The Next Best Thing to Being There!
The exhibit hall was very slow Thursday morning, but then the sea of REALTOR® blue T-shirts descended to the trade show in the afternoon after the rally on the Capitol mall.
MLS Executive Session
The session started out with a review of recommendations to change MLS policy, including IDX, lockbox, and issues around seller concessions. It looks like the community has taken Clareity’s recommendation to pass the parts of IDX policy that broaden it from “websites” to “electronic display” (i.e. apps) and deal with short forms of display (though some are entangled with social media questions) but to push off the difficult parts of the policy (social media) until November in order to continue to tune the policy based on community feedback, such as that already provided by Matt Cohen and Brian Larson. During the committee meetings, those recommendations were all affirmed.
Laurie Janik provided a legal update at the MLS Executive Session. NeighborCity‘s formulaic response to various MLS cease and desist letters was a “reach” (to be polite), citing irrelevant cases and claiming fair use. They then asked some MLSs for a license to use the listings and charge broker referral fees. No one went for it. Now Northstar MLS and MRIS have sued. Both cases will proceed, and Laurie seemed optimistic that they would succeed. Then Laurie talked about Getty images. Getty is a stock image company that aggressively policies the licensed use of those images. In one recent case, an agent in Kansas used an unlicensed Getty image as an MLS photo, and that photo was distributed via IDX. Getty contacted the owner of the IDX site, who was unaware of the unlicensed nature of the photo. NAR sample agreements includes participant indemnification of the MLS, but does not currently include indemnification of one participant by another to address this circumstance. Laurie strongly encouraged MLSs to educate agents on copyrighted material licensing and use, so situations like the one described are avoided. Laurie then discussed the case involving First MLS, which was charging an MLS fee to brokers based on a percentage of the value of the property when sold. The plaintiff assertion is that this is a RESPA violation – a hidden settlement fee for which no services are provided, and various additional complaints. The judge dismissed the case against the related associations as well as some of the claims against the MLS, but some claims are still in progress. Laurie discussed the REAL patent, which has now expired so we can expect no new litigation. In the current case against Move, five MLSs, and various others, the plaintiff attempt to obtain class action status was denied, and district court provided summary judgment in favor of the industry. However, the patent owners appealed again. Earthcomber filed a patent suit against NAR, but then withdrew the case – but they still might sue again. Finally, Laurie described an interesting case where, starting in 2007, a broker started putting listings in the MLS on behalf of agents that weren’t MLS subscribers. The broker wouldn’t stop doing this, even after a court found against him and he was found in contempt of court in January of 2012 for continuing the practice. Unbelievably, the broker is still trying to appeal the ruling.
Curt Beardsley from Realtor.com provided an amusing but frightening explanation of how pervasive data screen-scraping really is, and how Realtor.com is using expensive and sophisticated technology as well as legal means to combat those screen-scraping the listings from Realtor.com (i.e. NeighborCity). His point – once Realtor.com makes it difficult enough for the scrapers they will move to other national websites and local websites to obtain MLS data – be warned!
Finally, Bob Bemis, Zillow’s new VP of Industry Relations, explained Zillow‘s recent approach to working with MLSs. Zillow wants to have a direct data feed from MLSs in exchange for certain listing display favors. Zillow’s offer has been thoroughly covered by the real estate press if you want more details.
MLS Issues and Policy Committee
Trade Show Floor
Listhub is excited about the launch of their “Marketing Choices” interface for both MLSs and brokers – they now provide an interactive dashboard for reporting based on date ranges, allowing MLSs to provide better guidance for their members. MLSs can filter publishers based on “no re-syndication” or “timely removal” – or their own criteria. They can designate certain publishers as MLS-preferred based on that criteria, which would then display to all the brokers in their membership as an option, for choice.
Clareity Security arrived at NAR Midyear excited about its new product offerings. SAFE Syndication has steadily gained traction since its introduction last December and is now installed in locations ranging from California to Maine, with more MLS customers being implemented daily. The Clareity Application Store was announced at NAR Midyear as an extension of the SSO portal many Clareity SSO customers have deployed. MLS operators and third party software providers liked the opportunity to marry the proven convenience of Single Sign On identity and access management (SAFEMLS) with the opportunity for agents and brokers to subscribe to or purchase MLS approved products and services with one-click convenience. Clareity Security’s SAFEMLS User Group had record turn out this year and those who attended had a sneak preview of the new Application Store as well as the many planned enhancements to the SAFEMLS system, including a specific solution for mobile users. Clareity Security will be presenting its new App Store at several industry events this summer such as the LPS and Corelogic user groups and the Inman Connect Conference in San Francisco.
Paul Hethmon with MRED’s Jeff Lasky at the Clareity Security booth
CRS Data had a guest speaker from GDA sales training about how agents can increase their sales and income dramatically. CRS is now offering the GDA training modules in its online learning center.
Instanet Solutions, with over 150,000 subscribers to its document and transaction management platform, has some interesting new features in Authentisign – including the counter-offer feature, where transaction participants can mark up documents and have those changes initialed by all signers. Instanet Ink allows users to sign using their mouse on a “regular” computer, or using their finger on a tablet or phone. It looks like Instanet Solutions and the Florida Association of Realtors and its for-profit subsidiary have settled their dispute – but terms are not public. Still, this is good news for all concerned!
Speaking of digital signatures, that was the “hot” category on the tradeshow floor this year. Here are images of just a few of the offerings:
The RAMCO association management system was demonstrated over in the Omni, and Clareity continues to be impressed with the innovative features and flexibility in this new system – we just hope that the team can execute to roll it out smoothly as fast as associations want it and provide the integrations and support needed. So far RAMCO has been installed in 16 accounts. Version 2 just came out recently, including advanced PAC management features and much more. The latest version has just been installed at the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches, FL.
Coolest New Product Name
The Clareity judges awarded a tie between BombBomb and Moo.com.
|BombBomb.com offers video email solutions for agent marketing and newsletters. Their company name reminds me of a good Chuck Norris joke. Chuck Norris once threw a bomb and killed 50 people….and then the bomb went off. HA! BombBomb has been around for awhile, but they are new to real estate. We tried using it after the show and found it’s drop dead simple to use.|
|Moo.com? a printing company? Yep, business cards, custom greeting cards, flyers and the like. MOO, a memorable name, and coveted three character URL. The American Dairy Association was apparently asleep when they failed to jump on this domain name! Moo is a large, global printer and seems to have real estate estate in their field now.|
The Scarf Man didn’t show up this year, and a new company took their spot as the busiest booth. The Aereosole shoe booth was packed all day. If you missed the action, you can still get them at http://www.aerosoles.com
|Listing Book had a clean and modern look to its new booth:||And LPS showed up with a nice updated booth:|
This kick stand for smart phones was popular – a little suction cup makes it compatible with all phones – booth visitors were grabbing them by the handful!
The most innovative technology on the tradeshow floor this year belongs to RPR. The commercial side of RPR now offers an amazing tool to help commercial Realtors help clients pick the best location for their business. Imagine you’re in Charlotte, NC and want to find the best spot for your new BBQ restaurant. RPR would let you create a heat map based on the intersection of demographic and psychographic criteria for income, disposable income, income spent dining out, beer versus wine preference, family size, and even whether there’s a buying preference for beef or chicken – and much more! Then you could drill down to properties for sale and limit those to existing restaurant space. Voila – you’ve got a great starting place for helping your client! In addition to the business location tools, the new RPR commercial system offers users a way to turn the business expenditure data on its side, using it to prospect for the right type of business for a particular location by analyzing demand for services in an area and how many customers are “leaking” from a particular location to go obtain those services elsewhere.
Kristen Carr demonstrating RPR on the tradeshow floor
CoreLogic has now released their new Fusion platform to 57 customers, with the first standalone account (FMLS) going live in April. A lot of Fusion enhancements are on the way this summer in the version 5.6 release, including the new Fusion CMA (a hybrid of MLXchange and TEMPO), an enhanced Fast Find gadget for the post-login page, and a MarketPulse gadget (you’ll have to wait to see this!). The Fusion Experience provides the whole system on the iPad and Android is in beta. The Matrix 6.0 release includes a more powerful map search including new map data layers and quick toggling between map, results, and criteria. Mapping will have an increased role in the new Matrix client portal being released soon. On the InnoVia platform, there are new iPad compatible financial calculators, a new mapping interface with optimized routing and enhanced mobile support, a new open house interface, and the ability to add statistics like absorption rates to market activity and home sold reports. Soon InnoVia customers will see enhanced statistical reports, a new wireless version, a new CMA that lets you add your own documents to the presentation, and RETS enhancements including image tagging and data seeding.
Dynaconnections is going to be including digital signatures from Docusign inside the document management portion of their MLS – this was launched in Chicago the week before the NAR meetings.
FBS is excited about their Spark platform under development, which provides an API for developers to adopt to access MLS data, and plans to provide an e-commerce solution for agents to purchase software and single sign-on for agents to access the software they have purchased.
LPS has been making advancements in Paragon 5, especially in the areas of Client Connect and mobile MLS. Right now on tablet computers, about 65% of MLS functionality – the core features that users have asked for – is already available using the same URL as the regular MLS with no separate download. The rest of the application is coming to the tablet in Q4 2012 for release around the beginning of the year.
Rapattoni has launched a tablet version of Rapattoni MLS with a cool feature allowing users to draw a shape around an area of the map with their finger, to define it for a search. Rapattoni has, based on customer demand, made new enhancements to Magic (not NetMagic) including having screens adapt to expanded resolution, and letting users rearrange and sort column reports, as well as export data from those reports. Rapattoni has a new association website product that integrates their IMS (Internet Member Services) with a CMS (Content Management System). This allows website content to be shown only to relevant customers – for example only brokers would see broker-related content.
The Solid Earth “Spring” MLS system under development provides a responsive design that works on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones without additional download. The first phase of the Spring system will include primarily public-facing functionality as well as a basic agent search and statistics and the initial plan is to implement it in parallel in November 2012 and hopefully the whole system would be done “on the client schedule” TBD.
Stratus rolled out their new interface, which has now been proven for months with their customers. Their new mobile offerings include both a mobile web application, as well as a proprietary app for Apple devices – both offerings provide search functionality as well as access to saved searches and listings and client contacts.
People on the Move
|Person||Old Gig||New Gig|
|Rosemary Scardina||CEO, Lehigh Valley Association (PA)||CEO, East Bay Regional Data Inc (EBRD)|
|Nelson Janes||CEO, Sacramento Assoc. of REALTORS||CEO, Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS|
|Audrey Whittington||Broker Relations, LPS||Broker Relations, Listhub|
|Larry Spencer||VP, Realty TRAC||CEO of the American Taekwondo Association (congratulations to Larry – this is his dream job)|
|John Whitney||Sales Executive, Sentrilock||VP of Industry Relations, Listhub|
|Todd Carpenter||Social Media Director, NAR||Senior Manager of Industry Engagement, Trulia|
|Matt Dollinger||VP of Strategy, @Properties||Head of Industry Relations, Trulia|
|Rob Reid||Vice President Industry Relations, Listhub||Sr. Director Property Data Partnerships, Equifax|
|Jay Thompson||Broker, Thompson’s Realty, Phoenix, AZ||Director of Industry Outreach and Social Media, Zillow|
|Bob Bemis||CEO, ARMLS||Vice President of Partner Relations, Zillow|
|Kirby Slunaker||Interim Chief Operating Officer, Metrolist||President and CEO, Metrolist|
|Matt Consalvo||COO, Arizona Regional MLS||Interim CEO, Arizona Regional MLS|
|Seain Conover||Co-founder and CEO, Tarasoft||Watching waves in Hawaii we suspect!|
|Barry Stafford||CEO, Emerald Coast Assoc. of REALTORS||CEO, Hernando County Association of REALTORS|
|Ryan Conrad||GAD, Lehigh Valley Assoc. of REALTORS||CEO, Lehigh Valley Association of REALTORS|
|James Yockel||Director of MLS and Member Services, Greater Rochester Assoc. of REALTORS||CEO, Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS|
|Dawn Kennedy||CEO, Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association Of REALTORS||CEO, St. Louis Association of REALTORS|
|Sharon Woodbury||CEO, Park City Board of Realtors||Retired|
|Curt Singleton||EO, Northern Wasatch Home Builders Association||CEO, Park City Board of Realtors|
|Cindy Butts||CEO, Maine Association of REALTORS||???|
|Duane Fouts||Associate Broker, HomeSmart Real Estate, Phoenix, AZ and ARMLS Director||Director Partner Relations, Zillow|
Party Round Up
Clareity Security and Instanet Solutions
Clareity Security repeated its mid-year party at Buffalo Billiards, a venue where a large sports bar meets a cool billiards hall. The party started at 9pm and was packed and rocking until after midnight. We had so much fun we’re going back there next year, too! Thank you to Instanet Solutions for co-sponsoring this event where an open bar means wide open! Cassie Clancy from MRIS won the best dressed sports fan award. And for those of you who know Amy is a diehard Broncos fan, you can see why she got Amy’s vote!
SUPRA hosted its annual dance party at the Omni Shoreham and drew a good crowd as usual. Apparently, one guest had a little too much fun. A man was walking down the stairs at the Omni, reportedly returning to the SUPRA party, when he stumbled head first into the wall and left the nice head print below in the wall. We suspect alcohol may have been involved…
It’s a good thing he hit the wall between the studs, or it could have hurt this man a lot more!
Until next year, walk carefully everyone!
Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading the Clareity Mid-Year report!
2013 MLS Workshop Announced in Scottsdale, AZ – Mark Your Calendar
Please consider joining us in Scottsdale, Arizona February 27- March 1, 2013 for Clareity’s 12th Annual MLS Executive Workshop. This MLS Workshop will provide timely updates and address the key issues facing MLS executives and leaders. For more information, please see www.callclareity.com/MLSworkshop/
Founded in 1996, Clareity continually strives to provide our clients a truly independent and unique perspective. Clareity performs a wide array of services including:
- MLS and other technology system selection, contract negotiation, and implementation
- Public speaking
- Strategic planning
- Regionalization facilitation
- Staff audits and compensation studies
- Member/ subscriber surveys
- Information security, IDX and VOW audits
- Software design and testing
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