transaction management

MLS and Association consolidation has delivered a path to solve many problems for Realtors® and brokers operating in markets where there is overlapping market disorder. With the exception of the San Francisco Bay Area, most large NFL cities have removed the need for Realtors® and brokers to subscribe to multiple MLSs, pay duplicate fees for MLS services, and manage listings in multiple systems. There are plenty of markets that should continue to purse consolidation discussions, but by and large, the MLS industry is on the right track and that is cause for celebration. However, real estate forms continue to be cloistered by the same antiquated policies that listings faced a decade ago. It’s time to rethink forms licensing to Realtors® and brokers, and for the betterment of serving consumers through the transaction process. We call for a standard license agreement and data standard that allows all transaction management systems to integrate Association, MLS and Broker forms with “live” data that can be, with the broker or agent’s opt-in permission, securely shared across software applications. Where Forms Come From When WAV Group works with brokerage firms to integrate their transaction workflow across multiple markets of Associations and MLSs, the first question we address is “Who is the forms provider?” It’s a difficult question to answer because “it depends.” Forms come from multiple sources in each marketplace. The State Association of REALTORS® The best news for Realtors® is that, for the most part, real estate transaction forms are available through a branch of the National Association of REALTORS®. Typically, there are forms that are crafted by State Associations of REALTORS® that cover the buyer and seller representation agreements and contracts for most transactions. To some degree, there are also a number of common disclosure documents that are applicable statewide. The State Association normally includes the forms license costs in member dues, contributing an enormous value for membership in the REALTOR® Association. These forms are copyright protected by the State Association. The value of the forms needed for a single transaction more than justify Association membership. The Local Association of REALTORS® Before the digital age, Realtors® would drive to the local Association of REALTORS® to pick up their forms packet for a transaction. The local Association was in the printing business. It is important to understand that this was a key source of revenue to the local Association (along with lock boxes and […]

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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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Lone Wolf Acquires Instanet Solutions

by Marilyn Wilson on October 16, 2017

The Transaction Management software space is one of the most competitive categories of real estate technology.  Today, Lone Wolf, one of the leading providers of broker accounting and management solutions, announced its acquisition of fellow Canadian company, Instanet Solutions.  This is the second transaction management software acquisition in the past two weeks.  Fidelity National Financial, Inc. recently acquired a majority interest in Skyslope, another highly regarded transaction management solution. Instanet provides Transaction Desk to over 500,000 REALTORS® through its partnership with MLSs and Associations across North America. Transaction Desk is a transaction management solution comprised of several cloud-based products for document and file management, electronic forms, eSignatures, and file review and compliance. In the last year alone, real estate professionals completed ten million signings through Instanet, while also submitting over 22 million documents and creating 31 million forms. Lone Wolf currently provides services to 10,000 brokerages offices serving 180,000 REALTORS®. The relationship between Lone Wolf and Instanet started as an integration partnership in 2014. The vision for an end to end broker solution has been in the works at Lone Wolf for several years.  We at WAV Group have been talking about this concept since 2010. Here’s a white paper we published in November 2010 entitled Brokerage Real Estate Technology, an Industry in Need of a Backbone. We wrote a follow-up piece in June, 2011 further articulating the vision for a broker-centric technology company seamlessly connecting to MLS data and delivering all of the functionality needed by a brokerage to secure new listings, effectively promote listings and then efficiently process transactions. It’s great to see the vision of a true end to end solution for brokerages coming to life. We had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Arkeveld, CEO of Lone Wolf Technologies about the acquisitions implications for MLSs/Associations MLSs and Associations will remain a KEY priority. Given that Lone Wolf is clearly a broker-centric company we wanted to understand whether MLSs and Associations will remain a key priority. Lone Wolf was clear to reinforce to us that MLSs and Associations will remain a key priority.  They told us: “Instanet’s MLS customers are a major factor of the company’s success, and we plan to continue to invest in those relationships and the MLS space to enhance our value to the industry as a whole”. Corelogic/Instanet Partnership to Remain Unchanged We were first interested to find out what changes, if any that […]

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New Opportunities for Form Simplicity, Tech Helpline

by Kevin Hawkins on January 21, 2016

The big buzz in November at the National Association of REALTORS® Convention in San Diego was all about transaction management. The move by NAR to make one solution available as a member benefit was a major validation of the crucial business role that forms and transaction management technology play in streamlining the real estate process. Forms and Transaction Management must be universal to achieve the ubiquitous mission of paperless real estate transactions. For more than a decade, Florida’s state Realtor association, Florida Realtors®, has been providing technology solutions created by Realtors for Realtors. Nearly five years ago, the association launched its forms and transaction management software – Form Simplicity – as a member benefit funded by dues. The idea of technology developed by Realtors for Realtors was something the association accomplished nearly fifteen years ago when in 2001 it created another member benefit, Tech Helpline. Today, Tech Helpline not only provides support for Form Simplicity broker and agent users, but reaches well beyond the Sunshine State. In fact, Tech Helpline is real estate’s #1 tech help desk, serving about one-third of all Realtors across the U.S. and Canada. The service supports applications far beyond the Association offerings including things like Anti-Virus, mobile phone mail configuration, printer glitches and more. Looking ahead As we begin 2016, it’s important to note that Form Simplicity is pushing full steam ahead. Form Simplicity will not only continue to be a major member benefit for all Realtors in Florida, but will continue to expand its offering. Several new associations recently finalized contracts and others have either upgraded their Form Simplicity offer for its members by renewing contracts that continue the offering of their transaction management solution. Why wouldn’t these associations pick Form Simplicity instead of a free offering? Here are three things that associations or brokerages that will benefit Form Simplicity going forward: Need for choices Understanding “free” Value of brand identity Need for choices Independently minded sales professionals power the real estate industry because by and large, they are independent contractors. The ability to be self-determining is engrained in the minds of sales professionals. This is true of broker-owners as well as they too want to control their own destiny and that means choices. We all enjoy getting something for free. Heck, I have a few dozen free apps on my iPhone that I rarely use, but hey, they were free and someday I […]

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WAV Group has just published a case study examining enterprise-level transaction management systems WAV Group Consulting works with real estate brokerages to perfect back office enterprise business. This case study tells the story of how Hunt Real Estate evaluated their choices for enterprise transaction management. The firm spans nearly a dozen MLSs across multiple states with a plethora of integration points for customer records, listing records, forms, and agent records.This case study is designed to represent a roadmap for other firms to consider when making such an important technology selection. Download the Hunt Real Estate case study HERE.

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A broker friend of mine downloaded the WAV Group 2004 Broker Transaction Management study recently and gave me a call. Like every real estate broker in America, she has long adapted her business to online forms. Like most brokerages, she also confesses that they have a forms box of printed forms in every office. A few years ago, she made a decision to purchase digital signatures for all of her agents. Today, she is considering transaction management. Again. This is not her first visit to this consideration, but rather an annual trek that is part of her end-to-end customer experience analysis. She agreed to my recording of the call and the publishing of this article as long as I do not identify her. Here is my synopsis of her thinking. Why did you decide to adopt digital forms? It was so long ago that I am not sure I remember. We used to go to the Association of REALTORS office and pick up a forms packet. When we installed internet and email back in the late 80s or early 90s, we started getting the forms electronically. What is the benefit of digital forms today?  Our state forms are probably one of the most important member benefits we get from the REALTOR Association. Having a standard form is the cornerstone of compliance. I also know that printing forms has risks. The primary risk we experience is an agent using the wrong form. Aside from that, there are privacy and security issues to printed forms that are challenging to manage. Why digital signatures? Well, we waited a bit on digital signatures. It was kind of a catch-22. A digital form without a digital signature was pretty useless. Many fundamental usability issues came into play. First, you needed to be connected to the Internet. Second, all parties had to be comfortable with digital signatures, including the banks! The ability of managing forms and signing forms online did not really become easy until everyone had an internet-enabled smartphone and an eFax service. That is where we are today, so many of the barriers to adoption are taken care of. What is the benefit of digital forms today? Only about 1 in 10 of our transactions stay electronic throughout their life cycle. I am guessing at this statistic, but based upon the deal flow that I see, that seems about right. The highest use case […]

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Cartavi Adds Gusto to Version 3.3

by Victor Lund on January 20, 2014

Since being acquired by DocuSign, Cartavi has been working away at developing the golden triangle of the real estate document management echo system: Forms, Signature, and Storage. Better yet, they focus on making it happen on mobile first. Before this new release, signing a document was kind of clunky. You had to open your document in DocuSign, add signatures, sign it, then pull the completed document back into Cartavi. Now, you can sign any document right inside of Cartavi using DocuSign Ink. They took a complicated workflow and narrowed it down. When you look at a document today in Cartavi, just hit the ‘Sign It’ button. Then the menu items for managing names and signatures appears. Drag them where they go on the document, and sign it. New Integrations You may know that Cartavi is among the few document management companies to have acquired the license to integrate zipForms from zipLogix into their platform. The new signature workflow is going to make working with zipForms even easier. But what about those other forms that agents need, like broker forms or other documents? You have always been able to upload them one at a time, like most document management systems.But now Cartavi has developed support for popular cloud document storage solutions. You can quickly pull in documents from your DropBox account, Google Drive account, or Microsoft SkyDrive account. Cartavi has seen a lot of adoption by individual agents and numerous Associations of REALTORS®, including State of Kansas AOR, Utah Real Estate, Main Street AOR of Chicago, and three other Associations that are in their pipeline. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for an enterprise version to be released soon.  

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Goodbye Mongofax

by Victor Lund on March 15, 2013

mongofax

Mongofax was awesome. Now it is no more. The company is closing today. It is never a celebration when companies go away – jobs are lost and customers who relied on their services scramble to find a replacement. I am pretty sure that their primary marketplace was in Florida. Instanet, which supports faxing as a feature of their forms solution may have put pressure on Mongofax. According to a post by Jeremy Crawford of MLS listings over on the VendorAlley Blog – the Mongofax’s patent is available for purchase For Associations and MLSs that offer ZipForms, be aware that zipVault can replace Mongofax.  Corelogic is also rushing in to help out some MLSs left in the lurch. Here is the info on that. Are you a former MongoFax® customer looking for a new Fax-to-Email solution? Fax Manager from CoreLogic® provides multiple listing organizations with cost-effective electronic faxing, making it easy for members to digitize, share, and store documents.  Fax Manager is easily integrated with most MLS systems, even if it’s not a CoreLogic system.  You can start with Fax Manager and later expand into Document and Transaction Managers, and combine any of them with mobile access to create a paper-free, eco-friendly workplace. For more information and to set up an online demo for your MLS committee, contact your CoreLogic account representative, email Kim McLean at kmclean@corelogic.com, or visit corelogic.com/mls.

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