A TRULY Broker-Centric MLS – What a Concept!

by Marilyn Wilson on October 6, 2015

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The now infamous GRIPE List issued by Craig Cheatham back in 2013 has led to a plethora of new ideas and initiatives. From the momentum of RESO Data Standards, to the Broker Public Portal and Upstream, the confrontation has led to more innovative ideas and initiatives than we’ve seen in many, many years.

Last month MRIS and TREND announced a ground-breaking intention to find a way to partner with each other to create a brand new organization built with the fundamental goal to create a truly broker-centric MLS.

According to David Charron, President and CEO of MRIS, “We are committed to a shared vision to consolidate. Both of our organizations are really excited about finding ways to model the MLS of the future, designed to be nimble, flexible and central to solving the needs of brokers. Together, MRIS and TREND are going to work with all of our shareholders and interested parties to create the next era of MLS. That organization that will be built to meet the needs of today’s dynamic marketplace while also considering the needs of all stakeholders – brokers, agents, associations, our staffs and even consumers. We are opening our doors to neighboring associations, MLSs and brokers who share our vision and want to work with us to shape a whole new way of providing MLS services in the Mid-Atlantic region.”

Tom Phillips, President and CEO of TREND told us that the initiative is being developed to solve the Classic Broker Problem. “Brokers who cross markets and have to join two or three MLS have the onerous job of entering listings in multiple systems. The same broker has to understand and train their agents on multiple rules, regulations and compliance requirements. When a brokerage wants to offer its clients a great online experience they have to aggregate information from multiple data feeds. These are cumbersome practices that create financial burdens and consume valuable time. Our goal is to help alleviate this.”

If the taskforce formed that has been at work for over ten months can be successful, they will open up a huge market opportunity for brokers in the Mid-Atlantic region. Collectively, TREND and MRIS cover 31,000 square miles, 17 million consumers, 7 million on and off market properties, and 10 million property parcels.

The group has drafted a Shared Commitment and Vision paper to help articulate the ultimate goal of the program. Here are a few of the highlights of the program that really caught my eye.

No More One Size Fits All

One of the tenets that I love about the vision that the taskforce has outlined – no more one size fits all MLS. The document contemplates the idea offering a la carte flexibility in its pricing. We all know that no one agent or brokerage is alike, yet our current service models and pricing provide no flexibility. In this new model, the lowest tier “basic” service might include just the core MLS system and minimal service levels. There could be other tiers of service for new agents, teams, top producers and those that are simply looking for one end to end solution that provides their entire marketing and transaction processing suite. MLSs have contemplated this idea many times, but this group wants to put it into action.

Services for Agents and Brokers

Today, MLSs mainly offer services for agents only. Other than IDX, VOW and RETS data services, brokers do not have many options to purchase products from MLSs. Taken to its logical conclusion, pricing flexibility could include service offerings for brokers as well. By leveraging the buying power of a “mega” MLS, brokers might be able to purchase all kinds of services at a price they could never achieve on their own. The MLS might also be able to help brokers with data aggregation services and systems integration to create a seamless, low maintenance option for a broker’s back-office operation. Brokers could then focus their attention on training their agents to provide amazing service to their clients instead of focusing on cleaning up data feeds. Sounds a lot more productive and exciting to me than our current model.

According to those that we spoke to, what MRIS and TREND are planning to implement is more than a data share – this is the next step in the evolution of the MLS model that “preserves compensation and cooperation, promotes the expansion of an orderly and efficient marketplace, and provides participating brokerage firms greater control of and access to their listing content.”

Wow, now that’s an exciting idea! Great job MRIS and TREND! I absolutely can’t wait to see where you take this idea! Congratulations on continuing to find ways to push the envelope!

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