virtual office website

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 […]

{ 0 comments }

In Search Of A Perfect Broker VOW

by Victor Lund on April 29, 2013

WAV Group is conducting research to discover if there is any broker in the United States who has pulled out of IDX and only offers a Virtual Office Website to consumers. Presumably, it would be a large enough broker who would display their listings publicly without the need to register to the site. If consumers wanted to see other broker listings, they would need to register. No other broker would be able to display that brokers listings to the public. If you know of such a site here in America, please direct me to it and you will be handsomely rewarded. My loving relationship with Virtual Office Websites (VOW) dates back to about 2005 when MRED was called MLSNI. You see, the Chicago area had a local custom whereby brokers could elect to exclude some other brokers from obtaining and displaying their listings via Broker Reciprocity or IDX. To obtain access to all of the data, consumers would need to register to the brokers VOW.  Consumers gladly registered to access all of the listings, get more property information like sold listings, and lead generation rates for that area were far higher than other regions of the county. Around 2005, Listingbook launched their VOW solution in partnership with MLSs. One of the most popular posts ever published on the WAV Group website was titled “Listingbook is a must have for every MLS.” Even today, agents may have access to a VOW solution combined with email marketing, contact management, flyer program and  a host of other agent productivity tools for free. Listingbook was one of the early pioneers of Freemium Pricing for MLSs whereby some functionality of the solution is offered free with permission to publish advertising. Premium subscription has more features and removes advertising. VOWs have one thing in common, they allow all non-confidential MLS data to be displayed to the consumer online if they are registered to that agent’s website. In a way, I think that Listingbook stalled many technology companies from developing new, innovative VOW solutions for agents. Its hard to compete with a free product offered in partnership with the MLS. The ability to access all MLS data, including sold listings, days on market, and price changes over time make VOW solutions very appealing. It did not take long for some inspired brokerages like Zip Realty, Redfin and others to leverage VOW data in ways that enabled them to gain an online […]

{ 3 comments }

Brokers pulling out of IDX

by Victor Lund on July 25, 2012

Change-same

Game changers happen when businesses test radical strategies. When a company breaks from the pack they learn things that none of their competitors learn. They understand a strategy that nobody else as any experience with. They grow their business wisdom and often find new ways to edge out the competition. By studying the impacts of strategies like withdrawing from listing syndication; launching single listing websites or virtual tours; and, withdrawing from IDX, marketers can learn volumes about how these strategies impact their online strategy. Listing Syndication Strategies that work WAV Group has been studying listing syndication strategies for more than 7 years. The depth of the data that we have aggregated and the case studies that we have modeled has informed performance increases for brokerages nationwide. There are three strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness: Scarcity, Abundance, Data Variance. We have clients using every one of these and they all work. Using the correct strategy for your marketplace is key to success. How does the syndication strategy impact SEO This year, WAV Group is extending our research methodology to understand the impact that syndication strategy has on search engine optimization. The methodology is rather simple. Take a broker’s listing and check the first 4 pages of popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Record the website domains and the order in which they appear. Address search is known as “long tail search” and it is important for two reasons. First, the searcher is presumably more valuable because they are highly focused and already partially informed (they know the address). Secondly, the volume of these searches is immense. The findings are impressive. Once thing to remember is that many third party websites have every property in America on their website – active or off market. Why aren’t brokers doing this? Why aren’t MLSs helping? How do single listing websites and virtual tours impact SEO Nothing is more powerful for search engine optimization than purchasing the address domain name and launching a single listing website. Beyond that, a virtual tour done correctly does an excellent job of enhancing search engine optimization. Virtual Tours done right means that the tour is built in HTML, not flash. Virtual tours are dynamically created using MLS data on every listing and updated with IDX. Non-branded virtual tours are posted to the MLS and distributed through the IDX feed. All virtual tours are hosted on the broker […]

{ 1 comment }