WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey Report From September 23, 2011 to October 21, 2011 WAV Group fielded the WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey to participating MLSs.  66 MLSs, representing 33 different states and provinces participated in the survey at both staff and user level. 10,779 individual participants filled out the survey completely making it the largest survey of its kind.

National survey information serves as a great foundation to show you how your system stacks up with other MLS systems and what users are saying about each of these systems.  Thirteen vendor MLS systems had enough responses to be represented in the survey at both the staff and user level.

Staff vs. User Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction With MLS System

We believe it is important to gain both a staff opinion and a user opinion to understand user satisfaction clearly.   As you will see from the results, staff and user opinions often differ considerably.   Many questions within the survey asked for ratings on a 10-point scale, which allowed staff and users to provide a wide range of feedback. A number of key findings and trends were discovered in the survey results and  have been highlighted in the Executive Summary that is available below but  one of the  most interesting findings that was consistent throughout the survey is the  fact that staff tend to give higher ratings overall than users do.  When we  compare overall satisfaction with an MLS system, we see that staff give  their vendor’s technology a rating of 7.74 while users rate it at 6.687. Why is this? What is the reason?  Insights are gained by reviewing the user and staff comments but there is evidence that  what makes staff happy on a system differs from what makes real estate brokers and agents happy.  Analysis and a detailed explanation are available in the Executive Summary of WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey .

Some Key Findings Regarding Staff

MLS staff say that their vendors are doing a good job with Help Desk services.  These services received the highest ratings from staff.  Staff also report that overall service and communication from their MLS vendor is very good.  What staff reports isn’t as good is the quality of upgrade features and the debugging process that is done prior to implementation.  Each vendor varies some on this but this rating was consistently lower across the board. Within the open end comments the most repeated complaint by staff, on some select systems,  was their MLS system’s browser compatibility and how some MLS systems are still not cross-browser compatible.   Another topic that the staff heavily commented about was the system’s mobile technology, or lack thereof. Mobile technology is emerging as a pivotal industry tool, yet it appears that the MLS systems are not making the grade yet in MLS staff’s eyes.  They believe there is a real need for MLS vendors to upgrade their mobile technology to meet their user needs.  Real estate is a mobile business and the staff realize that agents want to be out in the field with a tablet and a MLS application that possesses the same functionality as the website from their desk and they report it is not there yet.

What is Staff Most Unhappy With?

Below are examples of staff open end comments to the question – “What are you most unhappy with?”

  • The current product is not cross-browser compatible, there is no real mobile technology, and only recently a decent public records product was developed. 
  • Length of time it takes to implement fixes or changes
  • The technology is outdated and they haven’t been quick enough in their response. 
  • I enjoy working with the crew but my members are not happy with the outdated technology. 

Overall, however, staff appear happy with their vendors.  Staff ratings and comments have showed that they are content with the support, ease of use, and communications, but less happy with the state of certain elements of the technology, such as mobile applications. Read more in the Executive Summary of WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey.

Some Key Findings Regarding Users

User ratings differed considerably. As you may expect with mature technology,  support and reliability have rated consistently high throughout the systems. With such a positive response in regards to support, vendors can feel good about helping the agents and brokers adapt and use new technology efficiently to conduct business.  Additionally, the speed of the systems and their overall ease of use rated highly among users. WAV Group is very happy to see that “Ease of Use” received a solid overall rating as this is a huge key to adoption as detailed in our recent white paper, “Real Estate Technology – Keys to Adoption”. No system was perfect, however, as there were key findings and trends that MLS systems should take into consideration. According to the users, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Results showed that users are consistently less happy with certain aspects of the MLS systems across the board.   The two areast that received the highest number of negative comments were mapping and mobile technology.  Within the mapping feature there were numerous complaints about the map not being up to date, addresses being inaccurate along with overall technology glitches that made working with maps difficult.   Open end comments have shown that a large amount of users go to Google Maps instead of using the map within the MLS system because of the issues they have experienced. This raises a red flag suggesting that the mapping feature must be improved in terms of accuracy and ease of use. Open end comments by users regarding mapping satisfaction included:

  • The drawing tools are cumbersome and take getting used to. The map also doesn’t allow for a mis-step. If you make a mistake you have to clear what you have and start over. 
  • Very difficult to use and get the areas you want, a lot of guessing involved and it comes up with sketchy results.
  • I prefer to use my MAC or my iPhone but our MLS system does not work well with Apple products. Usually a non-agent designs the system so the needs are different, the system could use some updating. 

On mobile technology users have expressed a desperate need for an actual mobile application that can be used on their iPhones, iPads, Droids and other devices thats offers the same functionality as the website. A high number of complaints about the mobile tools have been submitted, across all of the MLS systems. Users want to be mobile. They want to work from their car, generate reports,  email listings to their clients from their phones and tablets, and they want to be able to do this now as applications are in high demand. MLS vendors, in order to satisfy this need should consider  actual mobile applications (not just browser based access) in which the users have access to the same functions that are available on the website in an easy to use format. Open end comments regarding mobile technology:

  • My clients get better info from the Internet for free than I do and I pay for the information.
  • Try to make it similar to the system we use on our regular computers. Might be hard in a mobile setting, but try to make things look similar, similar steps in searching, etc.
  • The mobile platform doesn’t seem to be made for smaller hand held devices and works better with laptops and iPads. It is slow and does not have the same amount of information as listings in the regular MLS user interface.

Other issues arise within uploading photos, search functionality, the amount of information available on a listing, high costs, and the availability of public records (tax information). These and many other issues are outlined and analyzed in detail within the Executive Summary of WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey .

The WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey Executive Summary is available for free to anyone interested in the results.  MLSs that participated in the survey received a complimentary MLS System report, for all respondents nationwide using their specific MLS system.  Participants also received a free “comparison chart with averages/means for all vendors”  on all of the rating questions as a special thanks for their participation. A number of additional MLS report options are available as outlined in Attachment 1 of the Executive Summary.  Due to the number of participants and number of MLS systems reviewed the survey results offer a wealth of insightful and valuable data that can be helpful to any MLS reviewing their technology options.

WAV Group provides full technology evaluation services and can help your MLS through this process whether you are interested in an industry/technology update or would like to do a full “Request for Proposal”.

For more information on WAV Group services, please do not hesitate to contact us at: Office:  716-839-4628 Email:  mike@wavgroup.com FREE DOWNLOAD – Executive Summary of WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology Survey  WAV Group would like to thank all of the MLSs and individual respondents that participated.