MLSs are under siege right now. Since they control the most consistent and profitable cash flow source in the industry, they are very attractive targets. They need to continue to innovate to increase their value and relevance since many are chipping away at their positions right now. It’s clear from the work we’ve done with MLSs. Data quality and comprehensiveness is the core value proposition common to all MLSs. No other organization has figured out a way to deliver the breadth and depth of quality real estate information that MLSs offer today. Even well financed venture-backed start-ups have not figured out a better way to gather, aggregate and report property information than the MLSs currently own and control. It doesn’t mean that many organizations aren’t trying to steal energy, budgets and eyeballs away from MLSs, however. Every time another organization becomes “THE” go to place for real estate information, REALTORS® and the MLS organizations that serve them are weakened at some level.
From September 23, 2011 to October 21, 2011 WAV Group fielded the WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey to participating MLSs. 66 MLSs, representing 33 different states and provinces participated in the survey at both staff and user level. 10,779 individual participants filled out the survey completely making it the largest survey of its kind. National survey information serves as a great foundation to show you how your system stacks up with other MLS systems and what users are saying about each of these systems. Thirteen vendor MLS systems had enough responses to be represented in the survey at both the staff and user level.
WAV Group recently completed our 2011 MLS Technology Survey where we received feedback from nearly 11,000 respondents, from 66 MLSs around the US and Canada. Most importantly, the feedback was from both MLS staff which is always important, and the actual users. In fact, we only included results for MLS systems that had both staff and user ratings. The results were very interesting! We will be publishing an Executive Summary of the results next week for download but one of the more interesting things we noted was that MLS staff and MLS users see their technology quite differently and also rate it quite differently.
There has been a lot of conversational concern about companies that enter into new verticals of data management and service offerings. Four such instances were announced this year. REALTORS® Property Resource contracts with LPS for data services and LPS subcontracts to Real Estate Digital. Zillow purchased an IDX vendor, Diverse Solutions. MOVE purchased Threewide, the providers of the popular Listhub syndication service. CoreLogic launched a new appraisal tool leveraging MLS data. In every case, the vendor has been virtuous and adhered to contracts and data use rules. In each of these cases, many feared that data could be misused or abused. But, thus far, there have not been any discoveries of inappropriate behavior.
Real estate agents in our industry spend millions of dollars as a group annually to become a REALTOR® and to stay a member of the REALTOR® family. As someone who cut their teeth working with some of the most highly trusted brands in the world like Fisher-Price, Sesame Street and others, I have a few observations of the real estate industry’s branding efforts. First, when I ask most REALTORS® what makes them different than non-REALTORS® they say “the code of ethics”. While I appreciate the fact that those that live to the letter of the code of ethics may treat their customers differently, I would beg to differ that the code of ethics is a strong brand differentiator. Consumers expect every licensed real estate agent to live by a standard of service that includes integrity, honesty and above board practices. Wouldn’t you lose your license if you demonstrated unethical or even unprofessional business methods? I don’t believe the code of ethics “cuts it” as a key brand differentiator.
In a report released on November 15th, we see that Technology spending may be getting worse this holiday season, but it is not as bad as other sectors. 14% of consumers plan to spend more on technology this year than they did in years past. Unfortunately, 29% intend to spend less on technology than in years past. The good news is that at 14%, Technology is the leading sector across all industries for increased spending. Books and Apparel come in a close second with 13% intention to spend more. Music and videos did not fair much better with 40% and 44% respectively. The big loser this holiday season is Jewelry and Video Games and Consoles. With 50% and 49% respectively, around half of consumers plan to spend less on these categories of products.
MyFloridaHomesMLS.com launched their My Flyaway promotion giving people a chance to win a VIP Flyaway to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers game on December 11th. The Grand prize includes flight tickets to Jacksonville, in-flight meal, VIP transportation to and from the game, pre-game hospitality, and 2 tickets to the game. MyFloridaHomesMLS.com is also offering 5 Second Place Prizes which include 4 tickets to the December 4th Buccaneers home game vs. the Carolina Panthers.
Oversights are interesting. They are even more interesting when they are fixed. Let me explain a little bit about “reporting Sales to the (MLS) Service” in the model MLS rules. Up until the recent meeting of the MLS Issues and Policies Committee meeting at the NAR Annual Convention, agents were required to change the listing status to Sold when a transaction closed. This is a case whereby the rule did not clearly indicate the behavior. As written, the agent was required to update the status of the listing, not enter the sale price from the contract. This is a significant rule change – especially if you are in a non-disclosure State. The new rule requires agents to change the status AND report the sale price. In many areas around the country, agents may have assumed that they should enter the transaction price when changing the status. But as a matter of fact, not all agents have been doing that, and the MLS has not had a rule to enforce the reporting of price. Now they do, under the amendment to the rule.
What’s More Painful: A Root Canal or Finding a Real Estate Agent? With RatedAgent.com, It’s Now Ear-to-Ear Smiles With the Launch Today of the First-of-its-Kind Website, Consumers Can Now Access Objective, Customer Satisfaction Scores from Actual Home Buyers and Sellers Traditionally, finding a real estate agent to help buy or sell a home has been a hit or miss proposition at best. No longer. Beginning today and at no cost, consumers can get honest, unfiltered reviews about agents written by actual home buyers and sellers — and then even select an agent — using the nation’s first-ever objective real estate agent rating service, RatedAgent.com. RatedAgent.com currently has more than 10,000 agents participating in the service and has launched a pilot program with the California Association of Realtors, the second-largest real estate association in the nation. Company officials expect to have another 50,000 agent ratings with several hundred thousand reviews on the site within the next 90 days.
Metrolist, Inc.®, the largest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) serving Colorado, today announced that Kirby Slunaker has been named the company’s interim COO following Patricia Bybee’s resignation as CEO. Mr. Slunaker brings over 20 years of experience in leading information technology for a broad range of top companies, including Pendum LLC, MDC Holdings, eBags, FedEx, and VISA USA. He is a former Chairman of and currently serves on, the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the Colorado Technology Association (formerly CSIA), Colorado’s premier technology trade association. In his new role with Metrolist, Mr. Slunaker will be assisted in the firm’s day-to-day operations by the existing management team.