Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

San Diego 2015

Just like any startup, W+R Studios had a ping pong table at our Main Street office in Huntington Beach.  I was pretty good, a few others in our office were decent but by far the best ping pong player we had was our CFO, Karl Ziegler.  Karl lived in Boulder CO, but would visit the office about twice a quarter.  Nobody could beat Karl.

We were brainstorming one year about what we could do to attract attention to our booth at the upcoming NAR Annual Expo in San Diego (this was 2015) and either Shane or Damon came up with the idea of having a contest for agents to come to our booth and try to beat Karl at ping pong for a free subscription to the Cloud Agent Suite.  I thought it was brilliant!  So thus the “BEAT KARL” campaign began.  We did mock video interviews with Karl, a workout routine video, and a walk-on video for the booth. I had so much fun putting the campaign together.

Karl was a good sport (although he hated the white shorts I picked out for him) and I think his record at the end of the show was something insane like 93 -4.  Below is a video reel we put together for Karl for a farewell dinner we hosted for him when he left Lone Wolf earlier this year. The mock interview in the middle is hilarious.

Looking forward to seeing everyone this week.

If you are reading this Karl. Love you man. #MLKLLG

My interview with Jimmy Kelly, CEO of Lone Wolf

The first 4 months at Lone Wolf have been an awesome learning experience for me. Lone Wolf and W+R Studios have always had mutual customers, and I was always aware of the forms and transaction management business but now I’m getting a full immersion course. What I’m learning the most is this, at scale, it’s a tough business. I know that competition is starting to rise in this space, I would only say to them, be careful what you wish for.

With that in mind, I sat down to talk with Lone Wolf’s CEO, Jimmy Kelly. I was surprised but not surprised that he agreed to do this interview with me. I don’t think we made any edits or cut anything out, it’s about 30 mins long and worth the watch. Jimmy answered all my questions, even the tough ones (check out the timeline), and I still have a job!

Hope you enjoy and see how running a form business during the beginning of a worldwide pandemic is a little like Lucy and Ethel working at the chocolate factory.

Timeline:

:40 – Introduction to Jimmy, and history in software industry

4:20 – Greg and Jimmy discuss forms changes and frequency of requests

5:15 – Looking back on pandemic, COVID requests, and response from Lone Wolf

9:30 – Greg asks about product outages, instability. Jimmy discusses what’s going on at Lone Wolf.

12:00 – Greg: What do you say to customers who’ve heard that before?

16:05 – Jimmy discusses future of Back Office. 

17:45 – Greg: Are Transactions (zipForm Edition) and Transactions (TransactionDesk Edition) eventually going to merge? 

20:00 – Greg: What do you say to customers who want you to focus on current issues rather than innovating/buying companies? 

23:45 – Jimmy previews what he’s most excited about coming soon from Lone Wolf

29:00 – Greg: What can you share about Stone Point Capital acquiring CoreLogic? 

31:30 – Is Greg a thorn in Jimmy’s side?

RESO announces 2021 Officers and Directors

Meet the 2021 RESO Board of Directors!

2021 RESO Executive Board:
Chair: Rebecca Jensen, President and CEO, Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC (MRED) – re-elected
Vice-Chair: Michael Wurzer, President and CEO, FBS, Creators of Flexmls – re-elected
Secretary: Katie Smithson, Director of Enterprise Services, W+R Studios, a Lone Wolf Company – elected
Treasurer: Richard Renton, CEO, Triad MLS – re-elected

Representing Technology Companies, Developers, Partners & Consultants with Revenue Over $25 Million:
Scott Woodard, CEO, ShowingTime – elected
Lucie Fortier, Executive Leader, Product Management, CoreLogic – appointed
Turan Tekin, Director, MLS and Industry Development, Zillow Group – appointed

Representing Multiple Listing Services and REALTOR® Associations with Less Than 50,000 Subscribers:
John Breault, Vice President of MLS and Member Services, Rhode Island Association of REALTORS® & State-Wide MLS, Inc. – elected
Chris Carrillo, CEO, Metro MLS (Incumbent) – elected

Representing Class D, Real Estate Brokerages, Brokers, Agents & Appraisers:
Bill Fowler, Senior Director of Industry Relations, Compass – elected
Dan Troup, Director of Data Strategy & Operations, RE/MAX & Seventy3, LLC (Incumbent) – elected

RESO Board Advisors:
Bob Evans – VP Industry Relations, Move.com 
Liz Tewksbury – Director of MLS Operations, Homesnap

Congratulations Katie Smithson and the rest of the RESO officers and directors. ????

Fear and why iBuyers Offers and Zestimates belong in your CMAs

Jay Thompson, writing on Inman News, Why iBuyers and Zestimates belong in your CMAs 

“Greg Robertson, W+R Studios co-founder, was attacked, called clueless, and challenged as to whether he had any industry experience (yes, almost three decades worth.) IBuyers, also highlighted in the headline, got one mention. Nothing else in the survey report was discussed. A few commenters waded into the fray showing understanding of why they at least look at Zestimates and sometimes mention them in listing presentations. The vast majority of commenters sounded off on the evils of Zillow and the Zestimate.”

I will say I am “clueless” about many, many things. My wife will tell you as much.

Sorry this post is a little long, but I think it touches on a lot of issues (not to mention a shameless plug for my company ????).

Jay, as you may know, is a former broker (The Phoenix Real Estate Guy) and worked at Zillow in Industry Relations for some time. His article is in response to an article published on Inman News about W+R Studios’ announcement of the results of their inaugural survey, 2020 Best Practices of CMAs and Listing Presentations.

Here’s more from Jay…

“No one, including Zillow, W+R Studios or me, is saying the Zestimate should be used as a comparable in your CMA. Of course it shouldn’t be, that’s not its intent or purpose. But to ignore it is to ignore something your clients are looking at and wondering about. Address it upfront, leave out your personal feelings about Zillow, and put any objections to rest early in the process. The listing presentation is the ideal time to address it with sellers, and the CMA is the perfect place to have it on record. “

Emphasis mine

Cloud CMA pioneered ways of including Zestimates to compare against actual sold prices from the MLS data as part of a Cloud CMA report. This has since been copied by other vendors. I was surprised by the amount of push-back we got when we introduced it. Many MLS organizations (after pushback from their members) made us turn the report page off by default, or in some cases, turned off altogether. But every time I sat down, one on one, with a broker or MLS executive and showed them how the report page worked, they understood, “wow this is great, agents are going to love it.”

This happens all the time. Many agents and brokers just hear/read “Zestimate” or “iBuyer” and begin to see red.

As we can see in the survey results and the comments on the article there is still a lot of fear out there. And as Mr. Hurbert once wrote, “fear, is the mind-killer”.

Flash forward to a little less than a year ago when W+R Studios introduced a way of including iBuyer Offers (with Opendoor) in Cloud CMA. We were met with the same type of fear and got a lot of push back and false claims.

“You’re going to put agents out of business!”
“Shame on you Cloud CMA!”

And those were the polite ones. I took these comments hard. We put many of our partner MLS organizations in a tough spot. They began to get calls from their members that “Cloud CMA was sending our CMAs to Opendoor!” (not true). The misinformation got so bad we had to create a document refuting some of the most outrages claims.

But we held firm because we knew, to paraphrase Jay, the listing presentation is an ideal time to address iBuyer Offers, and the CMA is a perfect place to have it on record.

Dan and I are always looking for new ways to innovate, and we are willing to take risks and keep our customers ahead of the curve. Even if these ideas seem crazy or counter-intuitive at the time.

The main thing that got us through the periods I wrote about above was, in the end, our customers (MLS organizations, brokers, and agents) trusted us.

In a recent “Friday Flash” blog post, titled “What are you saying” Brian Boero, CEO of 100watt wrote:

“Honestly, I am glad we have arrived at a point where there are no more red lines to transgress. I used to get revved up about this stuff too. Now, Zillow buys, owns and sells homes, Realtor.com charges referral fees, and yet good agents, teams and brokers continue to do their thing. “

Unlike Brian, I don’t think we are there yet. We still need to get over our fear of these new (old?) models, which as Rob Hahn and I discuss in recent Industry Relations podcast point out, keep turning more and more towards agent inclusion. We need to focus our energy on more positive things. We have a lot more to worry about than Zestimates and iBuyers.

I just hope the industry can take the advice of what a wise old hippie once said…

“You gotta let that shit go, man. Let it go.”

Katie Smithson battles Andrew Graveno in W+R Studios’ latest “Scavenger Hunt” quarantine video

Our very own Katie and Andrew battle it out in W+R Studios’ latest employee video. Spoiler Alert, it’s a photo finish!

Hope this brings a smile to your face as much as it does me.

W+R Studios debuts 2 new Cloud CMA Live promo videos at Inman Connect Now

W+R Studios ran 2 new promo videos at the recent Inman Connect Now online conference. I think they came out great!

If you are a site license customer and want to add your branding to any of these to share with your membership. Let Katie or I know.

Webinar: How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice solution at your MLS organization

I hope everyone is staying safe out there! I haven’t heard of any of you getting sick, so that’s a good thing.

I wanted to let you know about something I’ve got planned for next week.

Katie Smithson and I are hosting a webinar next Tuesday on How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice solution at your MLS organization.

When Dan Woolley and I started our first company (IRIS, LLC) in the early nineties our first product was a front end of choice type software solution, it was called Lightning – Easy MLS Access. It was an alternative to the other terminal access software solutions being provided by MLS Vendors.

So when the concept of Front End of Choice came back into vogue I knew our company, W+R Studios would be a natural to take advantage.

But things are different now. MLS organizations have had varying success launching and increasing adoption with these new solutions. Giving your members more choices can bring a lot of benefits but also more than a few challenges.

So next Tuesday Katie and I are going to be talking about ways to successfully implement a Front End of Choice solution in your market. We will have actionable things you can do at your MLS organization today, with just a small bit of effort.

If you are interested, please click on the link below to register.

Click here to register = > How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice Webinar

P.S. This video I did three years ago, pairs nicely and gives some perspective with what we are going to discuss on the webinar.

2020 HW Tech100 Real Estate winners

Lots of great companies were featured on Housing Wire’s Tech100 Real Estate list, including:

Black Knight, Bright MLS, CRS Data, Homes.com, Homesnap, MARIS MLS, Opendoor, Propy, realtor.com, Redfin, Referral Exchange, Redfin, Remine, ShowingTime, TrustFunds, VESTAPLUS, WiseAgent, W+R Studios, Zillow and many more.

“This year’s Tech100 winners blew past innovation, moving beyond innovation to transformation,” HousingWire Associate Magazine Editor Kelsey Ramírez said. “In both the real estate and mortgage sectors, fintech companies continue to create new ways to approach the housing process, improving efficiencies, cutting costs and creating a new experience for all parties involved.”

Congrats to all the winners.

Looking for a new gig?

Senior Developer – W+R Studios

“W+R Studios is seeking a Senior Developer with advanced Ruby on Rails skills to play a key role in a growing, agile product development team. This person will work with our team of programmers, designers, project managers, and senior management on existing and new web and mobile apps for the real estate industry. The primary responsibility of this position is to develop new products, features, and fixes for our subscribers. We have offices in Huntington Beach, CA and Boulder, CO and are open to adding more remote positions in select areas.”

Check out the Vendor Alley Job Board to find the industry’s best and brightest and find out more how you can become a part of the team at W+R Studios.

Industry Relations Episode 41: 10 Defining Moments & Trends in the Last Decade of Real Estate

On January 1, 2010, organized real estate was still reeling from the recession. Dale Stinton was steering the ship at NAR. Zillow was seen as the enemy of the MLS. Real estate software was meh. Agent teams were rare. Nearly all brokerages took a split. Selling your house online seemed outrageous. And we still signed documents in pen.

On this episode of Industry Relations, Rob and Greg are looking back at the last 10 years in real estate. They discuss the passing NAR’s MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy, debating the significance of the office exclusives loophole and how it might lead to government involvement. Our hosts also express their disappointment around the Newsday investigation in Long Island, Testing the Divide, challenging brokerage leadership to make a strong statement against the egregious racism it uncovered. 

Greg and Rob go on to share their top 10 defining moments and trends with the biggest impact on the industry over the last decade, describing how the rise of agent teams, 100% commission brokerages, the iBuyer model and consolidation have transformed organized real estate. Listen in for insight into how NAR’s decision to fund RPR and Upstream changed the way the MLS saw Zillow and explore how the space has evolved from 2010 through the end of 2019.

Editor’s Note: We did record an Episode 40 that was never aired. It was about Policy 8.0 but wasn’t ready before the vote. After the vote passed we decided it didn’t add to anything to the issue.

What’s Discussed: 

NAR’s passing of the MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy

Rob & Greg’s take on the Newsday investigation in Long Island

How the loophole in 8.0 could lead to government involvement

The 10 defining trends/events in the last decade of real estate

  1. The end of poorly designed software
  2. The rise and domination of agent teams
  3. The transition in leadership at NAR
  4. Opendoor pioneering the iBuyer model
  5. Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia
  6. 100% commission brokerages
  7. Consolidation and the influx of capital
  8. The practice of buying agents/agent teams
  9. The mainstreaming of digital signatures
  10. NAR’s decision to fund RPR + Upstream

Connect with Rob and Greg:

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website

Resources:

MLS Clear Cooperation Policy

Compass Pre-Litigation Letter to Bright MLS

Bright’s Response to Compass

Newsday Documentary: Testing the Divide

Rob’s Blog on the Newsday Piece

1000watt Article on Real Estate Software

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller with Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan

Ben Thompson Interview with Rich Barton

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