View of the Orange County, FL convention center from guest room at the Peabody
MLS Policy Forum
This was quite the lively session.
Mona Steen provided an RPR update: RPR now provides logins for all Realtors, they deployed a new CMA tool, they have further rolled out the commercial app (which Clareity reviewed in its NAR midyear report back in the spring), and RPR has released additional appraisal tools.
On the subject of social media, Todd Carpenter (once of NAR, now at Trulia) gave a great presentation explaining why listings don’t belong on social media – the big quote many took away from the whole session was from his presentation: “People go to Google to find things. People go to Facebook to find people.” He did show one good use of Facebook to feature a listing – where an agent at an open house posted a picture of the view from his own listing, and told his Facebook friends they may want to stop by to visit.
NAR’s recommended change to MLS policy with regard to “social media” did pass. In a nutshell, MLSs are allowed, but not required, to create new rules allowing participants to use each others listings outside of the IDX/VOW contexts, as long as the new rules don’t conflict with the law and the MLS provides broker opting. MLSs have always been allowed to do this (syndication is a case in point – it is not a part of MLS policy), so it didn’t really matter if this passed or not. Matt has written extensively about this on his blog:
The most contentious part of the session related to lockboxes. There is no consensus on whether lockboxes should be a core, basic, or optional MLS service – in fact there was passionate disagreement. The group sent this back for more discussion, so for now it remains an optional service. Cathy Libby of MREIS made the smartest point of this session – that MLSs all over the country provide many, many services as part of their core that are not listed as core in MLS policy – a thorough re-evaluation should be undertaken. It is Clareity’s opinion that it should be left up to local MLSs whether lockboxes – and many other services – should be core or not. Of course, local MLSs should always consult an attorney when adding new core services to ensure that there are no anti-trust tying concerns.
Trade Show Floor
Following are highlights from the Expo:
Chase was fielding a myNewHome mobile app. This app lets consumers take and store photos, video and notes on heir favorite houses, calculate estimated monthly payments, prequalify for a (Chase) mortgage, and review listings and connect with agents – we assume just those that work with Chase and submit their listings, since listing inventory in the app was limited. We think that the photo, video, and notes functionality should be core to client collaboration in the MLS – or at the very least in showing applications better integrated to that part of the MLS.
There was a new MLS data statistics tool being demonstrated – RE:Focus. This mobile app is offered to agents by IDX vendor a la mode. It didn’t appear as extensive as market leading statistics solutions yet but more competition is always good. Clareity recently wrote an extensive article on the larger market for such analytics tools, comparing two of the leaders – 10K and RBI. For more information:
There has been more innovation in the document and transaction management space. PropertyInfo’s SureClose now has a patented process for document compliance review.
DotLoop had the Back to the Future Delorean in its booth again. Note the Flux Capacitor and Hover Board that MJ Fox rode. This car still attracts people and seems to be a good booth prop. Second best traffic draw – only booth babes are better IMO. 😉
DocuSign may claim to be the exclusive signature provider to 1 million members, but buying the spot from NAR doesn’t mean they are the only ones in use. Authentisign is quite common, and there are others in the market as well. Docusign is also being used by millions of users outside of real estate, so one can expect more consumers to feel comfortable using DocuSign.
There were lots of rental applications – this is an area where some MLSs are evaluating as an area to provide service, and Clareity is considering having a session on this subject at the 2014 MLS Executive Workshop in late February. For more information on the Workshop, see http://www.callclareity.com/MLSWorkshop
In the Association Management System (AMS) space, there have been many complaints and issues all around – we’re not going to embarrass any one company in this report, but most of the companies in this space have a lot of work to do to improve customer satisfaction. A leading company remains remiss in getting its PCI security compliance for all but the lamest of implementations, where they don’t perform the transactions in their system at all. Another company has recently been tossed out of several associations after being seen as an alternative to the market leader which has been struggling for years – and this “new” alternative didn’t even return the association’s money when they failed to perform on the association web site they sold them on and flat out refused to integrate with an AMS competitor (I wish we had negotiated this contract). This company essentially “stole” a substantial deposit from this association that trusted them. Clareity hopes they don’t get any more AMS business from real estate.
The well-intentioned alternative to the AMS sector’s mess is RAMCO, the new system funded by NAR and managed as a co-op of state and local associations. RAMCO was well received by the associations and sold over 100 systems in a jiffy, but has had its share of growing pains and just paused all new customer implementations – probably for months – while they get their house in order. To quote a RAMCO representative, “We’re using this time to focus our resources on the associations we already have live to make sure they are getting the best possible support and experience that we can provide, as well as use the time to incorporate all the feedback from these first 50 customers to streamline and strengthen the product before adding new users.” This pause was needed to ramp up support staff and shore up the product, so it will be good thing in the long run, but it bites if you’re one of the associations that’s been waiting in line for two years.
Coolest New Product Name
The award this year is not a technology product, but rather a “new model” broker. The company’s name is YourFutureAddress and was started by a turbo-charged young lady named Katie Yeager in Kansas City determined to save consumers money and compete with traditional brokerage models and the big brands. We’ve all seen our share of discount brokers, but rarely do they flourish or become highly profitable. Look at Zip Realty, for example. After all these years and tens of millions invested, they are still struggling to be profitable. YourFutureAddress’s model is different, clever and profitable in its first year in KC and will be tested in other markets next year. This is a fresh face for a Flat Fee broker model that provides the full-service components consumers want.
When I saw this picture of a yard sign, the brand really made sense to me. The company’s pricing is on the signs and that transparency resonates well with consumers, especially those that don’t have substantial equity in their homes and investors. One investor listed five properties after seeing their yard sign.
Best Booth in Orlando
Homes.com won this prestigious award for two reasons:
- They had a longhaired hippy dude that was a comedian, singer, and actor playing a guitar and cracking people up while pimping Home.com and its products.
- They had an open bar. Seriously, free cocktails. I didn’t even know they let exhibitors do this inside their booth. Andy Wooley, VP at Homes.com, created a signature drink – the “Orange Crush Martini”. And the Homes.com employees wore neon orange shirts, so they were easy to spot. And the best part is that the employees can wear them deer hunting or hiking in the woods later this month.
Most Ironic SWAG at the Expo…
The most ironic swag award goes to Cartavi, the “paperless” document management company giving away INK PENS on the tradeshow floor. One has to appreciate pure irony when you see it in technology marketing…
Best of Show Award
Goomzee’s new mobile app for MLS. This is what an iPad app should look like and this is what Apple users expect – fast and sexy! Goomzee benchmarked its mobile app’s performance against the leading consumer apps from Zulia, R.com and Redfin, and ended up proving it is many times faster than Redfin, the fastest of the consumer apps. So, Goomzee is delivering a professional-grade tool that is faster than the popular consumer apps with real-time queries to the MLS database. In addition to just the listings, Goomzee is including public records and rich neighborhood information, not available in most MLSs let alone MLS mobile apps.
For more info: www.goomzee.com
There were two new MLS systems on the floor – LPS’s REInsight (freshly deployed at Georgia MLS), and Solid Earth’s Spring. There’s a lot to say about each – Clareity will blog about these new systems in the next few days, but here’s a teaser:
LPS’ REInsight has been several years in the making at Georgia MLS in Atlanta and LPS has millions invested in a new parcel based system. This is not Paragon 6, this software is new from the ground up was designed for larger MLSs with 5,000 or more members.
Solid Earth’s new Spring MLS system is also new software, not an update to List-It. It has a very clean interface that looks and feels more like a national real estate consumer portal than your father’s MLS system.
CoreLogic’s Matrix system is on a roll – the $30M investment seems to be paying off with Metrolist (Denver) and 12 other MLS victories for Matrix since last year’s acquisition. Matrix has the most sales momentum of any system in a long time.
LPS Paragon 5 is starting to gain some accounts as well, winning Santa Fe, and some big wins that just aren’t announced quite yet.
FBS had a big takeaway victory, recently winning the business at Regional MLS in Florida.
Clareity is currently consulting on four MLS RFPs and vendor/system selections and will start two more in December. We also met a few more MLS groups in Orlando interested in shopping around because their contracts are up in 2013/2014. We haven’t seen this level of unrest and potential movement of customers in several years. There will be interesting opportunities for the companies with the best products. Several MLSs have asked, which vendor has the best mobile solution? We have been answering this, “it doesn’t matter, because it looks like there will be multiple mobile solution options in 2013, regardless of which vendor you have.” This new level of mobile app competition is good for the industry especially if agents actually go from having limited mobile options to a choice of several mobile applications.
NAR Board Key Decisions
To expand the association’s membership base, the board approved eligibility criteria to add the staffs of international affiliated organizations as NAR affiliate members. The board also added a student category for those in post-secondary education and not yet licensed in real estate but with an interest in real estate disciplines. Meeting after the board, the Delegate Body approved both new membership categories.
Clareity Comment: NAR is trying to hook ‘em young – an interesting move that could increase its membership and get college students interested in real estate. Since most college students are broke, the revenue from this effort will be nominal, but this is a great way to attract young, educated people to consider a career in real estate – and get hooked on the NAR brand and services early. Smart move.
On the online display of listings, the board added a policy allowing, but not requiring, MLSs to let brokerages display or distribute other brokerages’ listings electronically using communication channels other than VOWs (virtual office websites) and IDX (Internet data exchanges) displays. Even where MLSs choose to allow such displays or distribution, brokerages can’t be required to consent to such displays.
Clareity Comment: This means it remains up to the local MLS to determine its display rules on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The most common “abuse” we’ve seen is where one agent uses other agent’s active or sold listings as bait to attract consumers by promoting other people’s work in a fuzzy (at best) way. For example, a Tweet that says “3BR 3BA 3200 sq ft CopperWynd home sold in 7 days for $25,000 more than appraisal!” – when the agent Tweeting that had nothing to do with the transaction. MLS leaders – be careful what practices you allow or you may find yourselves having to tighten it down later and potentially confusing and re-educating your members again.
NAR Finance Highlights
- Still a Million Strong. Treasurer Bill Armstrong announced NAR’s 2012 membership number at 1,006,000.
- NAR bought a building for the association’s lockbox company, Sentrilock to lease. The company lease payments and the leasing of the remaining space is expected to yield 8-10 percent annually.
Clareity Comment: Another smart real estate investment led by Bill Armstrong.
The Nominating Committee announced its recommendations for the association’s 2014 slate of officers, to be voted on by the board next year at its May 2013 meeting in Washington, D.C.:
- Steve Brown, Dayton, OH, President
- Chris Polychron, Hot Springs, AK., Vice President
- Mike McGrew, Lawrence, KS., Treasurer
- Tom Salomone, Coral Springs, FL., First Vice President
- Jim Helsel, Camp Hill, PA., is also running for First Vice President, and the Nominating Committee determined Helsel is qualified to serve in the office.
Clareity Comment: For those who don’t know, since there are two candidates running for First Vice President, that means that Tom Salomone and Jim Helsel are competing to become 2016 NAR president. Jim is a commercial broker and an NAR insider as their past Treasurer, and Tom is a career Realtor who’s parents were Realtors, and a “fresh face” to NAR leadership. It will be interesting to see who prevails.
RPAC raised $7.2 million in 2012, a 17 percent increase over last year, and saw a 30 percent increase in the member participation rate.
Clareity Comment: That’s pretty amazing considering the economy this year. Congrats to the RPAC leadership and NAR staff.
Realtors Property Resource®
The board heard an update on Realtors Property Resource® (RPR), which launched three years ago and was opened to all members in November. RPR provides data, analytics and report tools based on its database of 150 million parcels of real estate in the United States. RPR has partnered with MLSs, associations and others, representing 425 markets and almost 70 percent of REALTORS®. Now that it’s available nationally, all members can access RPR’s database and use its analytical, valuation, and reporting tools, although the data depth is greater in markets with participating MLSs. RPR also launched a commercial version of its tools.
Directors heard a report on NAR’s new “crowdsourced” strategic planning initiative called REThink the Future of Real Estate (rethinkfuture.com; #rethinkfuture). Elizabeth Mendenhall, 2012 Strategic Planning Committee chair, encouraged members to participate in the coming months. Workshops will be held throughout the country, and there will also be opportunities to participate online. The first strategic plan incorporating the new approach will be released by the committee in November 2013.
The items above were selected from NAR Board of Director’s decisions report. For the full report, click here: http://www.realtor.org/articles/decisions-from-the-nar-board-of-directors.
People on the Move
|Person||Old Gig||New Gig|
|Cindy Butts||CEO, Maine Association||CEO, Connecticut Association|
|Cliff Long||CEO, Emerald Coast Association of REALTORS||CEO, Birmingham Association of REALTORS|
|Peggy Hummel||CEO, REALTORS Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beaches||CEO, Sanibel and Captiva Islands Association of REALTORS|
|Bill Barnes||Bonita Springs Estero Association of REALTORS||Retired|
|Matt Maire||CEO, Austin Board of REALTORS||??|
|Carrie Kendall||EO, Lafayette Regional Association of REALTORS||General Manager, Indiana Regional MLS & EO, Lafayette Regional Association of REALTORS|
|Tracy Weir||Chief Marketing Officer, Inman||Consulting on Clareity’s SSO portal and E-Commerce Store|
|Chris Smith||Chief Evangelist, Inman||Freelance work with DotLoop, Nudge and others|
|Katie Lance||Social Media Director, Inman||Freelance work with Inman and others|
|Tim Smith||CEO Inman News||Last time we spoke, he was on a friend’s yacht having a martini|
|Nobu Hata||Edina Realty/YPN President||Director of Digital Engagement, NAR|
|Heather Elias||CEO of LoCoMusings||Director of Social Business Practice at NAR|
|Rob Overman||CTO at ShowingTime||CEO at Noshun Software|
|Brad Bjelke||Private Practice Attorney & Rapattoni||CRMLS: VP and General Counsel|
|Freddy Sarabia||Director of Business Strategy, RMLS FL||REBNY Data Manager|
Clareity Security’s User Group
Clareity Security held its 8th annual Customer User Group Forum on Saturday afternoon. Thanks to 50+ customers who attended. For customers or prospects that couldn’t make it, here is a quick overview of the content:
Scout for SAFEMLS Release (SU21) was announced as fully released to production. If you haven’t been contacted by someone from team Clareity Security already, you will be soon for free training and an overview of the new features.
normal;text-autospace:none’>SAFEMLS Benchmark Reports – a new version of the popular Remediation reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of SAFEMLS has been created to include more information on the profile of a shared account. All customers will receive a benchmark report at least twice yearly.
Product Roadmap – Amy Geddes, COO, walked the customers through the Fall release. Many of the new features were customer requests. One major enhancement is the optional mobile device registration, providing MLSs much better control and understanding of its mobile usage and mobile device access.
SAFE Syndication – Amy Geddes reported that eight customers are now live with SAFE Syndication. The many best practices for using it as a compliance tool have been identified, creating improved productivity for MLS staff. Integration with REDataVault was also completed recently.
SSO and the Clareity Store – Over the past year, Clareity Security has developed and delivered Single-Sign-On (SSO) Portals for SAFEMLS customers. The portals are a popular way to deliver superior convenience to MLS subscribers while also visually presenting the value of ALL the services the MLS offers (beyond the MLS system). The SSO portals have also increased adoption of third party products. Clareity announced the Clareity Store which will be available in the first quarter of 2012. This e-commerce solution builds on the popularity and convenience of the SSO portal and enables Associations and MLSs to offer members a greater choice of products and services and generate additional revenue. Response to the Clareity Store has been positive from both vendors and MLS customers. Clareity Security looks forward to working with existing and new customers on this exciting offering!
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Party Round Up
Dancing, dominos and drinks were aplenty at the ListHub bash sponsored by Clareity Security. Chocolate cigars courtesy of an authentic and smoking-hot (pun intended) Cuban ‘cigar girl’ were a big hit and the 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe made for awesome photo ops! The ListHub Rum Riot at Cuba Libre lived up to its title!
Gregg and Lisa Larson (Wife 2.0. Happily married since April!)
The CoreLogic party, sponsored by Clareity Security, ShowingTime and Sentrilock, was EPIC! BB King’s was packed to the rafters with industry professionals who danced the night away to an amazing house band. Twinkling lanyards, an open bar and great music made this the best party at NAR!
Trulia invested some of its newly acquired IPO cash on customer relations and threw an impressive party at the ICE Bar in Orlando. The ICE Bar is a “cool” venue that features the largest permanent ice bar in the world. If you were looking for a chilled martini, this was the place to be on Friday evening. The Trulia gang was out front to greet you and snap your photo next to the Mercedes E550 they were giving away at NAR. These guys nailed the way to get agents to fill out their profile on Trulia with the chance to win that ride! If the premium liquor open bar, cool venue and a chance to win a Mercedes weren’t enough to entice you – Trulia had reality TV star Josh Altman of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles on hand to pose for pics and party it up with the crowd. Nice work putting those IPO proceeds to good use Trulia! NAR attendees love a good party.
Clareity Consulting’s Impromptu Focus Group
Clareity Consulting hosted the most exclusive education sessions in Orlando.
On Saturday, Clareity invited five MLS executives and five brokers to discuss two late-breaking agenda items on Sunday morning over coffee in our suite.
Anti-Scraping solution – Many of you have seen Curt Beardsley of Realtor.com describe the hundreds of thousands of data scraping attacks Realtor.com blocks daily. Matt Cohen of Clareity Consulting has researched anti-scraping for more than 12 years and never found a solution that was viable and affordable. Clareity has recently worked with a company to design a solution optimized for the real estate industry and make it scalable so it is practical for agent/broker IDX and VOW sites, public-facing MLS sites, and the national publishers. The response from the MLS execs and brokers in Orlando was YES, we’re very interested in this! The positive feedback provided Clareity Consulting the confidence to proceed with several beta tests in December to help determine the current pervasiveness of the data-scraping problem on the local level.
NAREP – the National Association of Real Estate Professionals was recently co-founded by Ben Cabellero, a broker for 41 years, whose parents were also REALTORS®. NAREP’s primary mission is to “STOP SYNDICATION ABUSE”. The group has attracted a number of brokers that “are fed up and not going to take it anymore” including a few very large and influential firms. NAREP states it is not anti-syndication, but rather is establishing rules based upon Clareity Consulting’s 2011 “Syndication Bill of Rights” for responsible syndication that restrict what publishers can do with a broker’s IP. If the publisher abides by those rules, they’ll continue to receive the listings of NAREP members. If not, NAREP members – and other brokers they educate – might individually choose to shut off the listing feed to the offending publisher. The brokers in the room were unanimously supportive of NAREP’s base mission. The group determined it would be better not to create another national listing site, but rather focus on recruiting members and enforcing the syndication rules. For more information, visit: www.narep.net and be sure to read their blog section.
Thank you to the MLS executives and brokers that attended this session and provided valuable feedback to Clareity Consulting and the founders of NAREP on these two separate, but loosely related topics.
That’s all folks! Thanks for reading our 2012 NAR Meeting and Expo Report!
2013 MLS Workshop – Register Now!
MLS executives and staff and leadership, 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 http://www.callclareity.com/MLSworkshop/
Scottsdale Plaza Resort A block of rooms at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort has been reserved. For reservations call(800) 832-2025 and specify the Clareity Consulting rate. http://www.scottsdaleplaza.com/
Clareity Consulting brings clients fresh insights and wide perspective gained by serving clients throughout the industry: associations and MLSs, brokerages, franchises, technology vendors, and others. Clareity’s services include:
|STRATEGIC AND BUSINESS PLANNING|
Clareity provides strategic, governance, and product/service business planning that bridges the gaps between strategy, tactics, and the timely activities needed to support your goals. Clareity also facilitates MLS regionalization & data shares.
From needs assessment and RFP to contract negotiation, for MLS, TMS, Public Records, and other offerings, Clareity’s structured processes help your organization make a good business decision with stakeholder involvement.
Clareity can address leadership or large groups on timely topics in an informative and fun way. Popular topics include MLS trends and system options, information security, and real estate technology trends, such as cloud computing and mobile technologies.
|COMPLIANCE AND RISK AUDITS|
Providing information security, risk management and business resumption planning, staffing and salary reviews, and VOW / IDX compliance audits, Clareity brings both an independent view and finely-honed technical skills.
|PRODUCT / SERVICE / SOFTWARE REVIEW|
Clareity performs customer surveys and market research, develops product strategies and specifications, performs usability and quality assurance, audits security, and facilitates user groups. Clareity also facilitates strategic alliances, mergers, and acquisitions.
Your business is only as successful as your leaders and employees, and Clareity has discreetly helped recruit some of the brightest minds in our industry for their current positions, both executive and technical.
|WEBSITE PLANNING AND REVIEW|
Clareity helps improve website design, usability, and content, accounting for key factors such as SEO and mobile experience. Clareity also creates specifications and helps clients select the best partners to produce, and provide compelling content for, their web applications.
Whether it’s a matter of the policies and practice of organized real estate or a more technical software dispute, Clareity can provide an expert witness with integrity and experience to conduct research, write expert opinions, and provide depositions and testimony.
For more information, please contact:
Or visit: http://www.CallClareity.com
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