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What Real Estate Stocks Suggest about Life after Shelter-in-Place
If you are an active trader in the stock market who purchased shares during the free fall, you may have witnessed the greatest gain in 30 years. Many real estate stocks rebounded quite nicely, but others still have much to gain. For the purposes of this article, we are choosing the two-year chart.
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Why One-Stop Shop Is a Fallacy
After 30+ years in the real estate industry, I find a truism that resonates with me. "The more things change, the more they stay the same." A case in point is our industry's quest to create a "one-stop-shop" for consumers. It has been a highly prized Holy Grail coveted and touted by experts and category leaders since I have been in the business. But the pragmatist in me, combined with personal experiences, has taught me to question conventional wisdom. So, I do. I have often found that conventional wisdom is just plain wrong.
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Divergent Perspectives by America's Real Estate Leaders
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Insider's View: MoxiWorks Acquisition of Imprev
At 6:30 am, a text appeared on my phone from a great friend and former colleague. The story he sent had this headline: "MoxiWorks Acquires Imprev, the Best-in-Class Marketing Automation Service." My immediate reaction? This was fantastic news for Imprev and MoxiWorks. My DNA is part of Imprev. I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with Renwick Congdon, founder of Imprev, for nearly 20 years. Both firms are Seattle-area based. Both have hired and developed a team of exceptionally talented, passionate, and loyal employees. These folks are super nice people whom you enjoy being around.
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The Resurgence of the Independent Real Estate Brokerage: An Open Letter to the Real Estate Industry
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May We Please Start Saying 'My Pleasure' Instead of 'No Problem'?
Customer service in real estate is paramount. It's a key differentiator promoted by the vast majority of brokerages and agents. It's vital because real estate is a relationship business. I've written about this before, but growing up and working for my dad in the hotel business, I was taught how essential it was to provide exceptional customer service. That has made me acutely aware of the overall decline in excellent customer service in our society at large.
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The Biggest Marketing Success in the History of The National Association of REALTORS
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Houston 2020: A Historic Dive into America's Biggest Boom Town
If you don't know the name, Ralph Bivins, then you've likely been insulated from Houston's real estate scene. Bivins is Houston's most enduring and prolific real estate observer, reporter, champion, and now, author. Houston 2020: America's Boom Town – An Extreme Close Up is the rookie author's new book in which he does a deep dive into one of the nation's fastest-growing and most remarkable cities. Bivins explores not just the projects and the people that mastermind this massive city but its global impact. He doesn't hold back and explores the good, the bad, and the ugly of Houston. Houston 2020 is a must read—even for those who have never been to Houston or have no connection to its the area whatsoever. I will tell you why.
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Real Estate Technology: Why Disruption Isn't the Answer
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What Real Estate Brokerages Can Learn from 'The Avengers'
Movies based on superhero comics are a serious staple of nerd culture, but believe it or not, they have a big potential impact for businesses like real estate brokerages, too. And it isn't just tied to selling comic books. Now, with the recent release of Avengers: Endgame, we thought it would be fun to take a look at what's made these movies so popular over the years—and what real-life lessons brokerages can learn from them.
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Why Isn't Redfin Bigger?
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How iBuyers Die
iBuyers are all the rage in the investment community. Given the enormously challenging economics of the iBuyer business model, I'm not yet sold that these companies will come to take a large bite out of the real estate pie. What clues can we take from Zillow's traditional and new iBuyer model to peek into the future of the real estate industry inclusive of iBuyers? What can ultimately kill iBuyers?
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Let's Start Tipping Brokers
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What's Wrong With Real Estate Tech?
In the beginning Everyone is aware of how the real estate industry operated 15 years ago. Agents controlled access to listings, the MLS carved out a competitive advantage as holder of the lock and key, and consumers had no option but to chat with a Realtor or jot down notes from a for-sale sign to engage in buying or selling a home. Then it all changed, sort of.
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The First $2 Billion Realtor: The Numbers in Perspective
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Lone Wolf's New CEO Jack Blaha
WAV Group and RE Technology would like to welcome Jack Blaha to the real estate industry. This article is part of our Follow the Leader series that highlights real estate's most profoundly impactful CEOs. Blaha (pronounced Bla-ha) has taken the helm at Lone Wolf Technologies, replacing CEO Patrick Arkeveld who has moved up to Executive Chairman of the company. (Lone Wolf founder Lorne Wallace continues in an executive advisory role with the company).
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Disruption Is Not Coming to Real Estate
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Influencing the Future: Insights from 2 of Real Estate's Most Powerful Voices
If you've spent any time reading our broker and MLS channels, you undoubtedly recognize the name "WAV Group." They're not only the dominant voice on those channels, but the founders of WAV Group are also the founders of RE Technology. Every year, we look forward to seeing the names of WAV Group partners Marilyn Wilson and Victor Lund appear on lists of the industry's most powerful and influential. In December, the duo was named to RISMedia's 2019 Real Estate Newsmakers list (see here and here). And just this month, Marilyn and Victor were listed on the 2019 Swanepoel Power 200, a comprehensive list of the most powerful people in the residential real estate industry.
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The Ethical Dilemmas of Modern Real Estate Technology
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Do We Need a National MLS?
The Pros and Cons of It Today we're tackling a big question: Do we really need a national MLS? Who stands to benefit the most? Who would suffer? Below is an overview of the pros and cons and common questions I've had during conversations with home buyers, real estate technology companies, and brokers.
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Life Is a Continuous Pivot
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Why Is Real Estate So Obsessed with Innovation or Disruption?
I was inspired by a Facebook post the other day that asked the question, "Name one thing that government has made cheaper and more efficient." Okay, it was not really a question. But it was a command that begged a question. As I looked though the answers, I could only be humored by the banter posted by some people that I knew, others that I did not know. For a while, I also contemplated a list of answers. I even did a bit of research. Then I started to break down the question. First with "government"—national, state, county, city, village, town, and so on—I wanted to know which government. Then I turned to "things." What are things that government... yadda, yadda. After toiling with the game in my mind, I came up with my post.
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Fair Listing Attribution
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Compass Is Really a Branding Agency for Agents
In the media, you hear that Compass is a traditional brokerage driven by incredible technology that gives their agents an advantage in the marketplace. Frankly, I have registered for Compass' website and mobile apps as a consumer and have not experienced anything extraordinary yet. We will continue to watch how they evolve their technology. It takes a very long time to do this, especially if you are trying to keep up with the data integrations driven by their market growth.
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MoxiWorks Refutes Compass' Claims Regarding Technology and Market Share
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Days of Disruption
Disruptors seem to be a dime a dozen these days. At least they're self-defining themselves as disruptors. I cringe every time I come across the word because there is nothing disruptive about many of their technologies. They aren't turning the industry upside down. They aren't replacing brokerages or agents as a part of the transaction. They are building new software and processes designed to make this industry more accessible, more secure, more reliable, more profitable. Many of these self-defined disruptors have great products, services, and technologies that will improve the day to day of working in real estate. Let's call a spade a spade – we're surrounded by innovators, not disruptors.
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Overcoming Urgency and Maximizing ROI
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Is Technology Helping or Hurting the Real Estate Industry?
"When Keller Williams is renaming itself a technology company, it's probably fairly important," said Mike Schneider, CEO of First.io, in Onboard Informatics' recent Technology Panel. There's no doubt technology is important, but we wanted to know from the group if they felt real estate was helping or hurting our industry. The overwhelming consensus? Real estate companies and professionals benefit from technology, but only when they use it right.
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Top 5 Real Estate Quotes from 2017
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Holiday Lights Obsession, Explained
No, my house has not been featured on "The Great Christmas Light Fight." My thousands of lights are neither programmed nor synchronized to holiday music. The International Space Station can't see my Bainbridge Island, Washington home from orbit. I am just a guy who every year, for the last 20-plus years, has found the time to squeeze in dozens of hours to brighten our home for the holidays. From climbing ladders and walking on our high-pitched (formerly wood-shake) rooftop, to donning lights, stars and a blazingly bright cross made by our then 8-year old son and his granddad, to blanketing our front yard with classic cartoon character blow molds, animated blow ups, rope lighted deer and tens of thousands of LED lights.
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Seasons of Real Estate: Winter is Coming...
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How Will iBuyers Affect Traditional REALTORS?
iBuying is the process in which home sellers bypass traditional listing and sales practices, receiving in exchange both cash from a third-party investor and an accelerated closing schedule. For many home sellers over the last few decades, this iBuying concept has been the stuff of dreams – sweet dreams. For many real estate agents over the last few decades, this iBuying concept has been the stuff of dreams, too – but for them it may have been nightmares.
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The New Vision of Lone Wolf
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Steve Murray Appointed to Lone Wolf Board of Directors
WAV Group would like to congratulate the Lone Wolf board of directors for expanding their ranks to include Real Trends President, Steve Murray. It's a great move and brokers should celebrate! If you are not familiar, Lone Wolf is among the largest technology providers in the real estate industry with a focus on broker back office solutions where they are the market leader. Their accounting solutions have profound market share – likely exceeding 50 percent of all brokerage firms in America. Last month, Lone Wolf acquired Instanet – making Lone Wolf either the no. 1 or no. 2 provider of forms and transaction management solutions for brokerages. Lone Wolf has a vast array of tools that complete the full footprint of any technology stack that brokers want to deploy in their business today. If a company is looking for a complete lead to close solution, Lone Wolf may be the only company that has the entire system. Real Trends has been consulting with the broker community for decades and Mr. Murray is clearly the most experienced consultant at putting together brokerage mergers and acquisitions. Murray has a keen eye for helping brokerage firms develop profound and meaningful value in their company as an asset. When you look at business development and operations though that lens, Real Trends is expert.
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How Great Agents Challenge Discount Brokers
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Why Millennials Deserve Respect
What comes to mind when you hear the word "Millennial"? A quick Google search prompts you to finish the statement "Millennials are..." with negative descriptors that start with every letter of the alphabet. It seems like 18 to 35 year olds are facing such heavy criticism that "Millennial" has become a derogatory word. This kind of reproach occurs with every generation. Elders consistently believe that their younger counterparts are foolish, lazy and entitled. No doubt there are members of Gen-Y who are accurately described by these words, but it would be a serious misunderstanding to believe that they are the majority.
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Did Zillow Open the Door to Their Own Demise?
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Zillow Is a Broker – So What?
"Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, NRT, Redfin – all brokers. Do brokers drop out of IDX because they are selling homes in their market? Brokers share their listings with these large firms every day. If Zillow joins the list, what's the diff?" This is the conversation starter that an investment banker had with me today. I appreciate having conversations with people in the capital markets. Bankers see the world differently. They believe that markets shape themselves and that great companies lead markets. Perhaps Zillow Group has its heart in its current service offerings today. The company protests against becoming a brokerage, but everyone got very upset recently when they launched a pilot for Instant Offers that seemed broker-like. It's a program where Zillow helps investors buy property by submitting offer letters directly to homeowners. Brokers don't like it. Some agents really like it.
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5 WRONG Assumptions I Made about Brokerages (as a Millennial)
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March Madness, Competition, and Upstream
Ahhh... March Madness. I love everything about it. Team dynamics, competition, and the sheer will to win. If you give any credence to the media, you'd think there's a game to be won within the real estate industry for control of data management. That's understandable. Looking at how our industry has evolved over the past 18 months, it's clear that most data vendors and portals also see the need for an "Upstream-like" data repository. Many vendors and portals (and some MLSs) have either introduced one or are working on one. So we seem to have a consensus that property data must be better managed, and perhaps in a single source location. The question is no longer "Is it needed?" but "Who is the best entity to create and operate the database?" Every entity creating their personal "Upstream" is fighting to obtain a significant critical mass of data to ensure they become the standard for data management and control. Vendors will position their "Upstream" as a free (or nearly free) incentive to leverage your collective data to get you to commit to their products and services. There is no free lunch: what is given away up front always has a price somewhere down the line. It's a familiar model that portals have used to move into a control position for consumer website interaction. As an industry, we gave up that position of control and, without efforts like Upstream, are precariously headed there again. To be clear, these are not evil companies trying to destroy our industry. They rely on our industry for their livelihood, but make no mistake: they do not share our goals and objectives. They are looking to monetize the data for the benefit of their company, while brokers are looking to manage the data to benefit our industry. There's nothing wrong with either, but the two will not always be aligned. The good news is that both a for-profit and an industry centered solution will benefit the consumer in cleaner, more accurate data so consumer benefit need not be drawn into the conversation.
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Those Spring Weather Patterns Have Appeared
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DocuSign's New CEO: 'Why I’m Proud to Sign on'
When I talked to friends and family over the holidays about my excitement to join DocuSign in the New Year, I was astonished by the response. One after another would comment: "DocuSign? I love DocuSign." People's enthusiasm for DocuSign matched my own in every instance. Whether it's buying a house, closing a deal to meet quota, or signing a parent permission slip for a school field trip, people have a very real and very strong connection with this company and its products. And it makes sense. DocuSign helps you take care of important things quickly, easily and securely – so you can get to other, often even more important and higher value things in both life and business. It's so fast and easy that you wonder why you ever did it any other way. That's powerful. And it's why I'm thrilled to be joining the company as CEO. That, and the tremendous opportunity ahead of the company and our team across three dimensions: 1. Impact. Anyone can use this technology to make their lives and their businesses better. The team here is defining and growing a category with incredible breadth. There is not another private Software-as-a-Service company that has bigger potential. Every individual professional, every small business, every global enterprise and every business department therein are potential customers; and every consumer is a potential user. Already, DocuSign has significant scale as the pioneer and global standard for eSignature and Digital Transaction Management with more than 100 million users across 188 countries. And we're adding 130,000 new users every day as we expand into new industries, new markets and new geographies. That's exciting.  
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The 5 Best Real Estate Quotes for 2017
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Why Zillow is Wrong About Halloween
I have a bone to pick with our friends over at Zillow. Every year they do a list of the best places to trick or treat on Halloween. This is this year's list: Yet again New York did not make the list. Why?! To make the cut, trick or treaters must be able to get serious candy in a short period of time. So Zillow considers home values, proximity of homes to one another, crime rate and percentage of youngsters under 10. Well – it's no wonder New York didn't make the cut! Sixty-nine percent of the population are renters and 86 percent of us are over 10. But I am here to make a case for New York trick or treating. New York does Halloween better than any other city in the country I'll give other holidays to other cities. Last year we officially said Rochester was the best city for Thanksgiving. Paris probably has Valentine's Day. Las Vegas can have bachelor parties (is that a holiday?).  St. Patrick's Day can go to Chicago or Boston. But New York has Halloween. We have a parade with over 50,000 people, a jack-o-lantern blaze with 7,000 pumpkins, a Halloween dog parade, horror film festivals, and countless haunted houses. Even our museums host Halloween Parties! It's also widely known that New Yorkers like costumes. We have Fashion Week, Broadway, the Met Gala....we even dress up for Christmas. So yes, Halloween is a big deal in Gotham.
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Working with Those Wonderful Millennials
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Real Business is Personal and Authenticity Lasts a Lifetime
I filmed at a business innovation conference a few years ago. The conference was run by MBA students from a prestigious Canadian university and attended by prominent business people from all over North America. I was paid by the MBA students to film the conference. That included all the keynotes, some of the breakout sessions, and all of the fancy snack and alcohol consumption. I was a one-man crew, handing all of the lighting, audio and camera. I filmed all Friday night, all Saturday day and night, and half of Sunday. I was also underpaid, but that's another story. The most important thing for me to capture was the interviews with the four keynotes and the seven conference organizers. I'll admit I was a little intimidated at the conference. I was an Arts student with no business experience and some of the concepts went over my head. I did learn one very important life-lesson though: Real business is personal and authenticity lasts a lifetime. Let me explain.
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The Confident House Hunter: A Better, Different Way to Buy
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Managing Innovation Generated Team Conflict
The American real estate industry has been tracking, examining, debating and denying a wide range of innovative disruptions and transitionary forces over the past several years. By way of example, transaction management has been on the industry menu for almost 20 years and is just now about to become mainstream. Agent ratings can be traced back six years and is only now preparing to take its place as an industry staple. The idea of developing and implementing superior consumer experiences is starting to gain traction after having competed with agent centricity for years. Integrating intensified agent portal participation promises to be challenging, given its inherent chain of command conflicts. Perhaps most dramatic will be the management shifts and transitions that brokerages will have to integrate into their operations as a result of the new Upstream broker-centric data management program. These are but a few of the internal and/or external innovations that the industry is currently preparing to incorporate. Each of these surviving innovations and developments (as well as a score of others working their way through the system) has followed a predictable course on its way to industry acceptance. Most started with a visioning experience gained through either industry publications or any one of several industry conferences that provide "coming out" events for new innovations. At some point, these introductions blossom into discovery relationships as R&D, marketing and promotional activities and/or internal innovation programs seek out ideal candidates for beta testing, utilization and adoption phases. When the discovery programs find traction, the innovation journey moves to the design phase where specific needs and applications are addressed and resolved. It is during this phase that the future of the innovation is either sealed or rejected.
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What I Learned From Muhammad Ali
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What Happens if Your Tech Leader Is Hit by a Bus?
Bob Rosecrans and Michael Koval at Pixces Consulting Group are a little more subtle in addressing this subject in their new white paper, "Real Estate Brokers: Is your CIO future proofing your business?" But the title of the paper's first chapter really says it all: "I love my CIO but..." What follows in an exceptionally candid and insightful examination of the conversations that Chief Executive Officers or broker-owners must have with their Chief Information Officers – or whoever is the technology leader or point person at their brokerage. As Senior Partners at Pixces – and industry power hitters – Koval and Rosecrans specialize in helping real estate brokerages address IT business solutions to solve business challenges. The deep insight they share is based on years of highly honed experiences. Koval, a founder who also serves on Pixces Board of Directors, was the Chief Information Officer for Long & Foster Real Estate. There he was responsible for all technology, business solutions, IT governance, security and online systems. Koval also has served on numerous boards including Trulia, National Association of Realtors Security & Policy Group, LeadingRE and The Realty Alliance. Rosecrans previously was the Chief Security Officer for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an international non-profit organization providing services to business schools, including the widely used Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). He also was the CIO and CSO for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. What they impart in this white paper addresses the reality that most real estate brokerage leaders simply do not have the deep tough talk they should with their tech leaders. The harsh truth is, if, God forbid, a brokerage's CIO was hit by a bus, chaos is likely. The good news is that in their white paper, the authors outline a specific game plan for what a CEO should expect from their CIO with very clear objectives and direction.
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Risk-Taking Is Back and So Is Rampant Innovation
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Real Estate in Crisis: Is Nothing Better Than Something?
Real estate is a fascinating industry when it comes to making choices about something versus nothing. Again and again, we see individual agents, brokers, associations, MLSs, and franchises make choices to get something when getting nothing may be the better strategy. I doubt that this article will have any change on the bearing of the industry, but in some small way it may influence one or more decisions today or this week by a few people. Why Do We Sacrifice Long Term Success for Short Term Gain? In our industry, people too often say "yes" to a bad deal. An example of this would be the business model where an agent will rebate their commission to a consumer.  Why would a real estate agent accept a $500 flat fee for a transaction? Every one of us knows the hours of time and the level of training, tools, and expertise it takes to represent a consumer in a property trade. $500 is like accepting below minimum wage. I understand the justification. We hear stories like, "Well, it's only this transaction," or, "We will make it up in volume." That is sheer craziness. Every time a real estate agent agrees to offer their services at a loss, they feed the beast that will overrun their fair compensation. What I am trying to illustrate is that nothing would be better than something. Not accepting the loss on the transaction would be superior to accepting the $500. Whenever I make this assertion, I get no argument. Everyone agrees, but in agreement they deposit one caveat, "If I don't take the $500, someone else will."
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Upstream: Our Own Manhattan Project
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What the Real Estate Industry Could Learn from FIRST Robotics?
Robots are cool. High school students building 120-pound robots in just six weeks to compete in sporting-like competition with and against other robots is cooler. Being a mentor for a local FIRST Robotics team, Spartronics Team 4915 of Bainbridge Island, Washington since its inception three years ago is the coolest, most rewarding, non-profit volunteering experience I have ever had. I have learned so much, and it got me to thinking about a couple of concepts that define FIRST and how it relates to what I do. So what could the real estate industry learn from FIRST Robotics? First About FIRST 25 years ago, Dean Kamen, an inventor extraordinaire, and MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor Dr. Woodie Flowers, created FIRST Robotics. They wanted to find a way to transform our culture from celebrating our sports and entertainment stars to creating a world where students dream to become science and technology leaders. FIRST – or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – offers robotics programs for grades K-12. The top tier – FIRST Robotics Competition or FRC – is comprised of high school-aged teams who compete head to head on a special playing field with robots they have designed, built, and programmed. The game that is played changes every year and combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology and why it is called the "Sport for the Mind."
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A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish
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Full Circle on the Consumer Experience
This column’s first two articles of 2016 explored the relatively narrow band of issues being generated by the emerging premium agent movement being championed by the national portals, and the industry’s growing vulnerability presented by the questionable influence and impact of the subpar “facilitator” agent. This third article of 2016 will revisit the question of the consumer experience issue, first raised at the beginning of 2015, as it relates to the two issues raised above. All three of these subjects have been on the industry’s priority agenda for the past eighteen months. The fact, however, is that the industry’s current disruptive environment is making these factors even more relevant. More specifically, we are seeing a classic case of convergence. Three formerly marginally related issues are coming together to create a major shift in procedures. Understanding this new environment is a prerequisite to appreciating the dangers being presented. There are two types of disruptions currently impacting the real estate industry and marketplace. The broadest reaching disruption is called innovative disruption. This is the change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value propositions of existing goods and services. Virtually every aspect of the American economy is currently being subjected to innovative disruption. Every time there is a significant digital or technological advance, the value in place of all systems that contain that technology in its previous configuration is automatically changed. The best-known and most quoted disruptive process is called digital disruption. These occur when competitors use innovative disruptions as competitive business advantages or weapons systems to improve their market positions or propositions vis-à-vis their competitors. In a relatively high tech, competitive and complex industry such as real estate, there is always a high number of each form of disruption occurring. This rate of change can seem quite chaotic for those businesses and participants caught in the middle, with neither a disruption plan nor a developmental road map.
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Does Your System Look Good?
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Do You Know What Your Real Estate Consumers are Reading?
A recent edition of this column focused on a number of industry current trends and forces that, taken together, strongly support the idea that, moving forward, brokerages are going to have to take a much more activist position regarding the activities of their agents—most especially with respect to the quality and nature of the services and consumer experiences they are delivering. The industry disruptors driving this issue were identified as highly motivated consumers, national portal premium agent programs, the high probability of definitive “independent contractors” litigation, potential CFPB regulatory initiatives, and the increasingly dissatisfied “counselor” agent sector. Taken together, they deliver a clear message that is best represented by the CFPB motto, Flight into Quality. Given the potential seriousness of this situation, it has become critically important that brokers, executives and managers began the process of understanding where the objectives of these disruptors come together in the marketplace and what sources are impacting the opinions and impressions of today’s consumer. Consumer Reports is a publication that has been published and distributed monthly by the Consumer Reports organization since 1936. The organization currently has over 7.3 million subscribers and a $21 million annual testing and evaluation budget. The organization and its publication are considered to be one of the leading consumer influences in the country. The March edition of Consumer Reports featured an in-depth piece on the real estate marketplace entitled, "The Real Estate of Real Estate." The subtitle spoke to its contents: "New population patterns, lending practices and housing preferences are changing the rules, whether you are buying, selling, renting or remodeling."
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Digital Disruption Prepares to Strike Again
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Why Real Estate Isn’t a Zero-sum Game
In recent years, housing has failed to move the needle in growing transactions or homeownership rates, which is causing some to believe real estate is a zero-sum game. We begin to think there will only be a certain number of transactions in a given year, and we're all just fighting for a piece of the pie. But, what about growing incremental sales? Isn't that the ultimate goal? Bear with me because it's the New Year and the time to be both reflective and aspirational. A zero-sum game A few months back, the Notorious R.O.B. (Rob Hahn) tackled this zero-sum game issue. We have a lot of respect for Hahn's industry insights and wouldn't want to have to match wits in a dark alley. To be sure, he is talking about the inability for technology alone to drive incremental home sales. Still, it got me thinking, does anyone have the ability to make more sales happen? Are down payments a core issue? Surveys such as the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers find that first-time homebuyers are at a new low, and the finger's pointed at the core challenges of saving for a down payment, student loan debt and increasing rent and home prices.
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It’s the Season for Giving: Branding Motivators That Work
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Real Estate Transactions Are Now on Top of the Stress List
It may or may not come as a surprise to most real estate professionals that it is now public knowledge that—with respect to stress—participation in a real estate transaction is now on par with death, terminal disease, divorce, airline travel and computer repair. An article published in the October 2015 edition of the Harvard Business Journal by Leonard L. Berry from Texas A&M University and Scott Davis from Rice University reports that services such as cancer care, airline travel, computer repair and home buying and selling can trigger powerful human emotions. Even more surprising is the fact that the vast majority of the entities and individuals delivering these services are not sensitive to the level of stress their consumer experience generates. Nor are they provided with the training necessary to either demonstrate sensitivity or reduce the amount of stress their performance is largely responsible for. By this point, some readers will be rolling their eyes and not so subtly pointing out: Hey, what's new? This is the way it has always been, this is the way it will always be and, as a hyper busy real estate professional, I can't be responsible for the client's mental health. Buck up, consumers! While there may be no lack of support for this macho position, hopefully there will be a few souls who will want to better understand the big picture, because there is one. Let's start with a few facts. First, this is not our parents' real estate marketplace. A strong argument can be made to support the idea that, as a market, we are in the last vestiges of that era in which real estate agents and sales representatives have the absolute power to design and deliver the consumer real estate experience. From a consumer and regulatory perspective, we are now in an new era in which the only thing that matters is what experience the real estate consumer gains from their buying, selling and transactional experience and how they can customize that experience to make it a positive one.
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Millennials and Home Buying Revisited
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Management Migration: A Sign of the Times
The conclusion of the industry's recent round of summer presentations and articles provides an opportunity for reflection and consideration regarding what lies ahead for fall and winter. As has been the case for the past few years, increasingly dramatic transformation continues to occur. Issues regarding the control and processing of listings and other real estate related data, the emergence of the hybrid brokerage culture, the continuing demise of MLS organizations and REALTOR® associations, the sharpening of the consumer expectation and the industry's almost myopic focus on all things 'portal' provides the framework for this ongoing discussion. Certainly one of the most significant dynamics currently driving the industry is the almost universal sense that little or no change will be initiated or driven by the traditional brokerage element. With few exceptions, like great fortresses along the Maginot Line, they stand bravely facing out toward the forest, awaiting their fate at the hands of those that will carry the day forward. Yet under the umbrella of the forest, there is a great deal of activity. Record numbers of more aggressive agents are abandoning these fortresses seeking refuge, safety and success with brokerage organizations that appear to be preparing to take both a leadership position and the advantage of the evolving marketplace environment. Many of these agents are entering into new brokerage relationships that involve levels of compliance, accountability and discipline that would never have been possible in the traditional sector. These agents may constitute the first wave of the new movement. If that is the case, the second wave is likely to consist of the brighter and younger managers who are increasingly recognizing that their futures are likely to depend upon getting onboard and up to speed with a brokerage that is preparing to align with the trends, emerging rules and realities of the new industry environment. In July of this year, I found myself engaged in a riveting discussion with a group of clients, all of whom are very successful brokerage management executives. The conversation worked its way through a number of interesting issues before coming to rest on the subject of management careers in the real estate industry. It was at this point that one of the participants assumed the leadership position and sharpened the group's focus by sharing the fascinating story of her recent career changes.
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What's Next for DotLoop?
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What is the Deal with Millennials?
Brokerages are currently being challenged in their efforts to capture a commanding share of what some in the industry are trying hard to classify as a "Millennial land rush." The fact of the matter may be that the current situation may not constitute a land rush at all, but rather a generation playing out its unique developmental destiny. The industry's conference and literature environments are currently awash with presentations and articles about the consumer behaviors of the 80 million Americans between the age of 18 and 34 that comprise what is generally known as the Millennial generation. While much of the information that is being shared is simply a rehash of extremely limited professional and previous offerings, there is one new publication that meets everyone's five star test of relevancy, accuracy and power. Last week, the Pew Research Center, a unit of the Pew Charitable Trusts, issued what is probably, at this point in time, the definitive report regarding the Millennial Generation and their current interactions with the housing industry. The Pew Charitable Trust is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), founded in 1948. With over $5 billion in assets, its stated mission is to "serve the public interest by improving public policy, informing the public, and stimulating civic life." It is, by any criterion, an amazing fountain of knowledge that matters. The Pew report is entitled More Millennials Living With Family Despite Improved Job Market. The report contains a revealing analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data regarding this increasingly important demographic. For real estate professionals seeking to effectively work with this group, the following insights will be essential.
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The Potential Perils of Being Out of Control
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Who Will Install the Giant Rats of Real Estate?
If you visit New York City regularly, you will sometimes encounter a giant inflatable rat on the sidewalk outside businesses experiencing union disputes. Organized labor has also joined in the fight against companies like Airbnb and Uber. Ken Jenny of TranCen often remarks that "With Airbnb, you have one of the largest hotel companies in the world who does not own a single hotel room. With Uber, you have the largest taxi cab company in the world who does not own a single taxi." I would add that Facebook has become the largest publisher in the world and they do not write a single word. YouTube is the largest broadcaster in the world and does not make a single video. Incidentally, my 12 year old reads Instagram more than newspapers and watches far more YouTube than television. There is little doubt that, in the future, the largest real estate brokerage in the country will not have a single listing or show a single property to a buyer. Anyone can compose a list of who will disrupt real estate. But the more interesting list to create is who is likely to defend the industry. The most obvious answer is the NAR. But I do not see that happening.
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The Fine Art of Due Diligence
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Stand By For Position RPR Verification
Last month, we reviewed the down to earth business intelligence and guidance provided to the brokerage community by a recent series of industry conferences renown for the depth of their research and the accuracy of their presentations. In preparation for this month's information, you are requested to immediately climb to 55,000 feet for a more extended view of the circumstances that will be impacting, if not controlling, your businesses and marketplace moving forward. The events of Saturday, May 16th will, in all likelihood, impact the operation of your business more than any other single day in recent history. This is, of course, a reference to the National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors meeting held in Washington, D.C. and the positive vote taken in support of NAR's partnership with Project Upstream as well as the funding of both Project Upstream and AMP (Advanced Multi-List Platform). The following comments benefit generously from comments made by Dale Ross, the uber gifted RPR CEO. The partnership between NAR and UpstreamRE, LLC will leverage the RPR technology platform to develop a new data management service for brokers known as Project Upstream. The events of May 16th culminated several months of extensive discussions between the leaders of many of the nation's largest brokerages, franchise networks and NAR. They created a significant opportunity for the industry to leverage and take advantage of RPR's five-year investment in data and technology. In light of the importance of these events, additional clarification may be necessary. It is common knowledge within the industry that NAR, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Realtors Property Resource®, has, over the past five years, invested millions of dollars into what may be the finest real estate database ever created. It is also widely known in the industry that RPR's first attempt, in 2010, to bring the benefits of this database to its REALTOR® constituents was something less than successful. Even today, five years later, our ever-present industry observers--many of whom have no claim to creativity or innovation--continue to rave on about this early shortfall.
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No HATERS in Real Estate Please!
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Time to Market
Shaping an idea or a strategy takes time. More importantly, it takes a well-structured catalyst that "just makes sense." WAV Group has had the opportunity to work with some pretty fantastic visionaries on the future of real estate – powerful market makers that rethink things many times to carefully construct strategies for the greater good. The outreach with peers and competitors only drives the momentum and refines the structure. It is impressive and inspired. But these things take time to develop correctly. Upstream and the Broker Public Portal are the outcroppings of this industry-wide thinking. We are blessed to be administrative supporters of the will of these leaders. Passion creates urgency and urgency drives desperation and that causes mistakes and increased risk. Despite pent up energy and demand, there has been ample time for consideration of detail. That's good news. For the past couple of years, we have worked with franchise organizations, MLSs, large firms, independent firms, mid-sized firms, small firms, all sizes of associations, state associations, an incredible range of technology companies, portals, and the National Association of Realtors to plant some seeds. Sorry for the run-on sentence, but we have endeavored to keep pace with many of the greatest sprinters in our industry. For the most part, our process has been confidential. I can tell you that the endurance and desire among this group of confederates is nothing short of world championship caliber. They are a fantastic group to serve. There is no 'love at first sight' in any industry. Relationships and strategies take time to develop. After all, industries are the constitution of competition that is programmed to allow some to win at the loss of others. There are only a fixed number of homes sold each year. The winner takes their share from their peers. In these projects, there is mutual agreement that data is like oxygen: How each person uses it will be different, but the purity of the air is requisite to all.
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Is Your Firm Engaging the New Status Quo?
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What’s in a Portmanteau?
It has been 90 days or so since Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries of the Zillow Group released their book, Zillow Talk. Published by Grand Central Publishing, the volume carries the subtitle The New Rules of Real Estate. One cannot help but observe that there has been a lack of buzz and discussion across the industry regarding the book's unique and highly relevant content. This compelling collection of knowledge, discovery and insight should have the potential to change how the industry thinks about the new realities of its various markets and how it judges properties as being appropriate for consideration for purchases or rental. Moreover, it might also drive industry reconsideration relative to the role of respect in its interactions with the consumer. As a starting point, the book offers the proverbial 100,000-foot view of the changed (and changing) role of research, statistics and information across the entirety of our culture, including the real estate sector. The authors talk in reasonably humble terms about having created a collection of technologies that use a million valuation models to process 3.2 terabytes of data each day. They don't suggest that this is the ultimate technology. For Zillow Talk, technology is a mere supporting actor. This is not a book about technology or mining gold. This is a book about what one, anyone, can do with the crown jewels of an expanded, innovative and creative real estate related information system. That's all. While it is difficult to nail down which of book's many salient points are the most compelling, a particularly strong argument can be made for the concept of replacing myths with facts. The authors gently point out that for much of the past fifty years real estate related decisions by consumers, and even institutions and investors, have been made on the basis of cultural myths, many of which were created and propagated by real estate service providers.
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Warren Buffett is a Great Read
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Want to stay relevant? You need a kick in the pants.
Hire a Chief Millennial Officer Every company, MLS, brokerage, publisher, mortgage company and even NAR should have a kid with a skull cap and a skateboard in their boardroom. Her title will be Chief Millennial Officer. Let's call her Joplin. The first thing that will change? The boardroom. If you have an old wooden table and a crooked picture hanging on your wall--throw it away. As you do, embrace the fact that the table will be the first of many status quo ideas you may have to trash. To say that we will never be like these cool tech companies and all we want to be is par is simply not an acceptable way of doing business, nor will it last. The greatest proof I can offer? Huge old line brands have stopped pounding their chests as the reality of the landscape is finally hitting home. The term "level playing field" has become our reality. Established, antiquated brands have fallen way behind. The inclination to "redo" websites is a good first step, but many are doing this on the same foundation and ideology as the old one. How is it possible that companies are not implementing a responsive cross-platform strategy? One that is mobile first? As you throw out your table, throw out this myopic way of thinking. Joplin would never let you do this on her watch. A simple way to fix this is to flatten out your organizations and empower younger, more innovative thinking that is embraced at the higher levels of your company. If you proceed down the path of status quo, I assure you you are building trouble on top of trouble and that your work product will fall short.
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The Jaded Consumer
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Driving Management Collaboration
As the industry continues though its winter and spring conference season a number of evolving concepts have become increasingly clear. For those who have been tracking industry acceptance of change and adaptation, it would appear that a point of universal acceptance has finally been reached relative to the fact that the traditional brokerage business model is neither functional in today's real estate industry and market environment nor appropriate in terms of profitability and return on investment. With very few exceptions the coaching, presentations, articles, blog posts and editorials delivering this enlightenment have carried the message that, moving forward, brokerage management will have to be a matter of neutralizing agent centricity, focusing on customer experiences and installing metrics driven management practices that are surrounded by and driven through standards, best practices, accountability and organizational transparency. Of course, it will come as no surprise that those industry executives who are less than excited about this impending transitional experience (and the prospect of spending the last years of their careers engaged in a total reengineering of their life's work) are reporting to company decision makers that move in these directions will cause massive disruption within the agent panel. What is of even greater concern is that these announcements are, in many cases, not issued to assist top brokerage executives to anticipate danger ahead as much as to ward off the decision itself and allow these veteran and vested managers to skate to retirement. All of which is to say that there is growing evidence that it is senior managers that may be the ultimate impediment to brokerage change rather than the more traditional scapegoat, the agent.
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My jaded friend...
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Are You Prepared to Launch Your Flight to Quality?
It is at best a bizarre situation. As this article is being prepared, the American residential real estate industry is but 213 days from an event that many experts believe may be the industry's seminal moment for the decade. The centerpiece and stimulus for all of this activity is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The 1,888-page RESPA-TILA (Truth in Lending Act) Integrated Mortgage Disclosures Rule issued in 2014 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will probably not end the residential real estate business as we know it, but it will certainly change the way it currently operates. When the RESPA-TILA rule takes effect (currently slated to take effect in August of 2015) it will integrate information currently provided to consumers in four separate documents to satisfy the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), boiling it down to two documents: a loan estimate and closing disclosure. As most of our readers already know, the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act created the CFPB during the 2010 congressional session. The agency began operations in 2011. It hit the ground running with a campaign directed at debugging the national student loan act. Its noteworthy and unfettered staff includes an unusual number of young "go getters," many fresh out of college, without the "industry" baggage that has crippled so many prior efforts to "make a regulatory difference." During those first few years, it managed to find the time to draft, approve and implement thousands of pages of new procedures, rules and regulatory edicts. Even when assaulted by constant political attacks regarding the Bureau's purpose and methodologies, it quickly became an effective regulator and attacked some of the country's most outrageous consumer traps. The agency next went after the credit card, automobile loan and mortgage industries. One of its current targets is the residential real estate industry.
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The Real Estate Transaction Has Been Commoditized
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Millennials and the Curated Web (and Why I Chose Pinterest over Google)
When looking for a squash recipe for this Thanksgiving, I turned to Pinterest instead of Google. "Why?" you might ask. I turned to Pinterest because it is part of the curated web. When I search for squash recipes on Pinterest, I know there is a real person behind each "pin"; a real person who decided the idea, image, and content worth calling out and saving for later. That person selected an image that best represents an "idea worth saving" and often will annotate the pin with some useful information. I chose Pinterest instead of Google because I find it is more trustworthy. Google gives me viable and untrustworthy results alike, gnarled and intertwined. I have to dig through the results to find the gold. Google's search results are generated based off a search algorithm—a fancy equation used to determine which of the billions of websites and web pages on the Internet match your search terms. This equation then orders the results based off the factors Google determines to be "relevant" to your search terms. Pinterest, conversely, uses the power of its users, real human beings who have done the heavy lifting by hand, serving you "the best of the web." Google's display of search results is also much less... provocative. There are no images to entice me to click. If I switch to a Google image search, the results won't reliably give images that link to a recipe. Often, I find Google image search results link to nowhere, and it is difficult to discern which images are safe and trustworthy versus phishy. Pinterest curates the web and brings order to the chaos. The content in Pinterest goes through an additional level of filtering, by human hand.
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Are You Ready to Become a Predictive Farmer?
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Two Contemporary Trends Converge to Contribute to the New Real Estate Industry
After years of pushback and denial from some elements of the industry media with respect to stories regarding industry change, it would now appear from the past three months of publication that both the print and electronic media now agree that the North American real estate industry is in a state of almost complete disruption. With this historic moment behind us, one might surmise that the industry has now given itself permission to universally get on with the tasks of innovation and creativity that will be so critical if either the existing brokerage or agent communities are to assume a leadership position in the new configuration of all things real estate. While many brokers and agents might suggest that such a succession is virtually guaranteed (and thus not worth discussing), the fact is that a review of the current industry environment does not allow any rational person to make any such assumption. In fact, to the contrary, there is every evidence that the convergence of one or more of the current trends, directions and forces impacting the industry may well be the turning point that creates the perfect opportunity for outside forces to gain control of both the marketplace and the transaction. Most of our readers are more than familiar with the plethora of trends that are currently impacting the traditional industry. From regulatory forces to the growing number of internal and external portals, from the Realty Alliance's "Upstream" project to its cousin the Broker Public Portal project and from NAR's organizational realignment manifesto to the growing focus on broker profitability, there is no shortage of potential game changers to monitor and prepare for. With the current industry also comes the time to stop sweating bricks and to start taking meaningful action. For many brokerages, the opportunity to respond to external change will be trumped by the record number of industry and brokerage executives who are now expected to cash in their chips and head for a hopefully happy retirement.
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Millennial Marketing Madness
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Digital Disruption Will Soon Be Touching a Brokerage Very Near to You
In today's rapidly transitioning North American real estate industry, mergers and acquisitions are to digital disruption what troop movements are to invasions. Like the lightning bolt before the thunder, each of the recent mergers and acquisitions constitutes due notice of yet another significant disruption that will occur six to eight months down the road. The growing number of acquisitions over the past few months is another wake-up call relative to what the marketplace, the transaction and the industry itself will look like next spring. Despite the formidable amount of the industry's literature that has been given over to the subject during the past year, digital disruption remains a relatively obscure concept for most industry executives, managers and workers. While such a lack of knowledge might not normally have major consequences, in this case unawareness will be cataclysmic. Most acquisitions represent the tip of the digital disruption sword. Prior to making the purchase, the acquiring entity has spent many months envisioning, designing and preparing to implement its disruptive strategy. Taken together, one must say that everyone in the North American real estate industry is on notice that the real estate business, as most have known it, is nearing the end of its long and honorable run. Based upon an analysis of what is known today, it would appear that the lead columns of the digital disruption invasion will likely occur along the front that exists between the real estate service provider and the consumer. As Zillow has already established, this is probably the weakest point in the traditional real estate service provider's defenses.
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Convergence: Driving Positive Energy and Outcomes From Knowledgeable Leadership
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Are You Harvesting Your Own Digital Disrupters?
Two events in the last month gave rise to the focus of this month's article. The first involves a Millennial generation fellow I have known for a considerable period of time who is currently practicing law with a firm that represents large clients in the financial services industry. The second involves an Generation X female executive who, by any definition, qualifies to be called a digitally native CEO and has recently assumed a new position with a major brokerage firm. What both of these individuals and situations have in common is that (1) they are both engaged in industries that are being heavily impacted by digital disruption (law and real estate); (2) they are both, by culture and training, driven to make things better wherever they are and whatever they are doing; and (3) they are both making significant career course changes based upon the failure of their civic or Boomer generation employers to acknowledge their desire to be collaborative within their respective organizations. Despite the formidable amount of business (including real estate) literature that has been given over to the subject during the last two years, digital disruption remains a relatively obscure concept for most industry executives, managers and workers. While such a lack of knowledge might not normally have major consequences, in this day and age unawareness will be cataclysmic. Neither of the above mentioned corporations could rationally claim that they have not received notice of the existence, nature or impact of digital disruption in their specific industries. Having assisted both of the individuals mentioned above to learn about digital disruption, there could be no question regarding either their knowledge or their commitment to assisting their employing entities to meet the challenges of digital disruption.
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Are Your Agents "Fluffernutter" Marketers?
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Sometimes Profitability is NOT as Important as Market Share
Of course, the ultimate goal of any business is to create profitability for its owners, shareholders and stockholders. Without profitability, the business will cease to exist. To quote Kenny Rogers, sometimes you need to know when to hold up and when to fold up, though. There are times when a company is in a significant competitive situation where it needs to go into the market guns a-blazing and grab as much market share and mind share as it can. In the market we're in right now, some might think the worst is over. They may think it's time to start "milking" the business trying to extract as much profitability as they can. WRONG Answer! I have lived this dream myself, so I would like to give all business owners and leaders a piece of advice learned in the School of Hard Knocks. If your market share is not growing then it is actually declining, even if your market share is significant. If you're not getting better you're actually getting worse, because there are others that are getting better around you. Business marketplaces are not static. There is always someone gaining and someone losing. If you're "stable" that means you're actually losing because there's someone else that is growing. Here are some signs that you're falling into the profitability over market share trap. You fundamentally believe that it's okay to have stable market share and don't consistently chase growth Customer service is left up to each individual agent or customer support manager – you're not measuring the company's customer satisfaction scores on a regular basis because the customer "isn't equipped to provide educated feedback about what we do" You've decided to spend LESS on customer-facing programs because your market share is stable and strong You're decided to invest LESS in training or technology because you have invested heavily in the past couple of years The core focus of the company is to find to make your internal processes more efficient
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Is Your Marketing Program Responding to Disruption?
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Are You Aligned With Your Consumer or Your Past?
Today's North American real estate brokerage is sharing its market space with a concept and a force known as digital disruption. Native to almost every industry in the contemporary economy, digital disruption is more than specific faces and brands, it is the application of several very effective and very new business concepts that are proving to be overwhelmingly effective, especially against individuals and entities who attempt to cling to traditional approaches that no longer appeal to the contemporary consumer. It is this recognition that digital disruption is a business doctrine practiced by brighter than average entrepreneurs, rather than a tyrannical assault engaged in by terrorists. This can go a long way in assisting real estate brokers to align their wonderful pasts with a successful future. Virtually every industry is, in some way or another, being impacted by digital disruption. Volumes have been written about digital disruption, what it is, and how it works. Even within this broad span of attention, perhaps the most common observation made about this behavior is that it almost always arises out of a pre-existing condition and, most predictably, consumer demands and expectations. There are several digital disruptors currently engaging the real estate industry. Without question, the one creating the most buzz is the third party listing portal. In almost every marketplace, there are both brokerages and practitioners who are expressing both outrage and fear regarding what they claim are inappropriate and unethical practices being engaged in by these now not-so-new entities.
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Can You Handle Drinking from the Internet Firehose?
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Leadership Lessons from a Former U.S. President
This post comes to us from the Market Leader blog: Last month, I traveled to Dallas to join over 370 leaders of the real estate industry at the annual Gathering of Eagles conference. Sponsored by REAL Trends, the event is something I look forward to with great anticipation, but this year it was more amazing than I envisioned. While REAL Trends sponsored the keynote speaker, former President George W. Bush, Trulia and Market Leader hosted a special, private session with him. Whether the attendees agreed with President Bush's politics or not, I think Steve Murray, president of REAL Trends and the moderator of the question-and-answer session, sums up on his blog how many of us felt after the session: "The President shared some deeply personal thoughts and convictions of what great leaders do when confronted with unexpected challenges." In a nutshell, the former president identified three things that effective leaders do: Surround themselves with the right advisors. Benchmark all decisions around the mission or core values of the organization. Be prepared to make the right decisions, even if they might not be popular. The key takeaway for me and several other attendees was how we can apply the former president's leadership style to our individual circumstances.
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Real Estate is a Frickin’ Slog!
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Data Isn’t the New You
"Agents continue to worry about their role in the real estate transaction as well as their ongoing relevance. However, providing local expertise within the fair housing laws makes an agent extremely relevant and highly valuable." That's from Imagine a Day in the Life, a post I wrote in Geek Estate yesterday. After publishing, I think there's a bit more to be said on this statement, as it continues to mount as a warranted concern for Realtors. Data isn't the new you! The take away of the New York Times article, 43 Questions Homebuyers Should Ask Before Picking a New Town, is that there's an abundance of untapped variables home buyers don't even consider before selecting their new communities. Going back a decade, home buyers didn't view school boundaries, commute times, or points of interest nearly as important to have on a website as they do today. This is because they expected their Realtor to provide that data. So now that that data is so readily available for prospective buyers, what makes you as a Realtor stand out?
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Understanding the Home Ownership Life Cycle
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The Case for a REALTOR® to Lead Realtor.com®
Realtor.com®'s president, Errol Samuelson, has been hired away by Zillow. I've met Errol and he's a nice guy, very smart, and very successful. Business is business. But, naive as it might be, there's plenty of disappointment from the REALTOR® community. It comes from a belief that we have a common cause greater than just our businesses. Whether we're aligned with NAR or realtor.com®, we believe in unified goals that are good for the country as a whole, and create significant loyalty to our brand. Like I said, it sounds silly to an outsider. Why wouldn't a top executive, who clearly received a more lucrative employment offer for a position he saw as a step-up, take that proposal? In the world of publicly-traded real estate ventures, you could be selling soda ads one day, and interviewing the president the next. The landscape changes drastically every year, and when your skills are in business management and strategy, you're always looking for the next challenge. And still, there's a bit of an empty feeling from the REALTOR® masses when an exit like this happens. It's just another day at the office when your insurance company's CEO changes companies, or your old business partner switches brokerages. But when someone leaves the REALTOR® fold to work for a direct competitor, it ignites much stronger emotions from the membership. A quick scan of discussions online makes it clear that this isn't just some job change. Reactions range from frustration to outright anger. This is someone who did a good job and likely had no direct contact with most of the commenters, but many take his departure so personally as to feel betrayed.
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We Have Convergence: All Hands Rig for Collision
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What’s Your Brand’s Value Proposition?
When you think of Apple, what do you think of? What about Starbucks? These two iconic brands do more than sell a product. As such, they create a feeling that IS their value proposition. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks says, "Starbucks represents something beyond a cup of coffee." What does your brand represent besides being a real estate brokerage? Do you know? Do your agents know? Do your customers know? Although with a franchise you certainly have more marketing reach, I would argue you should be asking the same questions I mention above. What does the brand represent? Do I know where I fit in that? Do my agents? Do my customers? Going back to Starbucks, consider this, you go there to buy coffee but think about the "why" of why you went there versus the local coffee shop, McDonald's or somewhere else: The relaxed atmosphere when you walk in; The free wi-fi that makes this your office on the road; The music that is playing; and, last but not least, The great coffee! I have personally gone miles out of my way to go to Starbucks for all the reasons I mention above.
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