Table of Contents:
CMLS Brings It to the Table
CMLS put on a great event, packed with lots of information and a major announcement that reverberated throughout the NAR meetings.
New Marketing Message from CMLS
Brian Boero from 1000 Watt talked about the “MLS Miracle”, providing a definition of MLS value. Likening it to electricity and water delivered to our homes, MLS rules, infrastructure, and roads are all things we take for granted as consumers (until they don’t work). The MLS industry serves a very diverse group of people with a clear, concise, accurate picture of the market underneath an umbrella of rules. The plan is to roll out a standard MLS value message from CMLS. More info for CMLS members: www.councilofmls.org/makingthemarketwork
CMLS Benchmarking Results
Following are key findings from the MLS benchmarking survey:
- less than 1 in 5 review MLS technology every year (a Clareity service)
- less than 1 in 3 include user requirements in technology selection (Clareity does that for its clients as part of issuing an RFP)
- Broker office meetings are the single largest driver of customer satisfaction
- less than 1 in 3 have a marketing program while 2 out of 3 say they promote products regularly
- incentives are lacking for meeting adoption goals
- less than half measure customer satisfaction and less than 4 in 10 have customer satisfaction benchmarks (another Clareity service)
- less than 1 out of 2 track calls
- 58% don’t have a written succession plan
- 4 in 10 require board training for understanding financials
- less than 50% have a business continuity plan (yet another Clareity service) and just 1 in 5 with such a plan test it regularly.
Following the presentation of survey results was a panel with great discussion, with the following key points: #1 There’s too much MLS complacency – flaws in the industry are being masked by the heat of the market. There must be measurements to measure progress. #2 Association-driven governance is hurting competitiveness, leadership, and customer-centricity. MLS executives discussed measurement further, broker governance, and including all stakeholders in the mix: association, staff, broker, agents, consumer, etc. #3 Consolidation is not happening (fast enough). Consolidation is inevitable. Markets are defined – what are we doing to facilitate consolidation? They fail most often due to culture clash. Waiting for a crisis is a mistake – bridges are built slowly with a small foundation. Quote of the day was from Chris Carrillo, regarding his proposal to merge with a neighboring MLS: “I haven’t experienced this much rejection since high school!” David Charron suggested a panel at the fall CMLS on “why consolidations don’t happen”.
This was the announcement of the day! Upstream is going to work on syndication and receiving MLS data feeds while it works on the creation and adoption of its own listing input capability. Clareity covered this in-depth in its previous blog post, Upstream Returns to Earth. While some reports reported a reduction in scope for Upstream, in our own summary Clareity noted that “eventually, they will strive to accomplish their original goal”. Upstream was sensitive about this messaging, declaring on Facebook that, “Despite reports to the contrary, Upstream has not shrunk its scope at all and is not attempting to do any less than the original plan. Upstream always has planned to phase in the project, and MLS entry is simply a temporary phase in the launch.” Upstream probably should not have used the term “pivot” in its announcement if it hasn’t really changed its goals – people were confused.
Copyright Law – Mitch Skinner
Mitch described how MLSs need to approach copyright: Copyright Registration is the offensive play by MLS and DMCA Safe Harbor is the defensive play. Mitch described the DMCA safe harbor procedures including some new changes in 2017: There’s a new e-filing system, and the price has decreased. The important takeaways are that 1. Organizations must re-file by the end of 2017 and 2. “Alternative names” cannot be a separate entity – so an MLS cannot register for its brokers/agents as “alternative names”, as some MLSs have previously done. to be clear, an MLS could still help register brokers (some are exploring it), it’s just that they cannot do it by listing the brokerages as alternative names.
Data Distribution Best Practices
Jeremy Crawford led a panel including Tim Dain (ABoR), Heidi Ellyn (Redfin), and Joshua Lopour (formerly RETsly). Heidi didn’t like seeing CoreLogic’s Trestle used as an excuse by the MLS for not giving feeds. She is disappointed about the RESO-standardized feeds, and only 4 out of 25 MLS responded to request for a standardized feed. Non-standardized feeds require maintenance. New markets are tough to open – it takes six weeks to get and manage the data and launch. They have a data feed converter using the RESO certification/standard which only takes 2 days to launch. Redfin doesn’t go into markets where RESO standard doesn’t exist. MLS are still sending data via FTP! Tim talked about improving RESO certification and talked about RESO providing options like Trestle and RETSly. Joshua suggested that RESO adoption by CMLS participants would create an avalanche for the other MLS organizations to adopt the standard and certification. Jeremy wondered if the standards are the real issue or if the biggest hurdle still isn’t MLS approvals. Ideally, timelines for responsiveness would be required. Heidi said that they haven’t yet leveraged NAR’s compliance folks to deal with non-compliant MLS organizations for data feed issues.
There was also a NAR MLS policy preview (we’ll discuss MLS policy later in this article), and discussion about how teams were handled in the MLS, discussing how various states are starting to regulate how teams operate and market themselves.
On the Hill
NAR provided visiting associations with talking points to use with their representatives, focusing on tax reform, the national flood insurance program, and protecting sustainable homeownership. Local associations and their members brought their own issues as well. Clareity heard that participation in this core activity for midyear meetings was as good as or better than in previous years.
Around The Tradeshow
We didn’t see a lot of new booths of the tradeshow floor this year, at least no new booths displaying major innovations. Regarding this booth, some might say “cute snowmen!” but we have no idea why an artist thought attendees would be a great market for these:
With all of the jewelry and other gear on the floor, one software vendor told us they thought it felt like a “flea market” down there. It wasn’t that bad, but … snowmen.
MLS remains a highly innovative space:
Black Knight’s mobile based Agent / Client Collab Center was a big hit, but what really struck a chord in “MLS consolidation” meetings was the Association Autonomy feature, which helps consolidation to occur while allowing participating Associations and MLSs to retain a measure of independence of they choose to, addressing their local area “uniqueness”. Association Autonomy includes:
- MLS/Association level branding that allows end users and outside parties to identify with the MLS/Association
- MLS/Association messaging allows for direct communication with their respective memberships
- MLS/Association level customization flexibility of fields, field level logic, search screens and reports
- MLS/Association Participation Configuration – Each can determine how the MLS/Association shares its data
- Each MLS/Association can specify their very own third party Integrations
Association Autonomy Scenarios
Black Knight’s investment in Association Autonomy seems to be very aligned with the progress and continued consolidation efforts throughout the US and Canada.
Clareity notes that many regional MLSs have come together without having different fields, business rules, search screens, and such – but for those that can’t, this is a useful feature!
CoreLogic Matrix has over 680,000+ users and climbing. CoreLogic has now completed the project to consolidate legacy platforms – that over 50 clients converted in less than 30 months. They expect over 710,000 users by end of year. Matrix v7.0 installations are in progress, which includes a redesigned and responsive Client Portal, new client activity notifications, Google Maps for superior imagery and coverage, the PxPoint geocode solution, ListTrac integration, and a deep integration with CSS (showings). The primary development focus for 2017 is Matrix 360, which will be a parcel-based MLS system with extremely strong integrated public records capabilities. The Matrix 7.0 Client Portal can include such optional integrations as INRIX Drive-Time, Housefax (like a Carfax for homes!), and Graphiq® Visualizations.
Another optional product is ePropertyWatch, which regularly sends a useful email report about a client’s property. This monthly report contains the home’s current value (CoreLogic RealAVM™), equity, price trends, recent sales, foreclosures, building permits, and more. It has 50%+ email open rates and 36%+ click-through rates.
108 MLSs with more than half a million agents have subscribed to Trestle. MLSs can register at trestle.corelogic.com. CoreLogic delivered version 1.1 with full data feed management in March and completed RESO Web API certifications. The Web API certification is free for MLSs that already have Data Dictionary certification. CoreLogic recently upgraded to RESO Data Dictionary v1.4 Gold compliance.
dynaConnections has released some cool updates to its responsive MLS Solution, connectMLS. Mobile enhanced reports allow consumers and Agents to view listing data in a mobile-optimized format. Unlimited high-definition photos are prominently displayed and can be clicked or swiped through from a report, or displayed in full-screen mode. Users can interact with property information through prominent, mobile-friendly icons (Email, Favorite, etc.), or swipe naturally to view listings. Access to an enhanced report is also available from the predictive SmartBar on any device with just one click. This functionality allows an Agent on the road to enter a few characters of the street name into the SmartBar on their phone, see a list of Active listings on that street, and learn about a listing nearby through the enhanced mobile report all within a few seconds. Plus, the activity is saved in the SmartBar’s archive for easy listing retrieval from any device, at any time, creating a richer experience overall. dynaConnections also provided a sneak preview of their fully responsive search capabilities with advanced, interactive mapping and reports, and co-hosted their 8th annual event on the W rooftop with Courthouse Reporting Services.
High Resolution Image Slideshow
FBS reported the following innovations: 1) In markets where inter-market data sharing is desired and agreed upon, the Flexmls system has a few solutions including convert-and-combine and the built-in Flexmls Datashare module which can be turned on and off directly from the Flexmls Admin Module (once an agreement is in play). Convenient, easy to use and flexible: fields in the Flexmls System have three levels of privacy: Public, Private and MLS Data-Share, it’s easy to implement and this solution allows for each MLS to have complete control and autonomy of their own system and still cooperate with their neighbors. A number of customers actively use this and the number continues to scale as inter-market data-sharing demand increases. 2) The Spark API is gaining adoption 3) Launched AgentSquared Instant IDX websites powered by the Spark API, the industry’s first instant IDX solution enabling an Agent complete DIY and a live, beautiful, SEO optimized site in minutes, powered by an API syncing contacts back to the Flexmls System. 4) The FlexMLS system itself has continued mobile enhancements, continued portal enhancements, a new menu and new CMA features. 5) On the Flexmls Pro iPhone App and Mobile Web, agents have the opportunity to invite contacts to their portal from the contacts screen whereas the contact will receive an email with the invitation to join the Agent portal. FBS’s latest stats show that nearly 50% of people who are invited this way accept and engage.
Rapattoni has released many updates this year, including a new Interactive Map Search utilizing Google Maps as well as Rapattoni’s new layer technology in order to visually represent data from a variety of sources, from tax data, parcel information and MLS data to USGS, FEMA and many other data sources. Rapattoni’s most recent release also debuted a newly redesigned IDX portal which includes lead generation and social media integration. This next year, Rapattoni is focused on the continuing mission to update the MLS functionality as well as integrate the new look and feel throughout the system. Rapattoni’s upgrade objective is to take an iterative approach, delivering a new MLS, a module at a time, so users will not have to go through the pain of learning a new system all at once. Rapattoni’s next slate of releases will include a new Client Portal with built-in messaging, tagging and search functions, along with the new and enhanced Agent Report writer. In the AMS space, Rapattoni is installing Cloud AMS to customers at a prodigious pace. Rapattoni has also created a Cloud AMS API and a draft specification for a membership specific Data Dictionary for the RESO community. Rapattoni was one of the first vendors to help an MLS customer (High Desert AOR) achieve RESO Data Dictionary 1.5 Platinum certification.
Rapattoni’s new Messaging Newsfeed
Stratus Data Systems, with three large customers, is one of the quieter MLS vendors but is actually one of the most innovative. For example, they have been working on creating a database of buildings in New York City that hopefully will become the standard there. This database solves a few problems: It allows those listing units for sale to enter data for the unit but not have to re-enter building related content (e.g. doorman, exercise room, etc.) which can be maintained reliably and consistently in one place rather than on each listing. Currently listings in the same building also end up in multiple building “buckets”, as some NYC buildings have up to 10 physical addresses and multiple “IDs” – this database solves that problem too. To build this database Stratus used both machine learning and end-user augmentation. This type of project, if implemented in other cities, could be very valuable. Stratus has additional functionality in the pipeline, including a messaging system for streamlining agent to agent as well as agent to client communication.
W+R Studios. Clareity has never included an MLS “front end” in this section of our report before, but we think W+R’s Cloud MLX deserves a shout-out here. There are now over 35 MLSs, covering over 200,000 agents on the platform. Some of the major site licenses include Realcomp MLS, NTREIS, Charleston Trident MLS, SFAR, and BAREIS. There are lots of improvements to this relatively new product – improvements to the responsive design, mapping, client sharing options, advanced search layout, and more. The product has also become better integrated with other W+R Studios products such as Cloud CMA and Cloud Streams, as well as with third parties such as ShowingTime. We expect W+R Studios to be one of the major players in the “front end of choice” future of MLS.
REach® is a tech accelerator that provides mentorship for a “class” of companies every year. This year the class includes Adwerx, which helps pros target their advertising, Centriq, which provides a home inventory (think maintenance), HouseCanary, a source for agents of residential valuations and analytics for every block and property in the U.S., Notarize, a digital notary, Occly, providing wearable safety alarm systems that help protect real estate agents and their properties from threat, Pearl, which captures technical data on a home’s performance features to create a certification package that Realtors can market, Relola, where agents can capture their insights about listings and post them across social channels to drive traffic, and TrustedMail, which requires facial-biometric sign-in to create and send secure email. Of course, there is a lot of more detail for each of these companies that can’t be so neatly summarized.
“Websites” for All!
NAR announced that it will provide all members with a website, provided by Placester. The press release did not mention how much, if anything, NAR paid for this arrangement with Placester. This is going to be a “freemium” model, and features like a contact form will cost extra. The website package that Placester calls “essential” is $150/month, premium plus is $400/month and they have more expensive packages available as well. This is reminiscent of when, at the end of 2015, NAR offered free transaction management with a similar “freemium” model as part of a $12M/year zipLogix deal. Clareity heard that other transaction management vendors had a banner year in 2016, including Instanet Solutions reporting they are up to 550k paid users and, year to date, use of their Authentisign eSignature product is up 44%. While of course we wish Placester well, will their deal with NAR be as much a boon to other website providers as NAR’s transaction management deal was to other transaction management providers?
RPR’s AMP – Off the Tradeshow Floor
RPR provided a demonstration of AMP where various vendors (Robotik Software, Solid Earth, Stratus Data Systems, and W+R Studios) showed off the front ends they had built on top of the AMP API. During these demonstrations the vendors showed how saved searches, hotsheets, and listing favorites were saved in AMP so one could, for example, save a favorite in one system and see that reflected in another front end.
RPR’s Kristen Carr
Robotik Software’s Rob Overman
MLS AE Session
Brad Bjelke, the chair of this committee and Matt Consalvo, the vice chair welcomed us to this session.
Rick Harris from the MLS Emerging Issues and Technology Committee (MLSEITC) provided an update about what would be coming in the Policy meeting the next day, including updated lockbox policy, the difference between text and verbal searches in terms of MLS policy, a question by LeadingRE about required attribution (currently optional; LeadingRE wants it to be mandatory), some inconsistent language about minimal display that needs to be clarified, and “MLS of Choice” (7.42) that allows an MLS with a geographic jurisdiction of their owner (association) to require every agent in a brokerage to be a subscriber – but what would the ramifications be in overlapping markets? This last topic was discussed in various forums throughout the meetings, and perhaps there will be a policy change to consider by November. Feedback about “MLS of Choice” or other policy matters can be sent to MLS@realtors.org
Glenn Kelman from Redfin talked about what brokers want. He says what they really want is to modernize the attribution for the listing agent. There should be a link back from each listing to the listing agent, so people can see where sites got the data from and get in touch with that listing agent. Attribution should be more prominent. There’s more that can be done to modernize things – we need to be able to provide service on demand – but we can’t do that without an easy way to reach the listing agent electronically (not via phone, fax, or smoke signals). Forms should be in the MLS so agents can tap a few buttons and make an offer. Glenn spoke very passionately about MLSs working together to modernize things to make it better for everyone!
Then we received “rapid fire” updates from Jeremy Crawford (RESO), Denee Evans (CMLS), and Caitlin McCrory (NAR):
Jeremy: MLSs need to be web API certified – adoption was required by August 15, 2016 and 200 MLSs are still not certified. Data Dictionary 1.5 certification is required by June 21, 2017, which is coming right up. The RESO fall conference is going to be in San Diego – October 17-19. Data Dictionary 1.6 will be ratified in Q3 2017. Data Dictionary 1.7 will include commercial data, broker data, lockbox data, membership data, transactional data, and event tracking data (expanded). The RESO Web API 1.0.3 is scheduled for Q3, and the “update” API specification is actively in progress. The organization just hired a membership and marketing coordinator and has grown to over 650 organizations, including brokers and vendors.
Denee: CMLS just hired a new marketing and communications person last week as well and now CMLS has five staff. CMLS is working on a few things, including “The Value of MLS” campaign, the CMLS benchmarking survey (just released), CMLS2017 September 13-15 in Austin, TX, CMLX I & V (volunteer leadership) Online Self-Paced Learning, a Home Energy Information Guide, and CMLS.org community forums. New initiatives include data distribution best practices, a voluntary MLS grading/certification program, taking an active role in national MLS policy, and establishing a strategic steering group.
Caitlin: she is working with CMLS on the partnership as well as other partnerships. Ongoing she’s trying to come up with ideas of ways to communicate the value of the MLS and what can be done as a collective to set that tone. She’s working with CMLS on an online toolkit for MLS consolidation – this should be rolled out before NAR Annual in November.
Mitch Skinner, Turan Tekin and Michael Wurzer talked about “why you should care about the delivery of MLS data”. Turan: It was eight years ago that Bridge Interactive worked with FMLS in Atlanta, when FMLS thought, “If these Bridge guys can build us a listing management interface that’s better, cheaper, faster than our vendor’s, it would be a good thing.” That was the impetus for much innovation – leveraging the power of standards. Mitch: alternative listing input or alternative load is not a legal distinction, but that’s how I’ve been referring to it. Legal issues include copyright portfolio aggregation, and if a third party has their agreement (EULA) how does that affect risk management should there be a conflict with the MLS rules or participation agreement? Michael: There’s an urgency around standards – from an efficiency and data accuracy perspective. RESO and we all can contribute to that effort. All the vendors need to work together cooperatively. MLSs need to participate – joining RESO and supporting RESO standards. Saying “RESO takes too long” is not supporting the initiative – you at the MLS level need to support RESO so RESO can move as quickly as possible. You are part of RESO – it’s not an external thing. Turan: Getting the resources from Zillow that Bridge Interactive has needed to push forward on alternative listing input has been great. The time to enter listings and get that data where it needs to go is 6 hours – that’s time away from other things. Single point of entry into multiple MLSs is do-able. Getting data into franchises and broker back office systems is do-able. Mitch: There are a number of licenses to think about: licensing MLS business rules, the MLS should get the same license from participants and subscribers. It will be more do-able if there’s a cooperative effort. We’ll need a common way to deal with copyright, especially where there’s one point of entry for multiple systems. Turan: The industry needs more education on this topic. Michael: Partner with your technology vendors and work with them, and own your platform – a standards-based platform. The business rules are your intellectual property, as Mitch said. You say to your vendors (all of them), “You’re going to use this API and follow RESO standards” – get it in your contract. Then you’ll have a robust infrastructure that moves the data where it needs to go. Mitch: slow down – these are complex issues that need to be thought through.
Joint Meeting of the MLS Forum & the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee
Prior to the Executive Committee’s vote on providing further funding for Upstream, Upstream demonstrated a live integration “proof of concept” with RMLS (Portland) QA environment to show it’s a real thing. According to the presenter, “the listing sheets are very different from the sheets agents are used to” and “training will be required to get people used to this type of setup”. In general, the entry form looked good, and the right-hand navigation for data entry sections garnered some praise, but people around us were whispering about the amount of mousing and scrolling, the amount of wasted screen space, and other aspects they didn’t like as much. That said, under the hood this is a very complex implementation – the entry screen changes depending on what MLSs have been selected as well as what downstream vendors have been selected for distribution. Ideally, Upstream would have been able to demonstrate that to help people really understand what RPR has built. In the Upstream dashboard, users can see whether the MLS has “picked the listing up” from Upstream, and what other vendors the listing has been sent to. Again, Upstream has announced that – besides the planned longer term integration between entry into Upstream where data flows into the MLSs all over the country – brokers will be able to enter listings in MLSs and have it sent to Upstream where brokers can enhance the data and manage distribution. We were told to expect this option will take three months to develop and test. Issues surrounding copyright (as discussed in other forums at these meetings) are “top of our list” at Upstream.
Tim Dain, MLS Director for Austin Board of Realtors, presented a project he initiated where ABoR is fielding a development reference server with some data so that developers could have a data repository to experiment and innovate on. ABoR provides the data, RESO provides the audience and action point, along with CoreLogic Trestle with Retsly coming soon! The repository contains data but no images or sold data. They get 5-6 requests a day and there are now over 200 users of this repository.
Mark Lesswing provided a RESO update. New versions of the data dictionary are coming out, and while the API is a little behind in its development, adoption needs to be encouraged. Participation by brokers has been very strong this year, and associations are also participating. The Web API update function specification should be released by end of year.
Rhett Damon provided a realtor.com update. He talked about the interconnected nature of our brands through “REALTOR(R)”. Brand recognition is at 88%. Consumers rank the site #1 in how they found their home and Realtor. They’ve had 81% audience growth over the past three years. There have been many UI enhancements, and the pro dashboard has many new features. There’s more local content – neighborhood information that drives traffic back to Realtor profiles. New focus is context-based product development – personalized by user and their use-cases. Realtor.com ranks #3 on time spent on site, after YouTube and Facebook. More agent profile adoption is driving traffic back to agents.
Melanie Wyne provided an update on Net Neutrality and patent reform. The FCC just voted to roll back the net neutrality order from 2015 that NAR had supported. There is a 60-90 day comment period on this rollback and NAR will comment against it. The expectation is that the rule would get rolled back though. There’s very small expectation that congress could legislate and override this. On patent reform, we’re still waiting for legislation but given the current news, congress may be busy with other things before they get to patent reform.
Lesley Walker provided a legal update. NAR is bringing patent infringement litigation insurance to associations and association-owned MLSs. Organizational governing documents must be in compliance with NAR policy. Reimbursable expenses include legal and settlement costs. The base coverage is $50k with a 25k retention (similar to deductible). Option $450k coverage is available. If action is brought, you must notify NAR and RPX. Next enrollment begins January 1, 2018. There have been some changes to DMCA – they have digitized the enrollment process and if you have previously registered you must re-register using the digital process. Agent registration must be renewed every three years, so keep track of it on your calendar! NAR has a lot of copyright resources as well as Window to the Law videos. Wire Fraud requires vigilance. Lesley provided a very limited perspective on this important topic, including some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk.
Jim Imhoff talked about the Corporate Ally Program. They have exceeded their annual goal! Merri Jo Cowen thanked everyone who contributed and talked about why her organization cares so much about it – especially all the work NAR is doing on net neutrality and other tech issues.
Updated lockbox security requirements were discussed. At the heart of the changes, the changes address use of mobile devices to access lockboxes, standards for mobile device security and lockboxes, a process for temporary codes/access, association and MLS key leases to those in real estate practice or related fields, lockbox costs as a part of association dues and MLS fees (subject to 7.57), key lease agreements may contain a liquidated damages clause, and the ability to refuse a lockbox to those with certain types of recent convictions. Debbie Wey proposed an additional change, that notifications of key assignment be changed from 48 hours to two business day. Amendment and motions carried. The changes to lockbox policy are extensive and will be available on realtor.org when the new policy is published.
Regarding audio delivery of IDX, it’s an ongoing area of innovation so anything we do now will change as the technology changes. This policy could also apply to accessibility. It was suggested by one committee member that there be more discussion before we pass something that might have unintended consequences. It was asked, “If it went back for further consideration, what would we be considering?” Cathy Libby agreed that there are many questions that need to be answered to make an informed decision – How can we identify the participant? Is there a licensing issue? How will compliance reviews be performed? Are we further eroding the value proposition of using a real estate agent? Hasty decisions have unintended consequences! Additional commenters asked how we monitor what’s being said. What about seller opt in or out of this specifically? (Not in this motion). Matt from ARMLS and Chris from Metro MLS spoke in favor of the motion, even though there will be things to iron out – this is a standing committee and it will make changes – brokers need to be empowered by policy to innovate. What about broker disclaimer as a part of the audio delivery as a part of minimal use? Art spoke against this because it will discriminate against other limited displays like tweets that currently don’t include attribution. The amendment for broker attribution in minimal display via audio that links to a compliant display was withdrawn. Shad Bogany said that he never tells someone about the listing agent info when they call him on the phone. One committee member said he’d rather move forward and make mistakes then hold broker innovation back. Do you want someone else to use this or let brokers use this? Debbie Wey asked, “What exactly is the demarcation between minimal display and total display in audio?” There didn’t seem to be a good answer to that. Art provided an amendment which passed about requiring an audio display either link to or email with link to compliant display. Matt Cohen says: This is going to take a LOT of work to address compliance specifics once this is policy is effective, or there will be a lot of variation in how to apply current policy to audio display at the local level and this will create a barrier to innovation.
Regarding making listing broker attribution mandatory – it passed resoundingly with no further discussion.
Regarding 7.98 – electronic display of other participants’ listings: there was minor language cleanup, approved.
Rick Harris provided an update from the emerging issues advisory board. Future discussion items included getting additional input about requested changes to IDX. Additional clarification is needed about “coming soon”, as well as the very complex issue surrounding MLS Policy 7.42, Jurisdiction of Association Multiple Listing Services (commonly known as MLS of Choice). MLS of Choice is a fix for a situation where a company may have nine offices not in a jurisdiction and one that is, but has to pay for all ten offices. Sam DeBord spoke in favor of the change because currently brokers have to pay for agents in an MLS even if the agent doesn’t want to work in that jurisdiction based on where offices are. The guiding principle is to evolve their business structure to address evolving business needs. It also creates value based competition among MLSs. In a new model, MLSs would only bill based on agents that want to subscribe. Agents would need to subscribe to at least one MLS. What challenges does this concept present for MLS administration and policy? How do MLSs overcoming unintended consequences of unauthorized access to MLS by licensees that do not subscribe to service but are affiliated with a broker who is an MLS participant? Are there tech solutions to prevent this misuse of MLS information? Matt Cohen says: “How about Clareity and SAFEMLS Plus, the only software designed to address all security use cases in our industry?” BUT, even if we prevent MLS unauthorized access, there could be access through broker back office systems where data is aggregated – unless additional steps are taken too. There were many questions asked! How will cooperation and compensation work when agents don’t belong to the same MLS? Currently cooperation flows to the brokerage. Even more concern was voiced about abuse of MLS credentials if a change is made. Carl DeMusz talked about how they already have a local MLS policy allowing the splitting of offices and have an audit trail process – but compensation is more complicated. What would the impact be on set budgets and contracts based on membership (per member prices with minimums)? Feedback: MLS@realtors.org.
We received an update from the MLS Consolidation Resources work group. The group has selected T3 to assist the group in putting together resources about how to consolidate. A partial delivery will be made in September and the rest will be provided by NAR in November.
Board of Directors
The NAR Board of Directors approved additional funds for Upstream. The original $6,000,000 has lasted until this point, and the board approved an additional $500,000 for 2017 and $1,000,000 for 2018 to be provided to Upstream from NAR reserves as a loan. The board also approved up to $7,500,000 to be provided to RPR to build Upstream. Inman reported some additional conditions on the funding:
- UpstreamRE will obtain written letters of intent from MLSs confirming their commitment to configure their systems to work with the “post-MLS API” and they will each deliver broker data via the API all at no charge to Upstream, the requesting broker, or RPR.
- UpstreamRE will aim to maintain a user base that will be charged a sufficient amount to generate annualized revenue in an amount that at least offsets the cost of providing the Upstream technology from RPR.
- UpstreamRE LLC Board and Executive Committee will continue to set and maintain policy and strategic direction, including the strategic plan, an annual business plan, and all legal and insurance requirements of Upstream operations.
- Upstream LLC will provide a 3-5 year business plan to NAR/RPR by June 30, 2018.
- Both NAR Managers will serve on the Upstream Executive Committee.
- The Upstream CEO will work directly with the NAR CEO (or his/her designee).
MLS Policy Decisions
All committee-recommended policy changes passed, including audio display for IDX, lockbox policy revisions, and the broker-attribution requirement.
The NAR board made a variety of other decisions for areas to advocate / lobby, including a recommendation that the CFPB be restructured as a five-person board whose members serve staggered, five-year terms with balanced political affiliation. That board would be appointed by the president and have to go through Senate confirmation. The group also affirmed the importance advocating for the continuation of federal conventional loan guarantees, making federally backed loans assumable, removing reverse mortgages from the calculation of the capital reserves, that rent controls unfairly restrict private property rights and that, similarly, controls that restrict owners from evicting tenants (within the bounds of the lease terms) are unfair.
Security Coming Back in Vogue
A number of issues this year are putting information security back on everyone’s lips. “MLS of Choice” is the big one, and there was a rush of MLSs engaging with Clareity about SAFEMLS Plus authentication – the only authentication system designed around the many unique use-cases we have in the real estate industry. While that system has focused on MLS revenue assurance in recent years, customers, especially those seeing the threat of wire fraud, are starting to request Clareity re-implement the proactive “blocking” authentication, at least as an option for some applications and/or as a user-by-user option. We expect that will be happening on request in many markets.
2018 MLS Executive Workshop – Save the Date!
MLS executives and staff and leadership, please consider joining us in Scottsdale, Arizona February 28 – March 2, 2018 for Clareity’s 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 when registration opens up late this summer.
That’s all, folks! Thanks for reading our 2017 NAR Midyear Report!
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