The Intelligent Internet Lead

intelligentleadimageI’ve been pretty focused on my new role at NAR for the last six months, but finally made some time to write again. This white paper is a side project I did for the Center for REALTOR® Technology. The Intelligent Internet Lead explores some of the cool stuff happening behind the scenes when it comes to converting Internet leads into client relationships. Here’s the blog post I wrote about it, while the full report can be downloaded here.

On returning to NAR

Well, the independent writer/consultant/pundit/speaker thing has been really rewarding, but I’m moving on to the next phase of my career.

2013-08-14 10.22.49As of today, I’m the first employee (Managing Director) in a new Data Analytics Department at the National Association of REALTORS®. My team’s job will be to build tools that help NAR’s members make better, data-driven, business decisions.

I’ll make some decisions about the future of this blog after I get settled in at my new gig. In the mean time, thanks for reading. It’s been great sharing my perspectives over the last few months.

Improving Data Quality Does Not Matter

Real estate technology startup Reesio made a few waves this week when they announced that their own audit of MLS data shows that agents on their platform were updating the status of their listings well before they made the same updates in their MLS, if at all. This is creating a situation where the data coming from the MLSes is not completely up to date. From Reesio cofounder and CEO Mark Thomas:

“We then started comparing this transactional data to the big search portals like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, and we were blown away at how inaccurate those search portals were compared to what was actually happening in real time within Reesio.”

“There are some industry studies that state that 36 percent of the listings on the large search portals are inaccurate. We were finding it to be closer to 50 percent when we compared our transactions to those on the search portals.”

“Because this process requires the listing agent to manually create the listing in their local MLS system and manually update it every time there is a change in the transaction, a lot of the data is significantly delayed in terms of when it’s actually updated in the MLS. Or worse, the data is never updated in the MLS at all.”

stalebreadFor Zillow and Trulia, this isn’t a criticism that’s new to them, but for Realtor.com and anyone publishing listings that are exclusively sourced from the MLS, this is an issue that everyone would like to keep swept under the mat. Of course, the MLS is the most accurate source of listing data, but it’s no gold standard. Anyone who’s worked with listing data feeds know this, publishers are just too polite to say it in public. Continue reading

What’s your long term mobile strategy?

If you’re an aspiring geek like myself, you probably found yourself downloading and installing the new iOS 7 software update to your iPhone last week. For the first time since launching the iPhone six years ago, Apple has made a huge cosmetic overhaul to the software.

While all those trusty apps that have been developed over the years will still work just fine, Apple’s new look comes with new design standards for all future third party app development.

Many top developers including Facebook, Evernote, and Open Table have already adopted the new standards and their updated apps were available on day one of the new OS release. Apple featured many of the top apps in a special “Designed for iOS 7” section of their App Store.

zillowiosAs you can see, Zillow’s real estate app was among those featured. Not a surprise as they’ve released dozens of updates to their iOS real estate app since they launched it in 2009. Companies like Trulia, Move and Homes.com have similar commitments to Apple’s smartphone phone. Beyond that, they commit similar development resources to Android phones. All of them view mobile as the future.

If you pay employees or a vendor to develop mobile apps for you, now would be a good time to ask them when they plan on getting around to updating the iPhone app to iOS 7 standards. If you haven’t traveled down the mobile app road yet, then here is an essential question to ask of your prospective developers:

What is your long term strategy for continually updating our apps to take advantage of the latest functionality from Apple and Android?

Building a mobile app means committing to an ongoing development program. It’s not a one time expense. Make sure you understand what sort of capital investment will be needed before moving forward.