May 2008


“Today is a good day to die.”
-Warcry of Lakotah warchiefs

“You are witnesses to the new birth of Spinal Tap mark two- we hope you enjoy our new direction.”
David St. Hubbins
Lead vocal, Spinal Tap

WOOLLEY | ROBERTSON
GROUP

http://woolleyrobertson.com/

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I was talking to Shane McCarthy today. I worked with Shane at HomeSeekers.com and eNeighborhoods. For the past couple years he has worked at VisualTour. Shane is a very natural salesperson, and great in front of an audience (agents just love him). Shane also surfs ( he would want me to post that tid bit!)

The value proposition for VisualTour is this, for $29.95 per month an agent can create and host an unlimited number of virtual tours. These tours can remain online for as long as the agent/broker pays the monthly subscription fee. They claim to host over half the virtual tours in the country.

Great company, very focused on customer service. The problem?? It’s an agent based subscription service! And we all know what a grind that can be. How many agents stay and how many leave, etc. etc. etc.

Recently VisualTour has been running television commercials on national networks such as HGTV, DIY and Fine Living.

You can see one here. You can read about it here.

I haven’t seen any other commercials, but this one is hilarious! And it struck me how clever an idea this ad campaign really is, because it really hit all cylinders on a subscription based service such as VisualTour.

1. Be aggressive.
Market be damned, lets roll! See my previous post about this here. They have over half the virtual tour business and they see this market as a perfect way to go after ALL of it!

2. Innovate.
They have also created a simple search interface where consumers can search for properties that have virtual tours. Since they have over half the tours in the country , and tours of sold properties, their search inventory is decent.

3. Sell. Sell. Sell.
In my opinion the best way to solve agent retention problem in a subscription based business is agent acquisition. Agents will leave the business no matter how great your customer service department works. You’ve got to give your sales guys better ways/tools to acquire new business.

I can just see Shane up in front on an audience of agents. Here’s how I imagine it goes…

Shane:
Consumers love virtual tours.

We are the largest and best virtual tour company.

We just started a nation wide television campaign to help real estate agents out in this tough market.

Can you think of any other real estate vendor running television commercials?

Would you like to see one of our television commercials?

[Play television commercial]

Audience: Laughter

Shane:
We take Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. The line forms to the left.

Gnarly dude!

I love the fact they have integrated Cyberhomes valuation into their CMA.

If they would have used Zillow my condo in Huntington Beach would have been priced $110,000 dollars less!

Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions Releases Upgraded rDesk Suite

Enhancements include integration with FNRES’ web-based valuation tools

RISMEDIA, May 23, 2008-Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE:FNF), a Fortune 500 provider of products, services and technology solutions to the financial and real estate industries, has announced that Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions (FNRES) has released a major new upgrade to its popular rDesk Suite of agent and broker products.

Key among the enhancements is a feature that enables agents to offer consumers access to the full power of the latest automated valuation modeling via their own branded Web sites, and an rDesk CMA comparative marketing analysis function, which features stylish new graphic designs on all printed documents.

“This release of rDesk products means that for the first time, every type of information that a homeowner or buyer needs to make informed decisions will be available though an agent’s or broker’s rDesk Web site,” said John Hensley, FNRES SVP and General Manager of Broker Agent Products and Data Aggregation. “Data that was traditionally only available on property valuation Web sites like FNRES’ Cyberhomes, or Zillow and others, is now available through Web sites that use this platform.”

Enhanced rDesk-powered Web sites now provide consumers with access to comprehensive neighborhood information, demographics, school reports, cost of living statistics, housing information and environmental information, as well as comparable sales and property valuation of neighboring properties within the property detail page of every listing. Powerful map-based searching is also available through these rDesk-powered sites.

FNRES’s rDesk was the first comprehensive desktop productivity portal for real estate agents. The significant advances within rDesk v2.5 and rDesk IDX v 5.2 support FNRES’ position as a leading provider of Web technology applications, services and custom Internet solutions for agents, brokers, MLS’ and all the other constituents involved in residential real estate.

The rDesk Suite includes the rDesk agent productivity tool, rDesk Web site and rDesk CMA and Buyer’s Tour for comparative market analyses, as well as rDesk IDX for integrating listings search capabilities.

According to Hensley, “The real breakthrough behind the new power of rDesk is the breadth and depth of available data and the methodology we employ to sift, sort and simplify this information for consumer use. And, best of all, we’ve made this information available at no additional cost to our customers.”

Looking into rDesk

At the core of the rDesk Suite is the rDesk business control panel application, which integrates productivity and business tools into a single, personalized real estate agent portal. Compatible with any MLS system, rDesk complements most tools and technologies currently in use by real estate professionals. It generates leads and manages business and scheduling.

rDesk Web sites provide a turnkey solution in an environment where, for the real estate professional, “location, location, location” increasingly means the Internet. The rDesk Web site platform is the most cost effective tool for marketing a business via the Web, and now offers consumers a single-site location for the most robust property valuation and comparative reports available.

rDesk IDX enhances a Web site by providing an easy-to-use listing search engine, compliant with all local MLS Internet data display rules and regulations. Listings are updated on a daily basis through the MLS. In addition, rDesk IDX includes a variety of lead generation tools and supports the creation of client profiles for the purpose of saving searches, bookmarking properties and facilitating automatic email listing updates. These client profiles allow agents to monitor who is using their search engine, what types of searches they are running, and what properties they have taken interest in, helping agents and brokers better determine where to focus their time.

rDesk CMA generates presentations for potential buyers and sellers using attractive, stylish new graphics and prominently incorporating agent branding. There have been significant improvements to the layout and design of Property Detail pages and Side-by-Side Property Comparison pages as well, which now incorporate enhanced graphs and charts.

rDesk’s School and Neighborhood Reports are more comprehensive, too, yet are provided in easy to understand layouts. Information is gathered on the environment, housing, people, schools and quality of life for over 200,000 locations across the country.

The latest release from rDesk comes just weeks after FNRES announced the release of a completely redesigned and restructured Cyberhomes.com. The more powerful, easier-to-use Cyberhomes site now powers those agent and broker sites using the rDesk platform, giving them the detailed analysis of homes and their surrounding communities based on the site’s unique matrix of more than two million listings and 100 million property, ownership, sales and mortgage records drawn from more than 85 percent of the United States population.

For more information on the rDesk Suite, or for a product demonstration, contact the sales department at sales@rdesksolutions.com 800-336-1027

More information about FNF can be found at http://www.fnf.com.

RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: realestatemagazinefeedback@rismedia.com.

If you haven’t checked out LORE Magazine this month you should. The magazine does a great job of letting you into the lives of the major industry players, all presented in high quality publication with great artwork, photos and layout, without sacraficing quality content. Kudos to its publisher Anne Randolph.

Lately they have been doing this interviews with 2 people that appear to have nothing in common or are fierce competitors. In May’s issue the article is “Strange Bedellows” where they interview Alex Perriello (CEO of Realogy Franchise Group) and Mark Willis (CEO of Keller Williams.) It kind of reminds me of the Iconoclasts series on Sundance Channel. Anyway in the interview Alex Perreillo gives the greatest quote…

LORE: What do you think agents and brokers should be doing?

AP: Now is absolutely the greatest time to grow your business, and we currently spend an enormous amount of time with franchises. Chandler Barton (president and CEO of CB when purchased by HFS) once said, “People have this business backwards. You need to cut expenses when the market is good because don’t need to spend the money, and you grow market share when the market is bad. So when the cycle turns, which it inevitably will, you’ve got a larger share”

Well said!

This just popped up in my Google alerts.

J O B P O S T I N G
General Manager for eNeighborhooods

Dominion Enterprises
http://www.dominionenterprises.com
Boca Raton, FL 33487

General Manager – eNeighborhoods
A Division of Dominion Enterprises

eNeighborhoods (a division of Dominion Enterprises) is seeking a General Manager. The General Manager for this successful and growing operation will lead expansion of current web-based products in addition to developing and executing business plans for future products. The position will be based in Boca Raton, Florida and report to a Division President.

eNeighborhoods is the nation’s premier compiler of home and neighborhood knowledge, providing marketing and data services to the real estate industry’s top performers. Successful candidates for General Manager will join a dynamic team responsible for exceeding our customers’ expectation and providing powerful tools to agents, brokers, MLS organizations, and franchises. General areas of responsibility will include:

Providing vision for business and securing necessary resources to achieve goals
Hiring and developing a team to develop, sell and support web-based products
Daily leadership, management and coaching of staff
Managing financial performance, to exceed budgeted revenue and income

REQUIREMENTS AND QUALIFICATIONS INCLUDE:

Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, with a minimum of 10 years experience in a leadership role
Minimum expectation of 5 years successful experience hiring, managing, and developing managers
Proven ability to hire, manage, and develop sales, marketing, operations, and technical staff
Demonstrated success in real estate technology and online business environment
Proven track record of success in growing a customer base for web-based products
Success in developing and executing budgets and business plans
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Highest standards of ethical business practice
Enthusiastic and driven to succeed
Deadline-driven and detail oriented, with a focus on continuous improvement

Dominion Enterprises (www.dominionenterprises.com) is a leading marketing services company serving the wide-ranging needs of many industries including real estate, apartments, specialty vehicles, employment, automotive and travel. We offer a dynamic environment, excellent growth opportunities, competitive earnings and a comprehensive benefits package including a generous 401(k). Dominion Enterprises supports a diverse workforce and is a drug-testing employer.

If you have the skills and seek a challenging growth opportunity, please apply through this site or send a cover letter and resume to (no calls please):

matt.paddock at dominionenterprises dot com
757-314-2512 (fax)
150 Granby
Norfolk, VA 23510

I was inspried by Dennis Miller to come up with the today’s headline.

Solid Earth to Offer ListHub

WASHINGTON D.C.– May 22th – Threewide Corporation announced today that the company has entered into a joint marketing agreement with Solid Earth, providers of the LIST-IT full service Internet MLS solution. Under the terms of the agreement, Solid Earth will be offering ListHub to its MLS and broker customers. ListHub is a tool for brokers to access their listing inventory within the MLS and market their listings on the Internet, driving consumer traffic and leads back to their individual brokerage Web sites.

“We look forward to working with Threewide and offering ListHub to our customers,” said Matt Fowler, President of Solid Earth. “With ListHub, our MLS partners will be helping their broker customers take advantage of the many marketing opportunities the Internet has to offer. Our goal has always been to provide our customers with affordable, easy-to-use products and services to help them better manage their businesses. ListHub will certainly help us meet our goal.”

ListHub provides a seamless flow of data from an MLS system to popular Internet sites where consumers search for property information without any re-entry of data. MLSs and Brokers can control which sites display their listings and monitor the traffic and leads generated from those sites back to their own Web sites. ListHub keeps the data up-to-date in order to provide today’s homebuyers with the most accurate information available.

“We are excited to be working with Solid Earth,” said Rob Reid, Executive Vice President of Threewide Corporation. “They have built a strong reputation in this industry by delivering high quality products and services their customers need to survive and thrive in our marketplace.”

“We really see the addition of ThreeWide’s ListHub product to our line-up as a great thing for our customers,” said Matt Fowler, President of Solid Earth. “It provides a feature that our customers not just want, but need, to compete in the new marketplace. They have a great reputation and a widely accepted solution, plus it allows our development team to focus on our core deliverables. It’s a good fit for everyone.”
About Threewide Corporation

Threewide Corporation was founded in July of 1999 and has specialized in solving data management issues in the real estate vertical since its inception. In mid-2000, the company began to focus on the digital capture, packaging, and transport of data for brokerages, Multiple Listing Services, and other industry vendors. In 2007, Threewide launched ListHub, a broker product that pushes MLS listing information to an array of online marketing sites.

For more information about Threewide Corporation, visit http://www.threewide.com.

For more information about ListHub, visit http://www.listhub.net.

About Solid Earth

Solid Earth, Inc. was founded in 1998 and is the publisher of two SAS real estate products: the LIST-IT MLS System and MapMachine.com. LIST-IT is a customized real estate inventory management and marketing support system designed for use by local real estate trade associations. Associations use Solid Earth’s software to operate their Multiple Listing Service (MLS) systems, usually the primary real estate marketplace in each City area. Solid Earth currently operates 23 such systems across 14 states covering about 5% of all REALTORS nationally. Coverage includes the largest markets in Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky and Louisiana plus major markets in Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. MapMachine.com is a browser-based Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping service designed specifically for REALTORS. It is the foundation of the mapping system for all LIST-IT accounts and is additionally licensed to approximately 11,000 agents in Southeast Michigan.

This press release contains various forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding future results of operations and market opportunities that are based on Threewide’s current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections about the company and its industry. Investors are cautioned that actual results could differ materially from those anticipated by the forward-looking statements as a result of the success of Threewide’s branding and consumer awareness campaign and other marketing efforts; competition from existing and potential competitors; and Threewide’s ability to continue to develop and integrate new products, services and technologies.

Press Contact:
Celeste Starchild
Vice President of Broker Sales
(877) 847.3394 ext. 708
cstarchild@threewide.com

Solid Earth Contact:
Bill Fowler
Marketing Director
bfowler@solidearth.com

###

Dave Rifkin was promoted to Vice President of Agent Services for eNeighborhoods

Rick Sherwood was promoted to Director of Enterprises Service for eNeighborhoods

Michael Hayes was promoted to Director of Enterprise Services for eNeighborhoods

I wanted to say a few things. Dominion Enterprises showed a lot of smarts promoting these guys. Dave Rifkin has been in the real estate technology business since the mid 90s. He’s negotiated contracts with large MLS providers, help design product and more recently started an inside sales team from scratch at eNeighborhoods. He and Andy Woolley were the two biggest forces driving growth and my first company IRIS, LLC. IRIS would not have been a success without Dave.

Rick Sherwood, also an IRIS alum, is the whole package. Rick is very smart, has a great feel for the game, a good eye for product functionality design, and very tenacious. Rick lasted through (survived) all the bullshit at what began as Moore Data and is now FNRES MLS. You don’t go through that experience without being an A player and having a deep understanding of the MLS real estate technology industry.

Michael Hayes, a Wyldfyre alum, is another A player in the game. It’s a well known fact that Michael’s charisma can be tracked from space. People in the International Space Station see two things when look down at earth, the great wall of China and a bright white light coming from Los Gatos, California. When eNeighborhoods acquired WyldFyre Technologies from HomeStore (Move), we realized right away that the best thing we could do is give a smart and creative guy like Michael anything he needed. And what he has accomplished has been amazing.

Here’s the story from our friends at RIS Media.

eNeighborhoods Announces Promotions in Enterprise, Agent Services Divisions

RISMEDIA, May 19, 2008-eNeighborhoods, a division of Dominion Enterprises, announced the promotions of key staff members to further the company’s real estate technology and marketing initiatives. eNeighborhoods, says the company, delivers real estate technology to more than 400,000 desktops around the world.

Peter Ill, president of Dominion Enterprises real estate businesses, announced the promotion of David Rifkin to vice president of eNeighborhoods Agent Services. Rifkin’s new role includes agent sales and marketing as well as working with multiple listing services (MLS) organizations.

Joining Rifkin’s team as manager of Dominion Data Services is Wendy McDaniel. McDaniel will be responsible for the continued growth of the company’s Internet Data Exchange (IDX) program, and maintaining relationships with MLS organizations. eNeighborhoods operates the industry’s largest network of IDX websites, compiling more than 3.8 million IDX listings from over 450 MLS organizations on behalf of their broker and agent customers.

“The growth in our Agent Services division continues moving forward under Dave Rifkin’s leadership,” Ill said. “These actions will ensure that we continue to deliver relevant products and services for agents competing in today’s tough markets. Dave Rifkin is a real estate industry and eNeighborhoods veteran. We’re happy to welcome him to the senior management team, and to bring Wendy McDaniel aboard to manage Data Services.”

eNeighborhoods Vice President of Enterprise Services Andy Woolley also announced the promotions of Michael Hayes and Rick Sherwood. Both Hayes and Sherwood will become directors in eNeighborhoods’ Enterprise Services division.

“eNeighborhoods delivers marketing, lead generation, and data-sharing tools to leading MLS and broker organizations in the United States, Canada, and Australia,” Woolley said. “Few people have the marketing, technology and real estate industry expertise that Michael and Rick bring to the team in supporting our large enterprise customers.”

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