Victor Lund

In an email dated January 25, 2016, Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin writes: “In a bold move within the residential real estate industry, Pacific Union names Selma Hepp to the newly created position of ‘Vice President, Business Intelligence’.  Selma joins Pacific Union from her position as Chief Economist for Trulia. Prior to Trulia, Hepp was Senior Economist for the California Association of Realtors and Economist for the National Association of Realtors, both trade organizations dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. Selma’s Ph.D. in Urban Economics, complemented by her deep expertise in understanding market dynamics in the western U.S. will give our team of professionals’ insightful intelligence to help your clients make key decisions regarding how and where they will live. Selma will further monitor and write commentaries on housing markets, urban economics, international housing markets, and demographic trends. She earned her Master’s degree from SUNY at Buffalo and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. In 2016, Pacific Union will make significant investments in business intelligence and technology advancements. These investments are designed to gain thorough understanding from a quantitative perspective; client demographics and empirical market dynamics on a hyperlocal basis. Our investments will give Pacific Union Real Estate Professionals definitive buyer profiles and specific marketing tactics to access key buyer segments. We intend to raise the bar in the real estate industry for interactive technology – complete with market data. You and your clients demand and deserve real-time data delivered in an easily consumable and interactive manner. Selma is thrilled to join our team and offered this perspective. “Pacific Union’s vision and forward thinking uniquely positions this firm to become the leader in understanding California’s challenging housing market. The market is at a critical juncture that requires a close watch to anticipate its dynamic nature.” Congratulations to Selma and Pacific Union from all of us here at WAV Group! Best wishes for a very successful 2016!

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Just Spell My Name Right

by Victor Lund on January 21, 2016

It’s a new year and you are, no doubt, plotting your communications strategy for 2016. We published an article about the top 10 posts of the year on Facebook recently that ignited deeper thought about communication strategies that work. Entertainment is certainly one of them. If the Disney family is the first family of Entertainment in American History, P.T. Barnum is certainly a cousin. Legend has it that he is also responsible for one of the most famous quotes in the PR business: “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” If you read the writings of Victor Lund, you know that I write fast and spell horridly. My mother, saint Stella, was kind enough to keep every report card from my school days and I assure you that I received an A in every English class throughout my education. I am not sure where I went off the track. In high school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, I converted to word processing. I doubt that I submitted much written work at all after that. A reliance on spell check may be my downfall. Having a mother who was raised in the Alabama, growing up near Fargo, North Dakota, and a year of University in England are also likely contributors. The most likely candidate is my failure to proofread my prose. Thankfully, Kevin Hawkins leads WAV Group Communications. He is deliberate and careful with the message of every communication, including the title, length, paragraph, sentence structure, and the fastidious attention to the handling and the nurturing of every chosen word. In my experience, his only equal may be Rozlynn Crew from the Houston Association of REALTORS. If you allow for the Canadian influence, John Mosey of the Northstar MLS is in the same league. So let’s start the year remembering a few rules of our industry. RE/MAX is always capitalized. “Re/Max” is wrong. When referring to the NAR, REALTOR® is in all caps and includes the ®. After the initial use, REALTOR without the ® is fine. There is a whole bunch of information on the dos and don’ts of using the REALTOR mark on this page: http://www.realtor.org/letterlw.nsf/pages/trademarkmanual Communications began to replace advertising in 2006 when online publishing and email marketing began to show better results. Here we are, one decade later and so many real estate firms of all flavors are missing this opportunity to engage important […]

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Making Vendor Partnerships Work

by Victor Lund on January 21, 2016

The tragedy of software in real estate is lack of adoption by agents. Brokerage firms and MLSs who invest dearly in technology solutions start out with the hope that agents will use it and success will come. Since hope is not a strategy, more work is required to find success. First of all, there is a difference between a site license and a user license. As you enter into partnerships with vendors, consider user licenses. That will bind both the vendor and the company to a mutual goal of driving agent adoption of the application.  Companies should not pay license fees for software that is not used. Adoption Strategy has a few components that should be considered in advance of choosing your vendor partner. They include onboarding agents, training, support, and communicating best practices. Who’s in? Onboarding and Managing Agents – This is an ongoing effort that never subsides. Basically, it is important to manage two lists. The first is a list of agents who have adopted the solution. The second is a list of agents who have not. At a frequency that is agreed upon, email and telemarketing communications to non-users is critical. Perhaps the list should be reviewed once a month. Firms need to add new agents to the list as part of the onboarding process. A warm introduction is a good start. It is also important that you advise the vendor when the agent departs the firm. Add a requirement to your software license agreement to get a user report each month. Let’s Get Started Training is obvious. The best practice is to offer three training classes – basic, intermediate, and advanced. Depending on the application and the number of updates, you may want to have a training class that introduces new features as they come out. Organizations should consider live training and online webinar training. Sometimes you need to stand in front of the agent, but usually a webinar will suffice. Agents are busy and always juggling priorities. It is a good practice to record the online training and publish it to YouTube so agents can watch it anytime. Add a requirement into your software license agreement to have the vendor support the company with regular training. Can I get some help please? Agents will naturally abandon an application if they get stuck. Sometimes a feature is broken or the user is not fully aware of […]

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The 7 Keys to A Successful MLS Conversion

by Victor Lund on January 12, 2016

If my history recollection serves me, Vancouver is where Canada’s first real estate board was formed in 1888. The current Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) has been in continuous operation since 1919. They are also members of a leading regional MLS that encompasses the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board as a partner and the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and the British Columbia Northern Real Estate Board as customers. Together they transitioned 16,000 Realtors to Black Knight’s Paragon system. Many industry insiders are touting it as the smoothest conversion in history. WAV Group connected with Eileen Day, Chief Operating Officer, and Mike Pedersen, Chief Information Officer, to get a summary of their change management process where we learned the 7 keys to a successful migration. Each of these is critical to success, so they are in no particular order. Planning Every component of their conversion was planned in advance. They developed a plan for everything and spent two years planning ahead. The entire process was engineered in advance, and goals were set for every component of the plan right down to each detail, including specific goals for training attendance, help desk wait times, and communication uptake. Budget Very few MLSs plan for the financial stress to the organization in advance. The resources budgeted for conversions will vary from market to market, but if you planning a conversion, you should benchmark between $50 to $100 per user as extraordinary expenses. Done correctly, system conversions are expensive. Triple Your Staff Most large MLSs have systems for managing the effectiveness of the help desk, technical, training, and communications operations. In the case of help desk, excellence is maintaining averages of under 2 minutes for answering a call and call time averages in the 3-5 minute range.  One major choke point of a conversion is when you overload your systems during the parallel period and once the cut over happens. Under no circumstances do you ever want to let your members down with poor service. As a rule of thumb, factor in a 3x to 4x increase in your staff size for 6 months and provision overflow support from your vendor. In REBGV’s case, the staff went from 6 people to 20 people. Adhere to your benchmarks for hold times and continue to add staff to keep up. Test, Survey, Analyze This group did trial runs to test everything. As an […]

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Top 10 Facebook Posts of The Year

by Victor Lund on January 8, 2016

AdAge is the heartbeat of understanding how marketers are engaging with consumers online, and a great place to keep track of trends. I was attracted to this article that talked about the top 10 posts on Facebook in 2015. My intrigue was to understand if there was something that real estate could learn by looking backwards. Robert Plant Breaks Down into Tears When Ann Wilson Covers “Stairway to Heaven” – My conjecture is that a sincere emotional reaction (tears) combined with a recognized celebrity (Plant) that we can relate to (everyone knows the words to Stairway to Heaven). Optimistic People All Have One Thing In Common: They’re Always Late – My conjecture is that everyone either hates being late, or hates it when other people are late, or both. In some small way, this post turns hate into something good – optimism. Zombie-themed “Walking Dead” cruise setting sail in January – no conjecture. 15 hilarious parenting comics that are almost too real – conjecture is that humor always attracts people, especially clean humor that we can all relate to in some way. Fast Food Workers: You Don’t Deserve $15 an Hour to Flip Burgers, and That’s OK – lots of dynamic conjecture here.  This touches the familiar body of emotion that people manifest around fast food restaurants and minimum wages. This Moving Company Helps Women Leave Abusive Homes At No Cost – WOW! In a way, this is the only advertising related post in the top 10.  This one also hits home in a significant way because the moving company is in our town of San Luis Obispo. It is the story of Meathead Movers. The company was started by some local Cal Poly college kids trying to make some extra money. It has become a very successful company around the mantra that athletic college students come and move your stuff. The students also run back to the truck after they set down each box to show you how hard they work. http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/meathead-movers-helps-women-leave-abusive-homes/ The conjecture here is that the company is dong something that is really good. I know that real estate companies are constantly doing things that are really good. As an industry, we “pay it forward.” As you set down your strategy for social media in 2016, think about what you can do that is Good, Family Orientated, Emotional, Includes a Celebrity, is familiar, and that people have […]

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Enroll Now for WAVes of Change

by Victor Lund on January 6, 2016

WAV Group is entering into the second year of offering our WAVes of Change™ webinar series. WAVes of Change is a quarterly webinar that is produced to keep executives and board members current on industry changes and opportunities for operational excellence. Program Overview The purpose of the WAVes of Change Series is designed to help Associations and MLSs across North America make well-informed decisions that will help propel their organizations forward. It is intended to keep your team up to speed without having to travel to multiple events around the country spending significant time and money. The quarterly (4) 1-hour online events will be designed to educate your Board, Staff and other invited guests about the following types of topics: Breaking News and its implications Technology Trends WAV Group research Industry Research Consumer Trends Broker Trends Threats and Opportunities Best Practices/Case Studies Your Board, Staff and invited guests will participate on the call with fellow Associations and MLSs from around the country, encouraging information sharing. Since Associations and MLSs share many of the same challenges, the questions posed by the audience will help provide ideas and insight for every participating organization. Since the event is virtual, your Board, Staff and invited guests can participate from whatever location is convenient for them – their office, home or your office. The session will be recorded and you will have full rights to share the recording to others in your organization as you choose. WAV Group can also provide you with the presentation materials if you need to use them for another presentation or discussion. About WAV Group WAV Group is one of the most highly respected consulting and research firms in the real estate industry today. They regularly publish white papers, research studies and articles helping to articulate ways to improve the productivity, profitability and long-term health of the real estate industry. WAV Group works with many of the nation’s largest MLSs and Associations as well as leading brokerages from around North America conducting industry updates and strategic planning sessions. The company also works with many of the most progressive technology organizations keeping them abreast of the latest trends in real estate tools. Third, the firm is the single largest source of real estate consumer research, providing regular insights about the latest needs and frustrations of homebuyers and sellers. Cost Includes: 4 1-Hour Sessions (up to 50 attendees) Recording of session Access […]

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WAV Group consulting will often involve recruiting key leaders to join a company and support the execution of their strategic plan. WAV Group is searching for a number of key positions now. If you are looking for a new adventure, be sure to let us know. Confidentiality is paramount for most of the recruiting that we do here at the WAV Group. Most often, we are seeking C –Level executives – Chief Executive Officers, Chief Technology Officers, etc. We support our clients in the effort to find alignment with experienced leaders. Here are some of the positions that we are filling: Head of Broker/Franchise Technology – One National firm, one South East Regional firm. Both positions report to the President/CEO. Head of Broker Business Intelligence – This may be the first position of its kind in America. This person will be responsible for leveraging data as an asset to generate market insights and new business opportunities. California, Bay Area. Head of MLS – Multiple positions available for medium sized MLSs – Association owned. Head of Broker Sales – East Coast All of these positions represent exciting opportunities. It’s time to clean up your Linkedin profile and sharpen your sword for the New Year. 2016 is expected to be a modest year for the economy, but a great year for innovation in the real estate industry as it awakens from the 2006-2014 economic slumber. Again, confidentiality is key. The caliber of people we are looking for are never jobless. We get that. But if you are looking for a change, or a new opportunity to expand or enliven your career – let us know. Happy New Year!

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We’re proud to announce that our founding partners, Marilyn Wilson and Victor Lund, were recently named to Inman’s annual list of the top leaders in the real estate industry. The award recognizes their forward thinking visions about how the industry can and must adapt to change. Marilyn, according to Inman, is “an articulate spokesperson about the threats and the challenges faced by the industry,” while Victor is “an advocate for big strategic initiatives that the legacy industry must undertake to survive.” “It’s interesting to be acknowledged as one of the industry leaders because we operate a very small business,” Victor told me earlier today. “The recognition is more of a testament to the privilege we have to work with so many MLSs, brokers, and technology companies as their servant.” The recognition is also a testament to the huge potential impact of several key industry wide initiatives that WAV Group is working on: Supporting the communications of the Real Estate Standards Organization as they roll out Data Dictionary certification and the RESO API Supporting REDPLAN’s efforts to protect the assets of the real estate industry and to defend those assets against patent trolls and other nefarious activities Supporting the Broker Public Portal in its strides to build a national MLS consumer facing website Helping Project Upstream become operational now that they’ve secured the support of NAR and selected RPR as their vendor “We do these things at the liberty of the leadership that operates these initiatives,” said Victor. “I think a lot of times consulting firms are mischaracterized as the people doing these things when we’re merely the staff that supports them.” Regardless, WAV Group has been a driving force in pushing the industry to adapt to changing consumer expectations spurred by technology. To give you a better idea of WAV Group’s influential thought leadership, we’ve rounded up a sampling of their best articles from 2015: For brokers Upstream Revealed Top 3 Ways to Make the New IDX Rules Work for Your Brokerage Major Changes In Real Estate No HATERS in Real Estate Please! For MLSs Top 10 Ways to Become a Truly Broker-Centric MLS An Industry At Risk Enabling an Ecosystem of Innovation for Real Estate RETS Servers and Direct Feeds Understanding the MRIS-TREND Project Bad Customer Service Can WIPE OUT a LOT of Goodwill Away in Minutes! The Do’s and Don’ts of MLS System Selection It’s Time to Replace Core […]

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MLS Policy for Days On Market

by Victor Lund on December 16, 2015

Depending on where you are, Days on Market could be a hot topic. Perhaps the most sensitive area to Days on Market is San Francisco. I had a chance to talk to Steve Mavromihalis of Pacific Union about this topic last week. Steve is one of the most productive agents in the nation. Every year, WAV Group watches the listing count for Pacific Union go down by two thirds starting just before Thanksgiving and lasting until March or April – that’s 5 months of the year. Clearly this has P&L implications and budgeting implications for the brokerage. The truth is that these listing are still kind of “for sale”, but the agents take them off the market to prevent Days on Market from accruing. Sellers authorize this, and every listing agent tells the story to every seller for every company in the area. This is not a specific agent or a specific company following an unwritten policy. “It’s the culture of selling real estate in the Bay Area,” according to Mavromihalis. “People want to enjoy the holidays or go skiing in Tahoe. Because of summer vacation, a lot of listings go off the market in August too!” Mavromihalis admits that if another agent were to give him a call, he could probably arrange a showing with his client. Because the volume of off-market listings can become vary significant in areas like San Francisco, many MLSs have incorporated a status called Coming Soon. It recognizes the need to manage data when a listing is not active or before it comes active. In hot markets, listings will sometimes go from Coming Soon to Pending without every having any active days. The big advance in policy here is that the MLS can get the data for comparables, CMAs, Market Reports, Market Share and other high value needs of the MLS, its agents, brokers, and consumers. Days on Market does not accrue during Coming Soon status. MLS Listings, the MLS to the south of San Francisco, has done a great job with the development of MLS policy around coming soon. MLS Listings CEO James Harrison and his then Board Chairman, Broker Robert Bailey championed policy development and shared their efforts with the industry. I am not sure how the other Bay Area MLSs have dealt with it. Overlapping market disorder is very prevalent in the Bay area – San Francisco listings are placed in […]

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Stop Buying Technology

by Victor Lund on December 16, 2015

It’s the season. WAV Group is fielding satisfaction surveys to determine how agents and brokers use or don’t use technology offerings. We even encounter a curious situation where we are measuring satisfaction with broker solutions and MLS solutions in the same market. Sometimes the easiest answer to a strategy is the simplest. What WAV Group sees today is that less is more. Too many technology solutions is real estate have feature creep. Regardless if it is a broker CRM or the MLS system – they are too complex.  In real estate technology, usability trumps functionality. Change is Hard The most difficult thing for anyone to do in life is change. Moreover, the older you are, the harder it is for you to learn or change.  Real Estate people are old. We see this constantly, and even NAR yells it from the rooftops. Before you switch systems, think very carefully about the overhead that it will cost your organization and users in functionality. Everyone takes a big hit. In most cases, you are taking your user intelligence way backwards to inch forwards. Tread very carefully and try not to change too often. Training Trumps Everything WAV Group does not have a specific gauge on training effectiveness. But we are deriving certain solutions that can help. First, training needs to be offered every day in every way! Remember, every day there is a pile of new agents entering the business that need to learn everything. Moreover, unless you have been training hard for years, even your most experienced agents are not trained on everything. Think about training plans for each product you offer. Create training for Expert, Intermediate, and Beginner. Think about training methods – concierge 1 on 1, in office, online webinar, How to Articles – FAQs, recorded webinars for all levels of experience. Watch your help desk calls! Inform your trainers of the top 10 reasons why people are calling and use that to drive training. Yes, you do need to begin every training session on how to recover your password! Measure Success Surveys are pretty cool because you can see (by email address) exactly who is screaming for training. Section that group out of each of your surveys and have your trainers attack them.  After 3 months, go back and survey the same people who were looking for training and survey them again, again, and again. There is a […]

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Hire a Curator

by Victor Lund on December 16, 2015

A quick Google search brings up the definition of curator – it is a word derived from the Latin word curare – meaning, “take care.” A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally this word has a connotation of maintaining historical things because it is an official position in museums, but that is not the context intended here.  The role of a curator in today’s business is to keep things current. WAV Group Communications starts projects with an audit. We begin by understanding the variety of audiences that the company engages. We then take a look at how MLSs or technology companies, or brokerages are communicating with their audiences. What we find is typically dated, stale, gross. Under the watchful eye of a curator, this never happens. A curator scours every touch point with every audience and keeps it clean and fresh. Agent images are always uploaded and there are no grey skulls. Old logos vanish and are replaced with new ones. Documents that have not been used or updated in years are refreshed. Social media updates happen every day. Press releases happen monthly. Intranets are hydrated with how-to tips, community stories, and celebrations. Consumer sites have daily contributions and newsletters go out on a regular basis. A curator is not necessarily the person who creates all of this content. It’s a management and supervisory position that draws communications from across the enterprise to leverage the expertise of the organization. They find out from the help desk what the most common calls are and create a task to create training materials. They speak to leaders about successful strides in the business and work with a PR firm to distribute a press release. They monitor social media and build reports on reach and study effectiveness, and so on, and so forth. I challenge you to take a few moments and look around your business. Look at every communication to every audience. I guarantee that you will find dozens of flaws. If you don’t have time to do this, hire us to do it for you. If you need a curator, we can step in and build the plan and kick it off. We can even train or hire someone to manage it after it is on the right track. WAV Group Communications is a full service public relations and communications firm. We work on retainer with brokerages, technology firms, and MLS […]

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Syndicate like you Facebook

by Victor Lund on November 20, 2015

By now, everyone has experienced social media. The pinnacle of social media is Facebook. One of the early criticisms of social media marketing is that it is essentially spamming your friends. Posting the same thing every day is not going to make it more interesting. There is a lesson to think about here…let’s switch sites. Every month, MLS systems are estimated to send out 200 million emails to consumers notifying them of new and updated listings. I think most people refer to them as auto-alerts or auto-notifications. That number of 200 million grows larger when you include the number of notifications that go out through mobile apps, broker sites, agent sites, buyer tools, and even portals. Guess what? You are publishing the same thing every day! Oops. Lets go back to social media… The most effective way to engage an audience in social media is to curate your content. Experts talk about publishing strategies that include variation, emotion, etc. Advertisers do this too. Changing things up is a hedge strategy against ad fatigue. In parlance, it’s a campaigning strategy. Lets go back to listing notifications… Depending on the market, properties across America typically trade within a window of 120 days. Most of the time, the photos of the property and the description text remain static and unchanged throughout the listing term. The only part of the listing that changes is the price. How can we create a campaign strategy for listing notifications? Think Differently… WAV Group has written about the strategy of using price changes to trigger email alerts in the past. Lower the price by any amount and every system will trigger an email alert. The more price changes you have, the more direct marketing gets triggered to the people who have saved searches for the property you are marketing. This boost in audience impressions drives more engagement, or leads if you prefer. But the risk is spamming or lead fatigue. The audience will begin to ignore the effort if you do not switch things up a bit. Use the Facebook Lesson If you are going to use this strategy of price changes to market the property, think about what we know about social media spamming and advertising fatigue. Curate the information to keep it fresh. At the very least, be sure to change up the primary photo. By the way, experiment with interior shots; they often get more […]

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First Month Impact of TRID

by Victor Lund on November 17, 2015

TRID has caused a lot of concern for residential real estate. The high percentage of home sales that include purchase loans makes the relationship between mortgage and home sales vital to the health of the industry and the national economy. There was an enormous amount of preparation to adjust to the new TRID regulations that were implemented October 1st, and a clear belief that closing periods would be dramatically extended. We reviewed the performance of many of our brokerage accounts to see what happened. October was the kind of month that researchers like the WAV Group would prefer to remove from results, or at least circle. Whenever certain technical anomalies like the implementation of the new TRID requirements impact home sales processing, it throws off the data. The Adjustment Results Across our brokerage accounts with Mortgage businesses, we saw an acceleration of closings in September ahead of the TRID implementation as everyone worked at a peek pace at the end of the month to get deals done. In most markets, mortgage purchase applications were up in October over 2015, but not nearly as high as the September or August year over year comparisons. We think that this is a TRID impact, and may account for about an 8% forecast adjustment. November should be interesting as we get into the second month of TRID and a seasonally adjusted softening in the market. The FHA reported some good news. They have reached their required 2% capital fund reserve requirement ahead of time. This is good news that may lead to one of two outcomes – reduction of premium rates or improving availability of credit standards. The reserve requirement is to hedge against risk. It seems that FHA is more focused on improving availability than reducing rates. This should broaden lending for FHA qualified applicants. There was a lot of concern that TRID was going to impact loan availability across the housing industry. It would seem that with the exception of a lot of anxiety, the implementation in October did not have an uber-dramatic impact as changes took place across the market. We will see what November brings, but for now – congratulations to everyone for making the TRID adjustments. Your efforts and planning have paid off.

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Solving for Technology-Confused Agents

by Victor Lund on November 11, 2015

WAV Group supports organizations (Brokers/MLS/Associations/Franchises) to develop support services for the technology applications used by agents. To kick off these programs we audit the systems that an agent has access to. This is an administrative process whereby we inventory all of the tools that they access from any source. 7 Sources of Real Estate Agent Technology (with one common example) National Association of Realtors – RPR State Association of Realtors – Forms Local Association of Realtors – Lockbox Multiple Listing Service – MLS system Franchise – lead management Brokerage – eMail Self – website The Big Problem: 7 different channels of training and support Forget about training and support for a second. Let’s start with a basic observation: For an agent to even know what each of these tools do, they would need to spend at least 1 hour on a demo to get an overview. In reality, something as sophisticated as the MLS system would take at least two hours just to show an agent around. A fundamental problem with real estate today is that this basic process of introducing an agent to the tools they use is optional. Set up and basic training must be a key component of onboarding a REALTOR®. If you look across the horizon of these seven entities, there is only one logical source that can consolidate training – the brokerage. Where is your customer support directory? I constantly ask this question during our kickoff audit and the reaction to this basic question is the cornerstone of the tragic comedy that we face in our industry. Some people know part of the answer, but nobody knows the entire answer. And, to be fair – I did not list all of the applications that an agent would need to use. In most cases they have 5 or 6 services from their MLS, six to seven more from their brokerage and franchise, and another 2 or 3 on their own just considering the third party publishers. Fix this and sell more real estate. The old adage is true. If the agents would only use the tools we provide, they would sell more houses. Simple Steps To Solving This Problem Create a list of every product, making sure to contact every company to understand what the product does. Write a brief description of the product. Find out if each product vendor has a schedule for training Create […]

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Brokers Need To Sharpen Their Value Story

by Victor Lund on November 11, 2015

WAV Group is re-launching a number of brokerage brands today. Re-launching a brand does not require a brand to change, but the brand communication changes. We review how the brand is communicated everywhere, but especially where the brand has the greatest reach – in your technology applications. A brand re-launch begins with a strategy to tell the story about why your brand is a good choice. We identify why your managers (employees) work for your firm so competitors do not hire them away. We define the reasons why agents (contractors) work for your firm so they cannot be recruited away. But most importantly, we identify why consumers trust your firm so they do not wonder elsewhere. The single most important place to reinforce your brand is in your presentations. What is the story that you tell managers when you are recruiting? What is the story that managers tell agents when they are recruiting? What is the story in your listing presentation that agents are conveying at the kitchen table? In most cases, the brand story is old and tired. When I show the story to principles, they are appalled. Firms forget to update their brand story. Moreover, everyone’s listing presentation is looking the same these days, and that is a problem for brands. WAV Group thinks that brokerage firms should perform an hygienic cleansing of a brand each year. We are happy to help. Marilyn Wilson of WAV Group is among the top marketing professionals in our industry. Before her decade-long experience as a founder of WAV Group, she was the EVP of Marketing for Fisher-Price, one of the top 10 international brands in the world. Here is a short paper that talks about some innovative solutions that WAV Group clients are implementing in one area of their new brand communications – the listing presentation. It’s a free paper that hopes to give you some good ideas. If you want to dig in deep, give us a call.

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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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America’s Largest MLS Offering System of Choice

by Victor Lund on November 4, 2015

One announcement that was made around the Council of MLS meetings was the intention of the California Regional Association of REALTORS to offer the Paragon MLS system alongside the CoreLogic Matrix system. This was a big topic of conversation in our recent webinar, the most recent installment in our ongoing WAVes of Change series. Just think about it – they will be running in parallel forever. History CRMLS is a complex MLS. They support 78,000 subscribers and they plan to grow. California has a lot of Paragon installations in California, including some large MLSs like San Diego County and a more modest sized MLS in the Eastern Bay of San Francisco. There are much smaller accounts scattered around the state. San Diego is a neighbor to CRMLS and they share overlapping membership in Northern San Diego County. Strategy From a strategic perspective, the size of CRMLS is justification enough to offer different systems. We have witnessed this before in Chicago where they offered three systems years ago, and in the Dallas and greater northern Texas market where CoreLogic’s Innovia system was offered because of its support for mobile web and Mac OS. Front end of choice has been around. In Chicago the thought was that one system would rise above the other. That did not happen. Agents will not change systems unless they are forced to. For CRMLS, front-end system of choice provides their subscribers with variation. Different systems appeal to different audiences. Offering system variety is also not foreign to the company. When CRMLS was formed, they offered Discover MLS, MLXchange, and Tempo. In many ways, I think that CRMLS drew success from system flexibility and this may be an effort to return to those roots. Rapattoni, another heavily adopted system among California MLSs, has recently shared that they are not opposed to operating their application as a front end of choice. Complexity One of key complexities of the construct is getting the vendors to work together in a way that does not require CRMLS members to pay for two systems. WAV Group’s understanding is that payments are only the active users on each system – not a site license, will pay vendors. The means for calculating users is not public at this time. I think this will create some healthy competition among the vendors to deliver excellence and innovation. The Single Sign On to supporting applications to each […]

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Is Email Volume Killing Your Company?

by Victor Lund on November 3, 2015

Lingchi is the roughly the word that the Chinese use to describe a form of torture whereby a person is executed by 1000 cuts. Dying the death of a thousand cuts has become a familiar business term that can have any range of meaning. WAV Group fielded a question from large brokerage firm – “how do we reduce email in our company?” Communication in a company is good, but too much communication as an adverse impact. What follows is my reply. Calculate the spoilage – If it takes each member of the company an hour to clean out their inbox each day, how many hours of productivity per day is the company losing? You can only control how many messages you send. Do an exercise where you look at the emails that you send and count the number that you could have not sent. Set a goal for each person to reduce the number of emails sent each day by 20% – 1 in 5 emails sent by professionals is typically the number that is easy to reduce. Carbon Copy is the devil. Never copy someone unless they are pivotal to the conversation. We live in a forward world. We see something that we like and we forward it. Consider putting those things into a folder and creating one email per week with your highlights. Reply with care. Don’t just Reply to All. Reply with a purpose. Turn off Read Receipt – If you are getting a read notice on all of your emails, you are insane. Turn that off. Make it o.k. for managers to discourage email use and coach offenders. Curate Content Expand the range of weekly reporting to bi-weekly or monthly. Develop a corporate bulletin board on your company intranet or send out a company newsletter with notes from around the company. Encourage the use of Facebook for broadcast publishing Here is a series of articles about Inbox Zero: http://www.43folders.com/izero

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WAKE UP BROKERS! Hablas Espanol?

by Victor Lund on November 2, 2015

Today, 85% of homebuyers are white, but that is changing rapidly in America. The new and growing homebuyer population is Hispanic or Latino, and most do not speak English well enough to have confidence in a real estate transaction written in a foreign language, with an agent who is not bilingual. Yikes or Opportunity? We think opportunity. From 2010 to 2012, the number of Hispanic homebuyers increased 38%! Today, only 20,000 of the nations’ 1.2 Million members of the National Association of REALTORS is Hispanic. By the way – all of the stats quoted here look at data collected in 2010 and 2012. You can figure that the growth rates have gone up significantly. From 2010 to 2012, the number of Hispanic Households grew from 4.25 million to 6.69 million – a 58% increase. The number is likely well over 10 million in 2015. A Simmons Market Research survey recorded that 19% of Hispanic American origin speak only Spanish. Ergo – 1 in 5. Only 17% of Hispanics are fully bilingual, and 55% have limited English proficiency. The United States has more Spanish speakers than Spain. Does anyone have a truly end-to-end bilingual home buying or selling brokerage? In the 20112 censuses, 17% of Americans are Hispanic. If you are a Broker in New Mexico, 44% of your population is Hispanic. Texas is 31% Hispanic, followed by California at 30%, Arizona at 25%, Nevada at 20% Colorado at 15% and Illinois at 12%. Total US Hispanic population is now is nearly 35 Million people and growing. If you do not operate a fully bi-lingual brokerage, you are missing a huge opportunity. California has 14 Million Hispanics with housing needs and more than half of them are not proficient enough in English to contemplate a real estate transaction. When we talk to brokers about this, the common answer is that “we have some Spanish speaking agents.” #FAIL! Dive a little deeper and you see that they do not have bi-lingual forms, bilingual inspectors, bilingual appraisers, bilingual property managers, bilingual marketing materials, bilingual listing presentations, bilingual agent contracts, bilingual websites, bilingual mortgage, etc. – Bilingual everything! Whites have a birth rate of 1.1 for every death. Hispanics have a birth rate of 8.9 for every death. Over 1 Million new Hispanic households were formed in 2012 compared to a decrease of 704 Million non-Hispanic households. The market is changing folks, Vamonos! It’s […]

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It’s November, the beginning of budgeting and planning for a successful 2016. WAV Group studies the online effectiveness of many of today’s leading brokers and provides audits and advisory services on optimizing these programs. The true measure of online effectiveness is closing a transaction. Unfortunately, we have observed that closing a transaction is coincidental to online marketing and not a direct correlation. The relationship between an agent and a consumer is akin to dating. Both parties must be attracted to one another. There needs to be a connection and the development of things like trust and confidence. It’s a dating game where decisions are based upon emotion rather than facts and numbers. If I were to build a lead conversion team for a real estate brokerage today I would start by doing a personality profile to find the types of agents who are easiest to like and trust. Smoke that in your lead management pipeline. Obviously this does not work for real estate because of the democracy of a brokerage culture. We are all equally qualified, right? If you agree that you cannot force a relationship between a willing buyer and a random agent who gets a lead, then you can position the process of online marketing differently. Online Marketing is for Sellers, Recruiting, and Retention. Online marketing is for sellers. During a listing presentation, the agent explains that buyers always use the Internet in the process of looking for property. Your firm will place the property on all of those popular-kid sites. This is so easy to do and say that I doubt any seller would be “like-wow! That’s amazing.” So you need to do something different than blast listing syndication because everyone does that. Heck, it’s a free service from every MLS in the nation. That is why I am so bullish on Buyside – it allows the agent to tell a seller how many buyers they are working with today who is looking for a home like theirs. If I am hungry to sell my house, I would choose the agent who has 10 buyers in their hand over an agent that plans to go shake the bush to find one. Show results from online marketing, not your online marketing plan. Tell the seller “every agent you interview is going to tell you about how they are going to plaster your home all over the Internet. I […]

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