The Clash. The Police. Journey. Talking Heads. Some of the most well-known bands in recent history also happen to have some of the most powerful names. Names that describe their music and articulate what separates them from everyone else. Just like those bands, the name of your real estate brand has a job to do. So, why are so many of us afraid to break traditional paradigms? Why is every brokerage Insert-Last-Name Realty? And why are so many logos a roofline? What if you liberated yourself from what everybody else is doing and made your own kind of music?
We recorded this podcast live after Marc spoke at the MLS Summit, an event hosted by Annie Ives of The MLS™/CLAW.
Marc Davison is the cofounder of 1000watt, an agency dedicated to helping real estate brokerages, tech vendors, mortgage and title companies, MLSs and associations build better brands through marketing and design. Prior to 1000watt, he served as the Vice President of OnBoard Informatics and founded Access Media. Marc’s resume also includes a long stint in the music business as a musician and manager, and he is the author of All Area Access: Personal Management for Unsigned Musicians.
Today, Marc shares the parallels between building a band and building a company, discussing how his background in music informs his work at 1000watt. He offers insight around the dynamics of the team at 1000watt, describing the unique voice of the company and how its name serves as a differentiator. Listen in for Marc’s challenge around breaking paradigms in branding your real estate organization and learn how your name, logo and messaging can work together (in harmony, of course) to articulate what’s important to you as a company.
How Marc’s background music relates to his work at 1000watt
The parallels between building a band and building a company
How 1000watt’s unique voice differs from its team members
Marc’s take on real estate as an intoxicating, aspirational business
The significance of thinking of your company as a product
Marc’s insight on the charisma of the name W+R Studios
How names serve as vehicles to create differentiation
Why 1000watt chose to brand itself as an agency vs. consultancy
Marc’s challenge around real estate terminology (i.e.: Team, Realty)
The necessity of alignment among names, logos and messaging
Connect with Marc:
This episode was recorded live at the Clareity/Corelogic MLS Executive Workshop in Scottsdale. Art and Josh were good sports when I spotted them at the lobby bar at the Scottsdale Plaza. Also, full disclosure, I think I’ve had at least one drink.
So, what’s it going to take to get vendors to transition away from RETS to Web API?RESO is hoping that both a carrot (providing easy-to-use replication tools) and a stick (large MLSs putting a ‘death date’ on RETS feeds) will facilitate the move.
Art Carter is the Chair of the 2019 RESO Board of Directors and CEO of California Regional MLS. Josh Darnell is the Chief Architect at RESO and Founder and CEO of kurotek, a real estate tech consultancy. Both Art and Josh are committed to RESO’s mission around creating and promoting the adoption of standards to drive efficiency in the real estate industry.
Today, Art and Josh discuss the transition from RETS to Web API and discuss what RESO is doing to rectify the replication issue. Art gives us an update on the progress of RESO’s search for a new CEO, describing the combination of technical skill and evangelism the organization is looking for in a leader. Josh shares his take on independent systems like Trestle and Spark API and walks us through the RESO initiatives that address the separation of listing input. Listen in for insight into the ongoing evolution of real estate standards and learn how you can support RESO’s work to give agents access to the data they need.
The progress of RESO’s search for a new CEO
What RESO is looking for in a leader for the organization
What the RESO Board is doing to rectify the replication issue
RESO’s understanding that standards will continue to evolve
RESO’s focus on giving agents access to the data they need
The intent behind RESO’s RCP010 and RCP019 initiatives
Why we will eventually rely on MLSs to handle compliance
The value of working together in an open-source model
Art’s insight on how proprietary systems impact innovation
Why vendors need to accept that RETS is going away
Who Josh would like to see at RESO’s Workgroup meetings
What it will take to get vendors to transition to Web API
Connect with Art & Josh:
Is it better to develop an all-in-one CRM? Or focus on relationship-management and work with other vendors to create a flexible package of best-in-class offerings? In the ever-evolving world of real estate tech, LionDesk is choosing integrations, leveraging partnerships with top third-party applications to create a CRM that plays well with others—and allows agents to maintain their independence.
David Anderson is the founder and President of LionDesk, a complete sales and marketing solution for real estate agents, broker and lenders. As one of the premiere CRMs, LionDesk makes it easy for sales professionals to connect, communicate and close more leads, and its open API platform integrates with hundreds of the best management tools, allowing professionals to run their entire business from a single system.
Today, David shares the challenge LionDesk faced in designing a CRM flexible enough to accommodate any workflow. He discusses the early days of the startup when he was ‘giving it away for free,’ focusing on individual agents and referral business and developing the subscription business model. David also speaks to Compass’ acquisition of Contactually and how it is impacting his business. Listen in for insight around how LionDesk integrates with other best-in-class real estate systems like Cloud CMA and ShowingTime and learn why agents prefer an independent, third-party system to an all-in-one, broker-led platform.
How David’s experience building tools for travel translated to real estate
The challenge LionDesk faced in designing a flexible CRM for any workflow
David’s focus on individual agents and referral business in the early days
LionDesk’s recent deal to provide CRMLS members with a full account
How LionDesk integrates with best-in-class apps like ShowingTime + Cloud CMA
Why agents appreciate the freedom and independence of a third-party system
How Compass’ acquisition of Contactually is affecting David’s business
Why David believes an all-in-one brokerage CRM system is the wrong play
The LionDesk SaaS month-to-month subscription business model
Why David discourages new vendors from pursuing the freemium model
The challenge around determining a CRM’s number of active users
Connect with David Anderson:
We’ve all heard the rallying cry to drop RETS and move over to the RESO Web API. What’s been less clear is exactly how to go about making that transition. So, what’s step one? How exactly might vendors help make this shift happen?
Rebecca Jensen is the President and CEO at Midwest Real Estate Data, the real estate data aggregator that provides the Chicagoland multiple listing service to more than 45K subscribers. Under Rebecca’s leadership, MRED was named Most Innovative MLS by Inman News. Rebecca also serves as the Board Chair for MLS Grid, a technology company created by MLSs across the country to deliver on the RESO Standards and provide vendors with a single access point for the data of participating MLSs in addition to a unified licensing agreement, standardized business rules and policing processes.
Today, Rebecca explains how the MLS Grid provides both a unified data feed and compliance process. She shares the tech company’s progress in getting the IDX feed and licensing agreements up and running as well as her long-term vision to have all software connect through the platform. Rebecca discusses the cost to vendors to access MLS data through the Grid and walks us through her efforts to facilitate a graceful transition from RETS to Web API. Listen in to understand the opportunity for vendors to test their apps against new systems like MLS Grid and get access to MRED’s step-by-step guide for RESO Web API adoption.
How the MLS Grid serves as a unified platform to deliver RESO standards
How the Grid provides a unified data feed and licensing agreement
MRED’s step-by-step guide for vendors regarding Web API adoption
MLS Grid’s work to finalize VOW and back office licensing agreements
How MLSs set prices for vendors to access their data through MLS Grid
Rebecca’s long-term vision to have all software connect through the Grid
The benefits of the unified compliance process provided by MLS Grid
Rebecca’s insight on the different ways to approach consolidation
Rebecca’s efforts to transition from RETS to Web API gracefully
How long it may take to convert a RETS infrastructure to Web API
The difference between an API and the data dictionary itself
The need for vendors to test their apps against new systems like MLS Grid
Rebecca’s call for vendors and MLSs to plan for Web API adoption
Connect with Rebecca Jensen:
ShowingTime was built to help people buy homes more efficiently by making the process of scheduling a showing much easier. Since it was founded 18 years ago, the company has grown to include a family of technology products that serve MLSs, brokers and agents in the areas of showing management and market statistics.
Mike Lane is the Co-Founder and President of ShowingTime, the most widely used showing management service provider in the market. ShowingTime serves 1M agents and 200 MLSs, scheduling up to 5M showings per month. Mike has been with the company since its inception in 2000, and he continues to head its sales and marketing divisions and serve as the primary contact for MLS clients and large brokers. A former Naval Officer and seasoned athlete, Mike has competed in a number of triathlons, including three IRONMAN races, and he holds an MBA and Master’s in Engineering Management from Northwestern.
Today, Mike explains how ShowingTime facilitates the scheduling of showings by way of its online calendar and call center. He describes the company’s evolution, discussing how they got into market stats as a complement to their core business. Mike covers the ShowingTime Index, explaining how agents might leverage the information and what showing activity reveals about market demand. Listen in for insight on ShowingTime’s business model and learn what the company is doing to reach brokers and agents, remove the hurdles to ordering online, and navigate the complexities of bundling—and unbundling—its products and services.
How ShowingTime facilitates online scheduling of showings
How the ShowingTime call center unburdens brokers/agents
How Mike got into the real estate software business
ShowingTime’s acquisition of 10K Research and RBI MRIS
How agents might leverage the ShowingTime Index
How showing activity reveals demand in the market
Mike’s insight on the predicted turn in the market
ShowingTime’s focus on supporting mobile adoption
ShowingTime’s ability to facilitate reverse prospecting
How ShowingTime serves MLSs, brokers and agents
How to reach brokers and agents via online marketing
Vendor efforts to remove the hurdles to ordering online
The complexities of bundling products/services for REALTORS
Connect with Mike Lane:
Tim Dain has a reputation for being the ‘mad scientist’ of the MLS world. He is not afraid to challenge established systems and ask WHY things are done a certain way. Tim facilitates innovation by assigning a creative writing piece, commissioning a study or building a spreadsheet—and then implementing the best ideas with a commitment to being of service.
Tim is the President and CEO of MARIS MLS, a multiple listing service out of St. Louis that serves 13 REALTOR associations, 58 counties and more than 13K members. A seasoned MLS executive with a unique resume, Tim spent two years running the Austin Board of REALTORS and four years as Executive Director of SIR/MLS prior to joining MARIS. Tim has a background in information technology, and he has served the real estate industry in multiple roles since 2006.
Today, Tim explains why he is not afraid to disrupt established systems and shares the improvise-adapt-overcome leadership mantra he learned in the Marines. He offers insight around the redesign of the MARIS MLS website in collaboration with 1000watt, describing the skills development video library featured on the site. Tim addresses his work to rebuild the infrastructure at MARIS, offering insight on his essentialist approach to technology tools and his commitment to service over shiny objects. Listen in for Tim’s take on the current plight of the broker and learn about his dedication to facilitating an honest dialogue around industry challenges—and publishing the unscripted answers.
Tim’s reputation as the mad scientist of the MLS world
MARIS’s marketplace approach to the board structure
Why Tim is not afraid to disrupt established systems
Tim’s improvise-adapt-overcome leadership mantra
The redesign of MARIS’s web presence with 1000watt
Tim’s work to rebuild the infrastructure at MARIS MLS
Negotiating price vs. subsidizing tech for small brokerages
The essentialist approach to MLS technology tools
Tim’s commitment to make basics available at a low cost
Why service should be the Holy Grail of the MLS
AMP’s origins in a thought exercise re: small MLSs
Tim’s view of the consumer as the ‘lion over the hill’
How the MARIS Asksseries facilitates an honest dialogue
Tim’s Infrastructure Spreadsheet
Connect with Tim Dain:
Let’s say you have your heart set on a kitchen with hardwood flooring, natural light and an island. Imagine having the ability to search images on the MLS for those specific features. With advancements in artificial intelligence, it is possible to have software read the images, identify the room type and even recognize the objects in it! There are an infinite number of use cases for the real estate industry and Restb.ai is quickly becoming a leader in the space.
Dominik Pogorzelski is the Vice President of Product and Operations for Restb.ai, a machine learning computer vision company specializing in visual recognition for real estate. The company’s plug-and-play solutions employ AI to automatically tag and classify property photos with industry-specific information. Dominik earned his MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona.
Today, Dominik discusses the societal shift to consume information in a digital way, explaining Restb.ai’s ability to filter images by room, features and amenities. He offers insight around the potential use cases for AI in real estate and the technology’s ability to unlock the data available in images and create value in a number of ways. Dominik describes how the pain points in the online ecosystem differ between Europe and the US, and he addresses the decision to apply Restb.ai’s technology to historical data or active listings. Listen in for insight on how an MLS might establish a partnership with Restb.ai and learn why AI is the next big thing in real estate technology.
Restb.ai’s niche as an AI company playing in the real estate space
Dominik’s path to Barcelona and his role as VP at Restb.ai
Restb.ai’s client base in Europe, Canada and the United States
How Restb.ai’s AI filters images by room, features and amenities
The societal shift to consume digital information in a visual way
The potential applications of AI tech for real estate professionals
AI’s ability to unlock the data available in images and create value
How Restb.ai could automate the compliance review process
The moral obligation AI companies have to the industries they serve
The horizontal players in the space vs. the specialists like Restb.ai
How the online ecosystem in Europe differs from that of the US
The technical aspects of establishing a partnership with Restb.ai
The decision to apply Restb.ai to active listings vs. historical data
Connect with Dominik Pogorzelski:
As real estate professionals spend less and less time in the office and real estate offices host fewer and fewer walk-ins, you might start to question the merit of spending top dollar for office space in a high-rent district. What if you saved that money and reinvested it in agent services? What if you could build a full-service brokerage in the virtual world, conducting business and meeting with colleagues in VR?
Cameron Paine is the Senior Vice President of Industry Relations at eXp Realty, the world’s most successful virtual, full-service brokerage. eXp invests the money saved by having very few offices into the technology that helps its agents stay relevant. In his role as Senior VP, Cameron is responsible for seeking collaboration opportunities with MLSs, Associations, brokerages and technology partners. Camron’s resume includes 15-plus years combined experience as top executive for an MLS and Association, and he has been recognized by Inman Newsas one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Real Estate.
Today, Cameron shares eXp’s decision to invest in change rather than fight it. He explains how a progressive MLS facilitates a broker’s ability to do business and offers insight around the innovative joint system between Arizona Regional and Metro MLS. Listen in to understand how eXp helps its agents build wealth by investing in the company and learn how the brokerage is creating a virtual world for its employees and partners!
eXp’s decision to invest in change rather than fight it
How eXp serves as a virtual, full-service brokerage
How eXp agents build wealth by investing in the company
The benefits of running a brokerage without office space
Cameron’s background in MLS and Association leadership
How a progressive MLS facilitates a broker’s ability to do business
The innovative joint system between Arizona Regional and Metro MLS
Greg’s argument for a New Jersey and Palm Beach MLS data share
Cameron’s responsibilities as SVP of Industry Relations at eXp
How eXp was designed for agents as a tech-forward brokerage
How eXp has created a virtual world for employees and partners
Connect with Cameron Paine:
Talk of standards adoption at the recent RESO conference in Milwaukee sounded much like the conversation last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. So, how do we move beyond discussing the reasons for converting to Web API and begin to execute on that plan? What might vendors do to help facilitate a little less talk—and a lot more action?
Mike Wurzer is the President and CEO of FBS, a leading innovator of MLS technology and one of the most respected real estate software brands. Andy Woolley is the VP of Industry Development for Homes.com, one of the nation’s top online real estate destinations and provider of tech solutions for the industry. In addition, Mike is the Vice Chair of RESO, and Andy serves on the Board of CMLS. They join Greg live from RESO Conference 2018to discuss the need for a shift in the conversation from the WHY of RESO standards adoption to actual implementation.
Mike explains how the platinum data-dictionary certification stands in the way and addresses the need for education around how to access the credential manager. Andy describes what his team is doing to facilitate the transition to Web API, sharing his intention to publish a follow-up to the whitepaperdetailing the first few conversions. They also cover the complexities around efforts to do away with replication and their responsibilities as established vendors to promote Web API adoption. Listen in for insight around developing a plan for conversion and learn how trusted vendors might work together to help their customers move forward—faster.
Greg’s frustration with the panel on standards at the RESO conference
How MLS platinum data-dictionary certification is a barrier to adoption
The need to move past a discussion of the WHY to implementation
The need for education around how to access the credential manger
What Andy’s team is doing to facilitate the shift to Web API
Mike’s solution to the issue of renegotiating licensing agreements
Andy’s case study of the first few conversions + the proposed follow-up
The complexities around efforts to do away with replication
The responsibilities of established vendors in promoting API adoption
Mike’s insight on how the API makes lead data available in all apps
Why every established vendor should have a plan for conversion
The pros and cons of creating a deadline when RETS will stop working
Connect with Mike Wurzer:
Connect with Andy Woolley:
How do MLS executives make decisions around which technology solutions work best for their REALTOR-members? What motivates leadership to establish a system of choice? Are there benefits to offering agents options when it comes to MLS solutions? And what are the challenges associated with giving members more alternatives?
DaVina Lara is the CEO of the Oakland/Berkeley Association of REALTORSand bridgeMLS. Her career in real estate began working for Russ Bergeron at SoCalMLS in 1993. Since then, she has served as an association executive with both the Hemet San Jacinto and Palm Springs Regional Association of REALTORS. DaVina took on the role of OBAR CEO in August of 2015 and added the MLS leadership responsibilities in April of 2016. She is committed to providing members with access to reliable data through innovative technology, offering subscribers access to 10-plus MLSs across California.
Today, DaVina shares her extensive industry resume, discussing her early years as the office manager for SoCalMLS through her current role as MLS and association executive. She explains the thinking behind her decision to implement a system of choice and what impressed her about the dynaConnections’ connectMLS system. Listen in for DaVina’s insight around the pros and cons of offering members additional technology options and learn more about the trend to separate listing input from MLS systems.
DaVina’s early years as the office manager for OCMLS
DaVina’s extensive resume in the real estate industry
Why DaVina is establishing a system of choice
DaVina’s goals as the CEO of bridgeMLS
The advantages of dynaConnections’ connectMLS system
How data is shared in SoCal vs. the Bay Area
DaVina’s plan to provide connectMLS training
The trend to separate listing input from MLS systems
The relationship between choices and support challenges
Connect with DaVina Lara:
How does design impact a real estate brokerage? Does it go beyond aesthetics to influence processes? How does quality design shape the user experience? And what are the benefits of an in-house creative team?
Matt Beall is the CEO and Principal Broker at Hawai’i Life, the state’s largest listing brokerage with over $25M in annual revenue across 13 commercial locations. He founded Hawai’i Life in 2008 to solve for representation of properties in marketing and digital technology, and now the firm does thousands of transactions each year, representing approximately $1B in sales. Matt also produces the Worthshop Series, a unique industry event designed to facilitate content and conversation among real estate’s brightest minds, and he serves as the cohost of HGTV’s popular reality show Hawaii Life.
Today, Matt shares his diverse experience in real estate, discussing how his background in sales, investing and running a traditional brokerage inspired him to found Hawai’i Life and what differentiates the company from other firms in the space. He explains the value of design in creating a clean and simple user experience and his decision to employ a full-time team of creatives and engineers. Matt also describes the benefits of being featured on HGTV in terms of brand awareness and credibility. Listen in for a preview of this year’s Worthshop at Mauna Kea Resort and learn how the design focus at Hawai’i Life contributes to its company culture.
Matt’s background running a traditional brokerage
What inspired Matt to found Hawai’i Life in 2008
Hawai’i Life’s recent merger with Joy International
Why Matt employs a full-time creative design team
Hawai’i Life’s focus on simplicity in user experience
The benefits of being featured on HGTV
The aim of Hawai’i Life’s annual Worthshop Series
What differentiates Worthshopfrom other conferences
The key aspects of Hawai’i Life’s company culture
How an ‘ethos of reset’ influences the tone of Worthshop
Connect with Matt Beall:
How does a tech company maintain a startup mentality after nearly five decades in the real estate space? Rapattoni has held on to its spirit of independence since its inception, embracing change and demonstrating a pride of ownership that is rare in the tech industry.
Brian Tepfer is the Executive Vice President and CTO of Rapattoni, a 48-year-old startup that offers a suite of innovative software products and services designed specifically for real estate associations and MLSs. In his role, Brian is responsible for shaping the future vision of the company’s MLS and AMS software platforms and keeping Rapattoni’s products relevant and useful. He has been with Rapattoni since 2003, serving as Technical Operations Manager and Business Processes Manager before his 2014 promotion to the C-suite.
Today, Brian shares his background in computer science and business administration, explaining how he got his start in MLS tech support at Rapattoni. He describes the startup mentality at the company, its distinction as one of the first internet-based MLS systems, and Rapattoni’s decision to focus on the real estate vertical. Brian walks us through the latest developments in the organization, including the new Rapattoni Magic-Cloud AMS, recent updates to every piece of their MLS software, and Rapattoni’s drag-and-drop custom report writer. Listen in for Brian’s take on hot button industry issues like the front-end of choice model and the Upstream initiative—and learn how Rapattoni is working to provide one of the best MLS experiences in the rapidly changing real estate market.
Brian’s background in computer science and business
Rapattoni’s function as an MLS and AMS software service
Brian’s initial role in MLS tech support with Rapattoni
Brian’s affinity for the startup mentality at Rapattoni
How pride of ownership inspires Rapattoni’s independent path
Why Rapattoni ultimately chose the real estate vertical
How the company dealt with the passing of Andy Rapattoni
The advantages of the new Rapattoni Magic-Cloud AMS
Rapattoni’s focus on updating every piece of its MLS software
How the custom report writer helps agents stand out
Brian’s belief in the front-end of choice model
Brian’s take on Upstream and its lack of cohesive messaging
Rapattoni’s intention to provide one of the top MLS experiences
Connect with Brian Tepfer:
‘Defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences.’
Century 21 has been in business for the past 47 years, and in that time, the branding has remained virtually unchanged. When Nick Bailey took the reins, however, he moved quickly to rebrand the company in a way that reflects the consumer-driven movement in the industry, engenders multi-generational appeal, and inspires his global team to deliver extraordinary experiences.
Nick took on the role of CEO and President of Century 21 in August 2017, and he is responsible for the organization’s 8K offices and 118K independent contractors in 80 countries around the world. He has 21 years of experience in the industry, earning his real estate license at the age of 21. Nick served as the VP of Growth and Development at RE/MAX World Headquarters for 12 years and VP of Broker Relations for Zillow Group for five years. He is a leader in franchising, brokerage management and technology, and Nick is known for increasing margins while mitigating the impact of economic change.
Today Nick explains how his diverse background allows him to see issues through different lenses, including that of the consumer. He walks us through the Century 21 rebrand, discussing the company’s new motto around delivering extraordinary experiences and the positive response to its new brand identity. Nick speaks to Century 21’s reputation for training, his take on new models like iBuyers, and the consumer-driven movement in real estate. Listen in for Nick’s insight on the necessity for open network, mobile-first technology and the healthy competition between Century 21 and Realogy.
How Nick’s diverse real estate background helps create clarity
The consumer-driven movement in the real estate industry
Nick’s insight on the core of Century 21’s business
Century 21’s new motto around delivering extraordinary experiences
The positive response to Century 21’s new brand identity
How a brand’s design impacts consumer trust
Century 21’s reputation for training and education
Nick’s take on new models like Redfin and iBuyers
How the process of finding buyers and sellers has evolved
The difference between home search and home shopper
How agents remain essential to consumers despite industry disruption
Nick’s preference for integrated, open network technology
The healthy competition between Realogy and Century 21
Century 21’s international presence
Connect with Nick Bailey:
88 MLSs serve 80% of REALTORS. The remaining 20% are served by the rest—that’s nearly 600 MLSs! We know that consolidation will make it much easier for brokers to serve consumers, but what is the best way to approach the issue? How can we work to understand the 20% in rural, small town and resort communities and bring that group in to alignment with the 80%?
Kevin McQueen is the President of the T3 Sixty MLS Division. He joined the firm with the express purpose of facilitating MLS consolidations, mergers and collaborations. Kevin has been a real estate consultant since 2000, when he founded Focus Forward to help MLSs and associations navigate the evolution of the industry. Prior to consulting, Kevin spent nine years as the CEO of Realcomp and eight years running technical operations for BORIS Systems.
Today Kevin shares his path to consulting, from his early days with BORIS to his experience consolidating MLSs in Michigan at Realcomp. He explains the role of a consultant in facilitating strategic thinking and what led to his collaboration with T3 Sixty. Listen in to understand Kevin’s mission to pick up the pace of MLS consolidation, addressing problem areas individually with a quiet, flexible approach.
Kevin’s early experience with MLS technical operations
How Kevin transitioned to MLS leadership at Realcomp
Kevin’s insight on the benefits of consulting
Why Kevin chose the name Focus Forward
The role of a consultant in facilitating strategic thinking
Why Kevin sought a partnership with T3 Sixty
The value of accurate data in decision-making to supercede emotion-based decision making in boardrooms
The shrinking number of MLSs from 2000 to 2018
Kevin’s mission to pick up the pace of MLS consolidation
Kevin’s take on NAR initiatives as dividing vs. unifying
Kevin’s Do’s and Don’ts of MLS consolidation
Paul Prince’s quiet and respectful approach to consolidation
How Kevin’s MLS map initiated a conversation
T3 Sixty’s approach to addressing problem areas individually
Connect with Kevin McQueen:
What do you think of when you hear the term ‘MLS’? The software vendors? The providers? The database itself? What about MLS executives? We tend to use the label as a catchall for all of those things, which can get problematic.
Shelley Specchio has a handle on all aspects of the MLS system. In 1994, Shelley began her professional career publishing a home magazine for the Reno/Sparks Association of REALTORS. The association expanded in 2003 to become the Northern Nevada Regional MLS, and Shelley served as their VP of Sales and Marketing until 2008 when she transitioned to the role of CEO. Last February she became the CEO of the MIBOR REALTOR Association in Indianapolis, a unique organization that marries the MLS, the association, and a nonprofit arm to impact the community at large. Shelley is involved with NAR on the national level, serving on the MLS Executive Advisory Board.
Today Shelley addresses the role of an MLS executive, discussing her own career path and the pros and cons of the position. She shares her take on the fear of disruption in the marketplace, the Upstream initiative, and MLS consolidation. Shelley explains what drew her to the CEO position at MIBOR, describing how the association, MLS, and foundation work in tandem to impact the community. Listen in for insight around using ‘MLS’ as a catchall term and MIBOR’s adoption of the acronym BLC.
Shelley’s career path in real estate
The role of an MLS executive
The fear of disruption in the marketplace
Shifting from fear to strategic action
Shelley’s take on the Upstream initiative
Other graduates of the ‘Merri Jo School of MLS Execs’
Why MLS execs often relocate as they advance
The extensive travel required of MLS execs
The shrinking number of MLSs from 900 to 672
What drew Shelley to MIBOR
MIBOR’s unique structure as an association and MLS
The challenges of having a new boss every year
How MLS execs build relationships with the board
The confusion around ‘MLS’ as a catchall term
Why MIBOR uses the term Broker Listing Cooperative
Shelley’s insight on future consolidation
Connect with Shelley Specchio:
Real estate professionals spend $9B annually to drive traffic to their websites, but less than 1% of that traffic leads to conversion. What’s to blame for this abysmal data? The vast majority of customers are looking to get an answer to a quick question, yet they are met with an aggressive chatbot who demands their contact information before agreeing to provide any information. And even if they do acquiesce to giving a name and email address or phone number, they have to wait several hours for a response. Jatinder Singh and Katie Djurich have built a better chatbot, one that uses scripted AI to engage with customers immediately and understand their needs first.
Jatinder and Katie are the visionaries behind Botplan, a chatbot for real estate that is compatible with Facebook Messenger, webchat and SMS. Available 24/7, the machine-learning tool initiates a dialogue with incoming leads, sets appointments and communicates the customer’s needs to the agent. Jatinder’s extensive background in the retail innovation space and Katie’s experience with the real estate industry led to an interest in designing a chatbot that helps agents effectively automate this portion of their business—and enjoy an occasional family dinner!
Today Jatinder and Katie explain the problems with the current chatbot solutions on the market and how Botplan addresses those issues. Jatinder explains why Botplan is transparent about being a virtual assistant and the distinction between the questions it can and cannot answer. He discusses Botplan’s ability to understand customer needs and communicate those needs with agents and how the team has made adjustments to the platform based on customer interaction. Katie and Jatinder address the reasons why chatbots that demand contact information before providing value tend to be off-putting and ineffective and how Botoplan uses scripted AI to employ the soft sell. Listen in to understand how Botplan is reaching agents and how the platform integrates with Facebook and SMS as well as webchat.
Why Jatinder and Katie built Botplan
The problems with current chat solutions
How Botplan works with Facebook, SMS and webchat
Why Botplan is transparent about being a virtual assistant
How chatbots are compatible with a busy lifestyle
The questions Botplan can and cannot answer
How Botplan works to understand the customer’s needs
How Botplan communicates with agents
How Botplan has made adjustments based on customer interaction
Why chatbots that require contact information are off-putting
Botplan’s use of scripted AI to engage with customers
Jatinder’s background in the retail innovation space
Katie’s experience in real estate and virtual tours
How Botplan is reaching agents
Connect with Jatinder Singh & Katie Djurich:
‘You can change anything you want to change. People can sit around and complain all they want, or they can do something about it. We’re consultants. We want to go do something about it. We’re tired of talking about it. Let’s just go do it.’
Victor Lund is involved in some of the most ambitious initiatives in the real estate industry. From Upstream to Broker Public Portal, Victor is passionate about solving big problems, and whether or not you agree with his approach, you have to respect his willingness to advocate for change. As the founding partner of WAVGroup, he serves as a consultant to large brokerage firms and MLSs with a particular focus on operational effectiveness, communications and strategic planning. Victor is also the founder and CEO of RE Technology, the leading real estate technology and media portal in the US.
Today Victor shares how he made the transition from venture capital to real estate consulting. He discusses the role of RE Technology and its unusual practice of inviting companies to read their articles in advance of publication. Victor defends his advocacy for the Upstream initiative, explaining the scope of the project and the many benefits it will provide for industry players. He also speaks to the intent behind Broker Public Portal, clearing up misconceptions around how Homesnap functions as a partner rather than a vendor. Listen in for Victor’s insight on tackling difficult challenges in real estate and cooperation as the way forward.
Victor’s transition from VC to real estate consulting
The role of RE Technology as the CNET for real estate
Why RE Technology shares its articles before publication
How WAVGroup’s research department sets it apart
The significant disconnect between brokers and MLSs
Victor’s participation in controversial initiatives
Victor’s insight on the benefits of Upstream
The incredible scope of the Upstream project
The timeline for getting Upstream up and running
Why Upstream uses Web API rather than RETS
Victor’s Upstream pitch for small brokerages
Why fear is the greatest challenge for the Upstream initiative
The impact of Add/Edit on an MLS and its related market
The intent behind Broker Public Portal
The joint venture between Broker Public Portal and Homesnap
How change of control provisions are built into the BPP/Homesnap contract
How Homesnap reinvented themselves as an industry partner
The concept of a parcel-centric database
Connect with Victor Lund:
As the saying goes, the best CRM is the one you use. Today’s guest has enjoyed great success onboarding agents to his platform, and when brokers with a strong training culture employ his software, agent adoption is as high as 80%--compared to the industry average 6%. So what’s his secret?
Zvi Band is the co-founder and CEO of Contactually, the leading intelligent CRM for real estate professionals. Agents have seen an average increase in GCI of 42% by staying in personal contact with their networks through Contactually, and the platform has facilitated $3B in deals closed. Zvi is also the co-founder and organizer of DC Tech Meetup, a monthly gathering of entrepreneurs, technologists and investors to see demos, launch products and network. Since its inception in 2011, the meetup has grown to a community of 18,000, making it one of the largest tech meetups in the country.
Today Zvi explains how his nomadic childhood and an early passion for building things led him to become a software developer. He discusses the significance of relationships in furthering his career and walks us through the way Contactually functions to help real estate agents maintain important business relationships. Zvi shares the thinking behind his decisions to fund Contactually via investors, to offer a multifaceted onboarding process, and to give prospects a 14-day free trial without securing credit card information in advance. Listen in and learn what contributes to Contactually’s success within a brokerage and how Zvi addresses agent concerns around sharing their contacts.
Zvi’s nomadic childhood in an academic family
How the Contactually intelligence CRM serves brokerages and agents
Zvi’s insight relationships as the most important asset you can have
The value of cadence in maintaining relationships
Why Zvi chose investors over self-funding
The shift from raising capital to building a business
Zvi’s take on why Contactually enjoyed strong adoption early on
Zvi’s proposal around pooling capital to solve big problems in real estate tech
The initial Contactually customer base of agents and teams
How Contactually has evolved to serve brokerages
Contactually’s multifaceted onboarding process
Why Contactually offers a free 14-day trial without requiring credit card info
Contactually’s growth from three to 70 team members
The remote-friendly culture at Contactually
What contributes to Contactually’s success within a brokerage
How Contactually addresses agent resistance to sharing contacts with brokers
Contactually’s focus on helping brokers use available data
Connect with Zvi Band:
The vast majority of real estate professionals read the annual Swanepoel Trends Report for its analysis of the top developments shaping the industry. A phenomenal resource for agents, brokerages, associations, MLS firms and vendors, the T3 Sixty report offers in-depth research around what’s happening in real estate—from investment in tech innovation to the direct buyer phenomena to the latest brokerage models.
Jack Miller is the President and CTO of T3 Sixty, a team of strategic, technological and managerial experts in the residential real estate industry. The premiere consulting firm facilitates solutions for industry players throughout the US and Canada, leveraging their team’s vast experience and personal connections. T3 Sixty offers a wide range of support, including strategic development, technology audits, system design, operational improvement and continuous comprehensive market research. Jack has 16-plus years of experience in real estate, previously serving as the CTO of a boutique real estate brokerage that won Inman’s Innovator of the Year Award.
Today Jack shares his entry into real estate, explaining his role on the Keller Williams software development team as the firm grew from regional player to national franchise. He offers his take on the increasing importance of brokerage culture, the rise of the tech-enabled firm, and the impact of the recent influx of capital in the industry. Jack walk us through several current trends, including the legitimization of the FSBO model, the shifting role of the real estate agent, and the increasing velocity of brokerage expansion. He speaks to the best representations of the newer business models and the momentum of flat fee companies like HomeSmart. Listen in for Jack’s insight around T3 Sixty’s role in the industry and his advice for agents and brokers in the internet age.
Jack’s unique introduction to real estate on Keller Williams’ software development team
The increasing importance of culture as part of the brokerage value proposition
How tech innovation has shifted from consideration to core requirement
The potential impact of the billions invested in real estate in 2017
The role of technology in the growing speed of brokerage expansion
The legitimization of the direct buyer (FSBO) model
Why it’s difficult to commodify real estate
The changing role of the agent as a consultant, counselor
The best representations of the newer business models
Why T3 Sixty is betting on the trend toward consolidation
T3 Sixty’s branding as the premiere consulting team for larger, more sophisticated companies
Jack’s advice for new agents around building relationships
How brokerages can recruit a specific audience of agents
Connect with Jack Miller:
The concept of the MLS creates a strange contradiction for brokers who are both competing with one another, yet sharing inventory by way of compensation and cooperation. In the middle of it all is CMLS, challenged with refereeing any acrimony between brokers and MLSs, promoting best practices, and supporting its membership of 203 MLS providers representing 1.2 million subscribers.
At the helm is Denee Evans, the CEO of this premiere organization dedicated to leading the MLS industry in North America. Denee is a self-proclaimed small-town girl who grew up in Nevada, earning a degree in finance with a specialization in real estate from UNLV. She has always been involved in the industry in some form, doing flips, additions, as well as scrape and builds.
Denee spent more than a decade in retail banking, where she dealt with home equity and mortgage loans. Prior to her role with CMLS, Denee was the Executive Director for EnergyFit Nevada, a nonprofit working to make homes more energy efficient. Through EnergyFit’s efforts to add sustainability information to the MLS, she learned about the opening for CMLS CEO and threw her hat into the ring.
Today, Greg asks Denee the tough questions around how to address MLS’s that don’t comply with best practices, the best way for CMLS to support its members, and the organization’s partnership with NAR. Denee explains the ‘blessing and the curse’ of taking on the role of CEO as an outsider in the MLS industry and the benefit for consumers when organized real estate’s stakeholders collaborate. Listen in and learn about the CMLS initiative to create an interactive tool that would assist MLSs in developing a plan to implement best practices.
How Denee’s background in banking informs her understanding of real estate
The intense interview process she experienced to become CEO of CMLS
The blessing and the curse of being an MLS outsider Denee’s take on the ‘us v. them’ mentality of industry stakeholders
The dichotomy around brokers competing, yet sharing inventory
The challenge for MLS execs to make diverse stakeholders happy
The benefit for consumers when stakeholders cooperate
Denee’s role as an advocate for MLS execs
Denee’s contention that pain points exist in MLS’s of all sizes
The ‘wall of shame’ identifying who hasn’t complied with CMLS best practices
Greg’s proposal to offer free CMLS memberships to non-compliant MLSs
CMLS’s plans to create a best practices interactive tool
- Developed at last CMLS strategic planning session
- Could grow into certification necessary for membership
How CMLS should provide support to its members
- Education v. leadership/advocacy
- Study of industry initiatives to identify needs (e.g.: Upstream)
The controversy around CMLS’s partnership with NAR - CMLS members assigned seats on NAR committees - Speak as national voice for CMLS
Connect with Denee Evans:
Katie Smithson picks her battles. Even well-meaning colleagues occasionally make insulting or offensive comments, and a professional woman has to decide what she can brush off and what she simply cannot accept. Though the lines can be blurry, nine years in the industry have taught Katie how to establish boundaries and present herself as a professional.
Katie grew up in Franklin, Tennessee, and went to school at Tennessee Technological University. Discouraged by the boys’ club that was electrical engineering, she changed her plans and pursued a degree in marketing. Her first foray into sales and customer service was at a Sprint/Nextel store back in Franklin, where she saw the first MLS searches on a Blackberry. After a move to Knoxville, Katie worked in marketing for a local mortgage company that happened to use CRS Data for tax purposes. Tired of spending her days in a cubicle, she noticed an opening for a trainer at CRS. Katie won them over and secured her first job in real estate. After four years working with agents, realtors and MLS execs to implement the use of CRS products, Katie had a conversation with Greg in a lobby bar at CMLS Boston, and the rest is history.
She has worked at W+R Studios for five years, serving as Director of MLS Services since 2016. Today she shares the details of her activism through the Georgia Women’s Policy Institute, the challenges for women in the real estate industry, and her advice around establishing professional boundaries.
Why Katie gave up on electrical engineering to pursue a marketing degree
Katie’s early sales and customer service experience at Sprint/Nextel
How Katie got involved with the real estate industry
Katie’s role as Director of MLS Services at W+R Studios
The shift from training to sales
Katie’s work with the Georgia Women’s Policy Institute
- Issues affecting women, children
- Get in front of legislators
The challenges for women in the real estate industry
How Katie establishes boundaries as a professional woman
The complications of alcohol as part of industry culture
How Katie’s reputation in the industry has improved her experience with sexism
Katie’s advice for women coming up in the industry
- Keep your head on straight
- Maintain professionalism
- Have a buddy
The challenge of dressing appropriately for women in a business environment
Katie’s recommendations around resources for sales executives
Connect with Katie Smithson:
By 2009, mobile users could do a lot with smartphone apps—get directions, listen to music, take pictures, play games, even film a video. Aaron Kardell thought that you ought to be able to add ‘look for a house’ to the growing list of applications, and he founded HomeSpotter with the intention of doing just that.
Aaron grew up in rural Nebraska in a family of entrepreneurs. He started writing software programs in high school, and went on to earn a BS in computer science at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He originated several businesses, including Altona Ed, an ed tech student information system that was acquired by Pearson School Systems in 2004.
Aaron’s first experience with location-based iPhone applications came along in 2009 when he created iGarageSale. Very shortly thereafter, a broker contacted Aaron about building an app to complement the firm’s successful lead generating website. Aaron retained intellectual property rights, and Mobile Realty Apps was born. The company rebranded as HomeSpotter in 2015, and today they have offerings for MLSs, brokers and agents. On this episode, Aaron joins Greg live from CMLS in Austin to discuss HomeSpotter’s business model, the latest capabilities around mobile listing input, and HomeSpotter’s recent launch of Boost, an automated digital marketing system with trackable ROI.
Aaron’s entrepreneurial family
How Aaron developed an interest in writing software programs
The genesis of HomeSpotter
- Created iGarageSale app
- Realtor asked to build app as consultant
- Retained intellectual property rights
The tactical mistakes HomeSpotter made early on
Why Aaron chose to take the native mobile route
How Aaron built a business in the 99¢ app store world
- Relied on SaaS model
- White label broker offering
HomeSpotter’s service offerings
- White label platform for brokers
- MLS member access on-the-go
- Boost (automated digital marketing with trackable ROI)
How high agent adoption in MLS markets led to the introduction of additional products
The new capabilities around mobile listing input
- Ability to edit listings (corrections, status changes)
- Update photo support capabilities
How Aaron funded HomeSpotter
- Personal capital sustained first three years
- Angel investors in Minneapolis/St. Paul
The particulars of HomeSpotter’s newest offering, Boost
- Automated system
- For agents, teams, brokers
- Creates Facebook/Instagram ads for each new listing
- Targets prospective buyers and seller
- Helps average agent be more effective with marketing
Greg’s hesitance to get into the ‘advertising business’
Why agents are willing to spend more for advertising than tools
The scalability of an app like Boost
How HomeSpotter is upselling current subscribers to try Boost
- Partnering with brokers, franchises, MLSs
- Email agent when listing added
- Brokers pay for initial week in some cases
How Aaron’s team generates ideas for new products
Cloud CMA’s deal with Tom Ferry
The pros and cons of a pay-per-listing pricing model
The difference between HomeSpotter’s free and premium versions for MLS
Connect with Aaron Kardell:
If you feared more of the same when Bob Goldberg was named CEO of NAR, take heart. The rhetoric of our new leadership is focused on engagement, openness and transparency—knocking down the façade of the ‘Ivory Tower’ and facilitating dialogue with members, even those who disagree.
Bob Goldberg has been a senior executive with NAR since 1995, and his accomplishments include the launch of the REALTOR Benefits Program, the introduction of the top-level domain initiative, and the expansion of NAR’s technology partnerships via Second City Ventures and its REach Technology Accelerator. Prior to NAR, Goldberg served as senior vice president with PRC Realty Systems.
Bob is lauded for his leadership, recently named one of the 2017 Swanepoel Power 200 and Inman News Real Estate Influencers of 2017. Bob has forged his career on designing programs and partnerships to strengthen the REALTOR organization and drive success for its 1.2 million members. Today, he explains his approach to ushering in a new era at NAR, discussing his pursuit of transparency through social media, interviews and opportunities for Q&A. He also addresses his intention to serve members via a ‘flipping the pyramid’ model of leadership, and how he plans to empower his team with the authority to drive change. Listen to understand why Bob is an advocate of tech initiative partnerships, and how NAR can tackle the issue of professionalism among its members—with both consumers and fellow agents.
Bob’s pursuit of openness and transparency
How Bob plans to connect directly with NAR members
Bob’s interview with Andrew Flachner of RealScout
How Bob and the panel approached Q&A at the NAR Leadership Summit
Bob’s intention to facilitate honest discussion about industry issues
Bob’s mission to break down the façade of the ‘Ivory Tower’
Bob’s ‘flipping the pyramid’ concept
The upcoming NAR organizational design study
Greg’s characterization of Bob as having a ‘vibe of inclusiveness’
Bob’s aim to be a different kind of leader
Bob’s background in MLS technology with PRC
How Bob plans to assess the value prop of tech initiatives
The NAR budget process
How NAR decides to sunset a program that’s run its course
Why Bob does not advocate for a national MLS
Bob’s take on NAR’s role in raising the bar for agents
Professionalism with consumers and fellow members
The complexity of addressing professionalism in the industry
Bob’s willingness to be embrace social media
The world-class talent at NAR
The network effect of engagement
Connect with Bob Goldberg:
The Upstream Pivot with FBS CEO Michael Wurzer
I had a chance to sit down with Mike Wurzer again at NAR Midyear to discuss the recent announcement about Upstream, well not really doing upstream anymore. This was recorded before NAR announced the details to their additional funding. More on that in a later blog post.
The first step of problem-solving is to assign blame. Right?
That seems to be part of Upstream’s tactics in explaining their delayed progress at NAR’s May Legislative Meeting in DC. They succeeded in raising the heartrate of today’s guest – by implying that a lack of cooperation from vendors is to blame for the snail’s pace of the project. Upstream also made a big announcement regarding what they term as a pivot, but may be more appropriately called a 180.
Michael Wurzer is the President and CEO of FBS, an employee-owned company committed to exceeding customer expectations. Their signature product, Flexmls, is a standards-driven technology platform connecting real estate professionals to their customers with collaboration tools that deliver timely and accurate information. FBS products serve 185 organizations and 2,000-plus agents in the real estate sector.
Under Wurzer’s leadership for the past 20 years, FBS has worked to constantly evolve and embrace change. They were among the first to build a web-based system, striking a balance between the stability of being an established company and creating a culture of innovation. Today he examines the Upstream pivot in detail, discussing how the Upstream messaging has evolved over time, the pain points the initiative was working to address, and the need to foster collaboration among industry players.
The major players in the Upstream initiative
How the Upstream messaging has evolved over time
The major Upstream pivot announced at NAR’s Legislative Meetings
How the pivot was influenced by feedback from experienced MLS professionals
Greg’s take on the fundamental change in premise of the Upstream initiative
The pain points the Upstream project was working to address
The buy-in for Upstream from big brands
Upstream’s explanation for its delayed progress
The need to foster collaboration among industry players rather than assigning blame
The CMLS campaign to highlight the value of the MLS
The controversy over RPR’s team of developers
The confusion re: the meaning of a ‘live demo’
The ability to enter a listing from third-party system as a RESO objective
The evolution of technology in the real estate software space
Success stories in MLS system consolidation
The beauty of competition in shaping market dynamics
Zillow’s next steps in light of the Upstream pivot
The need for clarity of communication re: syndication
What the Upstream pivot means for AMP
Wurzer’s prediction of what’s next in real estate tech innovation
Upstream as ‘another option’ rather than a revolution
Connect with Michael Wurzer:
Henry Ford is credited with saying, ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ True innovation provides you with the tools you didn’t even know you needed. Today’s guest understands the challenges of the real estate industry, and he created a platform that provides a unique solution tailored to the work we do. A solution that will make you wonder how you ever did without!
Tyler Gordon is the CEO and Founder of Agent Inbox, an all-in-one communications platform that empowers MLSs to launch a market-wide platform that allows every agent to communicate with every other agent about any listing, from any device, within any product. Agent Inbox seeks to build the messaging infrastructure so that everyone involved in the real estate transaction (including vendors) can effectively communicate via one system.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in finance, Gordon went to work for Grooveshark, an on-demand streaming music service, where he built their data products and market research team, boasting a research panel of over 300,000 participants. From there, he joined the family business, a real estate brokerage in south Florida. Realizing just how difficult it was to be a real estate agent, Gordon set out to solve some of the problems he encountered – and Agent Inbox was born. Today, Gordon explains the nuts and bolts of Agent Inbox, sharing how the tool works with any app under the MLS umbrella. Listen and learn the benefits of a single communication system that connects all the stakeholders involved in the real estate transaction!
The shift in how people communicate
The idea behind Agent Inbox
The installation of Agent Inbox
How to access Agent Inbox
How the Agent Inbox infrastructure might be used to include other industry stakeholders
The benefits of Agent Inbox
How Agent Inbox was conceived
The trend toward specialized products
Where Agent Inbox is already up and running
The user-friendly nature of Agent Inbox
The benefits of messaging (vs. email)
Connect with Tyler Gordon: