mls system

MRIS and Trend Take Next Step Down The Aisle

by Victor Lund on January 12, 2016

MLS Evolved

Courageous, Unselfish,  Forward Thinking, Thoughtful – those are the adjectives that Association shareholders, brokers and agents are using to describe the merger of Metropolitan Regional MLS and Trend MLS. In an announcement today, the firms announced that they are now offering a combined data feed. This means that any technology service provider can get one data feed from both markets, reducing the costs associated with managing multiple feeds and normalizing data. Unified Feed is Designed for Participant Brokers Rockville, MD and King of Prussia, PA – Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (“MRIS”) and The Delaware Valley Real Estate Information Network, Inc. (“TREND”) announce their intention to create a content feed of listing information from both multiple listing services (MLSs). The new combined feed will be available to brokers who participate in both MLSs, and can be used for IDX, broker back office and other data needs. “When brokerages operate across multiple marketplaces, they must aggregate information from multiple data feeds, apply the appropriate display rules for each MLS, and pay redundant technology costs, all in order to have a unified IDX search on their own websites or improve brokerage operations,” said Sandra Troccoli, Director of Information Technology & Website Services for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) Homesale Realty. “This is a new opportunity that will reduce technology costs and cumbersome management of duplicate feeds. It highlights the importance of MLS consolidation from a technology standpoint.” Last fall, MRIS and TREND announced their intention to consolidate their MLSs to create the next era of MLS that will preserve compensation and cooperation, promote the expansion of an orderly and efficient marketplace and provide brokerage firms greater control of and access to their listing content. MRIS and TREND are starting now to find concrete ways to serve the combined brokerage community. The first product to be delivered will be a new feed with listing content from both MLSs. “MRIS and TREND are developing a streamlined way to deliver real estate information and provide brokers with easier access to all their listing content,” said Jon Coile, Chairman of MRIS’s Board of Directors. “This combined feed is the first tangible benefit to be delivered as an advantage of MLS consolidation. It brings economies of scale, common policies, and simplified processes to brokers in the Mid-Atlantic region. Without the challenge of administering multiple content feeds, we can spend more time focusing on our business and our clients’ […]

{ 0 comments }

POSITION TITLE: Director of MLS REPORTS TO: Chief Executive Officer LOCATION: New Orleans, Louisiana ORGANIZATIONAL DESCRIPTION: New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is seeking a new MLS and IT Director to run their MLS operations for their wholly owned subsidiary, Gulf South Real Estate Information Network, Inc. The Gulf South Real Estate Information Network Inc., New Orleans, LA., is seeking an MLS Director to lead its 5600 member Multiple Listing Service, GSREIN. The company is looking for someone to administer and direct the activities, operations and staff of the Multiple Listing Service of the Association and oversees its IT Services. The ideal candidate is someone who has a working knowledge of the real estate industry and its technological trends. They must also possess MLS related job experience along with an understanding of the issues and challenges facing today’s MLS and its Participants. A candidate must have excellent work ethic and possess great organization, communication, management, technology skills and people skills. The company is looking for a progressive Leader and Manager adept at creating positive change for MLS systems while being considerate of the needs of the organization’s members. FUNCTION/ROLE: The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS(R), celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2015, has a long history of providing amazing service, support and advocacy to its members. The company’s MLS and IT Director will be responsible for supporting and promoting a suite of highly useful and effective technologies, training and support services to help NOMAR members get the most out of their MLS offerings. The successful candidate will also be the point of contact for coordinating with IT and Network support vendors to maintain the company’s IT infrastructure. The role requires a strong ability to digest the needs of staff, leadership and members as well as sensitivity to the ever-changing demands of homebuyers and sellers. They will work closely with the CEO to ensure full transparency of the technology path and programs, communicating all plans, milestones and any pertinent challenges regularly. Finally, the Director of MLS and IT will be highly focused on benchmarking results against the plans outlined and will critically evaluate the success of technology programs and course correct in real-time. REQUIREMENTS/JOB SKILLS: Administer and direct the activities and operations and staff of the Multiple Listing Service of the Association, consistent with the policy and procedures as directed by the Board of Directors, MLS and Electronic Keybox Rules […]

{ 0 comments }

Top 10 Ways to Become a Truly Broker-Centric MLS.

by Marilyn Wilson on November 11, 2015

Ever since the now infamous Gripe List was published, MLSs have been scrambling to find out they can better serve their MLS Customers.  I was honored to moderate a panel of brokers at the highly successful RESO conference last week as part of the first business track. I asked them what they believe an MLS must do to become broker-centric. Since there is no official definition of what a broker-centric MLS is I thought I would take a crack at it to get the conversation going. The following list is a compilation of their answers along with interviews we conducted with brokers throughout the country and even our own experiences with MLS organizations working on behalf of our broker clients. Here you go: 1. TRULY understands and addresses broker’s needs The broker-centric MLS goes to school on their brokers – they spend time truly listening to their brokers and uncover new ways to help them be successful in the ways that brokers are interested in.  Importantly, they DO something about what brokers need – they don’t just postulate about it 2. MOVES quickly – solves problems and create opportunities Brokers are entrepreneurs by definition. They work in a highly competitive and undifferentiated environment. They need to solve problems every day to open up doors of opportunity for their agents and for their clients.  MLSs who do not have a sense of urgency are slowing down a broker’s ability to get it done and make a sale. When a broker calls, she needs an answer quickly.  As soon as you slow down the potential for a new sale or a new line of business an MLS is NOT being broker-centric.  We get complaints all the time about MLSs who simply say no or worse yet, don’t respond at all to requests. It’s also important to support the companies that work for the brokers.  Some MLSs treat technology companies like lepers. They portray a genuine disinterest and even disgust for vendors that have been hired by brokers to deliver services.   The attitude of broker-centricity needs to extend to ALL of the companies that support them, not just to the brokers themselves.  We just had a hellish experience with a small MLS in New York State that simply refused to answer questions that we were requesting on behalf of one of the MLSs clients. We weren’t asking for anything other than public information […]

{ 1 comment }

Understanding the MRIS-TREND Project

by Victor Lund on October 14, 2015

      The highlight topic for the CMLS conference last week was the overview provided by Tom Phillips, President and CEO of TREND; Gene Millman, TREND Board Chair and David Charron, President and CEO of MRIS on their shared vision for bringing their two regional MLSs together. The keynote for me is that these organizations and their boards of directors started with a clean whiteboard. Nothing was held back from the development of the strategy, including dissolving both companies. The two organizations do not have the answers yet, but they are on the path to figuring it out. Why would they do this? Great organizations start ambitious projects with answering the question of Why. TREND and MRIS came up with this list of Whys that are on their project website, MLSevolved.com Consumers and Brokerage firms do not have boundaries, why should an MLS? Core Values of each organization are the same. Better position to meet broker and subscriber demands. Be expansive and inclusive Acquire or develop better services. Address and lead industry initiatives better Innovate Move quickly People who listen to their customers usually succeed A friend of mine always reminds me that if you asked consumers what they wanted, Ford would have developed faster horses instead of cars. That sentiment aside, there is a thunderous outcry from across the industry to provide better MLSs that span markets more efficiently. Brokers want MLSs that provide services that overcome their technology challenges of overlapping market disorder, redundant data management, disparate rules and regulations, lack of data standards, lack of standard business rules, etc. Today, there are over 770 MLSs that provide the same service differently. The differences between MLS services are driven more by protectionism than they are by service levels. Brokers who never leave their MLS area do not really feel these problems unless they are in one of those arbitrary border zones between two or more MLSs. Perhaps that is the point. The arbitrary border zones are rampant. We have 50 States in America – an average of 15 MLSs per state. That’s insane. Moreover, there are between 1200 and 1400 Associations of REALTORS® each with different lock box solutions, rules and regulations, forms, etc. It is a nightmare for broker operators as well as agents who span any more than one. Governance Issues I am pretty sure that the business operators of MLSs can handle the mergers. […]

{ 4 comments }

There has been a lot of discussion about the challenges of separating listing add/edit from MLS systems. This has long been the practice is many MLSs and this announcement today adds yet another to the list. Instanet Solutions Implements New Listing Upload Interface for NWMLS NWMLS members reduce redundant data entry using InstanetForms® in TransactionDesk® ​ June 3rd, 2015 Austin, TX – Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) members can now create an MLS listing from a listing input form in TransactionDesk®. With one click, the data entered in the listing input form is processed and uploaded to the MLS as an incomplete/draft listing. The forms can also be saved for future use, allowing the agent or brokerage to finalize and review the data before the listing is uploaded to the MLS. This faster, completely paperless process provides NWMLS members with better data accuracy and reduced redundancy. Members can now enter data while at the property rather than having to try to remember property details later. Additionally, MLS metadata and input rules are incorporated into the listing input form, allowing members to select data options from drop-down lists rather than entering each option manually. This integration makes the entry process easier and more accurate. “Northwest MLS is excited to make this service available to our members. It launched a few weeks ago and we’ve received nothing but positive comments,” said Tom Hurdelbrink, President and CEO of NWMLS. “We’re able to provide our members with another interface for adding listing data; one that is seamlessly integrated with their online forms and their electronic signature system, InstanetForms® and Authentisign®.” Instanet has integrated and deployed this solution with several other MLS systems. The data can be uploaded to the MLS using RETS Update, a web service, or other methods. The upload can be made RESO compliant or can be made to adhere to virtually any MLS data format. “In just a few weeks, we’ll have over 100,000 MLS members around the country using this listing upload interface. It’s a great solution in markets where signatures or initials are required on the profile sheet, if assistants or brokers are helping with the listing upload process, or where brokers want to get the data before or at the same time that it’s entered into the MLS,” said Martin Scrocchi, CEO of Instanet Solutions. “Nobody wants to have to remember which features a property has the next […]

{ 1 comment }

Trulia Weekly Update Is Released

by Victor Lund on September 24, 2014

I don’t really know if this is just something that Trulia is testing or if this is something that they rolled out system wide, but I received a lovely real estate update this morning It is not a heavy piece, but it certainly popped in my inbox 18 New Listings, 2 open houses, 9 price reductions, download mobile app, home value lead capture, and median sales price. Aside from my first impression of the execution being very positive, it made me wonder…… Where else would this type of daily email be a practical way to touch professionals or consumers? For the MLS The heart of any MLS is the agent’s hot sheet. It is a customizable widget that gives them a snap shot of what they are tracking in their business. The hot sheet recognizes pre-defined queries that the agent configures. I am a big fan of push reporting, and to me, the Hot Sheet is a report. I would love to see MLSs send the hot sheet by email to every agent every day. Moreover, office managers could see a snapshot of their business every day. Broker owners can get a hot sheet of all of their offices. Better yet, think beyond email and integrate this as a notification on your mobile device. For the Broker I hate to admit it, but there are only a handful of brokers who are able to drive consumers to their website at a level that enables them to compete for the consumer share of voice. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com and Homefinder have swiped the consumer away. Only the largest firms, MLS consumer sites, and franchises in America can live in the top 10 real estate websites in their area. Unless there is a significant event of disruption, third party websites will control the spread of real estate information to the widest audience of consumers. Most of our clients who hire us to monitor the effectiveness of their online marketing are premium partners with some mix of Trulia, Zillow, Homes, and Homefinder. However, we also have a handful of brokers who have gone the other way and eliminated syndication. Both strategies work. Regardless of your online strategy, you need to keep a watchful eye on features that will keep you competitive. Take a page out of Trulia’s playbook and send all of your registered users a market update. Trust me, if your customer […]

{ 0 comments }

SourceMLS launches as the seal of approval and accuracy

by Victor Lund on September 19, 2014

The sourceMLS™ initiative is set to launch next week at the Council of MLS meetings in Huntington Beach, CA and I am excited! If you are displaying a listing from the MLS, you can display the sourceMLS Logo. It’s that simple. Think of it as the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. This is a no frills way for every listing agent, every listing broker, and every MLS to finally identify the value of a listing to the consumer. There is not a day that goes by when a consumer is not bilked by dozens of inaccurate, incomplete, expired, or just flat out phony listings on so many websites. By simple extension though affiliation, the consumer does not know that a broker or agent website is not equally riddled with the same listing errors found on non-IDX sites. Our industry must change this, or the consumer facing side of real estate listings will be no better than craigslist. Guidelines The soureMLS guidelines are pretty straight forward, and they can be viewed here in their entirety http://sourcemls.org/guidelines/. To make it simple to understand, if your site is compliant with IDX, you almost assuredly will be compliant with the sourceMLS program. But don’t take my word for it. Read the guidelines. I sat on this committee at CMLS in its beginning. The result is not very far from our recommendation. It was an honor to serve with so many of the passionate volunteers who are fighting to help brokers and agents remain the #1 resource for real estate information and services. I am sure that there will be critics, as there always are in real estate. But I beg to think about it in this light. Why not? I really cannot see a possible reason why MLSs would not want to support their brokers with this benefit. The branding is neutral and the promise is clear. If this solution is well adopted, it will only be a matter of months before consumers realize that if the badge is not on the site displaying the listing, they can’t trust it. That is a buoy for agents and brokers at a time when so many websites have inaccurate content. Visit sourceMLS.org today.

{ 2 comments }

Another Broker-Governed MLS Gets RESO Certification

by Victor Lund on September 3, 2014

Perhaps its just because, or happenstance, or not. But MLSListings, based in the heart of the Silicon Valley in California, is the second MLS in the nation to join MRIS in RESO Server Certification. Like MRIS, MLSListings is a broker governed MLS. In truth, the title of the article was drafted to get you to read this article. The fact is that MRIS and MLSListings, along with many of the COVE Group MLSs repeatedly lead the industry in adopting best practices. Its in their DNA. And yes, Anne Bailey does a great job facilitating the COVE group and both of these MLSs are WAV Group clients. RESO is real. The Data Dictionary has been out for a long time now and it is a shame that more MLSs in America have not converted. It is the very first step in the process of becoming compliant. Remember, for an MLS to be covered by NAR’s insurance – you must be RESO compliant. I guess only MRIS and MLSListings are – but that is another issue. NAR seems pretty relaxed in setting the bar high on MLS compliance with rules and requirements. Heck – there are still dozens and dozens of MLSs that do not have a RETS server yet – still forcing FTP. Still taking a year to approve a broker application for a new IDX/VOW vendor. Some continue to block brokers from getting data access to develop their own AVMs even in the light of the MLS policy committee and NAR clearly indicating that they must provide data for this purpose. When broker networks like The Realty Alliance or Leading Real Estate Companies of the World send staff to tell these stories at places like CMLS – everyone gasps to learn that brokers are frustrated. The truth is that brokers are not frustrated by MLSs like MLSListings and MRIS. In fact, in reviewing their customer satisfaction surveys, I can confirm that their brokers are not frustrated. They are not upset. Leading MLSs are delighting their brokers. Broker owned and broker governed MLSs are delighting their brokers. The problem lies at the bottom of the MLS industry, not at the top. It’s the small Association-Owned MLS that has a part-time job sharing CEO as its leader who is really underfunded in the effort to deliver world-class, industry-leading MLS services to brokers and agents. To be clear – I am not blaming […]

{ 0 comments }

WAV Group 2014 Road Map to Listing Syndication

by Victor Lund on July 22, 2014

 Listing syndication to online portals is in the throws of a revolution in real estate today. Listing syndication has followed a philosophical pattern first envisioned by the German philosopher G.W.F. Hagel in his triadic process – thesis, antithesis, and then synthesis. This paper will walk though the first two phases of the process, discussing the evolution of the original thesis of listing syndication followed by the new roots of today’s chaotic antithesis. The industry is developing a plethora of new models to transmit listings for online advertising at a pace that is eroding the effectiveness of the process in a significant way. However, out of this chaos of antithesis we are beginning to see a glimmer of new publishers who seek to be the best possible partners to brokers. A new synthesis is on the horizon. View the full report here

{ 1 comment }

A New Way for MLSs to look at Mobile

by Marilyn Wilson on June 13, 2014

You know the old expression, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”? Well, MRIS has taken that to heart and created a new approach for mobile that may be worth taking a look at. Their key goal with any of their online marketing efforts is to generate leads and listing exposure for their customers.  They work hard with their site MRIShomes.com to do that and they work hard to make sure their prospecting solutions within their MLS system are effective, too. Now one of the largest MLSs in the country has added a new mobile tool to their quest to deliver high quality leads – Homesnap.   Homesnap is a unique and interesting partner for an MLS.  First, they are really good at what I preach about all the time – knowing what the CONSUMER wants. They have built a visually exciting, easy to use mobile app that consumers are eating up.  Homesnap is also very good at something that no MLSs that I know of have conquered yet – they know how to get attention on App stores. Their app ranks in the top 5 in the country – a very enviable position given the awesome competition they face there. So how do MRIS members benefit, you may wonder, from a third party app? Homesnap has agreed to send ALL of the leads in the MRIS region to MRIS members.  By partnering with Homesnap, MRIS has doubled the consumer traffic they generate on behalf of their members.  Homesnap professes to be industry-friendly, looking to work with MLSs and brokers to create a win/win situation. Now here’s the interesting news. Every MLS knows how hard it is to gain adoption for new technologies.  After just two weeks, this app is being used by over 5000 members, and delivering searches to nearly 43,000 customers. That equates to nearly 10% adoption in a very short amount of time. Now here’s an area of potential concern that some MLSs might be worried about with this model.  Homesnap is NOT being private labeled. It is being marketed in the MRIS region and throughout the country under the Homesnap brand.  Every MLS that would use this product would be offering the Homesnap app, not the XYZMLS app. This approach provides no brand-building opportunities for an organization. Some may be concerned about that; some may be relieved because it might reduce the “level the playing field” effect […]

{ 0 comments }

The Speed Of Need

by Victor Lund on March 10, 2014

We know that companies are created when they meet the needs of their customers. But, what we fail to understand is the nature and complexity of Need. Need is a singular thing that is driven by a vast array of attributes. The most common attributes are Price, Functionality, Customer Service, and Relationship. But there is a new attribute of need which I call the Speed of Need. Price is a fundamental attribute of need. Customers must be able to afford a product or service if it is ever going to fulfill the need. Functionality is another fundamental of need. Even if a product is priced right, feature and functionality deficiencies or abundance can cause needs to go unmet. Customer Service is perhaps one of the most critical factors of success in fulfilling a need. Great products that run short on customer service don’t have staying power. Relationship is often a component of need. Frequently companies succeed or fail based on relationships – but this is not always important in fulfilling needs. I do not have much of a relationship with many of the products and brands I rely upon – but in some cases it is important. The Speed of Need is something that many companies tend to overlook when they consider their customer needs. However, in the technology that serves industry today – the speed of need is critical. The reality is that the technology needs in all industries move at a pace or speed. Customers have a need for their product and service providers to keep pace with that speed of need. This entails the ongoing development of their products to deliver new and improved functionality. You can hear the speed of need complaints from customers quite easily. It sounds something like this – “I love the price, your product works great, your service has always been terrific, and I value the long term relationship we have. However you have been promising me these fixes and features for (Insert Timeline) and I am getting tired of waiting!” Failure by companies to address the speed of need can eat away at their success as quickly as bad pricing, bad service, weak functionality, or bad relationships. It can erode a company’s reputation to new customers and cause loyal customers to rethink their partner choices. A great way to measure your company’s ability to meet the need for speed is with […]

{ 0 comments }

Hybrid Regionalization – Right For Your MLS?

by Mike Audet on February 10, 2014

We all know there are too many MLSs in the US and over the years the real market areas have expanded forcing agents to belong to multiple MLSs in many areas.  This means more costs, data inefficiencies and often the need to learn and operate multiple MLS systems.  It isn’t good for brokers, agents or consumers so why hasn’t their been more consolidation of MLSs more quickly? The answer, of course, is protectionism.   Even though consolidation would be in everyone’s best interest there is still a local desire to maintain control and identity at the MLS level.  Brokers also worry that outsiders will come in and steal their business.  Whether this is true or not isn’t important because perception is everything and controls the day. Did you know there are really good options available today in MLS systems that would allow you to provide most of the member benefits of regional MLS without having to lose your local identify and control?  If you knew this would it allow you in your local market to consider regionalization at a faster pace?  Read on to learn what can now be done with Hybrid regional approach, it might be right for your market area.   The Hybrid Regional A Hybrid Regional is one in which multiple MLSs decide they want to work together to share the same MLS technology but they don’t want to dissolve their local MLSs.  They want the benefits of a broader database and the economies that come with a larger MLS.  They don’t want to have to learn and operate multiple MLS systems.  For these MLSs the Hyrbrid Regional makes a lot of sense.  In addition, thanks to enhanced regional features in MLS systems today, there is still the ability to control many elements of the system at the local MLS level.   The Structure Most Hybrid regionals we work with are managed by a regional task force made up of members of each MLS.  This group works together, as needed, to make those decisions impacting all of the members of the regional such as property sheet layouts, report designs and when to install upgrades, etc.  In some cases, actual approval for some decisions may have to go back to the individual boards of each member MLS but, the process works.  It works because the participating MLSs have placed a high value on being part of a broader regional […]

{ 4 comments }

Why Brokers Get Upset With Their MLS

by Victor Lund on January 22, 2014

Some of our time at WAV Group involves supporting brokers and their technology vendors at problem solving. Yesterday we encountered an issue with the data feed to a vendor. The vendor claimed that everything was working. The broker knew this was not the case. So we got on a call and did a screen share to match the listings in their system to the listings in the MLS. The marketing staff member for the broker is not a savvy expert of using the MLS. But the broker does pay associate fees every month so she has access and she goes to training. In reality, she only logs in a few times a year to handle situations like this. The vendor had no clue how to search in the MLS as they never see inside. They can look at the data feed, but they cannot match that up with the MLS. WAV Group’s experiences helping MLSs choose their vendors and years of helping MLS vendors with their technology road map enable us to span the bridge. But what struck me in that moment is how overly complicated the MLS has become. And I don’t know why. Any competent business professional should be able to look at the MLS system and operate it with the skills carried from using other software applications and online applications. Our task yesterday involved pulling up all of the broker listings and sorting them in order based upon the last time they were updated. It took about 5 minutes, and we pulled it off. The brokerage has multiple offices so it involved delving into office ID lookups, writing each ID down, and creating a string search. It is the best way to do it in this particular system. (I will send a bottle of wine to the first person who sends me an email with the correct name of the MLS System). We accomplished the goal and realized that the MLS had made changes to the data feed and (according to the vendor) did not notify them. Problem solved. Remap the data; pay $1500 in vendor’s development fees for the custom work. Notify all of the agents so they can notify their sellers. Lament. Move along. Start new project to test every vendor getting a data feed from that MLS. We enjoy the task of notifying the broker owner about what happened and the upcoming communication plan […]

{ 1 comment }

Cheap MLS Systems

by Victor Lund on November 1, 2013

The results are in from the annual WAV Group MLS Technology Survey. We will be working on the report in the coming weeks. Last year’s report showed that there were not any MLS software solutions with super high ratings. This year’s survey showed that the ratings have dropped down for every vendor. What can be done about that? As you may know, WAV Group provides RFP services to MLSs who are facing a contract termination date. It is smart to shop around to see if there are solutions that are better shaped to meet the evolving needs of agents and brokers. The goal is to find a better system at a lower price. Vendors know this. They do everything they can to operate their business as efficiently as they can so they can meet the Low Price needs. The notion of “Better System” is more about design than function. If the system cannot look great, the vendor focuses on throwing in MLS toys – like a consumer website, IDX, Agent Websites, Virtual Tours, Document Management, or some other tool. They pile on additional applications in the base price of the MLS to sweeten the deal. The WAV Group survey measures two groups of MLS customers. It measures the attitudes of the staff and the attitudes of the agents. Every vendor in the industry is facing lower ratings by both of these groups. The industry is ripe for change. The pendulum needs to swing away from lower price and more toward better systems. Change #1 – Reduce Profits. One of the hidden fiefdoms that contaminate our industry is the MLS markup to paying subscribers. It its most pervasive form, the markup happens when the Regional MLS wholesales services to the Association of REALTORS® who retail the service to the subscriber. This often results in the doubling of the service costs so the Association may realize a profit. MLS systems that are wholesaled below $20 per agent per month wind up costing the subscriber more than $40 per agent per month. No doubt, the Association MLS providing training and support adds a cost burden to the core fees. And there are other cost centers like rules enforcement and subscriber management. The markup is not pure profit, but profit is a significant percentage of the fees. Change #2 – Don’t Switch Systems. Every time an MLS switches systems their satisfaction ratings plummet. This […]

{ 5 comments }

A couple of months ago I wrote a post called the “Challenge for Positive Change” that highlighted many of the relationship dysfunctions we are experiencing in the industry today. We have the honor of working with large brokers as well as MLSs, Associations, technology companies and even title and home warranty providers. We see misperceptions and distrust running rampant between each of these groups. It’s clear that there are many that are feeling as though our industry could be working together much better than it is at the moment. Fast forward a few weeks and we get to CMLS and the now infamous outline of issues delivered by Craig Cheatham, President and CEO of the Realty Alliance, a highly-respected network for many of North America’s largest full service brokerages and their affiliated business. Many people in the audience were shocked with Craig’s candor and level of frustration, but I’m not sure why. The types of issues he outlined are the types of issues that have been circling around in MLSs and Associations for a long time. I think the difference is that many groups were simply not listening or taking the conversation as seriously as the tone in which Craig delivered his eloquent presentation of the issues suggests they need to. The issues he outlines are complicated. Some are quite easy to rectify, but many of the issues are based on local tradition, not on sound business logic that considers today’s consumers and the brokers that serve them. I have a theory as to why large brokers believe real estate organizations are in conflict with their business goals. I believe that the industry’s extreme focus on satisfying the perceived needs of agents is getting in the way of progress. When you look at it just about every organization in the industry is agent-centric and not broker-centric. From the National Association of REALTORS® all the way down to a one office brokerage, the needs of agents are considered above all others. Every model depends on agent quantity and not necessarily quality. With that focus comes a lot of dysfunction. Associations and MLSs are well aware that agents and brokers have different perspectives about the industry and yet, in many cases, agents dominate committees, boards and taskforces. They drive decisions that are best for individual agents, but not necessarily the most appropriate or workable for brokerages. In my article called 5 Ways […]

{ 0 comments }

IDX Reboot

by Victor Lund on October 24, 2013

This is a rather obscene notion, but sometimes the best way to innovate is to ask a bunch of questions about the status quo. For brokers and MLSs to innovate, they need to question the effectiveness of IDX. I would not question its value. Rather, I believe that it has uncompromising value to MLS participants and subscribers. I question how we can make it more valuable. Perhaps it is time for a reboot. A reboot is a process where you turn something off and turn it back on to stop routines from running that undermine the operation of the machine. Some Background Here is a little background on how the consumer’s online behavior is measured. This is important to understand because if you don’t, you will take some consumer statistics for facts when they really are not. For example, according to ComScore, 1 in 3 consumers visit the top 3 real estate websites: Zillow.com, Realtor.com; and Trulia.com. The education about this stat is in the statement “according to ComScore.” You see, ComScore only counts using survey data. They put a tracking cookie in a bunch of consumer browsers and watch how they behave. Using a little bit of data, they estimate a lot trends. The second thing that you need to know about ComScore is that they only track the top 100,000 websites in America. That means that they only track a thin number of real estate websites. Only huge broker, franchise, and a couple of MLS consumer sites even get counted. Taken out of context, ComScore data would yield that IDX is useless to most agents and brokers because nobody goes to those websites. That is incorrect. ComScore is not counting IDX sites. In truth, nobody really is. Reboot Idea Number One – Start Counting What is really great about IDX is that permitted use is structured in a way that benefits all participants in the program. There is an agreement. What if that agreement required that you install a tracking code on every site that displays IDX data. You have seen reports from portals about the number of times that a listing appeared in search results and the number of times a listing detail page was viewed. If that data were counted for every IDX site in every MLS across America, I would expect that the total amount of traffic would be very different than what ComScore is […]

{ 2 comments }

Thinking About Regionalizing Your MLS?

by Mike Audet on October 23, 2013

We all know there are too many MLSs in the US. It’s just a fact. MLSs were originally set up according to Board boundaries established by NAR based on market areas that existed many years ago. Times and technology have changed everything. Real estate market areas have expanded far faster then our industry has responded so in many areas of the country we have multiple MLSs serving areas that should logically be served by one. It is hard to argue that cooperation and ultimately consolidation is good for everyone involved in buying and selling real estate. Brokers and agents who work in areas where successful consolidation has taken place now have access to greater territory with a single technology interface. Multiple MLS fees are eliminated. Brokers are able to get data feeds for their true market areas from a single source. MLSs that offer public search sites can now serve a wider group of consumers through a single interface. It all just makes sense yet across the country we see example after example of MLSs that continue to work side by side compete with other MLSs that really should all be combined? The Cause Resistance to consolidation is not only caused by MLS staff afraid of losing their livelihood. This is certainly a factor at times but in many cases it is actually the local brokers who dig their heels in and fight consolidation. Why would they do this if what we said in the previous paragraph is true? Brokers that feel this way believe that opening up their market area through consolidation will unleash a rush of new competition into their area, which will ultimately hurt their business. They basically want to build a wall around their market so they can serve it exclusively. They want to keep the outsiders out. What is not being considered in this thinking, however, is the fact that local market knowledge is always critically important. Just having access to an area through a database doesn’t mean that you are in a position to help people buy or sell in an area. In addition, when boundaries are expanded that means the areas they can work in easily have expanded as well. Most importantly, consumers that need to have broader market information can now work with an agent that has access to the broader area. While there is certainly some truth to the notion that […]

{ 2 comments }

Does Your MLS System Speak In Tongues?

by Victor Lund on September 30, 2013

One of the great attributes about conferences is that they set the stage for product releases. Product Managers, Marketing Staff, Developers, and of course Sales People are always working toward releasing a new feature that stimulates Buzz in the industry. Today’s top press release comes from Discover MLS – the MLS system that speaks in tongues. Discover MLS announced today that their product now includes multi-lingual functionality. This will come as a welcome announcement to our friends in Canada, and around the world. WAV Group has worked on projects for aspiring companies whishing to launch MLS service abroad and the choices for systems that support multiple languages is pretty thin. For most vendors, it requires a lot of extra development and associated costs. “Discover MLS was built from the ground up to support multiple languages,” says Discover MLS President, Bret Wiener. Customers who want to add a language simply fill out and excel spreadsheet with the field translations and that’s it. If you do not have staff to perform this task, Discover MLS has resources that can provide the service to you. I am pretty sure that Discover MLS is the newest company offering an MLS platform. They have been at it since 2010 but have plenty of MLS experience at the company. Launching a MLS software company is a difficult and highly competitive landscape for new companies. There is a chicken and egg battle that goes on when selecting a new vendor. It is a lot easier to pick a vendor that has had success in other markets. This is contrasted against picking a vendor that offers the freshest technologies and features. It has even proven to be difficult for incumbent companies to launch new systems. Simply stated, switching MLS systems is painful. Having said that, if you have a foreign language need, be sure to take a look at Discover MLS, even as a secondary system. The number of Hispanic REALTORS® in America continues to grow. According to NAHREP – Hispanics buy $1.1 Trillion in real estate today and that number is expected to grow by 50% by 2016. Don’t forget that there are two sides to the MLS. The side that faces the agent and the reporting side that agents rely on to publish to consumers. The consumer side of the MLS supporting multi-language may be more important to a growing MLS industry than anything else. If […]

{ 1 comment }

Leveraging The Browser

by Victor Lund on September 25, 2013

Many software solutions used in real estate today are offered as Software as a Service (SaaS), meaning that they are accessed through a browser or, in some cases, a mobile app. For most companies today, being cross browser compliant is about as far as they have gone. Advanced companies, mostly those who have the luxury of products released in the past couple of years, have made their browser-based application “responsive” so as to fit naturally into any screen resolution on any browser. Cloud CMA just came out with a browser Bookmarklet that reminded me how many powerful browser features are not being leveraged. A key objective of any Software as a Service company is to drive user adoption. Reminding the agent that they have access to the software tool and providing the agent with easy access are keynotes of that goal. Depending on your product or the type of organization, you may find many benefits to browser plugins that improve the user experience and accessibility of your application. That is exactly what Cloud CMA has done, and its brilliant! Agents simply drag a bookmarklet to their browser to get started. Then they go about doing what they always do – look up properties in the MLS for their CMA. When they have the MLS list pulled up, they simply hit the Cloud CMA bookmarklet in their browser and those listings are automatically ported into the Cloud CMA. One touch CMA and you are done! I think that in many cases, it makes Cloud CMA easier and faster than the CMA that is installed in many MLSs. Certainly, bookmarklets as illustrated are one browser feature that can increase adoption and ease of use. Beyond that, browsers have strong capabilities for supporting access and security to applications. You have probably noticed this when using a different computer or browser to access Facebook. They will challenge your access. The same access and security challenges happen with many online banking applications, and they often include a text message code layer. Although these security measures may not be stringent enough for protecting access to an MLS system, they are likely to be adequate for protecting against password sharing that many software providers are trying to solve for. Another browser capability that has promise for online applications are notifications. Today, many software solutions have depended on email for notifications, clogging up agent inboxes. Why not use […]

{ 0 comments }

RE Technology Top 5 Articles

by Victor Lund on September 16, 2013

Which Real Estate CRM Should I Use? Are you looking for a real estate CRM? There are so many systems on the market these days that weeding through them is often difficult and time-consuming. We feel your pain! That’s why we want to make it as easy as possible for you to understand what to look for in a real estate CRM.Beyond     Residential: Commercial Agents Can Use RPR, Too! Making the transition to commercial real estate can be challenging for agents who come from a residential background. We recently spoke with Sydney Machat, CCIM, CRE, a veteran small town commercial broker and consultant in Maryland. He shared how RPR helps his real estate practice thrive. A Guide to Paid Online Marketing, Part I A lot of real estate search websites offer opportunities to enhance your listings, or advertise, to attract more buyers. With all of those options how do you decide the best place to enhance your listings? In this two-part article, we’ve put together some questions to consider when exploring online advertising opportunities.  4 Tips to Keep You Safe During REALTOR® Safety Month (and Beyond!) For 10 years, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has provided information and tools to promote REALTOR® Safety during the month of September and throughout the year. Take the time this month to consider how safe – or unsafe – you are as a real estate practitioner during the course of a typical day.  A Look at WebsiteBox’s New Lead Capture App Imagine knowing exactly what your clients are searching for on your website–what types of properties, neighborhoods, and in what price range. With access to data like this, agents could greatly streamline their buyers’ home search process by recommending the properties that best match their needs. WebsiteBox recently released a new add-on that gives agents access to this very information. 

{ 1 comment }

Page 1 of 512345