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MLS Policy Forum
The hottest topic regarding MLS Policy this year was “Broker AVMs”.
The history behind this recent change began when participants that wanted to develop their own AVMs approached NAR in fall of 2013 regarding use of MLS information. Based on their understanding of policy, staff agreed. Policy states that MLS is a facility for participants to develop “appraisals, analyses and other valuations of real property.” But some MLSs prohibit participants from using feeds to develop AVMs and some MLS feeds are inadequate for AVMs. The MLS committee had never considered whether this was okay and NAR policy does not mandate what information MLSs must compile and distribute. So, it was unclear if NAR MLS policy required MLSs to supply participants with data for use to create AVMs. In January 2014, the Realty Alliance letter provided a letter to the committee in support of AVM use. Clareity also wrote up its own paper on the subject, including the Realty Alliance letter and the proposed policy change language (https://clareity.com/broker-avm-exploring-the-controversy/).
During the meeting, there were both calls not to restrict brokers from competing in the AVM space, both in terms of selling AVMs to financial institutions and displaying AVMs on their sites, as the advertising portals already do. There were also some impassioned pleas from attendees from non-disclosure states not to require a data feed which could violate their non-disclosure practices.
In the end, several minor amendments were made and passed, including one specifying that participants may only use “a reasonable amount of information” to support valuations and that MLSs may provide the information “subject to a third-party license agreement”. In Clareity’s opinion, ideally the policy could have gone farther to define what could be provided as an “AVM” (not just in terms of what is “reasonable”, but more specifically addressing the non-disclosure state concerns) and who exactly is a “legitimate customer” for such a usage. However, this may be addressed by individual MLSs in their data license agreements.
While those participating in the policy process are doing an excellent job, Clareity would like to suggest that perhaps the process itself could be improved to reduce the need for “on the fly” amendments and changes to policy. Trying to make last minute changes in the MLS Policy session can result in less-than-thoroughly-considered changes being adopted. We would like to see the process improved to include much earlier visible milestones for drafts and iteration including both committee and community commentary periods. If the community could provide feedback on the policy draft a few months before the big meeting, and then again on a second version incorporating that feedback a month before the big meeting, what comes before the committee could be a more mature work product. It is non-optimal for the community to first see the proposed policy 2-3 weeks before the meeting. Frankly, there shouldn’t be any issues unaccounted for and that require first expression when it’s time for the final meeting.
The MLS Issues and Policies Committee also discussed MLS Policy Statement 7.57, categorization of MLS Services, Information and Products. Though at previous meetings there was some controversy over additions to the categorization of some services, no changes were made to that policy at this years’ meeting.
MLS Executive Session
NAR is trying to jump start the consolidation of small associations by providing financial assistance for mergers and related legal/consulting expenses and establishing mandatory core standards developed by a Presidential Advisory Group. At a high level, the requirements cover the following areas: Code of Ethics enforcement and education, advocacy, consumer outreach, support of the REALTOR® organization, technology, and financial solvency. For much more detail on these core standards, see: http://www.realtor.org/articles/mandatory-core-standards-for-local-associations
In Clareity’s opinion, the bar for technology is very, very low, including:
- Having an interactive website including: a) active links to professional standards information and enforcement resources and b) create active links between local, state, and national websites.
- Utilization of email or internet based member communication.
But, perhaps this year’s standards will just be a starting point and the bar can be raised in future years.
Trade Show Floor
As always, the trade show floor had much to see and many new products this year.
Updater was one of those new products – a simple but smart concept. It’s $149/year for a branded agent website to which agents can send all of their clients. There, clients can update accounts and subscriptions, file the official USPS form, connect cable and utilities and complete moving-related tasks. Updater was part of the NAR’s REach® 2013 group, and are currently closing their series A financing.
We’re in an industry where email is important – remember: now it’s even mandatory for associations to use email! Rackspace, a hosting leader, is now part of NAR’s benefits program and is providing discounted email and SharePoint (file hosting) pricing for NAR members. For more information, see: http://www.realtor.org/programs/realtor-benefits-program/technology-services/rackspace
Another new product worthy of mention is Homesnap, one of the most talked about new mobile apps. What originally started as an internal app for Washington D.C. based Sawbuck Realty, has turned into a nifty tool for consumers and agents alike. Even MLSs are noticing the intrinsic value that this app has to offer; notably MRIS, which recently announced a partnership for Homesnap’s “professional” version, Homesnap Pro. So what’s all the excitement about? Well, in short, you can snap a picture of any home and get instant, in-depth, MLS data about that home; right to your mobile device. Homesnap Pro allows agents to take a deeper dive into specific neighborhood data, recent sales, confidential MLS data and comparable properties. The app also encourages on-the-go collaboration with clients, and one very cool product differentiators is a rapid CMA report, which enables the creation of a great looking CMA from your phone and email a robust CMA PDF to a consumer in a snap. We were thoroughly impressed with how Homesnap turns multiple new layers of data into a fun and friendly real estate experience.
Now here’s the fun part. Homesnap announced its new deal with MRIS and the local Washington Post picked up the story. MRIS is providing the “Pro” version to there members as part of it base subscription, but there is also a custom broker branded that is optional. Apparently the Post reporter asked Homesnap for the total dollar value of the MRIS contract, and Homesnap, honestly not knowing how many brokers will pay extra to custom brand it, declined to answer that question. The reporter (who we don’t think understood the terms of the deal exactly) did his own calculation. The article said the value of the deal was worth up to $15 million per year for Homesnap based upon MRIS’ 44,000 members. We suspect the contract is worth substantially less than that, but still, what a large deal for Homesnap!
BLACK KNIGHT FINANCIAL SERVICES the new owners of the PARAGON MLS system sported a new booth up front by the main entrance to the Expo. The exhibit was well designed and a fresh face for Paragon and its new parent company.
For the many that wonder how they came up with the name “Black Knight”, it’s a reference to West Point which is the founder, Bill Foley’s, alma matter.
The Clareity App Store had a presence all over the expo floor with it’s “We are here!” signs. Various partners associated with the Store or products available in the Store, all hosted signs at their booths including Corelogic, GeoJet, Instanet and more.
Honestly, lions are not available for sale in the Store, but we thought it made a great picture!
Clareity’s SSO Dashboard was also a hit at the show. Hear what Adrese Roundtree had to say about CRMLS shareholder association’s Dashboards:
Ironically enough, the busiest booth on the expo floor had nothing to do with real estate … but if the shoe fits.
Coolest Dudes at the Show
Kevin Hughes with Three Amigos
MLS Round Up
Clareity wasn’t going to do an MLS roundup at the midyear meetings, but a few providers sent us some great info and put out some press releases, so we’re going to go ahead and share:
CoreLogic has been busy making big updates and creating new products. In the past 60 days, CoreLogic has brought on 31 new people to support the explosion of Matrix client activity and plans to hire more as soon as possible. The new Matrix 6.7 was launched this spring bringing multiple CMA enhancements, new hot-sheet options, and many reverse prospecting enhancements. Lot dimensions and total lot size can now be viewed on a parcel map.
CoreLogic also released new versions of GoMLS, which provided a major UI refresh across both iOS and Android versions making the apps more consistent between platforms. New roadmap items for the mobile apps include editing listing information and photos and an improved hotsheet.
CoreLogic recently rolled out “ePropertyExtra,” a new loyalty and rewards program for real estate agents and their customers providing significant discounts from national and local brands. This product will act as a “customer-for-life” drip-marketing tool for agents. CoreLogic’s first deployment was launched with Berkshire Hathaway’s Fox and Roach, REALTORS® (formerly Prudential Fox and Roach), and its Trident Group – the national and perennial leader for mortgage and title “capture” rates that proved success in delivering the holy grail of “One-Stop” shopping and convenience in closing services for consumers. Initial customer response has been very positive.
CoreLogic also officially launched a brand new version of “ePropertyWatch,” an intelligent e-marketing solution for agents leveraging “all of CoreLogic’s data assets to provide homeowners with rich property information and automated updates.” ePropertyWatch provides the same, and in some areas, superior property information over leading consumer websites. For example, CoreLogic leverages its mortgage information to show debt, equity and change in value, which is very cool and valuable to agents trying to assess a property or seller/listing lead.
FBS’s iPhone release was another exciting announcement. Flexmls for iPhone is now available in the iTunes App Store. Although the App is new, we reviewed numerous comments that indicated Flexmls users were thrilled to have the new iPhone app. According to the FBS website, “This new app focuses on bringing the Flexmls listing search to the iPhone for our customers. Search is the foundation of the MLS experience and we’ve worked hard to bring a full-featured and easy-to-use search experience to our users with this new application. We hope you find it valuable.” From the online reviews, It appears the FBS customers are loving it!
Black Knight made several announcements surrounding NAR including multiple new partnerships. Four Realtor/MLS organizations have recently selected Black Knight’s Paragon MLS system. These include the Realtor Association of the Sioux Empire, Inc., the St. Augustine & St. Johns County MLS, Inc., the Charlottesville (VA) Area Association of Realtors and Triangle MLS, Inc. (NC).
There’s also a HUGE win on the horizon, but there’s no official PR out about it yet, so we won’t steal their thunder.
Party Round Up
The Clareity crew was so busy in DC that we almost skipped the party scene this year (let’s just say we went light this year and adhered to our company conference policy: “nothing good happens after midnight.”) We seriously buckled down and partied less than normal due to our packed schedules that included meetings with lots of consulting clients as well as 100+ presentations on the SSO Dashboards, Store and SAFEMLS upgrade by the Clareity Security team.
The Clareity partners will discuss and consider extending the company’s midnight curfew in Na’Awlins in November, since nothing fun starts there until after dark!
Thanks to Instanet, ListHub, RETechnology and Supra for inviting us to your awesome parties in DC.
REDPLAN, a non-profit organization founded to protect MLS data and real estate intellectual property rights, hosted its first annual member reception on Wednesday night. Attendees came and some even brought their attorneys to hear REDPLAN’s latest updates and accomplishments. REDPLAN’s Administrator, Darity Wesley, announced the progress REDPLAN has made during its first year in recruiting new charter members and creating IP protection awareness. Those interested in REDPLAN learned more about the organization and member benefits. The organization plans to host another reception at the NAR convention in New Orleans. For more information about REDPLAN, visit red-plan.org or email Wesley at Darity@red-plan.org.
People on the Move
|Person||Old Gig||New Gig|
|John Whitney||VP of Industry Relations, Listhub||Director of Business Development,Trulia|
|Errol Samuelson||Chief Strategy Officer, Move, Inc.||Chief Industry Development Officer,Zillow|
|Curt Beardsley||EVP Industry Development, Move, Inc.||VP of Industry Development, Zillow|
|Terry Fitzpatrick||Regional Account Manager, CoreLogic||Director of Digital Tools and Services, Latter & Blum Inc., REALTORS© (a large brokerage in New Orleans)|
|Wes Wiggins||CEO, South Florida MLS||CEO, Jupiter Tequesta Hobe SoundAssociation of REALTORS|
|Kevin Wolfe||VP of Sales, Rapattoni||Retired (Again?)|
|Brian Young||Sales Representative, Rapattoni||Director of Sales, Rapattoni|
|Terry Penza||CEO, Realtor Assoc. of GreaterFort Myers and the Beaches||Director of Network Membership,REAL Trends|
|Rob Overman||CTO, ShowingTime||CTO, Lone Wolf Technologies (Rob’s working for the Big Canadian Dog now!)|
|Luke Glass||VP and General Manager, Listhub||EVP of Industry Platforms,Move, Inc.|
|Michael Kane||Chief of Staff, Move, Inc.||Senior VP of SaaS, Move, Inc.|
|Celeste Starchild||VP Sales and Marketing, Listhub (and Clareity Security Alumna)||VP and General Manager, Listhub (Congratulations, Celeste!!)|
That’s all folks! Thanks for reading our 2014 NAR REALTOR® PARTY and Expo Report!
2015 MLS Workshop Announced in Scottsdale – Save the Date!
Please consider joining us in Scottsdale, Arizona February 25- February 27, 2015 for Clareity’s 14th Annual MLS Executive Workshop. This workshop will provide timely updates and address the key issues facing MLS and Association executives and leaders. For more information, please see https://clareity.com/events/ – registration will open later this summer.
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