San Diego is always one of our favorite cities for NAR meetings. Everything is close together: the airport, convention center, hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and beautiful views over the water. Of course there was still a lot of walking to be done, unless you opted for a fancy, pimped-out pedicab!
Airport Welcome – In Your Face!
Realtor.com came out swinging with “welcome signs” in the San Diego baggage claim. Matt even observed the reaction of a few Zillow employees when they saw these displays. Let’s just say we can’t print what was said! News Corp says… #NoMoreMrNiceGuy
The Tradeshow… Always Fun
There were three knockout booths on the tradeshow floor this year – in no particular order:
CoreLogic employees engaged in some flash-mob dance antics that were super-high energy, to the theme of “Our House” (in the middle of our street) – sadly, only a few times during the show – but what a hoot!
Relola, a new listing advertising site, went all out with unicorns and rainbows and balloons – it was unbelievably festive. We’re not sure how the site’s main schtick – having agents comment on each other’s listings – is going to go over, but the booth was very cute.
For non-stop action on the tradeshow floor, the hottest ticket in town was over at W&R Studios. They had a promotion to win free software and other prizes by beating their guy, Karl – who went 81 and 4!
Also, Placester’s booth was hopping busy on Monday morning when many booths were empty. They must be doing good things for agent websites!
Serious Stuff on the Tradeshow Floor
Solid Earth showed that they had completely pivoted away from being an MLS vendor. There was nothing MLS on display in their booth – only their “Spring” websites. They’ve been very successful with those sites, launching sites in San Diego, Baton Rouge, Franklin & Gulf Counties, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Indianapolis, Panama City, and Dallas, plus Mobile and NW Mississippi coming soon. Many MLSs are looking at Solid Earth as a candidate for their MLS public-facing site.
The “It’s My Business” campaign, sponsored by the California Regional MLS (CRMLS), is working to eliminate the political and historical hurdles that prevent more than half of the 55 MLSs in California today from sharing data with each other. The group also continues to push toward the ultimate vision of a statewide California MLS. Below, Patty Conner (CRMLS’s Chief Administrative Officer) holds a postcard that those on the tradeshow floor can send to their MLS to encourage participation in the effort.
Combined LA/Westside Multiple Listing Service (CLAW MLS) out of Beverly Hills is offering its “MLS Plus” MLS system as an option for other MLSs – not just those in geographic proximity to it. The interface looks very clean and attractive, and it’s mobile-friendly too. This core system is integrated with many popular products to extend its capability, including Cloud CMA, 10K Infosparks, RPR, Homesnap Pro, Cloud Streams, Realist and more. Clareity hasn’t had the opportunity to fully review the brand-new system yet, but we wish Annie Ives and her team all the best with this endeavor. If you wish us to include this offering in your next MLS RFP process, please let us know.
Clareity Security has delivered on its promise of usability, performance and new features with the Version 3.0 Single Sign On dashboard. After working with well known UI/UX firm – The Iteration Group – for several months, Version 3.0 began rolling out to customers in October. Over a dozen customers have already received the Version 3.0 upgrade with most scheduled to receive it before the end of 2015. The new dashboard includes several new features such as: Notifications, empowering MLSs and associations to provide very highly targeted communications to members; Assume ID, which allows a user to login as themselves and assume the identity of another user at the SSO dashboard level. Many MLS systems offer this feature but Clareity customers identified the need for this service across all applications – not just the MLS system. There’s also the Local Sponsorship Module, enabling MLS or Associations to provide advertising opportunities to their local affiliates either as a member benefit or to generate non dues revenue and the Discover Module, allowing MLS or Associations to expose their members to additional products and services including discounted services and free trials.
Housefax launched its professional subscription offering at NAR this past week. The Housefax Property History Report provides data on potentially detrimental property issues upfront, before an offer is placed on a home. The report includes historical property data such as property details, voluntary liens, storm data, natural hazards, permit and contractor history, incident history, and more. The new Housefax Pro subscription service allows real estate industry professionals to order and share reports, add customized comments to each report, and deliver the report via email to clients. According to Housefax, Over 800 Agents previewed the product at the Housefax booth. Learn more at housefax.com/professional/about
Black Knight is launching its new Client Connect Version 2. Based on a mobile-responsive design, Client Connect 2 introduces a consumer-friendly, interactive dashboard. Clients can interact with a number of property views, including an interactive map, letting agents easily know which properties are their favorites. Clients can run searches via a very familiar, consumer-oriented map interface. Complete with map clustering and other navigation map tools, clients can quickly filter based on additional criteria via a mobile/tablet friendly interface, complete with finger draw, sliders, autocomplete features, and intuitive buttons. Clients can also work with their property matches, by scheduling a showing, emailing a listing, sharing via social media, and creating driving directions. The new interface has an integrated Property Detail Page that lets the client swipe through photos, communicate with the agent, and cruise through an enormous amount of professional integrated content, seeing information important to the client about the property, neighborhood, schools, and much more.
The need to create autonomy within the MLS at the association / board level is shaping the future of multiple listing services as organizations, as they consolidate or cooperate. Black Knight’s Board MLS Autonomy feature allows for differentiation at the association level, inside a regional MLS. It includes board level branding and messaging within the MLS as well as board-level customization of field rules, data and reports. Field rules can apply to one or more Boards, and there can be Board-exclusive listings or listings can be shared across multiple Boards. Boards can create unique report views and fields can be made available for individual boards. Boards can also define their own third party integrations, and each board has its own admin features and can set unique default settings for its members.
CoreLogic has recently rolled out several new features for Matrix 6.12, including:
- Improved Market Watch Navigation
- INRIX Drive Time™ map search (optional for fee)
- Client Portal enhancements:
- Side-by-side map/listing display
- Larger portal header images
- Colored “sashes” added to images (e.g., “New Listing,” “Price Reduced,” etc.)
Many more new features are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2016, including a built-in Listing Data Checker widget on the Matrix home page and support for Coming Soon and other types of “pre-MLS” listings. CoreLogic will also be deploying a pilot release of Matrix 360, which combines on a single platform for the first time CoreLogic’s flagship listing management (Matrix) and enhanced property information and mapping services (Realist).
CoreLogic is launching new GoMLS mobile app features that provide deeper integration with both Realist and Matrix. Direct authorization provides new, seamless integration with Realist, giving GoMLS users the ability to search and view public record property information, view parcel boundary overlays on GoMLS maps, perform a comps search, and more. GoMLS clients who use Matrix can now directly access reports and listing documents stored in Matrix, synchronize contacts and listings of interest between GoMLS and Matrix, and edit their listings in Matrix, including price, status, and remarks.
CoreLogic is in the process of deploying to InnoVia customers its redesigned Listing Input module, as well as a new hi-res photo viewer. CoreLogic is also beginning to migrate InnoVia installations to Amazon Web Services.
CoreLogic has signed a new distribution agreement with Instanet Solutions and will offer the entire Instanet Solutions suite to its MLS and broker clients. CoreLogic will also provide InstanetOffers, a new marketing solution for agents and brokers, to its multiple listing platform clients at no cost. For more information, see http://www.corelogic.com/about-us/news/corelogic-signs-distribution-agreement-with-instanet-solutions.aspx
CoreLogic’s new Trestle service is open to any MLS looking to achieve RESO certification. At zero cost to its MLS partners, CoreLogic has already helped 36 organizations achieve RESO 1.4 bronze-level certification, and is in the process of helping another 79 organizations do the same. With Trestle, MLSs and brokers will have simple but fine-grained control of RESO-certified listing distribution via RETS and a Web API, making it easy for authorized recipients to focus on innovation. Trestle will also provide access to optional public records, automated valuation, and analytic property information, creating a one-stop shop for content-rich broker websites and apps.
FBS is providing a variety of enhancements to customers this year, including a mobile app that enables consumers who are working with a Flexmls user (the agent) to download an app and engage in the home search. It provides enhanced collaboration with the agent; the design is consistent with the agent’s own app. Most recently, FBS has been working on some system speed improvements, making email subscriptions “opt-in” in order to improve delivery rates, and using clustering to help display large number of listings on a map, as pictured below:
dynaConnections has upgraded its prospecting emails, client collaboration portal and framed IDX solution to utilize “mobile-first” responsive design. They also demonstrated a unique lead capture feature that allows users to add a code or link to their websites, social media pages, and email signatures, etc. to collect contact information from new clients. Once a client submits their information, it becomes a part of the agent’s contacts inside the MLS.
Rapattoni has provided a number of enhancements this past year, including Scheduled Auto-Prospecting, Rapattoni Edge MLS Native App and interface updates to the Picture Gallery and the system in general.
The new Scheduled Auto-Prospecting control allows users to specify the frequency, date range, and time that Auto-Prospecting runs, giving users more control over when prospects receive listing updates. As part of this update, prospects will no longer timeout due to inactivity. Instead, users will be alerted when a scheduled item is about to expire and allow the user to decide whether to keep Auto-Prospecting running.
The Rapattoni Edge MLS native app for iOS and Android allows real estate professionals to access the Rapattoni Edge MLS interface on iOS and Android devices. It includes standard, quick, map and hot sheet searches, revising listing statuses, price changes and more. It also allows for photo uploads, contact management, listing cart management, agent/office Search, tax records, social media integration, and more.
The updated Picture Gallery interface provides improved workflows with a “Play” button for accessing the slideshow, a “Report” button for accessing the print feature, and a “Full” button which hides the page controls and expands the image viewing area. The picture gallery has also been optimized to display high definition photos of up to 1,500×1500 resolution.
Rapattoni is updating its user interface overall to provide a fresher appearance. The new UI will include updated icons, responsive pages, and a more customized home screen, illustrated below:
MLS Executive Session (Friday)
We received a RESO Update from Jeremy Crawford (Executive Director of RESO). RESO is a non-profit organization with categories for MLSs, technology vendors, brokers and association. RESO creates technical data standards that are free to use and open to the public. These standards are created by volunteers working together on workgroups. RESO has created a “Data Dictionary” that serves as a “Rosetta Stone” for real estate fields. Adoption is a NAR mandate (deadline: January 1, 2016). There are many benefits of standards, lowering the barriers to innovation. For more information, see reso.org. MLSs representing over 440,000 agents are certified on the data dictionary so far. Jeremy urged everyone to join RESO and join us at the upcoming conferences to get the work done: April 19-21 in Chicago and October 24-26 in Nashville.
Bill Malkasian talked about the NAR Corporate Ally Program – a “dollar per member” soft money program for business advocacy. Almost a million dollars have been raised so far. NAR has tried to make the program more palatable recently by allowing for dollars to go not to candidates but to issues and ballot initiatives. They will come and speak to your group about participating if you wish.
Rhett Damon provided a realtor.com update. They now have 15 minute updates in 96% of markets. They have added more reporting and the new ratings/reviews and agent search. This has introduced sold data on profiles for both sides of the transactions, with the cooperation of MLS partners. They currently have 60% coverage for this use of sold data and have asked for additional participation.
John Mosey talked about the Broker Public Portal. The goal is to create a home search experience as it was meant to be. About a year and a half ago Bob Moline brought up this idea at the T3 conference. Cameron Paine worked to move the initiative forward, and then 44 brokers and MLSs met to figure out how to make progress. An MLS-and-broker-owned non-profit company was formed. WAV was hired to facilitate. Larson/Skinner was hired as legal counsel, and they drafted a data license agreement for MLSs. A technology workgroup was formed to evaluate build/buy/partner and the group is in negotiations with a company to build it. The goal was to make a big announcement here, but the time wasn’t quite right (no agreement yet signed). For more information: brokerpublicportal.com.
Denee Evans (CEO of CMLS) provided a CMLS update and asked anyone who has not joined to do so. In 2015 CMLS created an MLS best practices guide and has been teaching courses based on it. These can be found on the cmls.org website. In 2016 they will create an MLS certification program based on those best practices. There was record attendance at the 2015 conference in Kansas City and the September 21-23 2016 conference will be in Las Vegas. CMLS is encouraging participation in section councils – over 100 MLS executives and staff participate. The CMLX 3 designation has been created – it’s a five-day process, and you will do a self-assessment on yourself and on your organization before attending.
Shelly Speccio announced the winner of the inaugural CMLS Peter Shuttleworth award for excellence in MLS and Peter himself was in attendance to honor the first recipient: David Charron. Congratulations, David!!!
AMP & Upstream update: Greg Robertson interviewed Marty Frame and they discussed the process for creating and rolling out these new initiatives. Among many points made, Marty said that he would consider 500,000 agents using the system as a success to work toward. Greg talked about how emotional people are about these initiatives, especially AMP, and he said that there was a sense of betrayal with regard to what RPR was created to do. Marty said that it was hard to address emotion, but that the proof will be in the execution. Cameron Paine asked how RPR will build something that is sustainable, and Marty replied that AMP and Upstream will be self-funding. Ann Bailey asked how Upstream will meet all the data requirements for all the MLSs (business rules) including public records autofill that is better than the public records that RPR has. Marty replied that the biggest part of the exercise will be to collect all of the rules; they will not attempt to generalize the rules and will collect local rules via an exercise that will be familiar to anyone who has undergone an MLS conversion. They may create one input that is transformed on the way out. Dawn from NY State MLS asked how much this was going to cost brokers. “If only half of the brokers use it,” she asked, “who is picking up the tab?” Dawn also questioned how RPR is going to handle the problem of all the nationwide fields that we have. Marty answered the more technical part of the question. Clareity says: remember, RPR is just the technology vendor and can’t answer all the questions people have for Upstream, Inc.!
This was a standing-room-only event – three or four deep in the back and standing all down the side of the room!
Dale Ross took the stage to provide an RPR update, providing a different perspective on the project than Marty had the previous day. He explained how brokers and the MLSs have asked RPR to help them with technology. Over the past five years, they have built a platform supporting 85% of the MLSs. They have built a parcel-centric system with 166 million parcels and many other data sources. They have also built a tremendous training and support system, which will help them support the rollout of the new systems. Dale compared what they have built so far to the foundation of a house.
On this foundation, they are building AMP – not an MLS, but a warehouse database that will allow MLSs to field multiple MLS system front ends. Dale sees there being 6 or 7 RPR-certified front end providers that can connect to this back end. He says that it won’t disrupt MLS, but will change it. Currently there are 46 MLSs that have expressed interest in participating in the program. RPR has created a task force, including many MLS executives, to provide feedback and direction for AMP.
Upstream will be a single point of entry for listing data. Dale said that brokers were going to do this with us or without us. Working together to create it, all can benefit. Brokers will enter listings into Upstream and data will flow to the MLS, broker system, real estate portals, 3rd party publishers, marketing platforms, and internal systems. Each will pull the fields and characteristics that the brokers want to provide to them through Upstream, every 15 minutes. Agree or disagree with it, this is what the brokers want to do, and Dale suggested it would be better that they do it with us, industry-centric people, rather than “some 8 billion dollar company.”
There were many questions and exchanges about RPR’s new programs:
- Cameron Paine asked for ironclad confirmation that RPR will not build an MLS front end. Dale answered in the affirmative.
- Cathy Holefelder asked whether it was push or pull with regard to the MLS and where the business rules were applied. Dale replied that they would not disrupt those rules but rather they would aggregate them and apply them, and that it would be a pull from the MLS.
- John Coile from Champion Realty asked about getting an IDX feed from Upstream and Dale answered that Upstream could provide that. Note: It’s unclear (to Clareity) how Upstream can do that if Upstream doesn’t have all the IDX information entered there. This may need additional clarification. Chris Carrillo asked for clarification about the use of these new RPR services circumventing the MLS and MLS policy. Dale replied that this is something they will have to discuss with their customer, Upstream. Craig Cheatham from the Upstream board indicated that it is their intention to leave IDX within the purview of the MLS. This will be an ongoing conversation, for sure.
- Upon request, Dale laid out some of the Upstream contract terms. Upstream will take 2.5 years to build out. At the end of that, RPR will lay out ongoing costs (i.e., 10 million a year). The Upstream company (broker-owned) would agree to pay that and an R&D premium and – probably – bill their participants. That contract would run for an additional 7 years.
- A question came up as to whether this will be used to create more pocket listings. Dale said that such things have existed forever, but that MLS rules about putting listings into MLS would apply. There will be checks and balances.
- Jim Abele wanted clarification about brokers having to pay Upstream; this would cause upheaval with them wanting to pay MLS. Dale answered that RPR will be paid by Upstream and Upstream will decide how they want to be paid. Then brokers will decide locally about whether they join Upstream and pay Upstream separately from the MLS.
Mark Lesswing, CTO at NAR, provided another RESO update. 445k members are covered by the data dictionary so far. MLSs are coming in at a rate of 2-3 per day. Almost all will be compliant by the deadline.
Melanie Wynne from NAR updated the group on NAR advocacy activities with regard to net neutrality (still the law of the land, though the ISPs are still suing the FCC to try to change it), breach notification (still trying to create one federal standard), patent litigation (bills may be on the floor early in 2016), and copyright reform.
Rhett Damon from realtor.com spoke about the new Realtor search and RealRatings™ and reviews. Members can claim their profile and participate in ratings – but they must be “all in” or “all out” – they can’t cherry pick ratings. Consumers must create an account and be signed in before they can comment, and realtor.com will try to verify that they were a transaction participant before they can post. realtor.com also tries to validate entries manually in a queue before they are displayed. Agents have the opportunity to reply to reviews, but the way realtor.com has built the system ensures that replies won’t devolve into a discussion/argument. Ratings are starting to show up in organic search on sites like Google, giving those who participate additional search engine exposure. realtor.com has also enabled an integration with RealSatisfied to bring in those recommendations and reviews. They have also integrated with QSC for ratings.
Bill Malkasian and Marbury Little spoke about the Corporate Investors Ally Program, the soft money funding program that funds issues and/or candidates. Thanks, Bill, for giving Clareity the shout-out for our contribution – we wear our pins with pride!
Three issues were brought before the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee:
- IDX display of pending listings – requiring MLS to provide non-confidential pending sale listing data in their data feeds and making other changes to policy to support that IDX display. These resolutions quickly passed with no discussion brought.
- To provide more enforcement ability around arbitration – specifically, award enforcement for non-member participants. This would be at the sole discretion of the MLS. This was passed by the committee.
- To simply add information about DMCA Safe Harbor to the policy manual. This passed as well.
Fixing the IDX policy to be more explicit about the anti-scraping requirement did not make it into the agenda, though MLS Executives surveyed overwhelmingly supported such a clarification. An explicit anti-scraping requirement becomes increasingly important as IDX content increasingly mirrors VOW content, where such rules have existed for over a decade. We hope this is addressed at the mid-year meetings.
On a happy note:
- Cliff Niersbach was honored for all of his policy work over 40 years – well deserved!
- Later in the conference, at the board of directors meeting, the Magel Award of Excellence in association management was awarded to Diane Ruggiero. Kudos, Diane!
NAR Revokes Association Charters
In response to NAR’s Core Standards initiative for associations, over the past year or so there have been 84 mergers involving 192 associations, 27 local associations voluntarily dissolved, and now NAR has revoked the charter for 16 others. NAR is serious about raising the bar for its local associations! We just hope that someone has a plan for how to help the members from those associations whose charters were revoked to transition to other associations and remain Realtors®, rather than them just becoming at-large members.
We go to lots of parties in the evenings, but as Matt says, “There’s only one where I almost lose my voice every year, and that’s the CoreLogic party!”
The Lady Gaga impersonator at the CoreLogic party
The Clareity crew, acting goofy at the CoreLogic party
The Big Announcement… and Controversy!
The competitive technology marketplaces for forms software, document management software and transaction management software have flourished for over a decade, and the evolution of those marketplaces has been wonderful to watch. Most of our clients probably know that Zillow recently purchased DotLoop, and Move.com acquired Reesio, while Instanet Solutions has been winning many new major accounts and has entered into a major distribution deal with CoreLogic. Franchises and brokerages have each adopted these solutions and quite a number of others besides. As always, competition breeds innovation that benefits industry professionals as well as consumers.
Yet, the big announcement of the conference is that NAR will be providing, at no cost to subscribers, ZipLogix’ zipForm Plus, zipVault document management, and the zipTMLS transaction management system. The cost to NAR for this will be $10/member for the first two years, then the cost may increase along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for additional years. According to Inman News, this money will be drawn from NAR’s reserves.
Criticism is coming from many quarters. Debate at the board of directors meeting was strong, and one NAR director posted to Facebook, “$30 million for 3 years for Ziplogic with NO mobile & NO e-signature. Seems kind of high to me.” But, more than that, this is seen by some as interfering with a competitive market – and the vendors in that market are very, very displeased. One joked about getting money back on his booth from NAR, since they had just made a move to destroy the market, and another said that “This whole thing smacks of being an anti-competitive move… and that should raise the eyebrows of the Feds.” That vendor further asked, “What if people still take other vendors’ offerings because they are better and more robust?” with the implication that this would make NAR’s spend a bigger waste of money. Budge Huskey, CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, said that Realtors were already happy with their software providers and that, “This is a space which is currently being served adequately through other means. It seems to be a solution in search of a problem.”
That’s all folks! Thanks for reading our 2015 NAR Meeting and Expo Report!
2016 MLS Executive Workshop – Register Now!
MLS executives and staff and leadership, please consider joining us in Scottsdale, Arizona February 24-26, 2015 for Clareity’s 15th Annual MLS Executive Workshop. This MLS Workshop will provide timely updates and address the key issues facing MLS executives and leaders. Room is limited and the event sells out every year, so please do not delay. For more information, please see https://clareity.com/events
Yikes! The Relola Unicorn ate Matt the Viking!
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