The Next Best Thing to Being There!
May 29, 2007
- Around the Trade Show
- People on the Move
- Missing Person Report
- “Trooper of the Year” Award
- The MLS Forum Meeting
- The NAR Director’s Meeting
- SSO Update
- MLS Software Update
- Information Security Update
- Suggestions for Improvement
Around the Trade Show
Best Booth – GE Security
GE Security went with a Tiki Bar island theme for its booth this year and made me wish I had a Tommy Bahama shirt along. For those that remember, a few years ago I was a tad critical of GE’s “diner” booth and red “bowling shirts”, but GE has become a cooler company since then, and its Tiki-booth was the favorite of many people I spoke to in DC. They also tied in the island theme for their big party and gave some lucky person a free vacation. Mahalo, GE. Next time, can you see if NAR will let you serve Mai Tais? Walking by your booth kept making me thirsty!
Best Booth Babes
Spectrus Real Estate Group, a 1031 Exchange Company, had an Austin Powers impersonator and his “Shagadelic Chicks” hosting an hourly game show. The girls in 1960’s mini-skirts and orange boots were Groooovy, baby!
This year the best SWAG was in liquid form. Navica MLS hosted a Martini Bar on the Trade show floor one afternoon, and that was better than the usual swag and tchotchkes.
$10 pure Cashmere scarves from “The Scarf Man.” The scarf dude was busy again.
Best Party – MarketLinx
Kim McClean planned what might have been the best party in DC – ever. MarketLinx hosted a party at what used to be Teddy Roosevelt’s house and is now a very cool three-level night club with a large second floor deck. The outdoor deck came in handy because this party had a Cuban theme with a guy hand rolling cigars – and freshly made Mojitos – two of my favorite things. The party had close to 1000 people come through it and Teddy’s old mansion was rocking. The bar opened up its doors to the public at 11pm and the local, younger, and quite possibly hipper regular customers came in to a happy and well lubricated group of NAR attendees.
Kim McClean (left), future NAR
Hall of Fame Party Planner
, Director of Government Affairs|
SEVAR, Mesa, AZ
Troy Rech, VP Sales, Clareity Security and Ed Carr, Executive Officer, Hernando County Association of Realtors
Fidelity hosted a party at Lima, a popular three-story night club in DC, and they had the best food of any party, including 4-star prime rib and some other over-the-top food for a party. The party also deserves runner-up status for best party because the dance floor was hopping and Lima had a wonderful ambience and the bartenders were HOT. Fidelity also deserves credit for showing the design process for its new Paragon 4 MLS System via a running loop video that was very clever and fun to watch
The “Moe Town” party at the Marriott had the best music in DC this year and I was glad I stumbled in by accident. I’m sure the live band has another name, but the party was named Moe Town because it was hosted by Moe Veissi, a past president of the Florida Association of Realtors who is running for NAR president in the future. The band played many classic Motown hits and had four or five different vocalists that did an incredible cover band performance of Motown’s best songs. Good luck, Moe! You throw a good party.
Oliver Frascona, the Association Attorney from Boulder, CO. If you’ve seen the size of that thing, it’s a tough mustache to beat! When not waxing his handlebars, Oliver is a very entertaining speaker on real estate legal issues, too.
People on the Move
|Person||Old Gig||New Gig|
(old MLS dude)
|President, Visient||EVP, Listing Book, back w/ old sidekick Todd Colthorp|
|Bob Rucker||CEO, ARMLS (Greater Phoenix Metro Area)||Leaving Jan. 2008 to pursue other opportunities|
|Jack Johnson||CEO, NWMLS (Seattle and much of Washingon)||Retirement – golf and grandkids|
|Rita Johnson||CEO, TREND (Philadelphia and NJ)||Retirement – grandkids, move to South Dakota, and part-time consulting|
|Adrianne Walker-Bailey||Customer Support Manager, Rapattoni MLS and Magic Association Mgt.||Unknown – resigned the week before NAR Midyear|
|Rich Igou||User Interface Designer, Rapattoni MLS||Founder Concentric Software (next generation MLS system)|
|Warren Andrich||Product Manager for Rapattoni Lockbox & USB Secure Logon||Business Development Manager, Clareity Security|
|Todd Costigan||NAR’s CRT||MarketLinx – Product Manager for MMSI Association Mgt. System|
|Jack Best||RMLS (West Palm Beach)||CEO, WARDEX (new regional MLS in AZ)|
|Robert Sadler||GLVAR (Las Vegas)||Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches|
|Toni Parker||AE, Bullhead City, AZ||AE, Outer Banks, NC Association (this beach lover is loving her new gig)|
|Anthony Sands||MLS Director, Park City, Utah MLS||Listing Book – sales|
|Ken Duke||CFO for a Commercial Real Estate Brokerage||CEO of MREIS, Maine Statewide MLS|
|Blanche Evans||Realty Times Writer/Editor (she’s still doing that, but now she is also…)||Having a blast public speaking about “The conspiracy to put Realtors out of business” – and what Realtors can do about it! Hire Blanche if you want a fresh, new speaker and a pretty interesting topic|
|Mark Lesswing||VP of Center for Realtor Technology (CRT)||Promoted to CTO of NAR|
|Errol Samuelson||President of Top Producer||Promoted to President of Realtor.com|
|Allan Dalton||President of Realtor.com||Working on Top Secret Project (TSP) for Move.com|
|David Lereah||Chief Economist of NAR||Working with Allan Dalton on BFD TSP for Move.com – possibly a real estate financial indicator or index and reports/analytics to sell to Wall Street and lender/finserv market?|
|Tom Hurdelbrink||Vice President, REBS Operation, California Association of REALTORS||CEO, Northwest MLS|
|Judith Lindenau||AE, Traverse Area Association Of Realtors||Retiring from MLS this September – soon doing some coaching, consulting and also contract work for the International Real Property Foundation in Georgia (the one in Asia)|
Missing Person Report
|Jim Naccarato||CEO, WFRMLS (Salt Lake City and much of Utah)||Unexpected exit. Golf, fly fishing, and grand kids, or will Jim reappear?|
|Bryan Forman||EVP, MarketLinx and President of MLS Solutions Division, MarketLinx||Attended son’s graduation from college in Texas – and likes new, improved cash flow at home|
|Mike Wurzer||CEO, FBS Data Systems||Father-in-law passed away in tragic accident – our prayers and condolences to the Wurzer family|
“Trooper of the Year” Award
Patti Manders, a petite GE Security staff person was riding down an escalator at the airport on her way to DC and some guy behind her fell down and landed on her leg and broke it! Rather than go home, Patti had a cast put on her leg and came to the DC show and did her booth duty and other work from a wheel chair. So if any of you were whining about having a bad flight to DC, or sore feet from too much walking or standing, realize that Patti Manders just raised the bar for being a convention trooper!
The MLS Forum Meeting
Laurie Janik, NAR’s chief legal counsel provided an update on the DOJ situation and the mapping patent law suit. NAR continues to provide legal funding for the mapping patent lawsuit at TREND. There were no major changes in MLS rules this year.
The NAR Director’s Meeting
The directors voted to raise NAR’s annual membership dues to $80.00. NAR plans to use some of the extra cash it will receive to create a federally charted credit union for its members and create a technology investment group to help increase the development of new technology for Realtors.
There was a lot of buzz in DC around Single Sign-On (SSO) – the ability for a user to go from one system to another without logging in again. Clareity’s technical staff had several meetings with vendors and MLS executives regarding SSO.
Early last year Clareity Consulting coordinated a meeting with many major players – including the best and brightest from the worlds of MLS, TMS, title, franchise, standards groups and national associations to coordinate the SSO effort. The group agreed to use the SAML 2.0 standard to cooperate on SSO rather than using proprietary methods tools and charged Clareity with coordinating the cooperative effort through NAR by publishing a “reference implementation”.
NAR funded Clareity Security to write a free SAML 2.0 reference implementation, the source code for which would be freely available and become part of RETS. This effort is now in its last stages of fine-tuning and documentation, is being reviewed and collaborated on by several of the major vendors, and will be available for free through NAR/CRT soon – watch for the announcement. Educational sessions on deploying SSO via RETS will be held this summer.
It’s one thing to have Single Sign-On technology, but there are many other issues besides the technology that must also be addressed and agreed upon before SSO can be safely deployed. These issues are being addressed by the vendors and industry leaders participating in the cooperative SSO initiative.
MLS Software Update
Fidelity MLS Solutions
Fidelity showed off the beautiful new Paragon 4 MLS interface. Users will surely love the attractive new look, excellent navigation and ability to easily customize the views, search and reports. Having this new look on top of the robust functionality that has always been Paragon’s strength is very compelling. Fidelity continues to integrate solutions into the Paragon system, including Hi-Fi Voice Technology (Alert and Search), PinPoint 2 Mapping and Integrated Tax Records, Transaction Point, eMarketer & eAdWriter tools, SAFEMLS Security, Multiple Showing Solutions, GetMediaNow! Print Solutions, Paragon WiFi, Paragon Mobile, and IDX SmartFraming.
Virtual Earth (going to deploy for all customers). Improved CRM – including tasks and reminders with an ‘Outlook’ feel. Recently completed installation of bi-lingual MLS software in Montreal.
Unique: Built-in showing management with a consumer feedback component. Sponsored a nice martini party.
Private Client Services (PCS) – a web site for each consumer that the Realtor can use to engage them. Their software makes it easy to maintain multiple property lists and has a wicked cool drag-and-drop interface for pulling listings from various searches into different lists – hard to describe – this one has to be seen.
Mapping update – A new polygon selection tool allows agents to search within irregular geographic areas easily; radius searches can now be performed with or without a map; and new aerial and hybrid views allow the agent to make a selection on an aerial image, street map, or a combined aerial image with streets overlaid.
Google Earth integration. Providing consumer-facing CMA, hotsheets – not just the listings but real market intelligence. Their regression analysis AVM, including predicted marketing time for property if listed in suggested price ranges – is HOT, HOT, HOT!
FBS Data Systems – flexmls
FBS used MapServer to create home-grown mapping engine – allowing for heat maps, custom layers – really next-gen mapping stuff.
Technology Concepts, Inc. – MyPlace Connection
Real-time buyer preference indexing – using customer saved searchs and favorite listings to create ‘marketability index’ for subject property. They can create a demand curve for similar properties (how long similar properties have stayed on market at a given price) – NEATO feature! Also new: collaborative webspaces for agents and clients.
MarketLinx (formerly First American MLS Solutions) – Has three MLS platforms: MLXchange, TEMPO and Innovia, plus other products including MLS Wireless, MLS Data Checker, GIS Service, Transaction Manager, and Membership Director. Broker products include: Lucero Summit, Agent Achieve, and Transaction Manager.
MarketLinx – InnoVia
Prospect PRO – a real-time prospect portal, complete with branding capabilities, activity tracking, schedule a showing, and other collaboration features. Buyer Match – reverse prospecting module. Wireless InnoVia – real-time wireless MLS access via smart phones and wireless PDAs.
MarketLinx – MLXchange
Added scores of enhancements, including identity sharing for assistants and teams, a session tracker that remembers your place in case you need to log in again due to inactivity, spell-checking, fax-in of listing attachments, and enhanced image management including the ability to reorder and add comments to images. MLX Professional now includes action plans for automating scheduling of prospecting, listing and transaction tasks, synchronization of clients, tasks and appointments with MS Outlook, password-protected client page login, property list collaboration, a listing hit counter – showing how many times the listing has been viewed via IDX search, and many new website templates.
MarketLinx – Tempo
Added new icon based navigation as well as a new Open House module, and an updated Search module to match it is coming soon. Tempo customers can also look forward to more frequent (quarterly) mapping updates. Both MLXchange and Tempo products are moving this Fall onto a single shared platform to provide the best features of each product to all customers. Both will include Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping.
Information Security Update
One of the country’s largest Association’s public web site was “hacked” a week before the DC meetings and the site became inoperable. Matt Cohen, Clareity Consulting’s CTO, was called in to help regain control of the web site. Clareity Consulting performs Information Security Assessments to help prevent such events. Is your Association or MLS protecting its information properly? For more information on Clareity’s Security Assessments please visit the Clareity Consulting web site: http://www.CallClareity.com or send Matt and email and he can send you more details – Matt.Cohen@CallClareity.com.
Suggestions for Improvement
My number one complaint this year was that the Marriott Wardman turned its lobby bar area into a restaurant and took away the best meeting spot and place to hang out during the show. The lobby bar area was a virtual “office” for a lot of people for the last 20 years. I heard a few other lounge lizards grousing about the bar disappearing as well. The Omni lobby bar is now the place to be for a late night drink, and it was packed every night – and it’s a great bar except for the ancient union bartenders that are slow to pour a drink and always crotchety no matter how much you tip them!
An idea for NAR to consider next year is to add video recording and web play back for as many sessions as possible. We heard from a couple of executives from smaller Associations/MLSs that came to the meetings solo that it was tough to choose between going to an Association-oriented session and an MLS-oriented session. I personally wanted to see Saul Klein’s Technology Forum and John Featherston’s Power Broker Session but they were at the same time, and wished I could have “Tivoed” one of them.
Well, that’s it for this year. Thanks for reading my report. Please see the announcement below about Clareity’s 2008 Workshop in Scottsdale.
2008 MLS Workshop Announced in Scottsdale, AZ
Please consider joining us in Scottsdale, Arizona March 5-7, 2008 for Clareity’s Seventh Annual MLS Executive Workshop. This MLS Workshop will provide timely updates and address the key issues facing MLS executives and leaders.
Founded in 1996, Clareity continually strives to provide our clients a truly independent and unique perspective. Clareity has successfully executed a vast array of consulting projects for our clients, related to:
- Executive and technical staff recruiting
- MLS System Selection and Implementation
- Transaction Management System (TMS) Selection
- Information Security Assessments
- Business Continuity Planning
- Public Records Request for Proposal (RFP)
- Software design, quality assurance and scalability testing
- Contract negotiation
- Public speaking
- Member/Subscriber Surveys
- Focus groups
- Expert witness
- Project and Program Management
- Regionalization facilitation
- Staff audits and compensation studies
- Strategic planning
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