Enough Analysis Paralysis! Time for MLSs and Associations to make it happen!

by Marilyn Wilson on July 21, 2011

Kim Prior from Onboard Informatics posted a great article on RETechnology.com today entitled:  MLSs Taking Control of Your Destiny. All I can say is “Well said, Kim!”  Her article talks about how our industry is stuck in the mode of “analysis paralysis.” We love to talk about problems, but we rarely actually DO anything about it quickly and decisively.

Well I say,  “Enough postulating real estate industry – time for some decisions and some action!”

Associations and MLSs are, by definition, bodies that are designed to get things under “control,” not stir things up. The problem is that because many don’t feel the responsibility to lead change, the consumer’s needs are going unmet by the industry. Consumer’s needs do not go unmet for long though as there are smart, well-heeled venture capitalists looking to place their money with companies who know how to deliver against the demands of consumers.

Entrepreneurs live, eat and breathe unmet needs. It’s their “air.” Instead of partnering with these risk-takers, MLSs and Boards many times shy away from them because again, these organizations are risk averse – their primary job is keep things under control and to not create more risk for brokers and agents who live among risk and uncertainty every day.

In my view the biggest blind spot in this industry is the focus on agents and not on consumers. How many brokers are truly in touch with what their customers are looking for? More importantly how many brokers actually give consumers what they want? How many truly know how their agents are performing in the field? How many have been trained to make decisions based on the people who purchase homes, not the people who sell homes? Any industry that focuses more on its own needs than its customer needs will not survive. Any company that worries more about its own margin and sales commissions more than the long-term satisfaction of its customers is writing its own death sentence.

Until we address the needs of consumers in real-time (getting over our own insecurities), the industry will continue to be dominated by outside parties who will ultimately take it over. Third parties have already taken over the online space and become the experts on property valuations. They already offer more in-depth information to consumers than most brokers and MLSs do. They are already offering feedback about agent performance because we flat out refuse to–even when consumers are pleading for the industry to help them learn about their agents before they engage. Our property search methods haven’t evolved in 20 years even though consumers are looking for a lot more help finding a home that meets their lifestyle.

The governance structure of MLSs and Associations makes it even more difficult to get things done quickly and decisively.  Their boards are made up of brokers and agents–many of which are completely focused on simply surviving in this marketplace.  That mindset can hinder smart, proactive decision-making that will position the organizations for future success.  They’re asking MLSs to reduce spending and “batten down the hatches,” instead of taking advantage of this down economy to get things done that would not otherwise be possible. Desperation breeds opportunity, but most organizations cannot take advantage of it because their boards are too risk averse.
When are we going to wake up and realize that the people that give us checks for real estate need to be at the center of every decision? I hope we figure out before it’s too late.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Judith Lindenau July 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Excellent call to action! One of the things you touch on is the organizational structure of the traditional MLS organization: it’s definately not designed to run an information service company effectively in these times. Technology management by committee is just not going to get the job done, especially since the decision makers are not skilled in the field of contemporary technology. They are informed users, yes–and are important in a function as user groups. But for most MLS organizations the usual governance structure is cumbersome, slow, uninformed, and expensive–sucking away time and expertise which might better be used in product design rather than management and business development issues.

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