Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Ohan Antebian leaves RPR, joins HomeSpotter.

3adb415Homespotter (formerly Mobile Realty Apps) has scooped up one of the best dressed vendors in real estate, Ohan Antebian, as their new VP of Industry Relations.

Ohan Antebian Joins HomeSpotter as Vice President of Industry Relations

““Mobile real estate applications are still in their infancy. HomeSpotter can lead the way in developing the tools our industry really needs,” said Ohan, on his decision to join the company. “In the next few years, we will see solutions emerging to serve our changing industry. I am looking forward to working with the amazingly talented group at HomeSpotter to deliver practical, valuable, mobile tools to all segments of our industry.”

Nice to see Ohan back in the game. He had a good run at RPR. Great win for Homespotter!

Also, seems like “VP of Industry Relations” is a thing now….

Cloud Streams now available free to all CRMLS members

Cloud Streams LogoWhen we (W&R Studios) launched Cloud Streams earlier this year we were basing it on the same precepts that made Cloud CMA successful. Find something that has heavy usage on an MLS system but could be done much better. MLS systems are amazing pieces of software but they can’t do everything right.

We immediately saw an opportunity with listing alerts and “client portals”. It was a new product category for us, but still kinda of the same, “…making agents look awesome in front of their clients”.

That’s why I’m so proud to announce that CRMLS is now offering Cloud Streams as part of their basic MLS service. Launching any new product can be scary but based on the response, our instincts were right.

So many thanks to Art Carter and his team as CRMLS for their confidence and support. What a great way to end and start a New Year!

P.S. We’ve got a few more of these deals in the pipeline, and would love to talk to any of you who are looking to give your MLS members (Site license or otherwise) a great alternative to what your existing MLS system provides. Give me call at 714-240-3895 or via email at greg [at] wr-studios [dot] com

P.S.S. Inman News also did a story on the deal. I really should remember that I’m talking to a reporter when I’m opening my mouth. : )

MLS listing alert tool aims to give agents an edge over top portals
-Nation’s largest MLS is first to offer Cloud Streams as free member benefit

Full Press Release Below:

CALIFORNIA REGIONAL MLS SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH W&R STUDIOS
CRMLS to Offer Cloud Streams to Association Members

SAN DIMAS, Calif. (December 30, 2014) – California Regional MLS (CRMLS) has reached a partnership agreement with W&R Studios, in which California Regional MLS will offer W&R Studio’s product: Cloud Streams. Cloud Streams is an innovative listing alert and collaboration tool that allows agents and brokers to set up and provide branded MLS listing alerts to their clients.

Cloud Streams allows clients to receive listing alerts by email and/or text in real-time via desktop, tablet or iPhone app. Listing alerts link directly back to the client’s personalized communication stream. Brokers and agents benefit from the branded, photo-rich content delivered through Cloud Streams.

“We are partnering with W&R Studios because we wanted to align ourselves with a proven provider that can deliver a product that will strengthen collaboration between real estate professionals and their clients.” said Art Carter, Chief Executive Officer of CRMLS.

“We think agents and their clients will enjoy using Cloud Streams. We wanted to create somehing that gave agents an edge over the listing portals. Cloud Streams is fun to use, provides the best property information there is while keeping them engaged with their clients. said Greg Robertson, Co-Founder of W&R Studios.

“We are confident this partnership with W&R Studios will help deliver more creative products for real estate professionals”. said Mr. Carter. “As the industry leader, will continue to add to our suite of products those that assist in making agents and brokers relevant to today’s consumer”.

Founded in 2008, W&R Studios is a privately held web software company located in Huntington Beach, California. W&R Studios focuses on creating the next generation of software solutions for the real estate industry.

For more information on California Regional MLS membership, products and services, visit www.crmls.org.
About California Regional MLS

CRMLS
California Regional MLS is the nation’s largest and most recognized subscriber-based MLS, dedicated to servicing over 73,000+ real estate professionals from 34 Associations, 3 Boards of REALTORS® and 1 MLS. CRMLS is the industry powerhouse and thrives on providing the most relevant products and services to its subscribers.

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FBS’ furthers flexible mobile strategy

FBS

“. The native Apps and Mobile Web deliver a seamless mobile MLS experience sharing the same design aesthetic, providing full access to MLS data (including customer information and saved searches) and, real-time data synch between systems, all made possible the Spark API foundation that powers the Flexmls® system. Some of the key shared features include: Quick Launch (entire MLS system can be searched from one place), Quick Searches and full access to MLS data including, all saved searches and favorites. One of the most powerful benefits of the system is real time synch; Agents can start working on their iPhone and then access the work they started immediately on their laptop via Flexmls® Web.”

These guys have been busy. I like the approach of controlling the whole customer experience. Many MLS vendors outsource all their mobile work, which sometimes means a whole different UI/UX experience. This control could give FBS a nice advantage.

The day is coming, and perhaps already has, when MLS vendors start their Suite demos with their mobile apps first.

Read Full Press Release Below:

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Following successful Flexmls® for iPhone release, FBS launches new Mobile Web furthering comprehensive mobile strategy.

August 22, 2014 – FBS launches “new” Flexmls® Mobile Web on following successful launch of the Flexmls for iPhone App, setting the bar for mobile MLS.

The “new” Flexmls® Mobile Web and native iPhone App are the first releases from the Flexmls® Mobile App suite which when complete, will include Flexmls® for iPhone, Android, Tablet (all native) and Mobile Web. The native Apps and Mobile Web deliver a seamless mobile MLS experience sharing the same design aesthetic, providing full access to MLS data (including customer information and saved searches) and, real-time data synch between systems, all made possible the Spark API foundation that powers the Flexmls® system. Some of the key shared features include: Quick Launch (entire MLS system can be searched from one place), Quick Searches and full access to MLS data including, all saved searches and favorites. One of the most powerful benefits of the system is real time synch; Agents can start working on their iPhone and then access the work they started immediately on their laptop via Flexmls® Web.

Customer feedback on the native Flexmls® for iPhone App has been overwhelmingly positive so far; FBS expects the same strong reception with the “new” Mobile Web. Agents have tweeted, directly emailed and phoned in the accolades. Recently, after sharing accolades on Twitter, Jeremy Hart, an Associate Broker with Nest Realty, contributed to a Flexmls blog post citing simplicity and fast access to everything he needs as major win-factors in the new Flexmls for iPhone App. FBS CEO Mike Wurzer has taken calls from existing MLS executive clients complimenting the company on the impressive work, too. “I’m really excited to see our mobile investments paying dividends for our customers. Today’s agent needs and deserves the best possible mobile MLS products and that’s what we’re delivering”, says Wurzer.

Flexmls® is on a major growth trajectory and will add 35,000 members to its current roster with conversions completed in 2014. These impressive growth numbers are coupled with the best customer retention in the business. Both variables are attributed to FBS’ future-focus and consistent personal approach to service, more recently to their laser focus on delivering the pinnacle mobile experience via native Apps and the underpinning standards-driven Spark API platform.

“We’re delivering the pinnacle mobile MLS”, says Kim Prior, VP Marketing and Spark Platform Evangelist. “The underpinning Spark API plus native development was the only path to deliver this truly unmatched and seamless user experience: full access to all MLS information, real-time sync across systems and shared design”, says Prior.

FBS is a 100% employee-owned company that’s proud to provide personal service, future focused development and standards-driven, innovative products. FBS’ Flexmls® system (web, mobile, IDX), is built on the standards-driven Spark API platform, connecting real estate professionals to their customers through great collaboration tools and real-time information. The Flexmls® system is used by 130+ MLSs representing 130,000+ Brokers and Agents. For 30+years FBS has led the way in standards-driven innovation. Through ongoing investment and continued innovation, FBS is 100% prepared to deliver excellence that MLSs and their members can trust for the long term.

Media Contacst: Kim Prior kprior@FBSdata.com OR Katelyn Midtbo kmidtbo@fbsdata.com

Is WestsideRentals.com a scam?

lgsANMFcWSKJtD3q4MzR3k9PQtpnfKnMJd0EejKTgjgSomeone I work with is looking to rent a home. They pulled up a rental listing on their trusty realtor.com iPhone app. Right area, right price range, perfect. So they give the company (WestsideRentals) a call. The person on the other end of the call said that in order to get anymore information or see the home they needed to buy a membership to their company.

Really?

My question is this, is this common practice nowadays with rental listings? Does realtor.com (or any of the other portals) allow this “pay to see more” type of rental listings?

DOORSTEPS SWIPE

SWIPEI got a chance to preview and now playing around with a fun app called SWIPE, created by Michele Serro’s team at DOORSTEPS. DOORSTEPS was was acquired by MOVE last year.

The premise is easy, you are presented with a single property photo and the street address. If you like the home you swipe the photo the left in you “PASS” on the home, or swipe to the right to “SAVE” a home. It also aggregates statistics about your preferences. Like I said, easy peasy.

It reminds me of the old website “Hot or Not”, and I’m told mimics a new popular app, Tinder (which for martial reasons I have chosen not to install on my phone). : )

The design is exquisite. Too me it functions basically as a triage for choosing homes.

If I had one quibble it would be that I would rather have the price, beds, and bath on the main screen. I found myself tapping on every photo for more detail. One photo and an address were not enough for me to give a decision to “Pass” on the house or “Save” it for later. Having said that I fear adding too much to the screen might make the app less fun.

I love the fact MOVE is releasing stuff like this. More please! Real estate needs to be more fun. Great job Michele!

Mike Sparr shares “How To Not Go Out of Business”

Mike Sparr, CEO and founder of Goomzee, just wrote great post about the challenges and decisions vendors face in this business. It’s a long post but worth the read.

How Not To Go Out Of Business

I’ll add to his advice with a bit of my own. Mike talked about the challenges investing in a sales team.

“Now they could make 400 calls per day, automate the voicemail part, reach 90 people daily, do 30 demos and close 1-2 sales. Agents then averaged 20-22 sales/month, bringing my CAC down to about $135. This means at $20/mo product after 7 months of service I pay for my cost of sales and begin earning revenue for the actual product, support, and ongoing R&D. If I wanted to scale sales of this product, I’d have to set aside enough cash to float realistically the first 10 months of every rep’s paychecks before expecting to break-even. You really want to recapture your investment per rep within 2-3 months. Either raise your prices, lower your wages, or roll the dice.”

I would say that adding a Yearly Plan or Two Year Plan, where the agents pay up-front, can help you finance your sales team growth. I’m not sure if Mike meant this when he stated “raise prices”. Good stuff.

Rapattoni leverages the web with its mobile strategy

Rapattoni Mobile Interface ImageRapattoni recently announced that Andy Rapattoni and Rex Marr had celebrated 45 years of serving the real estate industry. I not sure about you but that gives me a whole lot of perspective. Over the years I’ve seen lot of companies getting bought, sold or just fade away. I’ve said it before, it’s inspiring to see such resilience.

But that doesn’t mean Andy and Niki are stopping. Rapattoni has launched a web based mobile interface for the tablet and smartphone. This web-app can be used on variety of mobile devices including iPhones/iPads and Android based smartphones/tablet.

I may be biased but I think this is smart move by Rap, I see a lot of vendors doing partnerships with consultants to create native solutions for their MLS systems. Native is fine, and sure you get a snappier user experience but what you gain by “being in the app store” you lose by having full control. And where do you stop, iOS, Android? How many code bases to you want to support?

As the saying goes “Software never sleeps”. Iteration is key. You need to be able to tweak, cajole, sand, and polish your product. That’s the work that makes a good product great. It’s very difficult to do that when your disparate teams.

Rapattoni has also gotten into the public facing website game with its Rapattoni Integrated Website Service (IWS). As with their other product the new IWS works with their existing applications, which seems to be an advantage over non-MLS vendor solutions.

More and more MLS vendors are adding this type of solution to their offerings. In some cases, like Solid Earth, it is becoming a “tent pole” type of product.

Goomzee opens the kimono

Mike Sparr, CEO of Goomzee
I’ve been traveling on the east coast and have a lot I want to talk about (including the kick-ass tech fair hosted by MLSLI that I just attended.) But, first I wanted to write a post on the WAV Group post I just read this morning. It cites a press release from Goomzee titled “GOOMZEE GOES PUBLIC; OFFERS TRANSPARENCY IN MLS PRICING”. It lays out it’s site license pricing (oddly I couldn’t find the press release on Goomzee’s site). Here’s a snippet:

“Traditionally, site license pricing has been more of a behind-the-scenes negotiation but Goomzee appears to be breaking out from the norm and is publicizing it’s pricing model, and incentive opportunity. The company is offering MLS clients 25 percent and 50 percent discounts respectively based upon a $10,000 or $25,000 initial deposit prior to the rollout of the product, coining it as it’s “sponsorship plan”.

Also included in the press release is a pricing matrix:

Click to enlarge

Wow. I have to say this is a bold move by Goomzee and something I applaud Mike Sparr, Goomzee’s CEO, for doing. He even cites myself and W&R Studios as an influencer.

“We decided to offer early adopters a financial incentive to chip in now, and save considerable expenses in providing these solutions to their clients,” adds Sparr. “Furthermore, I felt it was important to follow in the footsteps of folks like Greg Robertson of W&R Studios who promotes more transparency in the industry, and what could be more transparent than sharing our pricing model.”

To be clear W&R Studios gives our MLS and broker clients a dashboard where they can see real time sign up and usage stats of Cloud CMA. If they are a revenue share partner, they also see their quarterly rev share pipeline. You can read more about the program in an earlier Vendor Alley post, “Improving Vendor Transparency

While Goomzee’s move of disclosing its pricing is indeed bold, and I’m sure will have a few of us sharpening our pencils, let’s be honest, we all have a “rate card”. As we all know, prices on that “rate card” immediately go out the door when negotiations begin.

But, the transparency trend is upon us. MLS providers will, and should demand, real time reporting of third party app sign ups and usage. I can see consultants adding “real-time reporting” as a must have feature to their checklists when helping MLS providers choose third party products. Third party vendors should live and die by these numbers. Any third party vendor not providing these types of metrics makes one wonder, what are they hiding?

Rapattoni tests new tablet interface.

I’m just catching up from traveling this week and caught this news from Monday. Looks like Rapattoni is testing a “touch-based” tablet interface in a few markets right now. I’m not clear whether this is a native app or not. Perhaps someone from Rapatoni can clarify in the comments.

One of the challenges I think with these new touch based devices and MLS systems is searching. Typically MLS systems are all about searching and filling out forms. Typing on a tablet can be cumbersome. Rapattoni’s use of the draw feature really does tackle of lot of this issues. The video is worth a watch (click the above image). Nice job!

How to travel like a Vendor

With CMLS coming up next week at NAR just around the corner I thought I would share some travel tips. Just click on the images to see them better. Here goes…

So I hate to check any luggage. Especially with connections, you are just asking for trouble. I was reading this blog (onebag.com) It’s all about how to travel light. Anyway this company (RED OXX) worked with the blogger to create the ultimate carry on bag, they call it the AIR BOSS. One of the “onebag” concepts is no wheels. The mechanism for the wheels in rolling bags take up too much space. At first that was a deal breaker for me but the site convinced that you aren’t really carry the bag that much anyway. I got the bag and it’s great. I have no problem going on week long trips with this sucker, the design is simple and the quality of the bag is top notch, I love it. Problem was that I noticed that I was carrying the bag a lot longer than I wanted to, I missed wheels. But I didn’t want to sacrifice the bag. I needed another solution.

The best of both worlds

I typically ride me bike to work, so I use a backpack. When I travel I use the same backpack to carry by MacBook and other gear. Some of our sales guys use a rolling wheel case. I thought this might be the perfect solution for when I travel. I bought a Wenger Swissgear wheeled case from Amazon. The case was wide enough for all my gear and as an added bonus just fit my AIR BOSS bag on top. So now I could keep my AIR BOSS bag, have wheels and still not check any baggage.

Shoes and belt

When doing trade shows you really stand a lot so comfortable shoes are key. Rubber soles are a must. Normally I rock my Allen Edmonds but these are not for booth duty. So about 8 years ago, on a recommendation, I bought a pair of Mephisto shoes. They were a bit pricey but are awesome! Another tip, buy a reversible belt. You’re welcome.

Gear
You never know when you are going to need that extra power. So I like the integrated extention cord/ multi-outlet strip. They carry these at any hardware store. I also use at Fivespot for wireless internet, since I usually have multiple devices (MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, etc). One thing I recently got for my iPad and love is the Book Book by Twelve South. I’m still using my original iPad so I don’t have a smartcover, but even if I upgrade I think I’ll still keep the Book Book.

Last but not least is headsets. I have the QuietComfort 15 (Noise Canceling). I prefer “over the ear”, rather than “on ear” to baffle out as much noise as I can. I also spent a few extra bucks and bought the “OE headphones mobile communications kit” which basically adds a microphone so you can use your phone/Skype with them. This makes them perfect for conference calls.

Hope you enjoyed this and travel safe!

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