How good are we at telling our story?  Getting Adoption? While most organizations that we work with offer an amazing collection of services and support, I have never worked with ANY organization that is satisfied with the level of engagement, adoption and usage they have achieved.  Organizations sometimes fall into the trap of “checking it off the list”.  They say to themselves, “yes, I offer a really powerful suite of technologies” or “my customer support is available 24/7” or “my training programs are diverse and helpful”. While all of these statements are probably true, it’s not enough just to offer great programs.  It takes a commitment to on-going promotion of all of the services that you offer and a vigilant monitoring or adoption, usage and satisfaction. We hear stories all the time about how an agent switched from one brokerage to the other because they were offered free Zillow advertising or some other “shiny object”.   We also talk to agents and brokers who spend money unnecessarily on programs that are ALREADY offered by their MLS or brokerage because they’re not aware its available to them as part of their regular MLS subscription. If you don’t effectively promote your services, there’s no way you’re going to get credit for them.  If you don’t effectively promote your services, you’re wasting money and you’re not building your value proposition. […]

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Annual Strategy Planning and Management Retreat

by Victor Lund on October 19, 2016

Puzzle Strategy

There is a curious coincidence about the relationship between strategic planning and success. Large, successful companies always have strategic plans and management retreats to celebrate accomplishments and recognize opportunities for success. Interestingly enough, start ups do the same thing. Where is the middle ground? For whatever reason, companies that are in the middle of the pack typically do not have plans. Or, the plan they do have is stale – the product of a moment in time when the leadership or board of directors insisted to cobble something together which, in turn, was saved in a remote desktop folder or shoved into a drawer somewhere. For decades, WAV Group has been providing strategic planning facilitation for leading real estate brokerages, technology firms, large MLSs, and large Associations. We have also reviewed strategic plans and business plans for the most ambitious young start-ups. If you are planning your strategic plan to launch your business powerfully into 2017, be sure to consider a proposal from us. Organizing your strategic planning session will be unique to your business and culture, but here are some elements of strategic planning that may point you in the right direction. Discovery – Interview the board of directors and key staff to understand their perspectives about the business. Great boards and business leaders are often closer in their perspectives about the strengths and weaknesses of a company than you might expect. Using an outside facilitator opens the door to more candid discussion. Research – Every Company has its Key Performance Indicator – it may be onboarding new agents, satisfaction with technology, consumer satisfaction, retention, growth, or whatever. Update your KPIs and understand how you are tracking toward your goals. The benefit of using a firm like WAV Group is that we can benchmark you against peer groups to better understand your performance. Preparation and Event Planning – Strategic planning is an event. You need to create an environment that is conducive to effective planning. This requires preparation to make sure that participants arrive in the right frame of mind. WAV Group performs a number of strategic plans each month. Preparation is a science. Start the day with an industry overview. When you being your planning, you need to begin with your lens zoomed way out. Be sure to spend about an hour reviewing recent events and industry initiatives that are shaping our industry today and into the future. […]

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Is Real Estate Still in a Slump?

by Victor Lund on March 28, 2016

Real Estate Slump

After the crash in the housing market, real estate was hit by the worst recession in our nation’s history. Frankly, brokers took a beating and operated at a loss for a number of years. Since the low point, things have been steadily been improving. There was a lot of speculation that the foreclosure volume in the hardest hit markets were clogging up the supply side. As we turned the corner, these distressed properties were slowly released into the marketplace and they are mostly absorbed. There was a two to three year heyday for brokers and agents who specialized in REO properties. Looking at the production of many of the REO specialists, that business has largely fallen back to normalized levels. CoreLogic reports that the volume of “underwater” mortgages has been on a steep decline and is also returning to normal levels. That is pretty good news. It allows homeowners to trade homes without taking a loss. However, this is not opening up inventory levels for most areas of the nation. For many, inventory is still very low and that is having an impact on pricing. Home values have seen double digit increases, as supply has been so limited. That is expected to flatten out this year, largely because of affordability. Wages have not increased in line with housing values. The biggest slump we see in the market is driven by expansion. The demand for homes is outpacing supply by double digits in many areas like the San Francisco Bay Area. People cannot find housing and there is not enough new inventory being built. Pacific Union held a housing summit in November of 2015 that looked at the three year forecast for housing in the Bay Area – this was my chief takeaway. See more here: http://www.pacificunion.com/jazz. The slump has been caused by a shortage of builders. Many of the top analysts that cover the new home market estimate that even with new construction starts hedging up 10 percent, they have only recovered 64 percent since the bottom. That leaves a lag or shortage of 34 percent behind the normalized demand for new homes. An interesting nuance to the builder story is that multifamily is up 11 percent, and is running about 250 percent ahead of the trough and actually 1 percent above the norm. This is a huge bounce that represents a shift from home ownership to renting. Some Things […]

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1000watt nails large broker IDX strategy

by Victor Lund on August 14, 2015

Dum IDX

1000Watt Consulting wrote a post this week that is a must read. View it here – http://1000watt.net/2015/08/friday-flash-the-broken-down-lead-machine/# Brian Boero’s point is clear: “If you are a large firm with more than 10% market share – ditch IDX.” Reasons to Act This Way compromised presentation of properties raft of local competitors drafting on your listings paper brokers leverage your data with impunity relatively small number of leads that agents will probably drop the ball on. I am not going to recant the entire article. Please go and read it. But I do want to reinforce one point and add another. Reinforcement – We studied response time to IDX leads. 50% of inquiries get no response, and those that do respond usually do a bad job. Here is a whole white paper on the research. Its real. http://waves.wavgroup.com/2014/01/13/agent-responsiveness-study-reveals-critical-flaws-in-real-estate-lead-response/ New Point – Consider and IDX/VOW combination website. When a broker opts out of IDX, they cannot display other broker listings except when the consumer registers! Once a consumer registers, your broker website becomes more of a buyer client servicing platform. Not only can you display all of the IDX listings, but you can display 100% of all information in the MLS other than confidential fields like commission and agent-to-agent comments. Most consumers are driven to a broker website organically – 68% type in the URL. Again, we studied 1 million consumers using broker websites. There is a full paper on it here http://waves.wavgroup.com/2013/07/25/wav-group-releases-2013-broker-website-effectiveness-study/ Consumers are looking for the broker’s listings. Many brokers have dropped the “Our Listings” tab on their website, which is a mistake in my opinion. Lead with your inventory! “We represent 58 listings that match your search criteria, view them now or register to see all 486 area listings that match your search criteria.” This is not a new schema. This was developed by Wolfnet for the Chicago marketplace years ago when brokers would select who could display their listings and who could not (the DOJ terminated this practice). Believe it or not, lead capture was 20% higher when an IDX/VOW combination site than just an IDX site by itself. Better yet, if the top 5 firms in an MLS followed suit, it would devastate the raft of competitors using your another firm’s data to grow their business. I am with 1000watt on this point 100%. If you are a big broker, opt out of IDX and install a VOW property search for registered […]

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Forward Looking Technology

by Victor Lund on March 12, 2015

2015 and 2016 will be years of incredible change in real estate technology. For too long, the real estate industry evolved in an eggshell whereby data, applications, and presentation layers were composite to one another behind most fragile and isolated shell walls. Today, we see systems that separate these three components of the technology to maximize the usefulness of this information to the industry and the consumers it serves. We Got You “We got you” is a statement that can have two meanings when a technology provider speaks it. It can take on the meaning of “we screwed you” or it can take on the meaning of “we have your back.” As the needs of MLSs or real estate brokers or agents evolve, it is important that the vendors of services are evolving with or ahead of their clients. If your vendor is not evolving at the pace of the industry, you are screwed. If the vendor is staying ahead of you, they have your back. WAV Group is seeing the division of “We Got You” play out across our client group is pretty significant ways. We saw quite a bit of it between 2010 and 2014 as the industry struggled to adapt to the mobile revolution. Many technology providers ducked their chins and excused themselves with contract babble or “we are working on that.” Others were out ahead of their customers with ready-to-go applications that met or exceeded the need for mobile well before the adoption curve grew exponentially. New Rules One of the biggest challenges that face our industry today is the interoperability of applications used in real estate. Each application or product lives in its own silo with a disparate database. Few solutions “talk” to each other, creating dysfunctional workflows that causes users to jump from application to application. Single Sign On has taken care of the biggest barrier – logging in and out of a half dozen or more tools that the user needs every day. But true integration is only beginning to reveal itself. The new rules that are emerging are related to data standards and application programming interfaces (API). These new rules are poised to break down the barriers between applications and allow them to talk to one another. Any information that a user would expect to be carried across different applications will begin to happen. To clarify my point, please enjoy the simple […]

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Do you love what you do?

by Kevin Hawkins on February 25, 2015

It’s been a whirlwind past few weeks with Inman Connect and Leading RE and everything in between. And then came Valentine’s Day and I found myself writing and thinking about love: A news release on the love of our homes, a new Valentine’s video from 12-year old Sparkles Lund that captured her love of dancing, and I sat down and wrote a love letter to my wife of 22 years. So ask this question: Why do you love what you do? I asked this of a friend of mine when we both were hitting 40. He said he didn’t. I told him, “Look, at our age, if you are not doing what you love, you only have one person to blame, and you’ll find him in a mirror.” It must have struck a chord, because he left his newspaper job at the top of his game and jumped to a young Internet news organization. He has loved what he does now for well more than a decade. I love what I do. I fell in love with Public Relations and Communications very early on. I loved to write. Wrote weekly high school stories for the local teen section of our hometown newspaper, was the Entertainment Editor at the twice-weekly broadsheet Miami Hurricane student newspaper at the University of Miami. Even wrote the cover story for the first issue of the now defunct Rock Magazine while in grad school. And it was in grad school at USC, paying my own way, I did what most financially struggling students did: I got a job to help pay the rent while trying to get a bit of real world experience in my chosen field. I was attending the School of Journalism, working towards my Masters in Public Relations, when I joined a two-women PR firm part-time in Los Angeles. I did all the grunt work in helping to promote the 25th Annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire in the Agoura Hills in Southern California. It was my first introduction into Entertainment Pubic Relations, and it was like drinking from a fire hose. It’s also where I first cut my teeth in media relations: Getting to know reporters, their beats, their interests, how to help them craft a killer story idea and where I learned to the most important lesson of all: How to take the time to get to know reporters as people. I spent […]

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Association and MLS leaders have it tough today.  The best leaders are staying on top of the latest trends, considering how emerging ideas affect their subscribers and proactively making changes to keep their organizations relevant.  Sounds like the kind of leader we all want to be right? So if this is what all leaders strive for, why is it so hard to create sustainable change? I have recently run across a few examples where the Board of Directors believed they knew the path that was best for their constituents yet they were not able to implement the path that made the most sense. For example, an organization was trying to implement lockboxes. Their market has resisted the adoption of these tools even though the evidence clearly shows that the safety and security of properties represented and the REALTORS® who show them are improved when lockboxes are in place.  The Board clearly understood the positive impact lockboxes have had in other markets. They believed it was truly the right thing to do for their region, yet the program was not put into place. Why was that? Because the vote whether to implement lockboxes was brought to the entire membership.  While there is a solid thinking why you would involve your membership in a decision of this sort, the general populous was used to the tradition of the marketplace.  The REALTORS® in that marketplace had not reviewed the evidence from other markets where the program has worked flawlessly for many, many years like the board had.  The members rallied to say they couldn’t afford the cost instead of thinking about the safety implications and risk they may be putting themselves and their clients in. Bottomline, they didn’t have the whole story. While a full membership vote can be helpful sometimes, I would argue that there are times when leaders simply have to lead and make decisions that might not be completely embraced.  They need to look at the greater good and make the tough calls.  At the same time, they need to stand proudly in front of their decisions, using their amazing sales skills honed by selling properties, to convince their fellow agents and brokers why their decision makes sense. Recently, I heard of another example where a decision to move forward with an MLS selection was put to the popular vote. Again, while it’s great to get membership input, the bulk […]

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The Case for Measuring Customer Satisfaction Regularly MLSs are monopolies right?  They OWN their territory so they don’t have to worry about customer satisfaction.  Few in the industry would ever agree to this statement but in reality, many act as though they are a monopoly – not paying close attention to what their customers are asking for.  Can you honestly say you know what your MLSs strengths and weaknesses are?  Do you know what frustrates your customers or how you might hinders them from selling real estate as effectively as they could?   Do you occasionally get a board member that wants to re-invent everything because they have heard from one member who is not happy? If you are an MLS that can relate to any of these questions above, then you might want to read on. If you haven’t asked your customers how they’re feeling about your organization, then you are you undoubtedly missing opportunities to build a stronger relationship with those that give you your livelihood.  It can be scary to ask your customers think of you, but it’s more scary to think about what might happen if they become really unhappy. What are the upsides of customer satisfaction though?  Companies that monitor satisfaction regularly can manage their board’s expectations because they have an on-going measure of technology adoption, satisfaction and suggestions from their members.  It is much easier to set goals when you have quantitative, indisputable measures to use instead of perception and innuendo which can enter into the MLS boardroom in the absence of hard facts. We have the honor and pleasure of working with MLSs across the country on their customer satisfaction surveys. Many conduct annual surveys. Some, like MRIS, actually conduct quarterly surveys. They measure satisfaction on every facet of their business. Every department head in the company is responsible for digesting the survey and identifying methods for improving customer satisfaction. In fact, their annual bonuses are based in part of helping the organization to consistently improve customer satisfaction.  The company has shown consistent and dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction since it began its program nearly 10 years ago.  Could there be a correlation between monitoring and responding to customer requests and the accomplishment of becoming one of the largest and most successful MLSs in the country?  We definitely think so. The MLSs we work with have learned a lot about the trigger points for […]

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Allre Causes Brokers To ReThink Strategy

by Victor Lund on September 18, 2014

The FSBO dam just sprouted another leak, and brokers better pay attention. If you have not heard about Allre, you better watch the video below right now. It is collaboration between banks like Prime Lending, Home Insurance providers, home warranty companies, and even a lock box vendor to facilitate FSBO sales. The fee to the consumer is ZERO – nothing. There are no brokerage services at all, so they completely surpass all RESPA regulations. It is 100% FSBO. The only thing that will sit between Allre and success is venture capital. If they attract enough venture capital to attract the consumer, traditional brokerage is going to hit a wall. WAV Group is a strategy company. To remain competitive, businesses need to act in ways that allow them to survive in a fast changing market place. In the case of Allre – they are only launching in San Diego. Perhaps the industry at large does not need to hit the panic button yet. However, you probably need to pay close attention. I know that we will. San Diego is a high value market place. According to Zillow, (http://www.zillow.com/san-diego-ca/home-values/) the average home price in San Diego is $492,000. As a side bar, I did a Google search for “the average home price in San Diego and the only broker who had the information was ZipRealty – an article from 2012; Trulia Voices had a question about home building; and the best first search result was Zillow. Where are all of the Brokers, Associations, and MLS answers? Why The Business Will Work Everyone talks about the 6% commission rate – but my research shows that the number may be a bit lower in actuality which is line with the Allre CEO talks about in her pitch. It makes San Diego a ripe candidate for this style of opportunity pursuit. That is enough incentive for FSBO buyers and seller to take a risk and sample the service. I would not be surprised to see a similar service pop up in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Francisco, and other high-end real estate markets in California. If you average sales price is below $200,000 – the incentive for FSBOs to save money is less attractive. Driving Consumer Traffic Today, there are a number of third party websites that allow for FSBO listings. They already have lots of consumer traffic buoyed by a great consumer search […]

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Another Broker-Governed MLS Gets RESO Certification

by Victor Lund on September 3, 2014

Perhaps its just because, or happenstance, or not. But MLSListings, based in the heart of the Silicon Valley in California, is the second MLS in the nation to join MRIS in RESO Server Certification. Like MRIS, MLSListings is a broker governed MLS. In truth, the title of the article was drafted to get you to read this article. The fact is that MRIS and MLSListings, along with many of the COVE Group MLSs repeatedly lead the industry in adopting best practices. Its in their DNA. And yes, Anne Bailey does a great job facilitating the COVE group and both of these MLSs are WAV Group clients. RESO is real. The Data Dictionary has been out for a long time now and it is a shame that more MLSs in America have not converted. It is the very first step in the process of becoming compliant. Remember, for an MLS to be covered by NAR’s insurance – you must be RESO compliant. I guess only MRIS and MLSListings are – but that is another issue. NAR seems pretty relaxed in setting the bar high on MLS compliance with rules and requirements. Heck – there are still dozens and dozens of MLSs that do not have a RETS server yet – still forcing FTP. Still taking a year to approve a broker application for a new IDX/VOW vendor. Some continue to block brokers from getting data access to develop their own AVMs even in the light of the MLS policy committee and NAR clearly indicating that they must provide data for this purpose. When broker networks like The Realty Alliance or Leading Real Estate Companies of the World send staff to tell these stories at places like CMLS – everyone gasps to learn that brokers are frustrated. The truth is that brokers are not frustrated by MLSs like MLSListings and MRIS. In fact, in reviewing their customer satisfaction surveys, I can confirm that their brokers are not frustrated. They are not upset. Leading MLSs are delighting their brokers. Broker owned and broker governed MLSs are delighting their brokers. The problem lies at the bottom of the MLS industry, not at the top. It’s the small Association-Owned MLS that has a part-time job sharing CEO as its leader who is really underfunded in the effort to deliver world-class, industry-leading MLS services to brokers and agents. To be clear – I am not blaming […]

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What is Your Lead Conversion Strategy?

by THE WAV GROUP on July 9, 2014

This is a guest post sent to us by Carl DeMusz of NORMLS – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/carl-demusz/4/749/249 Real estate markets are cyclical and change with the economy. They tend to be closely linked to employment which is also impacted by the economy. We have often observed times when the housing market can lead the economy out of recession. One thing that helps improve the housing market is a well-informed consumer who realizes that while housing markets are cyclical they always recover. They know that if they buy a home and hold on to it, the value will rise over time simply because people need homes to live in and buildable land is in short supply. Here, the laws of “supply and demand” eventually kick in. That is why for most Americans their home is their most valuable possession. Did you know the most qualified buyers are usually the most impatient when it comes to finding their home? These are the buyers who web search a listing, find ones they are interested in and want facts on the property as quick as possible. How fast are you at responding to an Internet Inquiry? Response time is so important that the WAV Group, a Professional Consulting Firm, did a study of real estate agents responsiveness. I’ve posted a few of their results below. WAV Group evaluated agent responsiveness this year by becoming a homebuyer lead across hundreds of brokerages in 11 states. Our findings may shock you. • 48% of buyer inquiries were NEVER responded to • Average number of call back attempts after the initial contact was 1.5 • Average number of email contact attempts was 2.07 • Average response time was 917 minutes (or 15.29 hours) Agent Responsiveness Study Download Report: http://s3.amazonaws.com/mtssdhosting/wavgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/15085006/AgentResponsivenessStudy2013Final.pdf The worldwide web is a great tool for advertising plus a whole lot more. We can help you increase your lead conversion rate by speeding up your response time to consumer inquiries. Another valuable tool available to NORMLS members working with consumers is the Client Portal in the Matrix system. Each day hundreds of thousands of listings are viewed by consumers through our Client Portal right here in Northeast Ohio. If you are a NORMLS member and are not currently setup to use the Client Portal, I would be remising if I didn’t mention the “GoNEOHREX Mobile App”. This App is available for iPhones/iPads as well as android and tablets. If […]

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Increase Home Listings By 27 Percent

by Victor Lund on May 30, 2014

How would you like to increase your business garnered from your website by 27%? That’s right, 27%. I had to say it again because people often do not believe in testing or research to determine what works best for their business. In fact, many companies today “take the high road” and completely ignore trends and tactics that can improve their business because they get stuck with their fondness for what they have and stop moving ahead. Here is the example of how research and testing can drive improvements in company online effectiveness. Thankfully, the company the largest broker in the Neatherlands, so we can avoid domestic conflict.   The company did A – B testing on their website. For some visitors, they added a java script popup window that asked a question – “We are so pleased that you are considering using us as your broker. Could you tell us why you would choose our services?” The rest of the consumers saw the site with out the java script popup. Interestingly enough, if you spend much time on Zillow or Trulia – you will find that they are constantly A-B testing their site features by diverting some of their traffic over to test sites. The results of adding the popup were overwhelming.  The popup window increased home listings by 26.6%! The popup loaded 90 seconds after the visitor landed on the website. The coolest part is that they did not use it to drive traffic to a lead conversion form. They simply asked the consumer to make a self-commitment to the broker – also called a ‘self-generated” persuasion effect. It sets the consumer in more of a conversion-oriented mindset. Ok – on your marks, get set, go. Implementing this exact tactic is super easy. Java Script light boxes that pop up are cross browser compliant and mobile friendly. You can even get the code for free by doing a search for Java Light Boxes – I think the first result is Fancybox – which we have used and it is super easy. You simply design your box and paste the code into your site like adding a youtube video. It is that easy. If you use an open source website platform like Joomla or WordPress, you can find lots of plugins that do the same thing. This single idea can boost your online effectiveness by 26.6% if your results are […]

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NAR Publishes Paper On Lead Management

by Victor Lund on May 29, 2014

The National Association of REALTORS® is not necessarily the first place that REALTORS® would turn to get advise on Internet Lead Management, but they have stepped up to the plate as a resource. Quite nicely I would add. In a paper published this week, Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of the Data Analytics Group at NAR, published a paper titled The Intelligent Internet Lead, Providing Context, Coaching & Confidence to Web Source Leads. Click Here for Download http://crt.blogs.realtor.org/2014/05/27/crt-white-paper-the-intelligent-internet-lead/ WAV Group has performed a lot of research on online marketing, mostly for the purpose of providing MLSs and brokers with good research for setting strategy and policy. Our discovery has led us to the primary issue that faces real estate today – more than ½ of consumer leads are never responded to, and when they are – the follow up efforts to convert the leads are too low to be effective. This paper from NAR attacks this problem. In an effort to Raise the Bar in real estate and support the service levels that consumers get from REALTORS® and REALTOR® websites like realtor.com, NAR has published this paper. Carpenter does a great job of outlining best practices for REALTORS® to follow and provides a plethora of online solutions that will support REALTORS® on their journey to provide better support to the online consumer seeking real estate information. “This is a real issue for professional real estate agents,” says Marilyn Wilson of the WAV Group. “REALTORS® can’t complain about intermediaries between them and the consumer if they are not going to close the gap and service the consumer.” Many agents are brokers are frustrated with third party listing websites providing online services to consumers. Regardless of the frustration, they continue to advertise listings online. Not responding to leads is pure insanity. In other industries before real estate, the failure to provide consumers with an online service level has led to the disintermediation of that professional. Spoiler Alert: If REALTORS® do not engage in the online consumer, they will lose their position as the agent for the consumer to someone or some service that will. If you have not tackled this issue in your business, download this paper and learn about some of the tools that REALTORS® may use to find the path to providing better service to consumers. Carpenter outlines 5 agent CRM solutions that will help with lead management. RE Technology provides […]

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Resourcefulness

by Victor Lund on May 7, 2014

If anything put fear back into the real estate industry lately, it was the sluggish first quarter performance. There are few valid explanations for it. Inventory is at a reasonable level and interest rates are low. People should be buying homes like they did last year. Rather than trying to figure it out, it is time to apply a healthy dose of resourcefulness into the business. The best way to do that is audit your expenses and your people. A typical story There are times when WAV Group finds significant problems in a business that management did not see. But that is rare. Most of our clients know the problem, but they lack the gumption to fix it. We interview directors and management as part of our strategic planning process. After about 3 or 4 calls, every other call begins to sound the same. Everyone knows what is in disrepair. The same thing happens with our customer satisfaction research. After the first day of the survey going live, little changes. The numbers just grow in support of identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses. We do research, build consensus, develop action plans, and assign those action plans to individuals. The action plan becomes the key ingredient for making a company resource efficient. Audit Every year, WAV Group tackles this task with brokerages and MLSs. You would be amazed at what we find. Accounting departments are very good at paying bills for stuff that a business is no longer using. Now that the tax season is over, it is a fine time to take a close look at your budget and your business plan to make some critical decisions that will tune your business for success. It is also a good idea to create a calendar for contract renewals. You will want to provide yourself with a 120-160 day window if you are going to shop or replace a vendor. Regularly we see firms wait until the last minute and making a change becomes unreasonable. Oh, and make sure that you make contract modifications for favorable terms on agreements that you do renew. Performance Reviews A business needs to operate off of a sound strategic plan with clearly articulated goals. People and departments own those goals. They are tracked and measured. What we constantly encounter are people who play the blame game. They complain that because they are under-resourced, the goals are […]

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We have had the pleasure of facilitating several strategic plans in the past few months with many of the nation’s leading Associations.  We have seen an important theme emerge in many of these discussions – Professional Standards. While most organizations feel as though they are doing a good job of maintaining current expectations for professional standards, some weaknesses have been revealed. When asked, most organizations will readily admit that there are agents and brokers that are NOT upholding the Code of Ethics and standards of conduct to the level that most members are. Even though boards regularly admit that there are those among them that are not doing the right thing for their clients, most associations have NEVER or rarely dismiss a REALTOR® from duty. We say we live up to the Code of Ethics, but in reality there is a small percentage of REALTORS® in every community that are sullying the name of the entire REALTOR®. The sad part is that sometimes their tactics go unnoticed by their clients. Consumers do not clearly understand the real estate transaction and can be fooled into thinking they are following the proper course. Agents are the only ones that sometimes truly know if there is a problem and yet, as an industry we do not address the “problem-children”. How can we expect to create a strong trusting relationship with the public when we knowingly allow those with a lack of integrity to continue to operate? Isn’t it time for us to think about stepping up the game for professional standards? Here are a few suggestions to consider: 1.  Anonymous Reporting of Complaints Agents are reticent to report their fellow practitioners. They are afraid of negative repercussions for their own business. They tell us that if I report unethical behaviors, other agents may target me unfairly. In most cases they remain silent. What if the industry adopted a “crime hotline” like Police Departments have to anonymously report a crime? How about creating a Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division that allow parents to report questionable behavior at a preschool anonymously?  Both of these cases are handling delicate issues that would likely not be reported without the promise of anonymity. The cases could be referred to an investigative group that could look into the legitimacy of the claims without involving the original person that reported the problem. 2.  Client Performance Transparency Doesn’t […]

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Every day real estate agents and brokers have to battle a consumer who has built their beliefs about trends in the market, from prices to home value, on misinformation. The only way to combat this is to be more vocal with the correct information for today’s home buyers. Previously there have not been tools available, but CoreLogic has tied together MLS data with the public record information to create a better forecast of the real estate market. WAV Group founding partner, Victor Lund is set to moderator an upcoming webinar to educate on the topic. This webinar invites Ed Finlan from Ed Finlan Group-Keller Williams Western Realty, and Amy Gallagher from Century 21 Hometown Realty to explore this issue and discuss the steps they’ve taken to make changes for a home buying consumer experience. Both have deployed new technology that provides consumers with market research that is more accurate and timely than third party websites and it is making a difference in thier business. Moderator: Victor Lund – Co-founder of RE Technology and WAV Group founding partner Panelists: Ed Finlan – A Keller Williams managing broker that specializes in short sales, buying, and selling real estate. Amy Gallagher – Broker and Vice President of Century 21 Hometown Realty. The company has 20 offices and nearly 400 REALTORS and operates a website with over 500,000 visits a month. Steve Masters – Director of Product Management at CoreLogic with over 15 years of software development experience and creator of Realist – the #1 tax solution used by REALTORS. Masters will also provide information about MarketTrends Premium, a new service deployed by both Finlan and Gallagher.   Date: Wednesday January 22nd, 2014 Time: 1 pm Eastern / 12 pm Central / 10 am Pacific [Please Adjust for Your Timezone!!!] All webinar attendees will receive a special 25% discount off an Annual MTP subscription with CoreLogic!

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Brokers Should Audit Their MLS

by Victor Lund on December 30, 2013

2014 may well be the year of the broker, or as they are referred to in MLS speak, the year of the Participant. If your MLS has adopted the National Association of REALTORS® template for MLS Rules and Regulations, you will find that brokers are Participants and agents are Subscribers. As a Participant in the MLS, brokers accept full responsibility to adhere to MLS rules and regulations. The MLS does a pretty good job of enforcing those rules. But who among you is making sure that the MLS is not running afoul? WAV Group MLS clients are traditionally the largest MLSs in the nation. If the MLS has a member count of less than 2000, it is unlikely that WAV Group has ever facilitated a strategic plan for your MLS. From this perspective, WAV Group has learned that large MLSs rarely run afoul of staying current. The place to spend time auditing your MLS is the small MLS. These MLSs are unlikely to attend NAR’s National or Mid-year meetings where MLS policy evolves. They rely on NAR emails to stay current. Moreover, the MLS board of directors is also unlikely to stay current with MLS policy, which erodes their appreciation and ability to make informed policy decisions. Beyond NAR, there is also the Council of MLS or CMLS. This is the industry trade group for MLS executives that has regular meetings to discuss best practices of operating an MLS. Ask your MLS if they attend NAR Annual, Midyear, and CMLS meetings. The goal of this post is not to pick on small MLSs. The reality is that they do not have the resources to participate in all of these things. Where WAV Group discovers small MLSs that have fallen behind is when we audit large brokers for rules compliance. Large brokers proactively engage in an audit each year to make sure that all of their systems are in compliance with local rules and regulations. This process is as much a vendor audit as it is a broker audit. MLSs often change rules and the broker or vendor miss the memo on the rules change. Alternatively, the NAR rules change and the MLS does not revise their rules to keep current. Either way, the broker is out of compliance, and is liable for fines and other disciplinary action. WAV Group gathers the rules and regulations from each MLS then review all […]

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Will 2014 Be a Break Out Year

by Victor Lund on December 23, 2013

For the last half of a decade, the real estate industry has taken blow after blow. Through grace, we have recovered as an industry and that has a profound impact on homeowners and REALTORS® alike. The number of families losing their home to foreclosure has reset to reasonable levels. WAV Group facilitated nearly two-dozen strategic plans for some of our industry’s most significant market makers. In many cases, boards of directors are thinking pretty big. They are taking on difficult policy issues including syndication, data licensing, and data management. If these organizations accomplish half of what they have set as goals, the industry will be stronger ever. That is good for organized real estate. There is an appetite for agents, brokers, MLSs, Associations, and franchises to work together in unprecedented ways. As you embark on your plan for 2014, think big. In 1732, a 26 year-old man wrote an interesting book called Poor Richard’s Almanac. His name was Ben, making the title of the book awkward. It had a lot of great sayings like “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” They are still words to live by. This fellow profited from the publication of the book financially, becoming a wealthy colonist who could have retired at the age of 42. He could easily have rested on his fortune, but he aspired for more. His goals reached beyond himself and out to the emergence of a nation. Ben went to work in his tinker lab where he discovered electricity, invented the lightning rod, the iron stove, bifocals, and the glass harmonica. Bet you did not know about the harmonica. His theories of meteorology, heat absorption, electricity and ocean currents are still revered today. Some speculate that Ben may have been an alien, brought to earth to help us evolve. Since science is a bit of a bore, Ben founded the first insurance company, fire department, public hospital, public library, night patrol and first militia. He even became the first postmaster and civil defense chief for the French and Indian War. To make all of this work more effectively, he created the association of Colonies and put together the Albany Conference. Not a bad day’s work for a retired fellow. He tried to negotiate some better rights from the British Crown for the Colonies. The Brits did […]

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Brokers Losing Agent SEO Battle to Portals

by Victor Lund on December 4, 2013

Years ago, when consumers searched for keywords like City Name + Real Estate, an actual real estate broker would appear in the search results. Those days are long gone for most cities in America. Unless a broker has invested richly in the goal to appear on page one, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and Homes.com dominate. With the advent of mobile search and the consumer awareness of long tail search, the goal of SEO strategies by portals expanded to include property address. Again, four or five years ago, if you searched for a property by address, and that property was for sale, you would normally see a variety of broker websites with property detail pages appear in search. Today, Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com dominate the long tail SEO for property address search in most markets. Brokers align themselves with the portals in various ways, including premium advertising products to redirect that consumer back to the brokerage. When you look at the traffic to broker websites today – and how consumers use them – beyond property search, the most popular area of the website is the agent directory and agent detail pages. Property pages dominate, but the agent pages are a clear second place. From there, any other content on the site, including blog content, is less material. Brokers are about to lose the search battle for agent name, and soon, broker name. In 2013, WAV Group detected an interesting trend emerging. The efforts in 2011 and 2012 by portals to get agents to complete their profiles on portal sites began to pay off. The agent detail pages for portals began to appear on the first page of Google search for agent name. Google a few of your agent names and you will see what I am referring to. No doubt, if an agent wants to enhance their leads on their own listing, they absolutely must complete their agent profile page on portal websites. The ridiculous trade-off (conundrum) is that completing the agent profile serves the portal’s goal of enhancing their ability to drive more traffic to their site rather than the agent or broker website from search engines. In 2014, brokers should budget to begin buying advertising products from portals that are not property centric – but agent or broker profile centric. Based upon recent developments with Realtor.com, I doubt that they will have the stomach to productize this, but I […]

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