For years the industry – especially associations and MLSs – has been telling agents, “Now that the listings are online you have to redefine your value proposition with consumers.” Yet, not many MLSs have spent the time to consider how the listings going online might mean that they too should consider redefining how they create value with their broker and agent stakeholders. The new Council of MLS “Making the Market Work” campaign has been a good start, centering on three core MLS benefits:
- Confidence: The MLS safeguards market information and enforces rules that govern market participation. This allows real estate professionals to do their jobs with a confidence that would not otherwise exist.
- Connections: The MLS creates connections between professionals with properties to sell and those with clients who may buy them. It is the platform on which those who make transactions happen to come together.
- Community: The MLS sustains a dynamic community of professionals where competitors cooperate to make homeownership happen.
Clareity urges MLS operators to promote the CMLS “Making the Market Work” campaign, because the current mass perception of MLS is that it is just a place to advertise the homes with some private fields available for professionals, makes the MLS vulnerable. Stefan Swanepoel’s D.A.N.G.E.R. report suggested that there might well be “entry by a new player”. While we all know that it’s not easy to move the market, it could be done if the offer is compelling enough. According to the Accenture Strategy 2016 Global Consumer Pulse Survey, 77 percent of all consumers admitted they now retract their loyalty more quickly than they did three years ago. The MLS cannot be complacent about its own subscribers. Is there really that high a barrier to someone else taking on the role of maintaining confidence, connections, and community?
What are some ways that MLSs could help firm up its position with respect to these core MLS benefits?
- The MLS industry, via the Council of MLS, could develop core standards for MLS data integrity business rules. Helping enforce the creation of good data via these rules is at the heart of the well-run marketplace that MLSs help create. It’s a critical part of what separates MLSs from unregulated online advertising websites. Still, this is an area where many MLSs could become stronger. Developing core standards for MLS business rules is more feasible today than it has been in the past because RESO (with Clareity’s help) has been developing a common way to articulate business rules via a RESO standard that is understandable by business people. Together, we can raise the bar for MLSs creating confidence in their market.
- The MLS industry can develop core standards for compliance services for data integrity, data distribution, maintaining fair online advertising using the compilation (IDX, VOW), and other uses. Part of this relates to the previously mentioned business rules and building confidence in the marketplace, but it goes well beyond that, toward ensuring that all parties are playing by the same rules in practice – a key element of maintaining our community of competitors that work well together.
- MLSs could play a greater role in strengthening other elements of cooperation beyond data integrity and display that create confidence and professional community. This could include developing and implementing standards for subscribers with respect to being responsive to information requests and showing requests. It could also include participation in a more secure electronic system that could help reduce the risk of wire fraud.
Consider the kind of government regulation the industry could be facing with respect to wire fraud. MLSs could be a part of getting ahead of that, if better secured and organized. Many MLSs have already implemented strong authentication but others have weak security. Clareity is prepared to help ramp up the strength of identity management for its customers even further as information security becomes more important to more MLSs and other stakeholders once again. There is still work for MLSs to do to create the more secure professional environment that is becoming an important part of managing a confident community where professionals connect and cooperate.
There has always been a negotiation between MLSs and brokers with regard to what functions and technologies belong with the MLS and which belong with brokers. It is worth re-engaging on the subject of what areas should be considered part of “cooperation” and an MLS function as well as how the bar can be raised in those areas already well established as the purview of MLS.
Share this post: