Aug. 3, 2012 –
Here are some of the takeaways from the Inman Real Estate Connect MLS track:
- Vendors entering the industry are still frustrated by non-standardized data, the difficult path to be approved to receive data, and the variation in fees -which can range from $0 to $35,000 per year in different markets. (Joel MacIntosh, CEO of Wolfnet Technologies)
- RESO, working on real estate data standards, has been funded by over 50 charter members. This is a great starting point, but I can’t believe that more haven’t stepped up. Please do so, if you haven’t already.
- The holy grail of real estate data standards, the “data dictionary” of over 500 fields and associated values was approved earlier this year as a part of RETS. Vendors and MLS customers should be discussing how quickly this will be implemented (ASAP!) and the plan for offering old and new in parallel to help vendors transition.
- There’s a RESO workgroup to create a new means of moving the data around (a “transport”). This will be a new standard API (application programming interface) for moving the data around. MLSs should get committments from their vendors on getting this implemented after it is approved – hopefully at the RETS meeting this fall.
- Real estate software developers have no interest in proprietary APIs for moving listing and related data around – hopefully vendors that have been working on proprietary APIs got the message loud and clear at Inman this year. I know this probably wasn’t welcome news for some.
- Fees for access to data were discussed, but not with dollar details that would be a problem from an antitrust perspective. Takeaways were: create logical policies around cost recovery. Cost recovery is about more than bandwidth and server resources – there are significant administrative costs. Tiered pricing was discussed to accomodate different levels of use and Sam Scott had some great advice: “It’s hard to get people to pay for the past activity. Better to charge for the future – you don’t want to have to tell people they went over their limit and now owe this much more and be in a collections posture.”
- Social media, especially Facebook is one of the most effective new ways to reach subscribers with a message. Clareity’s Amy Geddes made a great point:”I use it as a listening tool. I don’t think people use it enough as a listening tool. It’s good for broadcasting but it’s important to listen to subscribers. People are surprised – pleasantly – when they complain and you respond well.” Some MLSs have people dedicated to monitoring social media for subscriber issues.
Inman 2012 Track Takeaways
- Mobile continues to grow and requires attention. Amy Geddes says, “We need to stop talking mobile strategy and start talking device optimization strategy. They don’t expect limited functionality on a smaller screen – they expect to be able to do anything.” Jim Harrison says, “Our customers expect it to be free, part of the MLS system. We have a mobile product that both subscribers and consumers can use. It needs to be free and everybody has access to it.”
- Brian Larson, talking about the challenge of MLS progress, said, “Subscribers want you to do stuff, but you are burdened with legacy customers that don’t want you to do stuff and not spend their money. Don’t worry about them – do what you need to do.” I have a slightly different and more concise take on this when I consult to MLS executives: “Listen – but Lead!”
- My favorite Russ Bergeron quote of the day: “If you’re already a bad Realtor, all technology will do will make you badder faster.” Russ talked about the need for larger MLS databases – “It doesn’t matter where the data sits – like in the cloud. You’ll still always have the local presence.”
- “An MLS needs both great staff and a great elected leadership,” says Bob Hale. MLSs need to refocus on ownership and governance. This never seems to change, does it?
- Cameron Paine made a related point from the floor: “The industry is in danger and in trouble because the kind of knowledge you [on stage] have is not filtering down to those who never attend these meetings. It’s great for us to have the model, but the model you pursue involves skill, a great board of directors, and money, which speaks to consolidation and a number of other things. How do we get the word down to the 800 MLSs that never attend these meetings that there are minimum standards [of service] that should be in place. That’s tough, because every AE thinks their MLS is the best.”
Much more was said, and my extended notes are available to recent Clareity Consulting clients on request.
Share this post: