CMLS 2010 was a great conference – kudos to Russ and his crew! With two solid days of content, I’m not even going to try to provide a comprehensive view – but following are my favorite takeaways:
From Stefan Swanepoel – MLSs should give agents the tools they need to provide high tech content/data and facilitate the e-transaction. I covered this in depth in my own speech to CMLS two years ago (http://tinyurl.com/43qmzg). We need to raise the bar for the profession. The primary education needs are understanding the market/mortgage, improved negotiating, understanding short sale/distressed sales, and quicker response to inquiries. Only half of one percent of Realtors have gone through a designation course with specific negotiating training. Stefan complains that high requirements have been deemed too “restrictive” – I agree that this is troublesome. While many younger agents have left the business during the downturn, 50% agents plan to retire in 10 yrs – MLSs and Associations may need to plan for this.
There was a lot of buzz at the conference about Yardi acquiring Point2 Technologies (http://tinyurl.com/2ahhx6d) – especially after the recent Move.com acquisition of Threewide/ListHub. See Vendor Alley for Greg Robertson’s take on this: http://www.vendoralley.com/2010/10/01/why-yardi-bought-point2/
Matt Dollinger, who works at an up and coming Chicago brokerage, gave my favorite speech of the conference. He laid out an inspiring vision of leadership and a process for creating it. MLSs face a disconnect with their customers and their customers. Many agents don’t think MLS provides value beyond the data – which the agents provide to the MLS in the first place. They see the MLS as an inaccessible castle with a ‘pay dues here’ mailslot. Fixing this will take leadership. To be a leader, nurture your first followers as equals and be follower yourself. The first follower risks ridicule and transforms the lone nut into a leader. Leaders and their evangelists share knowledge in a human and vulnerable fashion.
I was impressed both by Jonathan Hill from MRIS, presenting RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI) –http://www.rbintel.com/ and by Mark Allen, presenting Minneapolis Association of REALTORS / 10k’s “The Thing” – http://www.10kresearch.com/ – both are good options from MLSs to help Realtors provide value to consumers through market analytics.
There was a great discussion of standards by Mark Lesswing, Art Carter and Pat Bybee. If you’ve read my recent blog posts about RETS, you’ve got the picture already. To quote Art Carter, “There is nothing more important for encouraging innovation in our industry than standards”.
There was a discussion about “agent ratings”. Keep an eye out for the release of Peoria Association of Realtors’ “Rate Your Experience” open source software during or just after the upcoming NAR meetings. In Peoria, brokers are considering replacing their own surveys with this software, which allows them to monitor consumer satisfaction with all parts of the transaction. Agent ratings are going to happen – it’s best if organized real estate provides the mechanism for this rather than third parties. Brian Larson made the great point that if Associations/MLSs make these ratings – especially comments – public facing, they may need “Publishers Liability Insurance”.
My partner Gregg Larson presented the results of a survey, conducted in cooperation with RealTrends / Steve Murray, where brokers were asked their opinion on common MLS initiatives. MLSs will find this illuminating, and I am conducting this survey in local markets too. The report is available here: http://www.callclareity.com/2010-MLS-Initiatives-Survey-for-Brokers.pdf
A good quote from Brian Boero: “Don’t let MLSs become ‘dumb pipes'” Rob Hahn discussed the MLS value proposition later: compliance, data integrity, cooperation, compensation. I think there are a lot more than that, though those are some good ones to start with.
I’m looking forward to CMLS 2011 in Tucson. But first, I’ll see many of you at NARdiGras and at Clareity’s MLS Executive Workshop next March (http://www.callclareity.com/MLSWorkshop/) – and of course, when I visit you individually, consulting.
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