The Real Benefit to Z and T Merger

by Victor Lund on October 13, 2014

Big advertisers need big media sites. Zillow is big and Trulia is big, but they are not huge.  The hugest would be Facebook. Think of the Madison Avenue crowd. Both companies have sales staff pitching pretty much the same value proposition. That sales team now turns into one. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff pretty much said exactly this in an interview with Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money (http://business-news.thestreet.com/crookstontimes/story/jim-cramers-mad-money-recap-now-is-not-the-time-for-panic/12861526) “Rascoff noted that when it comes to the Internet, user experience rules. Once you have an audience the advertisers will follow, he said, which is why the Trulia acquisition makes sense. Zillow will operate both brands when the acquisition closes, allowing users to pick the brand that fits them best or advertise on both platforms” WAV Group has seen this before, but not at this scale. For example, when a large phone carrier wants to target real estate agents, they come with a budget of $1 million or more to spend. There are not enough B to B impressions to fill that order. I presume by extension that Zillow and Trulia will combine to go after the huge online advertisers – Fortune 100 types.  Furthermore, they have put a moat around the business with Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo Real Estate, MSN Real Estate, AOL Real Estate, Scripts, and 360 Newspapers. Aside from the MOVE network, it is pretty hard to access homebuyer and sellers at scale without going through the Zillow network. Better yet, Zillow and Trulia will not undercut each other’s prices. The fact remains that the homebuyer and seller impression value is far above the current rates because of the amount of money they spend in the home transaction process. Thousands of dollars are up for grabs. We saw some other signals this week that will continue to play out if the merger is successful. Brokers will be able to negotiate terms with both sites in concert. Although the pricing for each site may be different, the principles around things like fair display guidelines are likely to apply to both sites. Most firms treat Z & T as a category of sites. They treat MOVE differently because of the National Association of Realtors affiliation to realtor.com. For example, I imagine that the Edina Realty agreement with both sites was pretty uniform, and Allen Tate’s choice to drop both was pretty uniform. Not being involved in either of those transaction, I […]


Coldwell Banker Chooses Imprev

by Victor Lund on September 29, 2014

Today’s real estate firms, franchise or otherwise, need to provide a robust marketing solution for agents that especially support them with digital marketing tools: Video, virtual tours, eMail marketing, and social media marketing. In an announcement today, Coldwell Banker announced a partnership with Imprev to power their digital marketing suite for all of their franchise companies. There are a number of firms that offer marketing solutions, but the two firms that have dominated the selection among franchise organizations in the past years include Marketleader and Imprev. Strangely enough, until a few years ago, Imprev was Marketleader’s partner for their marketing suite, jointly providing a full solution to Keller Williams, unit Marketleader purchased SharperAgent in 2011. At the time of the acquisition, SharperAgent claimed 30,000 customers and Marketleader claimed 50,000 customers. Marketleader then went on to sign up a number of large franchise organizations, including Century 21. Today, the Marketleader suite is a business unit owned by Trulia who is in the process of being acquired by real estate portal leader, Zillow. No doubt, this announcement for Imprev is significant. Imprev has had a nearly decade-long standing relationship with RE/MAX and recently launched an automation platform with Berkshire Hathaway’s largest brokerage, Fox and Roach Realtors (a solution that is tightly integrated into CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve platform). Imprev shows with Coldwell Banker that it can connect to Leadrouter, which is a standard used by other Realogy franchises. Congratulations to Imprev and to Coldwell Banker’s 84,000 sales associates. Since over 80% of a firm’s business comes from sphere marketing – marketing suites like Imprev are critical service offerings. disclaimer – WAV Group has provided consulting services to all companies mentioned in this post. Press Release Coldwell Banker Unveils New eMarketing Platform Madison, N.J. (Sept. 29, 2014) – Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today announced an agreement with Imprev, Inc. to power the Coldwell Banker® brand’s fully mobile eMarketing platform. Coldwell Banker eMarketing is part of the new Coldwell Banker 360 suite of products that give Coldwell Banker independent agents and brokers access to a platform that delivers an extensive range of exclusive designs and marketing content and allow them to easily engage with consumers via the Web, email and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. “Our new Coldwell Banker eMarketing platform will make it easier for Coldwell Banker agents to connect with prospective home buyers and sellers while increasing productivity,” said Sean Blankenship, senior vice president […]

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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 […]


The End Of War Between Zillow and Trulia

by Victor Lund on August 13, 2014

There is a major war going on in the taxi industry today. Uber and Lyft are duking it out. Both companies have deep cash pockets and they are deploying it in marketing and undercutting each other. It is pretty hard to know which service is better as they work hard to drive market share. As Zillow marches toward the stock swap to join forces with Trulia, perhaps a new wisdom of that transaction will reveal itself. They just avoided a very expensive war where the two of them may have killed each other off to reign supreme. It is pretty clear that the company that spends the most to attract the consumer is the company that gets the most traffic. Sure, the site itself is important in terms of usability or in terms of features like AVM, mortgage information, agent ratings, rentals and the like. But the real reason why these companies have the traffic they have is that they take every dollar they bring in from agents and brokers and buy more traffic. Many industry analysts have long term concerns about the voice of real estate not being a broker or an agent or part of the REALTOR family. Those are reasonable concerns that any incumbent would have in the face of new competition. But look at the facts. These companies are marketing the entire real estate industry on the back of investor dollars more than ad revenue from agents and brokers. Even if you want them to go away – be sure to thank them for the advertising first. They built the mulit-billions in value in their business. As an aside – Uber and Lyft have grown their value to $18.2 billion. I guess the taxi booking business is big business. Remember, market-share lead does not assure success. These companies are hopeful that it will, but in the interim, some brokers and agents are riding on the returns from their investment in reaching the consumer. They are putting more dollars to work than the dollars that you pay J We expected this value to continue for many years as Trulia and Zillow independently competed against each other by deploying dollars from their IPO. With the merger, these companies are not likely to be injured by competition between the two of them. They are on the same team. It will be time for Realtor.com and Homes.com to step up. Competition […]


Zillow Announces Trulia Acquisition

by Victor Lund on July 28, 2014

Two of America’s third party real estate portals have entered into a definitive agreement for Zillow (Z) to purchase Trulia (TRLA) for $3.5 billion in stock-for-stock trade. The Board of Directors of both companies have agreed to the transaction which represents a 25 percent premium to Trulia Stockholders, based on Trulia’s closing price on Friday, July 25, 2014. The transaction will now face regulatory approval. Goldman, Sachs & Co. brokered the transaction. Trulia CEO Pete Flint will retain that title, join the Zillow Board of Directors along with one other designee, and will remain the leader of the Trulia.com business unit. He will report directly to Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff. The two companies will carry on doing business as usual. The strategy for the merger outlined five key benefits for the companies: Faster Innovation – Combining development resources will allow the companies to accelerate innovation for consumers and professionals. Greater Access to Free Real Estate Market Data – Companies expect they will combine their data management, trend analysis, and forecasts. Broader Distribution – Home sellers and their agents, brokerages, and participating MLSs will benefit from seamless free distribution of listings across even more platforms to reach an even larger audience of consumers. Enhanced Value and ROI for Advertisers – The companies expect to offer shared services, marketing platforms for advertisers, enhance agent productivity and marketing, and deliver greater return on their investment. Corporate Cost Savings – By operating independent consumer brands though one corporation, the companies expect to realize synergies to improve operational efficiency over the long-term. By 2016, management expects to achieve at least $100 million in annualized cost savings. There were a few interesting data points in the press release. The first was that the advertising universe is a $12 billion dollar market – a remarkable number reported by Borrell Associates produced by a survey response. The second is that these companies combine to attract just 4 percent of that online advertising buy. Today, there is still more money being spent on newspapers than the combined online spend across all online portals. This represents a healthy strategy for both companies. It is anticipated that the combined companies will be able to do things like: leverage the same data management processes, same publisher agreements, same sales people, same marketing, same billing, etc. For brokers and agents using these services, it will be much easier to manage one relationship rather than two. Unfortunately, it may be six months to […]


The Triad of Consumers, People, and REALTORS

by Victor Lund on June 12, 2014

There were a few very interesting articles in the Washington Post this week. Unlike industry commentary about the Zestimate, this one took place in public. The Washington Post stirred the pot a bit, as only the politically divided would do so naturally. The battle was epic. At 5:30 AM, David Howell of McNearney Associates published a piece titled “How Accurate is Zillow’s Zestimate? Not very, says one Washington-area agent. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/wp/2014/06/10/how-accurate-is-zillows-zestimate-not-very-says-one-washington-area-agent/ At 5:31, Stan Humphries, Zillow Chief Economist responded in his article titles “How Accurate is the Zestimate? Zillow says the tool is helpful when used the right way.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/wp/2014/06/10/how-accurate-is-the-zestimate-zillow-says-the-tool-is-helpful-when-used-the-right-way/ You really do not need to read the articles unless you are new in real estate.  Real estate agents know the Zestimate is not accurate. It is just the best that math can produce. The frustration that real estate agents have is that the consumer is not keenly aware of the accuracy of the Zestimate. Because consumers typically check with Zillow before talking to an agent, real estate professionals are constantly starting conversations of home value around the Zestimate. Real estate agents hate that, and REALTORS® hate it even more.  So what do you do about it? About David Howell David Howell is a REALTOR®. In fact, he is the past President of one of America’s great REALTOR Associations – the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS. He was also the Chairman of NVAR’s Professionals Standards Committee. He was also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Regional Information System or MRIS. He is licensed in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. He currently serves McEarney Associates Inc REALTORS® as the Executive Vice President & CIO.  He has been a real estate broker since 1984. The Media Play I do not have the inside skinny on this public seeding of articles, but the fact that one landed exactly one minute after the other landed tells me that this was planned. I know that MRIS has a great relationship with the Washington Post. Clearly Zillow does also, or the Washington Post has learned from politics that if you are going to allow one side to bash the other, let the other side have a chance to respond. A good ol’ fashioned debate. Stan Humphries of Zillow held his ground nicely, and reminded folks that the Zestimate is not for making housing decisions. The Zestimate tells this story in its name […]


Are my listings going everywhere – Zillow Front Door

by Victor Lund on February 13, 2013

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Whenever an announcement like the Zillow-Front Door announcement is made, brokers have questions about their data and where it is going. We call this the issue of re-syndication, and whenever an announcement is made made about one party sending data to another party – brokers should know. Zillow is not re-syndicating to HGTV’s Frontdoor.com website. The first thing that I would suggest to any broker providing data to any publisher is to have a contract with the publisher that defines what they can or cannot do with your data. Most of the franchisors like REALOGY, Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and others have such agreements in place. If you are a franchisee, ask your franchise rep for a briefing on how they are protecting your data. Be aware, you must syndicate through your franchisor for this agreement to cover you. If you send listings from the MLS to the publisher, from your website to the publisher, from your virtual tours to the publisher, or allow agnets to send them to the publisher using postlets or any other means – that data is not covered under those protective agreements. If you syndicate through MOVE, Inc, Listhub or through Yardi’s  Point2 product, there is great information in the broker dashboard about re-syndication. In the case of Zillow, they power hundreds of websites beyond Zillow.com – most prominently they power realestate.yahoo.com and have a partnership with CNHI (Community Newpaper Holdings, Inc).  They are “part of this publishers extended network. These sites are either subsites owned and operated by the publisher, or sites powered by the publisher. In all cases, listings remain resident in the primary publisher’s database at all times.” Interestingly enough, there is no mention of HGTV or FrontDoor in the Zillow page on Listhub, yet. I am sure they are working on it. FrontDoor.com is still listed as a publisher on Listhub, and they have a 6 out of 10 rating. FrontDoor, like Zillow also powers subsites operated by the HGTV along with sites powered by the publisher where listings remain resident in the FrontDoor data bases. OpenHouse.com is one of the key sites in their network – about 75 or 80 sites in all.  So, to answer the question about where your data is going – it is not going anywhere beyond the walls of Zillow according to the public proclamations.  You should take a careful look at your local newspaper or television website to see if Zillow, […]


Zillow to power HGTV

by Victor Lund on February 8, 2013

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I have always been a fan of HGTV’s strategy to marry their television audience and content with property search. I do not watch TV much, but I do tune into HGTV from time to time and have run some analysis on the comprehensiveness of the listing data on their site. From our point of view, HGTV did not go far enough to put timely calls to action into programming to drive the television audience to search for homes on their property search portal. This is my opinion, not grounded in any facts. Suffice it to say that Zillow is going to get another bump in traffic, and as HGTV suggests in the press release – they will have a better search solution. Sounds like a great win for both companies, consumers, and brokers who syndicate to Zillow. Here is the full press release: Zillow to Power For-Sale and For-Rent Listings on HGTV’s FrontDoor (via PR Newswire) Partnership Will Allow Real Estate Agents to Easily Market Listings Across Four Leading U.S. Real Estate Sites SEATTLE and KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z), the leading real estate information marketplace, today announced that HGTV®’s FrontDoor™ is joining…

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Zillow expands rental offering with Hotpads acquisition

by Victor Lund on November 26, 2012

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Market leading real estate publisher Zillow expanded their footprint by entering into an agreement to purchase Hot Pads today. The strategy behind the acquisition seems squarely aimed at conquering a larger audience of real estate consumers, namely consumers interested in rental properties. In October, Hotpads had nearly 2.8 Million Unique Visitors. Depending on how you add up traffic to Zillow and their other sites like realestate.yahoo.com, it adds up to less than a 5% increase in traffic. Moreover, Zillow picks up highly skilled staff that understand the real estate portal business, and how to manage data. Although Zillow already has a solid technology team, these 19 extra craftsman from Hot Pads are bound to prove their value by lending their expertise, and hit the ground running. Zillow is also likely to fuel their sales funnel for their rental software product, Rent Juice, which tailors to apartment rentals. It is hard to see the full vision for Zillow’s investment strategy with the money raised from their successful public auction, but one by one, pieces fall into place. They are certainly becoming stronger every day. For those of you who send listings to Zillow and Hot Pads, you may want to watch for any changes in effectiveness. The 2007 Series A investment in Hot Pads raised $2.3M. Zillow purchased the company for $16M giving the Hot Pads founders and investors a nice return. Congratulations to both companies on their success. Here is the Zillow Press Release: SEATTLE and SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z), the leading real estate information marketplace, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to buy San Francisco-based HotPads, a map-based rental and real estate search site for $16 million in cash. This is Zillow’s first acquisition of a primarily consumer-facing company. The transaction is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2012. HotPads™ is an established and significant player in rentals for both consumers and professionals, offering a robust website and five mobile apps across iPhone®, iPad® and Android™. Nearly 2.8 million unique users visited HotPads in Octoberi, primarily to shop for rentals. Nearly 70 percentii of all listings viewed during the month were homes or apartments for rent. The addition of HotPads will allow Zillow® to expand the size of its growing rental audience and extend the reach of its marketing tools and […]


Zillow brings 1.2M listings out of the shadow

by Victor Lund on October 29, 2012

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Since the housing market crash, there has been lots of discussion about shadow inventory. These are properties that are in bank foreclosure or pre-foreclosure that are making their way onto the market. Up until now, this inventory has been slowly released – perhaps strategically by banks who want to contain loss exposure – but more likely as a result of the slow process for foreclosure across America. The only thing slower than a bank’s decision making process is the US Court system. Last week, Zillow – one of the three leading search portals in America began to display 1.2Million listings. As a result, the shadow inventory is no longer in the shadow. What is interesting is that consumers are required to “sign in” to view these foreclosures in their area. I guess that this is Zillow’s version of a VOW. Just for fun, I signed in and looked at a home that was in foreclosure – 1220 Montecito Ridge 93420.  Zillow listed this home with a Zestimate of $1,235,887 – $52,000 below the Zestimate. I looked up the same property on REALTORS(r) Property Resource. The RVM on this property is $1,424, 000. The owner is the Reed family (information that you cannot get on Zillow) and they live in Santa Maria, CA (full mailing address is available in RPR). I think that agents should be very grateful that Zillow has made this data available, for free. Consumers are likely to find these homes on Zillow then contact an agent for information. This is where RPR comes in – as a REALTOR(r), beginning tomorrow – you can look up that distressed property and possibly reach out to the owner for a short sale. RPR becomes available to all REALTORS(r) tomorrow. You can also find this information in REALIST, or iMapp, or LPS Tax. It is not clear who is providing Zillow with this shadow inventory data. Could be CoreLogic, could be LPS, is probably both. It is also not clear to me who is getting access to all of the consumer registration data. Those buyer leads are more valuable than the listing data. Perhaps the next horizon for broker websites will be the inclusion of Shadow inventory. The data is available for sale. There may be issues in many markets whereby brokers are not allowed to co-mingle MLS data with non-mls data. A separate search will be necessary to skirt this rule.


ListHub’s API and Golden Ruler Report Helps a Broker

by Victor Lund on October 5, 2012

There are all kinds of reasons why a company wants analytics on the performance of their online marketing. Listhub provides this service to brokerages that use their syndication services. The fee for the service is typically just a few dollars per month per agent, but it will track where your listings appear online – for better or for worse. WAV Group has gained an appreciation for the reporting by reviewing MLS level reports that show a federated view of all listings syndicated in the market through Listhub. I will be using these reports in my upcoming talk at the Colorado Association of REALTORS® meetings. They are far more valuable than the small fee charged by Listhub. They inform great decisions about where to send your data, and the effects of online marketing (if any). Listhub offers their syndication services through Franchises – REALOGY, Keller Williams and others have deployed the service. Brookfield uses reDataVault from Real Estate Digital (RED). The Canadian Association of REALTORS® or CREA uses Point2. Here is what I have noticed. For brokers who are part of a Franchise, there are usually preferences to the way that a broker’s listing is displayed. For example, Century 21 Brokers syndicating through the franchise program benefit from not having competitors displayed on their listings, among other privileges like discounts on enhanced listings. For Century 21 Brokers, the Golden Ruler Report is free. Unfortunately, none of these solutions track listings everywhere. For example, the report does not include the number of times a listing was viewed in the MLS, or on another broker’s website, or on the newspaper’s website, or even on the broker’s own website. Listhub and others like Onboard 360 are offering APIs that can be installed on any website. Century 21 Hometown Realty wanted to make the Golden Ruler Report better, so they installed the Listhub API on their Wolfnet website. It is not easy to get a company to put someone else’s code into their product. The Listhub API is a little code snippet that works a little bit like Google Analytics. Every time you ask a website to do something, it adds one more task that slows a website down. Furthermore, there is some remote chance that they can bring the site or even the server down. Let;s just say that Wolfnet did a lot of diligence and testing before they put the Listhub API on […]


October 3, 2012—The WAV Group today published the results of an independent study of 11 major markets that found local real estate brokerage websites give consumers the most complete, accurate and timely information about homes for sale. The study evaluated sites from three local brokerages with real estate agents who help consumers buy and sell homes, comparing listing search results to those found on two national portals, Trulia and Zillow, which operate almost exclusively online. In the markets analyzed, the study concluded: Local real estate brokerage sites display 100% of the agent-listed homes for sale compared to about 80% for the national portal sites. Local real estate brokerage sites show newly listed homes for sale seven to nine days earlier than national portals. Local real estate brokerage sites almost never show a home listing as active that has already sold; about 36% of listings that appear as active on national portals are no longer for sale. The WAV Group, a national consultancy specializing in real estate technology, conducted the study. Independent analysts verified the study data, record by record. Redfin, a technology-powered broker with more than $5 billion in home sales sponsored the study.  Listing data from the websites of Long & Foster, one of the largest independent real estate brokerages in the U.S. and Windermere, the largest regional real estate brokerage in the Western U.S., was also included in the study. “We analyzed a sample of more than 6,000 listings in 33 zip codes in 11 markets, comparing the data on various websites against 14 local Multiple Listing Services,” said WAV Group CEO Victor Lund. “The findings are clear: real estate brokerage websites showed by far the most homes for sale, recognized which homes were no longer for sale, and displayed new listings much earlier.” The source of brokers’ advantage is direct access to local real estate databases. In each U.S. city or area, all real estate brokers subscribe to a local association known as a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to share the listing data collected by their agents with consumers. Each MLS tracks locale-specific attributes about listings, noting for example which Seattle homes have waterfront access or which Virginia homes are historic. Only real estate brokers can be members of a local MLS. In contrast, national portals mostly rely on individual agents or real estate brokerages to re-post MLS listings on the portal websites, or the portals aggregate […]


Average Time on Market

I am a big fan of client servicing portals that leverage full MLS data rather than IDX data. The key here is that the consumer can see the full compliment of business intelligence powered by the MLS. Clearly, days on market, price changes over time, and recent sales history in the area are the fundamental elements of understanding listing price. Market Analytics are really helpful in informing predictions on this content and what will happen in the near term for hyper local markets and hyper refined property attributes. If days on market for a 2 bedroom condominium in a building in San Francisco is 8 days; and three identical units have sold in the past 2 weeks – you can predict that the new listing in that building is also likely to sell in 8 days – especially if the listing price of the condominium unit is within the boundary of the list to sale price of comparable units. Consumers need to know this information and agents need to be able to share it with buyers dynamically. The technology exists, but it is off in a product silo that consumers cannot access. There are plenty of companies that have analytic solutions that show pricing and market velocity (here is a list), but for illustrative purposes, I will reference Pricing Analysis which is a component of Terradatum’s AgentMatrix product, also known as Clarus Resource in California. Pricing Analysis uses the full compendium of MLS data facts to predict days on market for a particular property at a particular price. It is astoundingly accurate. Comparable homes pricing below the market sell in fewer days on market. Comparable homes pricing above the market take longer to sell. (note: Terradatum has proven that homes initially priced high are more likely to finally close for prices below the average). Every day, millions of listing alerts are sent from real estate professionals to consumers. These consumers have enrolled in automatic notifications that inform new listings and updated listings (like price changes). It would truly be a beautiful thing if these listings alerts said something like “Based upon data from the MLS, this property is likely to sell in ____ days.” Click here to see market data that explains why. Let the race begin to develop this functionality. Here is my prediction. Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia will have this feature available to the public faster than any other […]


The funny economics of public companies

by Victor Lund on September 10, 2012

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Zillow has a market valuation of over $1B. They are authorizing 3.5 Million more shares and raising north of another $140 Million-ish in cash (they can sell up to 4 million shares if they have heavy demand, and their stock is around $42 to $42 per share). It is amazing stuff. Smart stuff. With that kind of cash, Zillow can take strong positions in any area of the real estate industry that interests them: Buy a national brokerage, buy a national MLS vendor, buy leading companies that provide any number of agent or broker services, etc. Cash is King – and they have the cash. Unless I am mistaken, only CoreLogic has a stronger cash position than Zillow in real estate today. Think of all the fun you could have buying companies for cash and stock with that war chest. Think industry domination. Business Insider took a look at Zillow recently, and kinda answered a question that many of us were curious about. $40 Million for Rent Juice and $7.8 Million for Diverse sounded like over the top buys. Here is how Business Insider sees Zillow: Under pressure to grow, Rascoff has been aggressively buying up companies. He and his team said this May that they would spend $40 million cash on the rental relationship management software provider RentJuice, which launched in 2009, has 31 employees, and whose revenue is “currently immaterial,” according to Rascoff on his August 8 conference call. In spring 2011 the company also acquired the online real estate listing firm Postlets for an undisclosed amount. During the same year for around $7.8 million in cash and stock, Zillow bought Diverse Solutions, which has 18 employees. Rascoff and his team ended up paying around $35.4 million more for these acquisitions than they were worth on the books as of June 30, and this goodwill accounts for more than 26% of Zillow’s total assets. How much money those acquisitions end up making in the long-run remains an open question. Rascoff said August 8 that his team doesn’t expect near-term significant monetization from the rentals business associated with RentJuice, but they think the market opportunity is “very significant,” given factors such as Zillow’s consumer traffic and the billions spent marketing rentals every year. If Rascoff’s guess on this one turns out wrong, his team will have to revise their goodwill estimates downward in later years and take a hit to earnings […]


Great Companies Execute Effectively

by Victor Lund on August 16, 2012

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Marilyn Wilson’s post yesterday set off a storm. The DMV, known for its historically horrid service experience has changed their ways. They do a good job, at least here in San Luis Obsipo, CA. When WAV Group is providing strategic planning support to an MLS, Association, Technology company, or broker – we measure stuff. There is usually a comparison chart created that shows a checklist of features or service offerings that compares company or product A vs. company or product B, C, and D. This is an important exercise and the information drawn from this type of benchmarking is helpful at directing organizations to fill gaps in their offerings. Component to measuring features or services, is measuring satisfaction. For people using a product or service, we need to know how much they value it or what they hate about it. The survey question works with branches. Question 1: Do you use X? If so, Question 2: how would you rate X? Question 3: Why did you say that? WAV Group also measures adoption. This is sometimes the funny part. We get adoption numbers if they are counted, and we also ask customers if they use a product. Our current national MLS survey has a question about RE Technology. Do you use RE Technology? How long have you used RE Technology? Some agents indicated that they have used RE Technology, and a number of other products like RPR for 10 years (RE Technology and RPR have only been around for 3 years). What customers do and what they think they do are often very different things. There is much to be learned from this. At the end of the day, the performance of a brokerage, MLS, Association, or Technology company comes down to communication and execution. A bunch of leading MLSs and Associations do a good job at this. Houston Association is a good example, but there are plenty others. Pretty much every Mega-Board is nailing it – I pay attention to Orlando, Las Vegas, Long Island, Metro-Tex, Main Street and others. MRIS is a good example, I also pay attention to MRED, MLSListings,  The MLS Claw, Sandicor, MLSPIN, MyFlorida MLS and a bunch of others. As for brokers, I like what Intero is doing. They have three posts each week that go out to all of the agents. One comes from the CEO, another comes from the company Attorney, and […]

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Zillow brings battle to Listhub

by Victor Lund on July 3, 2012


Zillow launched a preemptive strike against Listhub yesterday by requesting IDX feeds from the nation’s MLS providers. Zillow Executive Bob Bemis sent an email to all MLS CEOs and Executives titled “Why two data feeds when one will do.” In the email, Bemis admits that Zillow.com is focused on improving data accuracy and timeliness. The note goes on to explain that Zillow’s IDX service, Diverse Solutions, already has the data, why not allow Zillow to use it for Zillow.com so Zillow can circumvent their reliance on Listhub data feeds. A battle ensued when Listhub got word that Zillow was calling them out on the frequency of listing updates.  The Bemis email stated: “Because of the multiple hands through which the data passes, it can sometimes be days before a revised listing reaches us for posting.” Listhub responded to the call out from Zillow in an email titled “Correcting Zillow’s recent communication regarding Listhub.” Listhub executive Luke Glass indicates that Listhub feeds data to Zillow every day, and moreover – Listhub has had a standing offer to send data feeds to Zillow every 6 hours, but Zillow refused. Glass goes on to talk about the disadvantages of sending listings directly to Zillow which include multiple broker syndication dashboards, increased complexity of brokers managing feed sources, customer support, and something about setting a precedent of using IDX for Syndication. Here is the deal. If Zillow or other publishers want to clean up their data, they can do so in two steps. First, they can only display data that comes from a broker (not franchise) combined with the Listhub or Point2 feed. Zillow is spoiling their data by accepting feeds from non-MLS sources as an action of their own will, including FSBO listings. Until they end this practice, their data will always be kludgy, Listhub aside. Secondly, any listing that has not been updated for a time certain (90 days?) could be purged from Zillow display. It would appear that some consumers have gotten wind that Zillow data is suspect. This represents a significant risk to the company’s long term success and reputation. I applaud them for trying to fix it. MLSs should take great care in their next steps. IDX is restricted for display on Participant and sometimes subscriber websites. Licensing broker data to a third party without the expressed consent of the broker is a serious matter. If you want to measure Zillow accuracy in your […]


Are App Stores the Next Zillow or Trulia?

by Mike Audet on May 16, 2012

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the idea of App Stores in the real estate technology industry and it has raised a number of questions that I want to put out there to inspire a conversation with the industry. Let me say right up front that I am not neutral in this discussion, as I am one of the founders of RE Technology which has, as an option, the ability to create an eCommerce store which is different, but related to, an App store. My partner Victor did a great job of discussing the differences in his post titled: “Explaining an MLS App Store”. So, while I may not be unbiased in my perception of the the whole concept of an app store I welcome any and all feedback on the questions I am raising because the more I think about this approach the more concern I have on multiple levels. As Victor explained, the three typical components of an App Store are: A common platform (like the iPhone) Online delivery eCommerce enabled The process goes like this; a user sees something they like in the store, they click the button and presto, they are ready to install and use the technology product. This all sounds good at first blush. The App Store that is creating the buzz at present is the FBS “Spark Platform”.  Their website puts it this way: “The Spark Platform connects software developers with Multiple Listing Services to provide innovative tools for brokers, agents and their customers.” The idea behind Spark, as I understand it, is to allow vendors to develop to their API (Application Product Interface) in order to access the MLS data to use in their product. Ideally this would make it easier for vendors who now have to navigate many different interface requirements from MLS to MLS and endure the costs this brings with it. It also would help the MLS with the issue of not having to send their data out to work with vendors. Rather, the vendors would create products that work with the FBS (Spark) API to pull data as they need it. Users would come to a store, pick their software, purchase it, install it and the software would get loaded on the “Spark Bar” for easy use. Here’s where things get a little tricky in my mind. When the users pay for the software or service a percentage, let’s say 30% of the […]


Onboard Targets ListHub Reports with New Product

by Victor Lund on May 9, 2012

Onboard Logo

In a press release found below, Onboard announced the launch of Listings 360 insight Advisor. This product is a reporting solution like Listhub Reports, and FREE!  However, Listings 360 does not include syndication at this time. The first customer in line to release the product is Chicago multiple listing service provider, Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED). Connecticut MLS (CTMLS) and Metropolitan Regional MLS (MRIS) have also licensed the solution for their subscribers. WAV Group spoke to MRED CEO, Russ Bergeron to understand the strategy behind the launch. Bergeron indicated that MRED likes to offer more than one product option when there will be a benefit to their customers. MRED has already put the tracking code into connectMLS™ system so that their subscribers will be able to provide consumers with search traffic reports that include the MLS system. “This is important because the MLS system has many times the number of property views of publisher sites.” MRIS offers Listhub, RE DataVault, Anti-Scraping technology, and Onboard in an effort to support brokers in managing and protecting data in the best possible way. To enhance adoption of Listings 360 Insight Advisor, all new RETS data feed recipients will be required to include the Listings 360 Insight Advisor tracking code in their application or they will be in violation of the MRIS RETS data feed agreement. The good news in the release is that Trulia has agreed to participate in the program. Today, Trulia withholds “views” information from the Listhub reports. Unfortunately, REALTOR.com, Homes.com and a number of other popular sites is not included in Listings 360 Insight at this time – but the move by MRIS and other MLSs may be a game changer. At the end of the day, the most important reporting feature is that ability to give a seller a report about where their listing appeared, how many times it was viewed, and the number of online inquiries. Unfortunately, there are still hurdles for both companies to deliver that accurate and comprehensive report. The challenge is to get every company publishing listing information to participate in the reporting program or programs. Listhub has a head start, as Onnboard enters the race. I believe that for any of these reporting features to truly have an impact, the MLS must follow MRIS and others by requiring the inclusion of the tracking code everywhere the data is presented – All publisher sites, all […]


Every agent I know is looking for new opportunities for generating additional revenue.  At the same time I hear again and again that many agents are not interested in working on rental properties because there’s “not enough money in it”. Driven by this ambivalence, many MLSs are ignoring the rental market. This perspective is a HUGE mistake, in my view.  Let me share some “fun facts” with you to help you understand why I say that… First: Did you know that experts are now predicting that rental properties will constitute up to 40% of the overall residential real estate market over the next several years? Current trends further suggest that up to 25% of the residential market in 2012 and beyond will be comprised of domestic and foreign investors creating rental properties from the distressed real estate inventory. Second: Are you aware that leading online rental sites collectively generate over 40 million visitors every month?   To put that in perspective, Zillow only generates about 25 million visitors per month.  Along these lines, have you ever noticed how every mobile app for the large portals are now focused on BOTH for sale and rental properties? Third: Zillow just purchased rentJuice for $40,000,000!    They don’t invest that much money just for their health!  They recognize the important shift in consumer’s thinking and they are going to capitalize on it! Fourth: What do you think will happen with renters over time? As the market continues to strengthen, and many reach a time when they want to have a family and backyard, they will inevitably want to purchase a home.  It’s important for brokers and MLSs to WELCOME renters so that when they ARE ready to buy a home, you will already have a relationship with them and they will be comfortable searching for properties with you and on your website. WAV Group has been talking about the need to jump on the rental market for some time, yet very few in organized real estate have responded to this important and urgent need.  There are exceptions of course; Kudos to Utahrealestate.com who now overtly markets both for sale and for rent properties!   Utahrealestate.com is already the number one property site in Utah and they are going to likely maintain that position by offering this important new feature!  Great job WFR MLS! It’s about time for every Broker and every MLS in the United States […]

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Move Announces 2x More Revenue than Zillow

by Victor Lund on May 4, 2012

move zillow

Today, there are two front-runners in online property search – Zillow and Move. They are both public companies. Falling in line behind them are two private companies, Homes.com and Trulia. Here is how the revenue stacks up on the public companies. Move, Inc., Operators of Realtor.com who is in partnership with AOL Real Estate and MSN real estate for publishing broker listings reported revenue of $47.7 million today. Move did not report any earnings or losses. Seattle Upstart Zillow has been on a run, increasing traffic to levels comparable with Move and purchasing companies. They reported revenue of $22.8M and earnings of $.06 per share. It is interesting that the Zillow CEO made comments about the real estate industry spending $6B a year in advertising. I think that he intended to say $6B a year on advertising, technology, MLS dues, and Association Dues. Move’s Highlights from PR Wire “During the first quarter, Move continued to lay the groundwork for a successful 2012 while delivering growth in our core Realtor.com business,” said Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer at Move, Inc. “As local market trends improved slightly in the first quarter, Move realized solid revenue in our Realtor.com Showcase offering and saw promising signs of stability in Top Producer. Solid results from these traditional core products provide the foundation to build on with our newer Co-Broke basic leads program and PreQualPlus mortgage product, which we believe will help drive positive revenue growth in 2012. We are executing effectively against an active 2012 calendar, having already launched a number of key initiatives with many more scheduled for later this year. With the growing use of mobile devices in real estate search, Move continues to lead the real estate industry as it harnesses new technologies that are fundamentally changing how consumers and real estate professionals connect.”   Recent Highlights: Market leadership: Realtor.com remains the most trusted name in online real estate. In the first quarter of 2012, users spent nearly 1.2 billion minutes and viewed approximately 1.5 billion total pages on the Realtor.com network, more than 1.5 times the nearest competitor(1). Mobile Highlights: Move rolled out several new or updated versions of its market-leading mobile applications. Today, nearly 40% of all “Homes For Sale” viewed on Realtor.com are on a mobile device. Leads delivered to agents and brokers through Realtor.com’s mobile applications grew by more than 120 percent year-over-year. Co-Broke Connection: Realtor.com’s solution for […]


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