Having grown up in the MLS business and seeing it evolve from the days when we replaced books with MLS systems to today, where MLS sales are only made through taking a competitor’s account, I know how competitive the MLS technology landscape is. Over the past 20 years or so, we have also seen this market mature and with that maturation we have also seen intense price pressure placed on our MLS vendors to the point today where I question whether we have gone too far. MLS vendors today are the cornerstone of our entire real estate technology industry. Nothing works without them, not Realtor.com, not Zillow, not all of the IDX sites, etc., and yet the receive a tiny per member fee per month compared to many fees paid by brokers and agents for relatively “lighter” products that rely on their MLS database to exist. Even so, there are individuals throughout our MLS business that continue to innovate and look for ways to raise the bar for everyone in our industry. Michael Wurzer at FBS is a great example of this type of innovation as evidenced by their recent blog on creating an API to be used to track consumer viewing activity on listings, even beyond their MLS product.
The basic idea is that many MLS systems and individual products can report back on listing viewing activity from their own product, however, when listings are syndicated, put on IDX and 3rd party VOW systems, etc., this process becomes more difficult. While most good listing web products will have some method for tracking consumer viewings of listings to know the full picture would require someone to look at many reports, if they were available. FBS has come up with an API that can be used, by any web product, including their competitors to show viewing activity on that listings, from the respective product, on a consolidated report on the FBS system. In Michael’s recent blog post he used the example of “Diverse Solutions”, an IDX supplier, to show how listing activity on a Diverse Solution IDX site can be reported back on a report generated on the FlexMLS system. We applaud both FBS and Diverse Solutions for this collaboration.
There is no question that this provides benefits to FBS in the process by creating a MLS product that will be more attractive to its users but in doing so FBS has acknowledged they are not the only player in the IDX arena, a space in which they also provide products. Rather than take an “us vs. them” approach in this instance they recognize that some forms of collaboration are good for everyone. This is something that brokers and agents need, a simple way to track what is working and what isn’t on the Internet. Too often we are flying blind and just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. Well done FBS and Diverse Solutions! We look forward to seeing how open other 3rd party vendors are to cooperating with this type of integration and whether other MLS vendors will soon follow suit. This is functionality we would certainly find valuable if we were looking at MLS products for the future.