It’s Your Data – Make Sure You Can Use It!

by Mike Audet on December 9, 2013

DataI do a lot of work helping MLSs choose their next MLS technology vendor and I also work with brokers that use multiple real estate technology tools.  The one thing both sets of technology have in common is the fact that without good data the technology is worthless.  Numerous roadblocks exist today, however, on the data front that often derails the best software.  Some roadblocks come from within the MLS but some come from the technology vendors themselves.

MLSs can serve as roadblocks to listing and sales data at the source, meaning they may put arbitrary restrictions on data use by their own members, through their MLS policies, or they make the process to get data difficult. This is not true for all MLSs, of course, but all of us that have been following the concerns voiced by the Realty Alliance realize there are still many Brokers who feel some MLSs make it difficult for them to get and use all of the real estate data they need and are entitled to.

The other data issue, that may not be so apparent to the average real estate professional is the problem created when an MLS or Broker wants to move from one technology to a new technology and comes to realize that much of the data they have entered into their current technology platform will not be able to be transferred to their new technology platform.  This means thousands of hours of data input will be lost and huge amounts of work done by real estate professionals will have to be done again.

The real estate data I am referring to in this case is not listing data, which of course is critically important, but rather data entered by users and consumers in the course of conducting real estate transactions.  This includes data such as contact information, agent saved searches, client saved searches, custom report templates, CMAs, listing carts and so on.

Today, the most used part of any MLS system is the auto search and client connection feature.  There are numerous features and functions associated with these services.  Due to the sheer numbers of contacts agents have that use these features the MLS system spends more times handling these specific functions than it does doing searches for agents, or other functions just used by agents.  But, with the majority of MLS systems today, if you change vendors, you will lose all of that information.  That means every agent will have to re-enter his or her information on the new system.

In reality, it will be difficult if not impossible for every vendor to provide a 100% transfer of all agent or consumer entered data to a new system, simply due to the differences that exist between the various MLS systems but there is definitely data that can be shared if MLS vendors are willing.  Some MLS vendors offer, or are developing, an API (Application Programming Interface) that offers a more open interface to the broader sets of data at the MLS level as well as the ability to move this data as needed.

For Brokers his is hugely important.  It allows brokers easy data integration for internal systems and software they have invested in for their agents to make connections easily.  This means reduced cost, less duplicate entry and more efficiency and accuracy overall their technology products.

For MLSs there are great benefits as well.   With an API they can plug in additional products as needed knowing that data can be accessed and shared easily, whether it be a showing system product or a product like Mobile Realty Apps native mobile applications.  Additionally, if the MLS does decide to move to a new platform sometime in the future it is more likely that they will have the ability to transfer more critical data input by their agents to the new platform. The key is first having the ability to provide easy access to this data and second, insuring that your vendor is willing to provide this access during the contract and also when the contract ends.

WAV Group helps MLSs and brokers manage these technology issues on a regular basis whether you want to evaluate your current services or put a process in place to find a new technology partner.  If you would like more information on our technology services contact WAV Group partner, Mike Audet at 716-839-4628, or email us at mike@wavgroup.com.

 

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