You are viewing our site as a Broker, switch your view below:

Agent | Broker     Reset Filters to Default
How Realogy and Keller Williams Will Win with AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) may be in the early days of its development, but this brand-new area of technology already promises to transform the way people and machines work together. Most of us experience first-hand the capabilities of AI; for example, over 50% of adults in the United States use voice AI like Siri or Alexa every week, according to Trends author Mary Meeker. Meeker's research also indicates that Americans report these AI solutions accurately interpret speech 95% of the time – which is oddly the same as humans can interpret speech from other humans.
MORE >
Preach to the Converted
The real estate industry has been led astray by advertising portals. Today, there seems to be a shift happening in syndication strategy, MLS strategy, advertising strategy, and CRM strategy that puts brokers and agents back on course--and it's about time. Let me share this perspective with you. To follow this perspective, you need to consider these three statements: Just about every home ever traded in America has been with the help of a Realtor or two. The National Association of REALTORS® reports a market share of over 90 percent. Over 80 percent of all transactions are with a repeat or referral customer of a Realtor. The no. 1 reason why a customer does not use the same Realtor is their Realtor did not stay in touch. (I think that the no. 2 reason is that their Realtor retired.) Strategically, the very first dollar invested in supporting your business should be spent fixing the leak of repeat and referral customers lost due to a failure to stay in touch. Somehow, that focus on customers is not happening in our industry today, hence the claim that the real estate industry has been led astray. I blame the advertising portals for this. They have done an excellent job of selling agents on how to drive online leads so convincingly that agents forgot to spend money on maintaining the business relationships with their current customers. I am not suggesting that investing in online lead generation is bad, but you are a fool if you invest more in that than you do on supporting 80 percent of your existing business. Take care of the relationships with current customers first, invest in new customers second. I remember my first conversation with Jed Carlson of Adwerx. His company started out helping music bands connect with their fans—websites, newsletters, social media, pimp your Myspace page, whatever. He knew then, as he knows today, that the social capital, er, "relationship" between a band and their fans is everything. If a fan downloads your song, likes your Facebook page, goes to your concert, or sees your video, you want to make them a fan for life. His company specializes in advertising to your customer base. When Jed told me that he was bringing this sauce to real estate to help agents and brokers stay connected to their clients, I knew that he would be successful immediately. The real estate industry has been out there spending their entire wallet on trying to find new customers or taking customers away from someone else, and doing little to shore up the relationship with their existing customers. The Shift A shift is visible in our industry as brokerages and agents come out of the proverbial fog. Adwerx is growing remarkably because they help brokers and agents stay in touch with their fans (Facebook custom audience advertising). This consumer-agent connection is what companies selling Facebook Boost Ads are missing. CRMs such as Commissions Inc, Inside Real Estate, Contactually, Boomtown, and IXACT Contact are experiencing widespread adoption because they organize the customer record for agents to prevent them from losing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Syndication is viewed through the lens of the Fair Display Guidelines, whereby an online listing is treated as a yard sign. Only the listing broker and agent are displayed. MLSs are being recognized for their value in this regard, leading the way with data licensing agreements that follow better principles. The Broker Public Portal with Homesnap is a perfect example of this improvement, although there are several others. The takeaway is simple: preach first to the converted. Make sure that you are staying connected to your existing customers first. Worry about new customers after you have done that job to your satisfaction. To view the original article, visit the WAV Group blog.
MORE >
Brokers Need to Weaponize to Combat iBuyer
MORE >
Ready Player One: How the New Hybrid Virtual Brokerage Can Help You Compete
It's only been in the last few years that virtual brokerages have popped up, and they're a hot topic within the industry. Without a physical location, virtual brokerages have significantly lower overhead costs and can scale their business with relative ease--two big reasons why they're growing in popularity. But there's no reason why a traditional brokerage can't become a "virtual hybrid" brokerage, with roots firmly planted in the physical world, but expanding operations quickly and nimbly by adding virtual offices to support their growing business.
MORE >
10 Reasons Why You Should Sell Your Brokerage... or Not
MORE >
Adjusting Your 2019 Budget with Economic Data
It is that time of year again when budgeting for next year takes hold of your company. There were a few economic indicators released by First American and by the National Association of REALTORS that provide some very interesting economic truths that need to be factored into your forecasts – especially when they are factored together. Our advice to brokers and to the technology companies that serve them is to cut fixed costs by 15 percent.
MORE >
3 Key Strategies for Being a Better Leader in Real Estate
MORE >
Brokers Need to Shift Strategy Immediately
The October financial numbers have come in and it is not pretty. Many brokers experienced their worst GCI numbers of the year in October. The market is frozen--low inventory and low transaction volume. Smart brokers are hunkering down for a cold winter.
MORE >
5 Technology Expenses to Review for Budget Season, Part Two
MORE >
Disruptors Are Really Only Innovators and Motivators
If you have not seen the 2007 film, A Hero Ain't Nothing But a Sandwich, don't bother. It's a pretty depressing story about a young boy who gets hooked on heroin. But I love the title. It takes a word like hero, with its multiple meanings, and twists it into something profound. One of most important impressions that I got from the RISMedia CEO Summit last week is that the meaning of disruptors can be twisted around too.
MORE >
5 Technology Expenses to Review for Budget Season, Part One
MORE >
What You Need to Know about Transaction Fee Brokerage
In partnership with RE Technology, WAV Group facilitated a webinar with seasoned real estate executive, Rick Haase, about transaction fee brokerage. Haase is one of the few brokers in America who operated both a traditional brokerage and a transaction fee brokerage at the same time. There are really two sides to the coin between traditional split commission fee brokerage and total transaction fee brokerage. It is pretty easy to imagine the recruiting and retention strategy of transaction fee brokerages. The agent gets 100 percent of the commission. That is a pretty strong strategy. But what Haase brings to light is that traditional split commission fee brokerages have many compelling attractions that allow them to be equally as powerful in recruiting and retention. In this webinar, Haase brings forth information about the front-line battle between these two business models, articulates the merits and challenges of each, and highlights strategies that help brokers to understand how to navigate through to success. Please enjoy this video:  
MORE >
How to Future-proof Your Brokerage
MORE >
Defend Your Brokerage Fortress: The Solution to Margin Compression
As we all know too well, there's a feeling of impending doom when it comes to the future of dollars retained by the brokerage. Brokerage margin compression has been accelerating in the past few years especially, but no one seems to be discussing legit ways to battle it. And last I checked, hope is not a strategy. Here's what the retained company dollar average for brokerages across the nation looks like over the past several years, according to the Gathering of Eagles event:
MORE >
Are Brokerages Using BI Visualization Tools?
MORE >
Broker's Corner: When to Grow Your Business Through Acquisition
There are tons of milestones a broker will experience when trying to grow a real estate business. They'll hire their first employees, land their first big clients, and maybe even attract investors. One of the biggest — yet least discussed — landmark events a real estate exec may experience as they grow is making their first acquisition: either by acquiring another brokerage or by purchasing another real estate related company. The start of any acquisition process is recognizing that an opportunity for acquisition exists. From there, it can be a long and complicated process, involving many moving parts (especially if there are many companies involved). However, one of the keys to succeeding at an acquisition is ensuring that it's done at the right time. Here are some keys to ensuring your brokerage is ready to acquire another company.
MORE >
Are You Guilty of "Business as Usual" Budgeting?
MORE >
5 Essential Skills for Real Estate Entrepreneurs
Do you consider yourself "just another real estate agent or broker," or do you see yourself as a real estate entrepreneur? By our definition, a real estate entrepreneur has that quintessential "entrepreneurial spirit"—the drive and desire to pursue their vision, an openness to innovation and new approaches, and the commitment to pursuing the education and skills needed to smash plateaus and continuing growing. Not every real estate professional sees themselves as as a business owner or entrepreneur. If you identify as a real estate entrepreneur, then you'll likely find the following list of skills an essential part of your entrepreneurial toolkit.
MORE >
5 Steps to an Impactful and Effective Strategic Plan
MORE >
Low Risk, High Return Growth Strategies for Real Estate Teams
For large brokerages, cash and power drive growth. But for the single Realtor or small team, the improvement road can be rocky if you lack funds, knowledge, resources, and opportunities. You want to exploit strategies that will yield a high return with low risk and preferably with a marginal investment of time and money. Here are some simple growth strategies you should be implementing now.  
MORE >
SMART Goals and Why Your Business Needs Them
MORE >
5 Strategies for an EPIC 2017
We all know that resolutions are nice in theory, but only 8 percent actually achieve them. In fact, within the first week, 25 percent have already given up! Why? Because we don't fully grasp that we have to change our entire way of thinking to adapt to this new desired reality – which is incredibly challenging to do. So why are we leaving the change we want to see in our business and our lives to something so ineffective? Strategies will win in 2017. Let's implement strategies–now–for an epic 2017. If you want to lose weight, don't just say you're going to lose weight. Come up with 50 recipes to choose from, weekly grocery lists, and block off time on Sunday nights for making lunches. If you want to learn a new skill – great, sign up for the course now, pay for the entire year, and set time in your calendar to practice. And if you know that being obsessive with your sphere, your network of key relationships, is core to your business, get the processes and tools in place now, so Jan. 2 is all about execution. Don't waste another second of your remaining time on earth on an intention. To get you started, here are five specific strategies – recipes you can implement today. We at Contactually have given a webinar to thousands of folks with about 18 strategies in total, but these are the key ones you should focus on as we enter a new year.
MORE >
Annual Strategy Planning and Management Retreat
MORE >
To Zap or Not to Zap?
That is the question for many brokers today who are part of the Realogy® Franchise Group. This group includes brokers who may be a member of any number of franchises spanning Century 21, Better Homes and Gardens, Sotheby's, Coldwell Banker, ERA, and some others. As WAV Group detailed in this case study of BH&G Metro Brokers in Atlanta – the ZapLabs platform is excellent – combining an effective mix of agent website, CRM, lead management and other vital agent business tools. But the question to Zap or not to Zap is really not a question about technology at all. It is a question about strategy. Consider the Cost of Change Franchise technology solutions come in three business models – free, freemium, or premium. Sometimes the vendor is external, like Zillow, Smarter Agent, Market Leader, or DotLoop. Sometimes the vendor is internal, like Zap or LeadRouter. If the vendor is contracting directly with your brokerage and not through the franchise, there would be no cost of change. The cost of change comes when the franchise makes a choice to continue or discontinue a product. It is also the cost that you may have of migrating from your current solution to Zap. Are the customers and agents portable? Example: Smarter Agent Realogy just notified some or all of their franchises that they are sunsetting the relationship with Smarter Agent for their mobile app. It will be replaced by the Zap App. Both apps are excellent. There are a number of unanswered questions about what happens with the agent apps. More details to follow on this. Do not panic if you are using Smarter Agent today, but understand that changes are happening. Consider the cost of change that is related to the legacy customers who are using the app. Agents have been giving out that app for years to their customers. Brokers have made it the cornerstone of their mobile strategy. How will they port the customers from Smarter Agent and get them to download the new app? Will the saved searches and favorites be transferred? Who will retrain everyone? Who will rewrite all of the recruiting and marketing materials? Consider that there may be a day when you reverse your decision to Zap. What contractual assurances do you have that your firm won't switch away in the future and keep the data exclusively? Realogy has made Zap the hub of the technology strategy for all of their brands, and they will continue to develop around it.
MORE >
The Value of Your Value Proposition
MORE >
Is Real Estate Still in a Slump?
After the crash in the housing market, real estate was hit by the worst recession in our nation's history. Frankly, brokers took a beating and operated at a loss for a number of years. Since the low point, things have been steadily been improving. There was a lot of speculation that the foreclosure volume in the hardest hit markets were clogging up the supply side. As we turned the corner, these distressed properties were slowly released into the marketplace and they were mostly absorbed. There was a two to three year heyday for brokers and agents who specialized in REO properties. Looking at the production of many of the REO specialists, that business has largely fallen back to normalized levels. CoreLogic reports that the volume of "underwater" mortgages has been on a steep decline and is also returning to normal levels. That is pretty good news. It allows homeowners to trade homes without taking a loss. However, this is not opening up inventory levels for most areas of the nation. For many, inventory is still very low and that is having an impact on pricing. Home values have seen double digit increases, as supply has been so limited. That is expected to flatten out this year, largely because of affordability. Wages have not increased in line with housing values. The biggest slump we see in the market is driven by expansion. The demand for homes is outgrowing supply by double digits in many areas like the San Francisco Bay area. People cannot find housing and there is not enough new inventory being built. Pacific Union held a housing summit in November 2015 that looked at the three year forecast for housing in the Bay Area – this was my chief takeaway. See more here.
MORE >
Planned Technology Implementation
MORE >
3 Drivers of Economic Growth
Sometimes business owners fail to understand or focus on the basic elements of growing a business. As a consulting firm, we have a distance from the business that allows us to see things that business operators often miss. The funny thing is that we miss them in our own business. I remember talking to my Uncle Albert about this as a kid. He owned a house painting business that was very successful. It afforded him the opportunity to live on Plain Street in historic Lewiston, NY. It is a charming street of grand, three-story homes with pillared center entrances. Because it is located in the historic district of town, each home was painted white. The only whimsy was the color of the trim. Most homes along the street choose the stately color of black for the trim. My uncle painted every home on the block except his own. Economic growth in your business is driven by the same three factors that drive the economic growth of our nation. Regardless of your enterprise, this does not change. Capital, Labor, and Productivity are the three primary economic drivers of growth. Capital Strategically, capital is a hard one to manage. Our government runs at a capital deficit of somewhere over $18 trillion dollars. The United Kingdom has about $2.2 trillion in debt. Zillow has $520 million in cash and $230 million in debt with a negative profit margin of 23%. My businesses have zero debt. I must be doing something wrong. Right? Do MLSs or associations of REALTORS® carry debt? Probably not. Or, if they do, it’s on a building where they have a favorable debt-to-equity ratio. Do brokerages carry debt? Some do, others don’t. Interest rates in America are at their historic lows. Using leverage, businesses have a rare economic opportunity to grow tremendously. Having a good capital strategy will allow you to fuel growth in your business.
MORE >
Graceful Vendor Termination
MORE >
Does Your Brand Have a Strategic Plan?
If you are reading this, you are somewhere in the real estate ecosystem – either part of an MLS, a REALTOR® Association, a large brokerage, or a technology firm that serves one of those personas. We work with some of these personas on strategy, we work with some on story, we work with all of them on state. Strategy, Story, and State are business terms that are bantered around a lot. Saying the words has no meaning unless you are able to contextualize them within your own business. That process of contextualization is work that needs to be done by businesses every year. Most companies have some process for strategic planning. If they have a great marketing leader, they are telling their story well, and if their management team is on their game, they are operating in a way that optimizes around the state of the business environment that they face. If you need fresh problem solving ideas in any of these areas, you can call WAV Group to help you fix it. We have the benefit of working with some great brands in our industry. Great brands lead to great problems. We call brands 'great' because they trigger something emotional in our hearts and trigger confidence in our minds. The ability to trigger emotions and confidence are earned. They can be earned organically over time, or they can be crafted intentionally. So we ask our clients two questions: What does your brand mean to the people you serve? What is your brand strategy for 2016?
MORE >
Avoiding Secondary Disruption With Strategic Design
MORE >
1000watt Nails Large Broker IDX Strategy
1000watt Consulting wrote a post this week that is a must read. View it here. Brian Boero's point is clear: "If you are a large firm with more than 10% market share – ditch IDX." Reasons to Act This Way Compromised presentation of properties Raft of local competitors drafting on your listings Paper brokers leverage your data with impunity Relatively small number of leads that agents will probably drop the ball on. I am not going to recant the entire article. Please go and read it. But I do want to reinforce one point and add another. Reinforcement – We studied response time to IDX leads. Fifty percent of inquiries get no response, and those that do respond usually do a bad job. Here is a whole white paper on the research. It's real. New Point – Consider an IDX/VOW combination website. When a broker opts out of IDX, they cannot display other broker listings except when the consumer registers! Once a consumer registers, your broker website becomes more of a buyer client servicing platform. Not only can you display all of the IDX listings, but you can display 100 percent of all information in the MLS other than confidential fields like commission and agent-to-agent comments.
MORE >
Dominate Your Market—Without It Dominating Your Time
MORE >
Forward Looking Technology
2015 and 2016 will be years of incredible change in real estate technology. For too long, the real estate industry evolved in an eggshell whereby data, applications, and presentation layers were composite to one another behind most fragile and isolated shell walls. Today, we see systems that separate these three components of the technology to maximize the usefulness of this information to the industry and the consumers it serves. We Got You "We got you" is a statement that can have two meanings when a technology provider speaks it. It can take on the meaning of "we screwed you" or it can take on the meaning of "we have your back." As the needs of MLSs or real estate brokers or agents evolve, it is important that the vendors of services are evolving with or ahead of their clients. If you vendor is not evolving at the pace of the industry, you are screwed. If the vendor is staying ahead of you, they have your back. WAV Group is seeing the division of "We Got You" play out across our client group in pretty significant ways. We saw quite a bit of it between 2010 and 2014 as the industry struggled to adapt to the mobile revolution. Many technology providers ducked their chins and excused themselves with contract babble or "we are working on that." Others were out ahead of their customers with ready-to-go applications that met or exceeded the need for mobile, well before the adoption curve grew exponentially.
MORE >
Your Business Plan Should Be a Strategic Spring Board, Not a Dynamic Anchor
MORE >
Am I a Seller?
Last month, we discussed exit strategies. It resonated with so many people that we decided to follow up with additional actionable information. Today, we're addressing things a seller should be concerned about. I'll discuss the buyer's perspective at a later date. Selling a business can be a very emotional time for a broker/owner. You've poured your heart, soul, and lots of cash into your business. You've been through some great times and some really rough times. How do you know you are ready to move on to your next phase in your career and/or life? A few things potential sellers should consider: Are you still excited about going to work every day? Are you doing the things necessary to be competitive in the future? If you are not, are you willing and able to do so? Are you ready to slow down or do something else? Do you know how much your business is worth? If so, is that enough for you to retire or do you have other assets? If you are a selling broker, how much more money might you be making if you did not have to worry about running a business and all the time that takes?
MORE >
Arriving at the Fork in the Road
MORE >
Allre Causes Brokers To ReThink Strategy
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, 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 is closer to 5% split two ways in San Diego – about $24,000 – exactly the number that 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.
MORE >
Treat Your Brokerage Like a Sales Organization
MORE >
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
MORE >
Preparing Your Real Estate Business for Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
MORE >
How to Overcome a Slow Market with Resourcefulness
If anything put fear back into the real estate industry lately, it was the sluggish first quarter performance. There are few valid explanations for it. Inventory is at a reasonable level and interest rates are low. People should be buying homes like they did last year. Rather than trying to figure it out, it is time to apply a healthy dose of resourcefulness to your business. The best way to do that is audit your expenses and your people. A Typical Story There are times when WAV Group finds significant problems in a business that management did not see. But that is rare. Most of our clients know the problem, but they lack the gumption to fix it. We interview directors and management as part of our strategic planning process. After about three or four calls, every other call begins to sound the same. Everyone knows what is in disrepair. The same thing happens with our customer satisfaction research. After the first day of the survey going live, little changes. The numbers just grow in support of identifying the company's strengths and weaknesses. We do research, build consensus, develop action plans, and assign those action plans to individuals. The action plan becomes the key ingredient for making a company resource efficient. Audit Every year, WAV Group tackles this task with brokerages and MLSs. You would be amazed at what we find. Accounting departments are very good at paying bills for stuff that a business is no longer using. Now that the tax season is over, it is a fine time to take a close look at your budget and your business plan to make some critical decisions that will tune your business for success. It is also a good idea to create a calendar for contract renewals. You will want to provide yourself with a 120-160 day window if you are going to shop or replace a vendor. Regularly, we see firms wait until the last minute and making a change becomes unreasonable. Oh, and make sure that you make contract modifications for favorable terms on agreements that you do renew.
MORE >
6 Business and Strategic Planning Tips for the Year Ahead
MORE >
6 Steps for Growing Your Real Estate Brokerage
Like most businesses in the real estate industry, brokerages must grow at a rate in sync with or even ahead of the communities they serve in order to prosper and profit. In today's market, it's prudent to take advantage and expand now while real estate values are still on the rebound. Here are six steps I've encountered in my real estate career that have helped keep brokerages alive and well: 1) Embrace Calculated Risks: If you want to grow your business, you must be prepared to take calculated risks. Growth is change, after all. Change always entails risk. If you have a brokerage, you've already accepted risk. If this makes you nervous, think about the larger risk of stagnation. 2) Study Up: Doing your homework will help you be confident in taking those calculated risks. Subscribe to top real estate social media channels, news feeds and email newsletters from groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce. Pay attention to the hyperlocal, local and national industry news and statistics, with an eye out for profitable business opportunities. 3) Incentivize Your People: I knew a broker who hung a wall-sized map in his office. In blue, he highlighted municipalities where he commonly sold homes. In green, he highlighted where he wanted to expand. In red, he circled neighborhoods where his agents rarely ventured. If someone sold a house in a red zone, he bought lunch for the office. It was sandwiches, nothing fancy. But his agents worked hard to be the one everyone thanked for lunch.
MORE >
The Real Reason Resolutions Fizzle and How to Change It
MORE >
Brokers Should Audit Their MLS
2014 may well be the year of the broker, or as they are referred to in MLS speak, the year of the Participant. If your MLS has adopted the National Association of REALTORS® template for MLS Rules and Regulations, you will find that brokers are Participants and agents are Subscribers. As a Participant in the MLS, you accept responsibility to adhere to MLS rules and regulations. The MLS does a pretty good job of enforcing those rules. But who among you is making sure that the MLS is not running afoul? WAV Group MLS clients are traditionally the largest MLSs in the nation. If the MLS has a member count of less than 2000, it is unlikely that WAV Group has ever facilitated a strategic plan for your MLS. From this perspective, WAV Group has learned that large MLSs rarely run afoul of staying current. The place to spend time auditing your MLS is the small MLS. These MLSs are unlikely to attend NAR's National or Mid-year meetings where MLS policy evolves. They rely on NAR emails to stay current. Moreover, the MLS board of directors is also unlikely to stay current with MLS policy, which erodes their appreciation and ability to make informed policy decisions. Beyond NAR, there is also the Council of MLS or CMLS. This is the industry trade group for MLS executives that has regular meetings to discuss best practices of operating an MLS. Ask your MLS if they attend these meetings. The goal of this post is not to pick on small MLSs. The reality is that they do not have the resources to participate in all of these things. Where WAV Group discovers small MLSs that have fallen behind is when we audit large brokers for rules compliance. Large brokers proactively engage in an audit each year to make sure that all of their systems are in compliance with local rules and regulations. This process is as much a vendor audit as it is a broker audit. MLSs often change rules and the broker or vendor miss the memo on the rules change. Alternatively, the NAR rules change and the MLS does not revise their rules to keep current. Either way, the broker is out of compliance, and is liable for fines and other disciplinary action.
MORE >
Rewind: Why Zillow and Trulia Don’t Matter Today
MORE >
Brokers Losing Agent SEO Battle to Portals
Years ago, when consumers searched for keywords like City Name + Real Estate, an actual real estate broker would appear in the search results. Those days are long gone for most cities in America. Unless a broker has invested richly in the goal to appear on page one, Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com®, and Homes.com dominate. With the advent of mobile search and the consumer awareness of long tail search, the goal of SEO strategies by portals expanded to include property address. Again, four or five years ago, if you searched for a property by address, and that property was for sale, you would normally see a variety of broker websites with property detail pages appear in search. Today, Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com® and Homes.com dominate the long tail SEO for property address search in most markets. Brokers align themselves with the portals in various ways, including premium advertising products to redirect that consumer back to the brokerage. When you look at the traffic to broker websites today – and how consumers use them – beyond property search, the most popular area of the website is the agent directory and agent detail pages. Property pages dominate, but the agent pages are a clear second place. From there, any other content on the site, including blog content, is less material. Brokers are about to lose the search battle for agent name, and soon, broker name.
MORE >
Business Strategy: Understanding Tech for Agent Adoption
MORE >
8 Secrets Every Real Estate Agent Needs to Know for a Successful 2014
This post comes to us from the HomeFinder.com blog: Real estate sales tend to slow down around the holidays, but if your goal is to increase your brokerage's profitability in 2014, the end of the year is vital to your team's success. Set the scene for a prosperous 2014, by encouraging your agents to incorporate the tips below into their year-end business goals. 1.) Resist hibernation: As we enter the months of November and December, real estate agents often go into hibernation, says Christopher Fox (Director of Agent Growth, RE/MAX First). Avoid this! This goes back to the basics of sales – every real estate agent needs a sales funnel of clients either looking to buy or sell their home. Focus on prospecting clients to refill your funnel to start 2014 on a high note. 2.) Build a reliable network: Make a goal to create at least six new business relationships in different industries (ex: mortgage broker, professional stager, professional mover, real estate attorney) to give and receive referrals, says Kristine Wyatt (Broker Associate, Smart Click Realty). Surrounding yourself with a strong network will drastically improve your reach, and will also allow you to pay it forward. 3.) Master the art of time blocking: Regardless of the stage of your career, time blocking is essential to grow your business. Fox advises to allocate a certain time of day – every day – to complete the tasks that are key to growing your business, like prospecting, returning calls, or building your social media networks.
MORE >
5 Questions to Ask Your Team for a Successful 2014
MORE >
Why are MLSs surprised?
WAV Group has been purposefully quiet during the storm of enlightenment whereby the industry pundits that recognize the role of the real estate broker in our industry. In truth, the leading MLSs in America are perfectly cognizant of the role and needs of brokers in real estate. Frankly, many of The Realty Alliance brokers own MLSs or are standing members of the Board of Directors. Even in the absence of having a broker owned MLS or having broker led governance in your MLS, there is plenty that you can do that involves the broker in your MLS strategic planning. Every WAV Group facilitated strategic planning session segments brokers of all sizes to measure their satisfaction with MLS service and opinion on MLS policy. MLS 'participants' are the first customer of the MLS. Subscribers to the MLS are the welcome guests of the Participants. If you are not a Participant focused MLS, make that a strategic goal for 2014. In strategic planning, every MLS should have a positioning statement for each of its customers. You should clearly know what you do for brokers. Complete this sentence: For brokers, MLS name is the only MLS that ____________________ for brokers. Reasons to believe this are 1) ___________________ 2) ____________________ 3)_____________________ The positioning statement for broker participants should be harvested from broker research. Broker research means that you need to know your brokers, by name! You should know where their offices are. You should know their technology partners that are powered by MLS data. As the MLS, you play a pivotal part in making sure that data gets to their systems.
MORE >
Have You Started Planning for 2014?
MORE >
What Every Broker Should Do Series – Set Production Standards
Today's real estate business is undergoing major changes as it transforms itself from the old way of doing things into something more modern and digital in nature. How business is conducted will continue to evolve but one thing will never change – a brokerage is in business to be profitable. Profitability begins with having sales associates and ownership understand that the associates have been hired for one main reason – their potential revenue stream. One way to ensure that the associate generates enough production to cover their costs of being there, as well as provides the company with a reasonable profit, is to establish minimum production standards. An effective minimum production standards program must be: Reasonable and achievable Trackable Supportive to the associate Consistently enforced
MORE >
More Brokers Offering More Services
MORE >
Why Zillow and Trulia Don’t Matter Today
Let's start by stipulating two arguments: First, that every listing needs a buyer. Second, that most buyers find the home they bought on the internet. We might even throw in a third truism in real estate: a powerful web presence can bring in lots of business for most real estate brokers. All fine and well. Except for one thing: the market. It's true that most buyers today find their homes on the internet. According to NAR Research: It's also true that buyers like to use major web portals to do search for those homes. By and large. Yet the fact remains that most real estate remains local (most buyers moved less than 15 miles last year) and that local brokerage websites remain more-than-capable of capturing that buyer traffic. See the broker-revolt against sharing listings with major portals as market evidence of this fact (more here and here). And while there will always remain a large, soft chunk of the industry that prefers to outsource its buyer marketing and lead generation to third parties, Zillow and Trulia will hum along nicely for some time to come. None of which really matters today. Because it's not a buyer's market any more. It's a seller's market.
MORE >
Trulia to Collect More Agent Data
MORE >
Realogy has a great second quarter
There were times that I looked up at the largest brokerage in America and the largest franchisor in America and wondered if it was built to last. They have been struggling through a rough patch with the rest of our industry, but they had the added pressure of managing the erratic public stock market and a challenging corporate lending environment. WAV Group does not have any broker clients that trade as public companies. WAV Group consulting has omitted Realogy franchise and NRT performance from benchmarks among brokerages over the past few years. They were fighting battles that private brokerage was not fighting. During the hard times of the real estate crash, Realogy entered into a phantom value plan for common stock. They also paid 11.5% interest on loans. Despite these unfavorable operating terms, they fought through with the strength of their business model, strong performance of management, and the great fortune of the housing market recovery that was widespread. Now they are operating more in line with private brokerage, and offer private brokers decent barometers for business performance comparisons.
MORE >
Real Estate Internet Marketing Strategies that Increase Your Competitive Advantage
MORE >
The Epidemiology of an Emerging Market
Classic epidemiology is the study of the patterns, causes and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and is used extensively to guide both public and private policy decisions and evidence based health care practices by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventative care. Epidemiologists control this process by designing, collecting, analyzing and interpreting health data. Epidemiology and epidemiologists are always at the front lines when their assigned populations begin to demonstrate health related symptoms and behaviors that suggest the potential of a mass outbreak of a particular malady AKA; an epidemic. With the information gained from their collection and analysis, epidemiologists undertake to develop strategies and tactics to control, or perhaps manipulate, the disease conditions in a manner that is consistent with the health, political or economic policies under which they work. As we discussed in last week's article, there is every evidence that the American real estate industry appears poised to experience an epidemic of its own in the shape of what is now being called the "hyper-market." The statement that establishes the vital link between epidemiology and real estate and its relevancy moving forward is simple; brokers who wish to take advantage of the new market must quickly move to understand and practice market centered economic epidemiology. In other words, every broker in the country must start this new era by making a decision to be either an observer, and ultimately a victim or, in the alternative, to exercise knowledge and leadership by taking advantage of the unique opportunities and challenges being created by the new "hyper-market" environment.
MORE >
Did You Forget About the Data?
MORE >
New View of Broker Social Media Strategy
One of the key shifts in online marketing that has occurred over the past five years is the evolution of social media marketing. What is astounding is how far removed most broker websites are from executing baseline social media strategies effectively. Brokers have largely ignored developing a social media strategy. Only a few have a social media director. Agents are aimlessly running wild on social media in ways that diffuse the impact of a common voice. Social media calls to action are poorly represented on listing detail pages of broker websites Social media is poorly leveraged on agent profile pages on broker websites. Brokers need to begin to think of the role their brand plays in social media. The first thing that needs to be deployed is the ability to listen to social media. This is called Reputation Management. Everyday, there may be people singing your praises or criticizing your services and you are not hearing them. It is a huge mistake. Here are 50 companies that sell social media monitoring software. Pick one and use it.
MORE >
4 really wonderful words that are music to the ears of every broker I know, “I am so busy!”
MORE >
A new tenor to integrated solutions for brokerage
I was in Seattle a few weeks ago, visiting a broker, when I encountered the Trulia team in the airport heading over to Market Leader. During the entire flight home, my head spun with ideas about how these two companies would blend their talents to serve consumers and the real estate community better. We have clients who leverage these companies to their fullest, and others who don't. It has never been the providence of a consultant to champion one strategy over another. Helping others execute the strategy that is right for their business to maximize their opportunity is our charge. Pick a plan and make it work. With that in mind, brokers are challenged with absorbing leads from multiple sources. LeadRouter does the best job, which is great if you are a REALOGY Franchisee, other brokers are left to their own devices. But LeadRouter ends at lead distribution – there is no follow up campaign capabilities. This causes all sorts of data problems related to tracking, distributing, and reporting on leads by lead source, lead quality by lead source, and lead conversion by lead source. ListHub and reDataVault have done a respectable job of helping on the reporting side, but there is more ground to cover to perfect those reports and get a full picture. Lots of broker solutions providers have engineered lead routing and lead management tools – but you often need a programmer named MacGyver to get it to work. Leads from publishers are all unique and require unique programing to capture the email lead, scrape the information, add it to the lead management database, then try to do something with it. It's hard. Once you do have your leads being routed, you need a solution to manage those leads. Brokers who have end-to-end CRM solutions like LoneWolf's brokerWOLF, Homes.com's Homes Connect, CoreLogic's AgentAchieve, or Real Estate Digital's rDesk have these capabilities. They are all integrated. This is also true of Market Leader's broker solution.
MORE >
Give Your Company a S.W.O.T!
MORE >
Bad Broker Strategy Found Everywhere
Having been to the parade of broker meetings in Las Vegas, there is one conclusion that stands out about the strategic direction of real estate brokerages. Strategy is lagging the market shift for far to many brokerage owners. Oddly enough, the topic was not even discussed. I worked elbow to elbow with brokers through 2012 as we lived and rejoiced through a market rebound. Buyers returned to the market to buy homes with little support from the tight lending standards of mortgage banks. Prices rebounded enough to put sellers into the market. Brokers profits rebounded and discretionary spending budgets emerged. The Lag First quarter spending analysis showed that brokers generally invested discretionary spending into the wrong side of the market. Many brokers invested in buyer lead generation programs when the obvious business need is to attract sellers. Brokers need listings, not buyers. There is no seller advertising in newspapers. No mention of it on broker websites. It is a prime example of what we consultants call strategic lag – a condition whereby a business reacts too slowly to new markets. Smart Brokers Smart brokers avoided the lag. They spent the winter building their spring plan. They evaluated their enterprise and addressed many of the neglected housekeeping chores that were sequestered from the housing crash. Old signs were replaced. Shabby offices were finally remodeled. New computers arrived. Marketing departments focused on rehabilitating company brands and listing presentations. Technology departments focused on customer relationship management solutions.
MORE >
Is the MLS In Danger?
MORE >
Is Your Brokerage Playing Out Its "Aggro" Strategic Intent?
Some of the most creative and stimulating writing environments in the country can be found on the beaches of Southern California. The salt air keeps the mind sharp and each wave brings a new idea or a great connection with the last one. The only morning distraction is the ubiquitous surfer whose skills, screw-ups and antics offer a non-stop show where the acts range from bravado to just plain foolishness. If one doesn't interfere with their sport, surfers can offer a world of interesting perspectives and information. So it came to pass that as I assembled my thoughts on the subject of strategic intent, these surfers demonstrated it right before my eyes. In front of me was a group of 25 to 30 surfers interacting with the great waves that make Laguna Beach one of the prime surfing locations in Southern California. As I observed the group it was obvious that most seemed quite satisfied to spend their time enjoying the rhythm of the water and the company of their companions. Every once in a while, when a particularly good wave presented itself, they would engage for a ride, but these opportunities turned out to be few and far between. A small number of the group were having a totally different experience. These surfers were expending great energy positioning themselves at various points in the surf where the largest and most robust waves were breaking. Once their engagement with these waves began, they would do whatever was necessary to prolong the thrill and execute a long and challenging ride.
MORE >
Create Your Success Blueprint
MORE >
7 Business and Strategic Planning Tips for the Year Ahead
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to think about how you want your real estate business to grow. From building a business plan to formulating an online marketing strategy, we've published plenty of great articles that can help you get organized and plan ahead for success. The articles below are just a sampling of the best business and strategic planning articles of the past year. Take a look for ideas on how to succeed in 2013. 1. Tips, Tricks and Tools for Your Business Plan - by Emily Williams If the thought of business planning strikes fear into your heart (or just plain turns your stomach), you're not alone. Most entrepreneurs dread building a business plan. At the same time, it's an invaluable tool that can take your enterprise to the next level. We're going to provide a few tips, tricks, and tools to make the process less daunting. 2. Creating Actionable Social Media Strategies - by Market LeaderIf the thought of starting and maintaining an actionable social media strategy seems overwhelming, it's time to come up with a game plan. In the world of social media, you are either a player or sitting the sidelines. Writing a blog from time to time, creating a Facebook page that you rarely visit or tweeting every couple of weeks doesn't keep you in the game. In fact, it shows that you are inconsistent. Go beyond just creating a presence.
MORE >
Broker Profitability POD concept
MORE >
The Role of Mortgage on Broker Dollar
Only the largest brokerages in a given region provide loan solutions through joint ventures or wholly owned mortgage companies. This provides these companies with a distinct advantage in many areas of providing a full array of consumer services around home ownership. For these companies, it is a generous source of additional revenue and the consumer loves the convenience. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that independent mortgage banks earned between $2150 and $2450 profit per loan in 2012. The average production profit in basis points ranged between 107 and 120. The average production was between 1700 and 2000 loans per quarter. The total loan production expense (commissions, compensation, rent, equipment, and other expenses) averages just over $5100 per loan. About $3300 is personnel expense.
MORE >
Technology Tools Used by Great Office Managers
MORE >
Searching For Your Online Marketing Strategy
Guest contributor Delta Media Group says: Did you travel in the past few weeks? If not, maybe you know someone who did. Thanksgiving is often one of the largest travel weeks of the year. And when people get to where they're going, they start thinking about where to go and what to do from there. That could be limited to asking a friend or relative the answer. But there's a good chance it will involve some sort of search. What's the first thing that pops in your mind when you think of search? Maybe it used to be shuffling through newspapers on Thanksgiving Day to find the Black Friday ads you wanted to see. But today, it's probably Google, or maybe another search engine. While your aunt is pulling out the newspaper, you're checking your mobile phone for those ads on an app you downloaded. And when you drove with your aunt to the store, it might be in a car that allows you to search for local stores and restaurants. Or maybe you do that on the map in your phone.
MORE >
Data Only Brokers
MORE >
Build a Business Plan... Build a Business Plan... Build a Business Plan!
Guest contributor Ernie Whitehouse of PCMS Consulting says: Have you had enough of the pundits screaming "Build a Business Plan" from the lecture circuit? While they are correct, the fact is few of them have actually done it themselves. They are terrific motivational speakers, and they really can talk the talk. But walking the talk in the everyday pressure cooker of running a business is a different story. Especially in this economic environment. Most of us start the New Year with great aspirations about developing and implementing a new business plan for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, three quarters of the business plans never get fully implemented. Instead they end up filed under good intentions. Understanding the reasons why business owners build a business plan, but then fail to implement it, is another long and complex blog post entirely. Resolving those issues for your specific company is better served with a diligent real estate coaching and/or consulting program. However, there is a simple formula for business planning success in 2013. We have successfully used it in the businesses we own and run, and with those of clients we serve. Its core components include simplicity, clarity and accountability. We call it: Build a Business Plan--SIX... FIVE... ONE... THREE
MORE >
A Broker’s Dozen: 13 Productive Culture Trends - Part 1
MORE >
What is the Gateway to Market Level Profitability for Real Estate Brokerages?
Please allow me a bit of a diversion into another industry in which our firm is involved. These are difficult times for the American trucking industry. High fuel prices, government regulation, a fluctuating economy and uncertain revenues have combined to create an environment in which profitability has become a major challenge. Record numbers of owner operators and firms have been unable to meet this challenge and have left the field. It is a classic case of disappearing margins becoming fatal. Interestingly, Dan Walters is one of the happier guys in this "over the road nightmare." Dan has been involved with the trucking industry for over twenty years and has lived his customer's down times on a daily basis for the past five years. His Grand Traverse Diesel Service is a regional heavy-duty service facility covering the northern half of the state of Michigan. It is his customers who are feeling the full weight of the above circumstances. Why then, you might ask, is Dan so happy? "It's easy," he says. "I have a solution." Dan goes on to explain that when margins get tight, and profits become elusive, success goes to those who can identify, manage and control those finite details that ultimately govern the bottom line. "In this economic environment," he says, "the direct route to increased profitability is paying attention to the little things. A savings of one or two percent is enough to drive profitability upward. When the economy is at its strongest, businesses trade volume for focus and allow minimal dysfunctions to occur that take a big bite out of margins, yet profits are still generated. However, in a more tentative economy, these dysfunctions become the very factors that make the difference between profit and loss."
MORE >
Monday Morning Mobile: Google Changes = Broker Opportunity
MORE >
What's the social media strategy for your brokerage?
Jose Perez of PCMS Consulting says: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, blah, blah, BLEH! Unfortunately, that is the general attitude of our industry when it comes to leveraging social media. It is a complete and total shame that our industry squanders one chance after another to embrace new ways of communicating with real estate consumers (email, the internet, and now social media.) How can we continue to ignore how our customers want to communicate with us? Two important statistics that should be front and center for every broker and agent: 87% of consumers start their home search online; and, 41% of consumers still rely on personal referrals to make their choice. Both of these stats underscore the importance of developing a social media strategy for your brokerage. Reaching out to consumers (instead of forcing them to come to you) generates revenue. If you can catch (and then engage) a consumer early in their online search, you position yourself and your agents as the brokerage that understands the needs of the modern consumer. Furthermore, establishing yourself in the preferred social media channels of your consumers generates referral business. Your visibility in your clients' social media feeds becomes a tacit endorsement of your services – the very best type of referral! If you don't embrace social media and implement a real communications strategy, someone else in your market is going to figure it out. Don't let that happen! Social media is not that complicated. It just requires focus and investment - like any other public relations, marketing, or advertising effort you freely invest in today.
MORE >
The NAR Power Broker Roundtable: Search Engine Optimization: the Need, the Quest and the Payoff
MORE >
Defense of Commissions
American business is founded on the principle that pricing for a product or service is based upon what a willing seller will accept, and what a willing buyer will pay. This happens on an individual basis with each transaction, and price fixing is not allowed. Recently, Casey William Hyland, who purchased a home from a Home Services of America brokerage--Semonin REALTORS®, brought a suit challenging the 6% commission rates on real estate transactions. His claim indicated that the 6% rate was price fixing and is a Sherman Anti Trust Act Violation. When there are multiple transactions of commerce, pricing patterns emerge. Consider the grocery store shelf. Within a given product category of similar items, pricing becomes normalized around a price point, plus or minus 20%. This trend happens everywhere, in every industry, and well beyond the grocery isle. The Plaintiffs claims were articulated as follows:
MORE >
Three Traits of Every Rock Star Real Estate Agent
MORE >
Edina Realty and Broker Syndication Choices
The news of Edina Realty pulling their listings from REALTOR.com have been rippling through the industry since it was announced. There are probably a small handful of brokers who have done the same, but that is about it. This became newsworthy because Edina Realty is a big broker – really big. Moreover, the parent company, Home Services of America is second only to NRT in terms of being the largest brokerage in America. NRT has about 750 offices and 250,000 sides. Home Services has about 300 offices and does about 125,000 sides. There is a lot at stake for syndication and online advertising if Edina realizes business growth as a result of their decision. Edina Realty is a smart company. This was not an emotional decision, but the result of intense and calculated strategic development. They have researched the opportunities and risks carefully and will measure impact to many facets of their business.
MORE >