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Jan 1 17

Goodbye 2016, hello 2017

by Greg Robertson

Hard to imagine I started this blog back in 2004. That’s about 13 years ago. So, I just wanted to say thank you. Your continued support on this blog and my new adventure is much appreciated. I wish all of you (the most savvy, good looking, intelligent, readers in the industry) a heart felt happy new year.

Dec 27 16

The Beauty of Automation – Listing Bits EP002

by Greg Robertson

Renwick Congdon Talks Trends and Tech in Real Estate Marketing

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.

What’s Discussed:

-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

Resources Mentioned:

Simon Sinek’s Start With Why

Project Upstream Thought Leader Survey

Results of Imprev’s Fall Thought Leader Survey 2016

Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report

Connect with Renwick Congdon:

Imprev

@renwickcongdon

 

Dec 24 16

Innovation and Growth in Software Tech – EP001

by Greg Robertson

David Friedman and the Evolution of the Industry

You can also download the Listing Bits podcast on iTunes

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.

What’s Discussed:

Why chaos causes innovation

-The success of a business over time has no correlation to broader economic trends

-During a recession, many become entrepreneurs by necessity

Why the real estate industry has been behind the curve in technology

-When times are good (i.e.: during a boom), people don’t feel the need to innovate

The exponential growth of the real estate software realm

-From 2013-2014, funding for the formation of new companies went up 4X

How advancements in technology have dramatically increased the pace of innovation

-Hosting space on the cloud is cheap

-Building on top of open source architecture allows for the development of a working prototype in weeks (not months)

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

-Invest in the core business

-Look at acquisitions for growth

The traits of Boston Logic’s ideal client

-Small or large brokerages
-More tech forward than the average brokerage
-Current platform isn’t keeping up, isn’t integrated, or lacks a data sharing component

Trends in real estate tech

-Utilizing big data in a new way – making dormant data an asset
-AI – using bots to replace call center employees

 

Resources:

Worthshops.com

 

Connect with David Friedman:

BostonLogic.com

Follow on Twitter

Follow on Facebook 

Dec 24 16

Introducing the Listing Bits podcast!

by Greg Robertson

I enjoy listening to podcasts when I travel. I’ve thought about how we don’t really have any podcasts in the real estate technology space. So about a year ago I started thinking about doing one myself.

Well I’m happy to announce today that I’m not just going to launch a podcast, but two podcasts!

The first one is called Listing Bits. This will be me having conversations with various industry players. David Friedman of Boston Logic agreed to do my inaugural episode. More on that will be in the next post.

I already have 3 episodes done for Listing Bits, so expect them in the coming days.

In regards to the second podcast, we are still in production. It’s an interesting and fun format and I know you are going to love it.

I never done this type of format before so I hope you’ll stick with me while I figure out how to get any good at it.

Dec 22 16

Best Christmas ever

by Greg Robertson

He was born 12 years ago today. I wanted to name him Coltrane, Jenn protested so we called him Cole. Cole Thomas Robertson. Thomas comes from his grandfather, Jenn’s father.

We stayed at the hospital a couple days and came home Christmas Day. I put him in his bouncy seat, placed him carefully under the tree, and took this picture.

To this day he is still the best Christmas present I’ve ever received.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Dec 21 16

These MLS providers might be getting coal in their stockings….

by Greg Robertson

RESO has published a list of the MLS providers who are not net RESO certified. The list includes about 50 MLS providers. Still doesn’t show those that are compliant but are still not giving proper access.

Dec 19 16

Redfin, CEO Glenn Kelman schools us all

by Greg Robertson

glenn-kelman-redfin-ceo-cropped-3The Austin Board of REALTORS recently hosted a panel talking about “Topics & Technologies Affecting Brokerages”, the panel (moderated by Tracy Weir) included Cary Sylvester, VP of Industry Development Keller Williams, Russ Cafano, President and General Counsel, eXp Realty Jonathan Boatwright, CTO and Co-Owner, Realty Austin and Glenn Kelman, CEO, Redfin. You can find the video on their site.

The video has some great quotes, at one point Russ Cofano states

“The Broker Public Portal is dead on arrival”

and on Upstream…

“For a certain amount of brokers will be great, but for a significant amount of local brokers there is a big disconnect in to many ways as to the why

Ya think?

But the real star is Glenn Kelman. I just love Glenn, he has a Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, sort of plain speak that really just makes you stop and listen. There are soooo many of these type of moments in this video. One section I really love is right around 46:42. One of his main message points is telling brokers to put their listings on a website…

“..the dirty secret, and it really has worked for us. If you put listings on a website, and you get people to link to you as the listing agent, you will get traffic. That doesn’t cost much money”

You have to watch the whole video to get his context but what he is saying (my take anyway) is that attribution matters.

Also regarding mobile (native vs. web)

“most of our resources on mobile are going to mobile web and not the apps, the apps were much more important 3 years ago. Google has kind of beat Apple. And Google much prefers mobile web over applications, it likes stuff in html that it can index in a search engine. It is punitive toward applications, it wants a good mobile website experience.”

Mind freaking blown.

And here’s what Glenn says about how MLS providers can help.

“If I were a broker I would just try to get my listings on a website and then I would make sure to get credit for the listings from the portals, from the brokers, from Redfin, from everyone. I think that is the simplest thing you can do, I think its the simplest thing the MLSs can do to give agents a better deal, is to make sure you always get credit for your listings in the modern digital way.

Here’s another quote from Glenn:

“There is no new client that is worth more than a past client”

What I also love about Glenn is his willingness to share what has worked for Redfin (and what has not). He knows that that ideas are only part of the equation, execution is what matters. He also does a great job of guiding the whole conversation when he thinks the questions being asked are not really that relevant.

Must see TV.

FYI (They have some audio problems cutting out at around 55:30 and coming back at 58:07)

Dec 19 16

Cue The Crickets

by Greg Robertson

Something struck me this past weekend. Amid the kudos and well deserved praise coming from the MLS community and others on the formation of Bright MLS, there was one group of people we didn’t hear from publicly. The Big Brokers.

Maybe because the MRIS/Trend merger doesn’t speak to their narrative that MLS providers are too big to fail, they move too slow, the only way to “fix” this mess is to “take back our data”. All of which are untrue.

And it’s not just Bright MLS, but there’s been a lot of MLS providers actively trying to consolidate, REColorado just made a bid for IRES. Sandicor and CRMLS. And a few bigger ones that haven’t been made public. Does the MLS industry get any sort of acknowledgment? Nope, just crickets.

Who would we hear from? Well how about The Realty Alliance? Or maybe something from UPSTREAM RE for starters. These outlets have always been quick to criticize.

If things are going to change its going to require everyone’s involvement. And the fact the Big Brokers has shown such a lack of class and have failed to show any sort of graciousness makes me think that their motives are not sincere.

Dec 19 16

Looking for a new gig?

by Greg Robertson

Speaking of NNRMLS…

Chief Executive Officer, Northern Nevada Regional MLS

“The Northern Nevada Regional MLS is seeking a visionary leader to begin by March 1, 2017 to continue a legacy of exceptional member service and strategic innovation and build upon the momentum that currently exists within the organization.

By focusing on keeping our 3,000 members central to the real estate transaction and moving on issues most impactful to their business, the next CEO of NNRMLS has the opportunity to keep this strong, nationally recognized, regional MLS flourishing and take it to the next level. The CEO will lead an exceptional team of 9 employees who dedicate themselves daily to the service of our members and work with a board of volunteer leadership that is engaged and enthusiastic.

Find out about this job and more at the Vendor Alley Job Board!

Dec 19 16

MIBOR names Shelley Specchio new CEO

by Greg Robertson

picture1MIBOR Announces Shelley Specchio as new CEO

““The nationwide search for our new CEO presented us with many excellent candidates, and the decision was not easy,” said Roger Lundy, 2016 MIBOR president. “Shelley was the clear choice with her impressive background, knowledge and her respect for the real estate industry. I know that the MIBOR staff and membership will be well served with her proven dedication to the industry and promoting the REALTOR® brand.”

“It was really the people,” said Specchio when asked what drew her to the organization. “Of course, I knew MIBOR through the sterling reputations of Steve Sullivan, Tom Renkert and Chris Pryor in the national arena; the opportunity to be a part of that culture was compelling on its own. It was when I met the volunteer leaders whose commitment and dedication to MIBOR was demonstrated in so many ways throughout the process, that I knew my own enthusiasm and skill would complement an already vibrant organization.”

Northern Nevada Regional MLS (NNRMLS) is a fountainhead of MLS talent. Think about it, Merri Jo Cowen, Chris Carrillo, and Sean Murphy are just a few names I can think of. And now Shelley.

Shelley is one of the true leaders in our industry. One of her most positive strengths is that despite all her many accomplishments she is very humble and is always willing to sit and listen and try to understand everyone’s viewpoint. That’s pretty rare nowadays. Kudos to MIBOR and congratulations to Shelley.