‘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:
LIVE from the RESO Spring Conference 2017
‘…You’re building a new infrastructure. You’re building a brand new interstate, and one of the hardest things is the off ramp and the on ramp.’
RETS has been a solid technology standard for fifteen years, and many vendors are resistant to make the change to API. But as the needs of mobile shift the industry, a new ‘interstate’ is necessary. Today’s guest is prepared to discuss the details of this controversial pivot.
Jeremy Crawford is the CEO of RESO, the organization responsible for the creation, promotion and adoption of standards in the real estate industry. RESO seeks to fuel innovation and help streamline the real estate transaction. Crawford has been involved with RESO since 2010, serving on its Board of Directors and co-leading the Education and Outreach Workgroup. He has a unique combination of talent and experience, with an extensive background in information technology and corporate management. After graduating from East Tennessee State University with a degree in computer science, he landed an IT position with Safeco Insurance. From there, he worked in network management for BB&T Corporation and MarketLinx (a division of CoreLogic). His resume also includes leadership roles as CIO of SANDICOR, CIO and COO of MLSListings, and COO of Aculist.
Crawford explains the need for a pivot away from RETS to API, the benefits of saved search portability, and the progress of the transition to date. Listen in to understand the steps being taken to improve the permissioning process and who might play a role in further advances.
The controversial pivot to API
The progress of the move to API
The vendors who are taking advantage of API capabilities
The benefits of switching to API for established vendors
Progress with regard to the challenges of permissioning
Who is responsible for permissioning process
Connect with Jeremy Crawford:
LIVE from the RESO Spring Conference 2017!
In a world where your every move is tracked via geocode through your Starbucks orders and Instagram posts, there is an abundance of data. And those who know how to interpret that information can learn an awful lot about a person and her behavior, using it to either market or serve … or both. The world of real estate is no different, and there is much buzz in the industry regarding an innovative new data solutions product for agents.
Remine is a Big Data company that delivers predictive analytics to real estate professionals exclusively through their MLS. They analyze property records, transactional history and consumer data to determine someone’s propensity of buy, sell or refinance a home. Their user interface utilizes heat maps and other visualizations to help real estate professionals contextualize data, identify new leads and win more business. The team is comprised of successful agents who understand the needs of real estate professionals.
Jonathan Spinetto is the COO of Remine, and he has been a licensed agent since 2002. Using his own custom technology systems, Spinetto has completed over 3,000 single family residential transactions. As both a practitioner and a technologist who offers unique insight into industry trends, he delivers keynotes internationally around Big Data in real estate.
Lucie Fortier is the newly appointed VP of Product. She brings an understanding of the MLS space and a great deal of implementation experience to the Remine team. Fortier spent the last five years as Senior Director of Operations at CoreLogic, where she was accountable for the support and execution of a suite of Real Estate web-based applications delivered to 600,000-plus agents in the US and Canada.
Spinetto and Fortier articulate the specifics of the Remine product and how it ties together property attributes with data about people in order to provide meaningful insight for agents. Listen and learn how Remine is different from other companies that offer predictive analytics and why they chose to partner with MLSs.
How Remine employs data to help agents find prospects
Why Remine doesn’t fit into a particular product category
The types of data Remine has aggregated and linked to MLS data
Why Fortier joined the Remine team
The beauty of providing meaningful insight that agents can use
The difference between Remine and other companies that offer predictive analytics
How Remine democratizes the data to help agents be proactive
How Remine fills a gap in the real estate tech space
Why Remine chose to partner with MLSs rather than sell directly to agents
The importance of face-to-face demos
The necessity of stewardship when it comes to data sharing
The responsibilities of a company like Remine to share appropriate personal information
The Remine implementation schedule
What Fortier brings to the table as VP of Product
How Remine adjusts predictive analytics to localize to a given area
How Remine is funded
Connect with Jonathan Spinetto and Lucie Fortier:
Pioneering Innovation in Real Estate Tech with WolfNet CEO Joel MacIntosh
LIVE from the RESP Spring Conference 2017!
Talk about being at the forefront of new technologies… Today’s guest was working to develop ecommerce in the mid-1990s, streaming video in 1998, and consolidating MLS data in 2000.
Joel MacIntosh is the CEO of WolfNet Technologies, a real estate tech pioneer offering highly configurable IDX and VOW property search applications, MLS data standardization services, and property search API services. WolfNet accesses data from 600-plus MLSs in North America, offering the most accurate and up-to-date MLS data in the business, and the company serves national franchises, brokers, agents and MLSs.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management with a BS in Entrepreneurship and Business Management, MacIntosh founded WolfNet in 1996 as a work-for-hire web development company. WolfNet moved into the real estate space in 2000 when a broker approached the firm with an interest in "Broker Reciprocity", and they have been developing groundbreaking products and services for the industry ever since.
MacIntosh was recently named one of the 200 Most Powerful People in Real Estate for a reason, and today he shares how WolfNet stays on the cutting-edge of real estate software innovation. Listen and learn about their flagship products and services as well as projects in the works around photo image categorization and AI.
WolfNet’s journey from work-for-hire web development to real estate tech
WolfNet’s flagship products
Why MacIntosh favors the consulting aspect of his work in the data space
How WolfNet pioneered data sharing among MLS systems
Why most bigger players prefer direct database access over RETS
The benefits for WolfNet of building their own API
The two main WolfNet customer profiles
The ‘magic number’ of MLS markets at which point a company benefits from aggregating the data itself
How the numbers validate the concept of consolidation
WolfNet’s client base
How the data services component of WolfNet was conceived and productized
The built-in permissioning WolfNet offers
How WolfNet’s additional features connect data points to add significant value
What is involved in WolfNet’s image categorization and tagging project
WolfNet’s new data loader product
Vendors introducing AI in the real estate software space that impress MacIntosh
Connect with Joel MacIntosh:
“If the MLS industry had a face, that face would have a facial tick – because it’s always threatened by something or someone.”
With such constant scrutiny, you’ve got to have a pretty thick skin in the MLS business. And if your goal is to consolidate, let’s say the listings for the entire state of California, you’d better be even tougher. Today’s guest on Listing Bits faces such across-the-board resistance daily as he works to convince real estate professionals that giving up a little local control is worth it in the long run.
Art Carter is the CEO of California Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (CRMLS), providing products and services to over 82,000 subscribers. CRMLS works to connect real estate professionals throughout the state of California via access to the most data at the lowest cost possible.
Carter spent nine years working for the Pacific West Association of Realtors as they pushed the envelope on innovation and brought the association world to a new level before moving to CRMLS in 2005. For the past 11 years, he has been dedicated to making a difference in the daily lives of Real Estate Professionals. He is best known for leading the data share revolution in Southern California.
Carter has been named one of Inman News’ 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders twice, and he is a member of the Dr. Almon R. “Bud” Smith, RCE, AE Leadership Society in recognition of dedicated service and commitment to advancing the association management profession. Listen in as he shares the progress CRMLS has made toward listings consolidation in California.
The disparity between consumers and agents/brokers when it comes to data access
How agents and brokers respond to the prospect of listings consolidation
The unraveling of calREDD
The history of CARETS
The advantages of data shares over an aggregated database
Why CRMLS seeks to consolidate listings for the entire state of California
The politics preventing consolidation
Where the resistance to consolidation comes from
The progress CRMLS is making toward consolidation
The benefit of implementing a ‘system of choice’
Solutions for the permissioning issue
Why the MLS industry itself should resolve the permissioning issue
The primary purpose of the MTP Project
Carter’s advice for MLSs seeking to consolidate
Connect with Art Carter:
Sifting through listing data is no one’s idea of a good time. But both brokers and technology providers spend a lot of time and money managing information from multiple MLSs. Would you be interested in a tool that could offer you a competitive edge by way of data access and control? Trestle might be the tool for you.
Kevin Greene is a real estate tech executive with expertise in business partnership development, strategy and product management. He has worked on both sides of the real estate aisle, serving as a broker for two years before crossing over to the vendor side of the industry ten years ago. He joined the team at CoreLogic this past July, where he serves as Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships and New Initiatives at the leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider.
Greene attended Auburn University, then served as paratrooper in the Army to pay for college. He received his degree in business administration from Jacksonville University and had a stint as a textbook sales rep with Prentice Hall before going to work for discount brokerage Help-U-Sell. In 2007, he got a lead through Monster.com for a job in real estate tech sales with what was then Fidelity National Financial. Greene rose through the ranks to become VP of MLS Solutions and then Senior Vice President of Business Development at Real Estate Digital before landing at CoreLogic. Today he discusses his new role and the potential of CoreLogic’s new Trestle initiative.
CoreLogic’s current objectives
The Trestle initiative
How Trestle was conceived
The benefits of an aggregated feed
How a tool like Trestle might facilitate the shift to APIs
The default agreements available through Trestle
Trestle’s pricing model
The cost-benefit analysis of utilizing Trestle vs. in-house staff
The phases of the Trestle launch
Connect with Kevin Greene:
Amy Gorce is the President of Clareity, the leading provider of security products and single sign-on services for the real estate industry. Their innovative products service over 850,000 agents daily and directly serve the majority of MLSs, associations and brokerages across North America.
Gorce entered the real estate industry in 1997 when she was hired by Intermountain MLS because of her experience in getting systems online. During her stint there, Gorce grew the organization from 2000 to 5000 members and tripled the listing data coverage area. As CEO, she received the Idaho Association of REALTORS Presidential Award for contributions in MLS leadership and technology.
In 2004, Gorce was approached to join the team pioneering data security company Clareity, and she transitioned to the vendor side of real estate technology. Her initial position with the company was as COO, then she moved to Executive VP before becoming President in early 2016. In her current role, Gorce works to design a vision for Clareity built on strategic thinking about the future of the company and the real estate industry in general. On this episode of the podcast, she outlines upcoming Clareity workshops and discusses industry issues from API integration to permissioning. Listen and learn what Clareity offers agents and brokerages and the company’s role in real estate tech moving forward.
The agenda for Clareity’s upcoming MLS Executive Workshop in Scottsdale
The consolidation of brands within Clareity
The intention of the Clareity Developer’s Workshop
Gorce’s role as President of Clareity
The value proposition of Clareity for agents
Gorce’s take on the permissioning process
How traditional vendors might evolve as new apps drive traffic away
Connect with Amy Gorce:
Rebecca Jensen is very busy. She's the President and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED), the real estate data distributor for the greater Chicago area. She also serves on the boards of Broker Public Portal (BPP), a national consumer-facing property search experience powered by MLS data, and the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), the trade association dedicated to strengthening the MLS industry.
Jensen began her career working the tech support line for what is now UtahRealEstate.com. She rose through the ranks by creating her own positions in the small company, eventually serving as CEO at the age of 29. Under her leadership, the company developed a new in-house MLS platform, including an integrated public-facing website and mobile apps.
Jensen also served a full term of six years on the board of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), acting as Board Chair from 2011 to 2015. During her tenure, the organization went from being a project within the NAR to a standalone nonprofit with support across the industry. On this episode of the podcast, she shares her journey from tech support to CEO. Click and listen to find out what drives Jensen, her take on the role of organizations like RESO, COVE and CMLS, and the direction of the MLS industry.
Connect with Rebecca Jensen:
Michael Wurzer is the President and CEO of FBS, Creators of Flexmls. FBS is a 100% employee-owned company, and every employee-owner is committed to exceeding customer expectations. Flexmls is a standards-driven technology platform connecting real estate professionals to their customers with collaboration tools that deliver timely and accurate information. Their products serve 185 organizations and 2,000-plus agents in the real estate sector.
Before taking over for his father at FBS, Wurzer enjoyed a seven-year career in law, primarily defending publicly traded companies in class action litigation. He also worked as the Assistant General Counsel for Aveda, a botanically-based hair and skin care manufacturer for beauty professionals. The method of thinking employed in legal analysis and writing provided unique preparation for his eventual work in the field of real estate tech.
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. On this episode of the podcast, Wurzer examines the staying power of the MLS, real estate software product integration and the implementation of industry standards. Listen in to find out how building relationships provides the foundation for FBS’s success.
- How a law background benefits Wurzer in the real estate tech industry
Talent in writing and communicating have been integral to his work with FBS
- The evolution of real estate tech community-building online
- The continued need for integration among real estate software programs
- Wurzer’s take on new initiatives like AMP and Upstream
- The source of anti-MLS sentiment
- The challenge of implementing standards in real estate tech
- How to solve the industry’s permissioning problem
- Wurzer foresees expanding agreements so that belonging to one MLS will provide access to a broader pool of data that can then be used
As long as the broker has permission, the vendor should have permission
- The necessity of reinventing yourself in the real estate tech business
FBS is actively developing leadership that embraces change
Connect with Michael Wurzer:
The Notorious R.O.B., Robert Hahn, is Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, a real estate consulting firm that specializes in developing and implementing corporate strategy including product management, brand marketing and social networking.
Hahn has a wide range of experience. His holds a BA in Philosophy from Yale and a graduate degree from NYU School of Law. After working briefly for a firm, he took a 98% pay cut to work as a magazine editor. Hahn’s diverse resume also includes positions at USA Networks, Inc., Kinesis Marketing and Realogy.
Hahn launched his consulting career in 2009 with the formation of 7DS Associates. He also writes a popular real estate blog, The Notorious R.O.B., and co-hosts the real estate podcast Trialogues which addresses technology, marketing and leadership in the real estate industry.
Hahn is a sought-after keynote speaker and change agent who thrives on speaking his mind and shaking things up in the real estate industry. On this episode of the podcast, he speaks to the nature of his consulting work, his candid approach to identifying industry challenges and the impending mood shift regarding standards for agents and brokers. Listen and learn what’s next for Hahn as makes an exclusive announcement about a new venture.
- The pros and cons of consulting
The “eat what you kill” model means you must continually prove value
- The differences between commercial and residential real estate
- The “tyranny of politeness” in the industry and why Rob and Greg feel a responsibility to speak their minds
- Hahn’s take on the biggest issue in real estate
The preamble to the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics outlines the fiduciary responsibility of agents and brokers
- Why it’s difficult for consumers to evaluate realtors
Lack of transparency
- How realtors themselves can help raise standards
- What’s next for Hahn and the details of an upcoming partnership
Connect with Robert Hahn:
Damien Huze is the Chief Design Officer at W+R Studios. He was born in Paris and grew up in a creative environment, watching his parents design ads on the floor of their home office. When Huze was ready to apply his own talent, the internet was just taking off. He found his medium in building websites, first for his band and then his father.
Huze has known W+R co-founders Greg Robertson and Dan Woolly since the inception of the company in 2008 when they connected over a shared approach to software design. At the time, he was running a design shop called Wake Interactive where his small team did design work for tech-driven companies including Verizon, Target and even Jennifer Lopez. Huze consulted for W+R studios, designing their corporate identity and contributing to the UI/UX of their flagship product, Cloud CMA.
Wake Interactive’s bread and butter was designing usable websites, but Huze eventually wanted to shift his focus to product design. When the opportunity came along to join the W+R team in 2015, he was ready to lead their rebranding effort and apply his talent to design from a product standpoint. On this episode of the podcast, Huze addresses the creative process, the benefits of creative thinking in business and how to view processes as a design task.
-What the creative process entails
-Generating ideas can be frustrating and ugly
-The aha moment when you find a solution is addictive
-Why Boulder is a best case environment for software design
-The level of work happening in the field there is tremendously motivational
-The potential for transformation in the real estate industry
-How businesses benefit from creative thinking
-Design goes beyond simply shaping the way things look
-Processes are a design task, i.e.: hiring, support, etc.
-How Huze approached the rebranding effort at W+R
-A brand survey revealed that the name was the most valuable element of Cloud CMA’s identity
-The rebrand was based on the word “cloud” and employs a very simple mark
-Huze’s team developed Cloud Agent Suite with complementary products identified by color
-Why continuity is the key to a polished image
-An internal transformation was required for W+R to be well-managed from a brand guidelines standpoint
-The changing value proposition of real estate agents
-Agents continue to provide crucial representation as they assist buyers in navigating the process of putting in an offer
-Agents provide local knowledge for buyers who will be joining the community
-Why focusing on one aspect of an agent’s job that is underserved is the best approach to software design
-A product that tries to do too much for too many people is a product that is not great at any specific thing
-The best way to reign in a product manager who is adding too many features
-The goal is to build a product that fixes a problem
-The designer’s job is to figure out if the product manager’s assumptions are correct by asking a lot of questions (Why?)
Connect with Damien Huze:
Renwick Congdon is the CEO and founder of Imprev Inc., a trend-setting marketing technologies company based in Seattle. He began his career in the 1980’s as a top-producing loan officer, helping the agents he worked with create personalized marketing fliers and eventually developing software to automate the process. A serial innovator, Congdon went on to write code for the PC and Mac desktop software program Flyerware, which instantly created personalized real estate flyers for agents and brokers.
In 2000, he built Imprev in his garage (literally!), and the company has flourished. Imprev designed the first Enterprise marketing technology solution for real estate brokerage firms, the first multilingual real estate marketing application, the first private-label Marketing Center for a leading franchise, and helped to pioneer MLS integration for automated, data enabled marketing materials. No real estate marketing technology corporation works with more agents or brokers.
An authority in the industry, Congdon speaks regularly on marketing trends and technology. He was an Inman News Innovator Award finalist in both 2004 and 2011, and he serves on the board of directors of the Seattle chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization, a network of more than 8,000 business owners in 40 countries. On this episode of the podcast, he speaks to the benefits of Imprev’s marketing automation, how they became the go-to platform for real estate franchisers, work-life balance and trends in real estate technology.
-Why Imprev’s marketing automation platform works especially well for the real estate industry
-Real estate is the only industry where the salesperson is responsible for conceptualizing and creating the marketing as well as distributing it
-With Imprev, a listing automatically triggers the generation of a website, fliers, postcards, video, social media pushes, etc.
-Why Imprev invests in a very large QA team
-Having “too many testers” allows their customer service team to be very small (two people serving 260,000 agents)
-How establishing the ‘why’ of your business can improve work-life balance
-Imprev’s ‘why’ is to have a great place to work with a product they believe in, strong customer relationships
-Renwick’s regret re: not having a partner
-Some venture capitalists won’t invest if you don’t have partners
-Why it is better to let a customer go rather than adding services (i.e.: CMA, CRM) that don’t fit your business model
-Why ease of use is key in developing a platform
-The first time someone gets on the platform, they can use it
-The second time, they are comfortable
-The third time, they’re an expert
-The beauty of automation
-Find the agents that do something the best and codify their best practices for everyone
-Trends in real estate and real estate tech
-Taking one piece of data from a property and using it to pull valid information and market to a particular group
Connect with Renwick Congdon:
Learn More About Renwick Congdon:
Aloha and welcome to the inaugural episode of Listing Bits! Greg comes to you from Ko Olina, Hawaii, where he is attending Hawaii Life’s Worthshop 6, and chatting with real estate tech leader David Friedman.
Friedman describes himself as a Jewish kid from New York who went to engineering school during the dot-com boom. Interested in startups, he discovered that the real estate brokerage space lagged behind the curve in tech and set out to build a platform during the recession. That idea grew into the formation of
Boston Logic Technology Partners, Inc., an information technology firm whose mission is to help real estate brokerages grow faster by implementing their software and companion services.
As president of Boston Logic, Friedman leads the team in developing the company’s strategic vision. Working with investors, managers and clients, he is involved in the daily operations of the business including hiring, sales and fundraising. He is a metrics oriented sales manager, internet marketing strategist and coach with proven experience as an entrepreneur, growing a company from idea to profitability.
On this first episode of the podcast, Friedman talks about the rapid pace of innovation and growth in the real estate technology vertical, the future of Boston Logic and industry trends in big data and AI.
Why chaos causes innovation
Why the real estate industry has been behind the curve in technology
The exponential growth of the real estate software realm
How advancements in technology have dramatically increased the pace of innovation
Why tech tools working together via data connectivity will be the next wave in the industry
The big investment Boston Logic secured from Providence Equity
How Boston Logic will employ the funds from Providence Equity’s backing
The traits of Boston Logic’s ideal client
Trends in real estate tech
Connect with David Friedman: