Around the Trade Show Floor
We’ve seen an increasing number of virtual reality and augmented reality vendors. With Zillow soon to provide an inexpensive tool for creating 3D home tours, we wonder what the competitive marketplace will look like in a few years.
There were a surprising number of old school manual combo lock boxes, rather than Smartlocks or the traditional lockboxes. The combo lockboxes are worrisome because they do not have the security controls and auditability that other lockboxes have, and our industry shouldn’t be stepping backward!
Speaking of showing security, there’s a new player as part of the REach class that provides a wearable alarm system, coupled with a safety app:
ShowPal was interesting – combining showing safety with real-time chat between homebuyers and listing agents.
However, their innovative efforts may be undercut by NAR’s recent investment in TrustStamp and the announcement that it would be offered at no cost to members.
CRT fielded this fabulous sculpture, reflecting its Rosetta Home project for monitoring building health, monitoring for volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, sound and light intensity, air pressure, humidity and temperature, as well as energy efficiency and other factors.
Update from NAR’s New CEO
New NAR CEO, Bob Goldberg, was a big hit with many attendees. His message, that NAR is the “National Association FOR Realtors®” hit home. He talked about opening channels of engagement – listening, establishing an executive outreach program, optimizing and restructuring the organization for better efficiency in serving members, creating a new business in technology group, and involving both leadership and members in evaluating current initiatives and program value.
Bob also talked about expanding Members’ Edge and Brokers’ Edge programs, leveraging social media, creating a member technology conference, implementing a Commitment to Excellence program for members, and creating a think tank to address industry threats. He explained NAR’s initiatives to engage consumers, expanding political advocacy. Finally, he discussed MLS Consolidation as a means to create greater efficiency.
Realtors® MLS Association Executive Session
Brad Bjelke announced that Matt Consalvo would be the 2018 Chair for the group.
Update on MLS Policy Issues (Tom Berge, Jr., 2017 Chair of the NAR Multiple Listing Issues & Policies Committee)
There are four possible recommendations for policy changes, based on broker requests, and there has been a concerted effort to get information about them early. The first recommendation is to expand available sold data available in data feeds to January 2012 to the current date. This would allow brokers to create better AVMs. The second recommendation is to allow for a greater number of results on IDX and VOW searches – 500 listings or 50% of MLS listings, whichever is less. The third recommendation would allow subscribers to complete training such as orientation remotely rather than requiring attendance. The fourth change related to rule 7.42 and 7.43, referred to as “MLS of Choice” or “Mandatory Waiver Policy”. The motion would change existing MLS policy to require MLSs to allow licensees affiliated with a Participant to waive subscription to the MLS. Licensees would certify that they would not access or use the MLS services and they already subscribe to another MLS where the principal broker is a participant. This would allow brokers whose operations span two MLSs to have agents in one area belong to one MLS and to have agents in another market belong just to another MLS. MLSs are concerned about people using services without paying for them. In 7.43 it’s clear that the MLS has the right to require certification from participant and subscriber that they won’t use the services and if they are found to have done so the MLS can both enforce membership and bill backward for services taken. More information is available at https://www.nar.realtor/MLS-Change-FAQ.
MLS Consolidation Toolkit & NAR MLS Liaison Update (Caitlin McCrory, Manager from NAR)
While consolidation is not a NAR mandate, they have compiled consolidation resources over the past year. This is available at https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/policies/mls-consolidation-resources. Note that Clareity is listed on the site as a facilitator for MLSs considering consolidation. Clareity has helped groups of MLSs consolidate and has also helped existing regional MLSs expand, with several efforts currently in progress.
US Copyright Office Changes & Impact on MLS Organizations (Chloe Hecht, Senior Counsel of NAR)
The copyright office alleges no new creative authorship in pending copyright applications. They are asking applicants to point out creativity in the deposit materials and giving them a 20 day deadline to respond or the application would be considered abandoned. This is a major shift from prior practice. NAR had a meeting with the copyright office head of registration, the deputy director of registration, and the visual arts department. The copyright office explained that they had recently revised their policies / compendium, last revised in the ‘80s. During the revision process they questioned whether MLS databases had significant creativity, but they wouldn’t revoke past copyright grants. This question was based on a 1991 Supreme Court Decision, Feist Publications, Inc. V. Rural Telephone Company Co., 449 U.S. 340 (1991). In that case they determined the “spark” of creativity was needed for copyright. Typically the threshold of creativity is very, very low – just a “spark”. Facts have never been copyrightable – but the arrangement of facts have been copyrightable – the selection, coordination, and arrangement choices is protectable. The copyright office was wondering if the MLS database was more like a phone directory (in that Supreme Court case) than different. Obviously, images and creative descriptions are copyrightable. NAR asked the office for a grace period (undefined) during which time the copyright office wouldn’t take action. But as part of that grace period arrangement, the office doesn’t want MLSs contacting the copyright office directly other than to keep filing – they want other communications to go through NAR. MLSs also can’t complain about the copyright office. Updates will be available at www.nar.realtor/topics/copyright.
Peter Shuttleworth MLS Executive Award of Excellence (presented by Chris Carrillo and John Mosey)
John Mosey, who won the award last year, got a standing ovation.This year the award was presented to Art Carter, CEO of the 85,000 subscriber California Regional MLS. Congratulations!!!
CMLS and Best Practices Update (Denee Evans, CEO of CMLS)
CMLS has 203 MLS members representing over 1.2 million subscribers, as well as 60 business partners. The presentations from CMLS 2017 are now up on the website (CMLS.org). Recently CMLS published a paper about the policy changes around section 7.42 and conducted a webinar. CMLS also recently released a white paper “Partnering with data consumers”. CMLS also released the “Home Energy Information Guide” earlier in the year. CMLS has also conducted a CMLS Best Practices survey released during CMLS 2017, and CMLS members can download it from the website. Notably, many MLSs don’t have a succession plan. The best practices documents are available online for anyone – covering legal, finance, Human Resources, technology, marketing, customer service, and leadership. CMLS also had been providing administrative support to REDPLAN for the last 18 months, but now REDPLAN is a part of CMLS and CMLS will be evaluating how to move that effort forward. CMLX1 and CMLXV are online and on-demand. CMLX2 dates will be announced soon, and CMLX3 has been scheduled in 2019. More information is available on the website. Various representatives of CMLS (MLS executives) are going to be on various NAR committees as part of the CMLS/NAR partnership. Last but not least, the “Value of MLS” campaign with the tag line “Making the Market Work” has been going great!
Rule 7.42 and 7.43, the Impact and Analysis (Rick Harris, 2017 Chair of the NAR MLS Emerging Issues & Technology Advisory Board)
This is referred to “MLS of Choice” or “Mandatory Waiver Policy”. The motion would change existing MLS policy to require MLSs to allow licensees affiliated with a Participant to waive subscription to the MLS. Licensees would certify that they would not access or use the MLS services and they already subscribe to another MLS where the principal broker is a participant. This would allow brokers whose operations span two MLSs to have agents in one area belong to one MLS and to have agents in another market belong just to another MLS. MLSs are concerned about people using services without paying for them. In 7.43 it’s clear that the MLS has the right to require certification from participant and subscriber that they won’t use the services and if they are found to have done so the MLS can both enforce membership and bill backward for services taken. There’s a FAQ online explaining many of the details of this change. Under this recommendation MLSs would be required to assess dues and fees based only on those licensees who actually access or use the MLSs services. A question was asked, “How far back can we bill?” There’s no restriction in MLS policy and NAR probably wouldn’t set that policy, but NAR does have a policy about maximum fines ($15,000). A question was asked, “If this were approved how long would MLSs get in gear to monitor this? It takes money and software to detect sharing.” Typical MLS policy becomes effective January 1 the year following approval. There are various ways to monitor for misuse. Agents may report other agents too. Another question was whether this would be an optional or mandatory policy. It’s mandatory. Note that the subscriber and participant MUST demonstrate to the MLS that they qualify for a waiver. More information is available at https://www.nar.realtor/MLS-Change-FAQ.
Debbie Wey explained her MLS’s waiver program and how they attempt to find violations – it would be great if she and others can coordinate (with CMLS?) to create some best practices to help other MLSs establish waiver compliance programs. Her MLS found 147 violations of waiver policy last year! The Clareity sales team was bombarded with requests for information about SafeMLS® PLUS as a means of catching agents sharing logins with others with waivers.
The emerging issues committee also discussed creating a policy about “Coming Soon” listings but determined that it’s best solved at the local level.
MLS Forum and the MLS Issues and Policy Committee
The group watched a video about the 7.42 / 7.43 changes created by Tom Berge Jr., explaining “MLS of Choice”, much as described the previous day at the MLS AE Session. Various attendees spoke in favor of the waiver. Some shared concerns that compliance would be difficult to monitor and that his organization is opposed to it. Some asked that implementation be delayed so details of implementation and compliance could be addressed. A sample waiver was shown – while this is a great starting point, clients are strongly advised NOT TO USE this waiver as-is and to work with us and your attorney to create much more robust waivers. Rachel Weist brought up concerns over teams – where teams will split MLS memberships, with the offer being from broker to broker. Will the subscriber who sells a listing in my MLS get compensation [though waivered]? The issue of teams is a challenge – there are some teams out there that will do that but the business issue can be dealt with in the waiver. It could be shown that the team is using MLS services, and MLSs can bill for that. Quite a number of additional questions were asked and answered – but in the end the original motion passed.
The second motion is to expand sold listings from 3 years minimum of sold data to ALL sold data back to January 1, 2012, at least where such information is publicly accessible. Doris N. from North Carolina spoke in opposition because of the liability to brokerages and MLSs for data going back three years – and this is data that wouldn’t be used in appraisal – is an issue. There are also copyright issues. Cathy Libby also spoke in opposition as well. MLSs are stewards of the data and going back to 2012 and instead of 3 years – what good is 2012 data in 2030? Are we opening another Pandora’s box? Will IDX sites become a one stop shop for bots and data scraping? [A HUGE ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOLLOWED]. The room very clearly did not support this proposal. Later, the committee addressed this second motion, however there were no questions from the committee and the motion carried.
The third motion is to return a greater number of search results to consumers, increasing the IDX and VOW search result minimum limit to 500 listings or 50% of listings in the MLS, whichever is less. There were no comments and the motion carried.
The fourth motion is to require MLSs to provide any mandated orientation or training remotely rather than just via in-person attendance. There were no comments and the motion carried.
Brad Bjelke presented “MLS Governance Reimagined”. Governance can be a barrier to MLS consolidation. Brad wanted to provide an example that may work. His MLS is owned by 3 shareholders. Each nominates 2 directors for ratification by all shareholders. There are no formal committees and the focus is on moving quickly to respond to subscriber needs and marketplace changes. They use focus groups when needed. They make about 500 system and marketplace changes each year. Changes are implemented quickly. “If you can only list a handful of things you got done in the past year, you’re not moving fast enough.”
Jim Imhoff gave an update on the Corporate Ally Program. Support has been amazing, but they need everyone to participate.
2018 MLS Executive Workshop – Register Now!
MLS executives and staff and leadership, please consider joining us in Scottsdale, Arizona February 28 – March 2, 2018 for the 17th Annual MLS Executive Workshop hosted by Clareity. This MLS Workshop will provide timely updates and address the key issues facing MLS executives and leaders. Space is limited – the event sells AND hotel sells out every single year, so please do not delay. For more information and registration, please see our Workshop events page here.
That’s all folks! Thanks for reading our 2017 NAR Meeting and Expo Report!
The above report is provided for informational purposes only. It is based on various notes taken during the NAR event and does not purport to be complete or error free. CoreLogic shall have no liability in connection with any inaccuracies or omissions herein.
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