I am not sure if anyone is allowed to use Apple’s famous App Store name, but lets suffice it to say that the term App Store is familiar to most – so lets use that anyway. The key components of an App Store are Instant delivery, Platform Specific, eCommerce enabled. This is really important to understand because FBS truly is launching the first real MLS App Store. This is different from the RE Technology Success Store, which we call an App Store, but it is really an eCommerce solution. Let me explain:
The key component of an App Store is that when you buy something, you download it or install it and it works. It works immediately. Think of the iPhone App Store, or the Adroid Market or the Blackberry Marketplace. When you go to the app store and click the install or buy now button, you are alive in an instant.
For real estate technology products, instant means instant access. Most real estate products do not need to be installed. Rather, the subscriber needs to gain instant access to the product via single sign on or username and password. Next comes configuration: personalizing the application with branding or localization features.
My hopes are that the personalization attributes for agents and brokers become available to vendors for automatic provisioning.
All of today’s App Stores are platform specific. Platform specific means that there are business rules. For example, you must have a specific version of hardware or software to have access to the App – like an iPhone 4S or operating version 5.1. Otherwise you are not allowed to play.
The MLS is a perfect Platform environment for business rules. The MLS has participants (brokers) and subscribers (Agents); REALTORS and Non-REALTORS. This information is generally curated accurately in the MLS subscriber Roster. I say generally because the roster data bases are sometimes a mess – full of duplicates, and inaccurate contact information. Much in the way that there is no clean single source of property records in America; there is no clean source of real estate agent and broker information. The closest thing is a NERDS Id for REALTORS, but that is missing all of the non-REALTORS.
My hope is that MLS App Stores will somehow find a path to circumvent the need for the three party data license agreement by replacing it with some form of instant click through agreement between all parties.
Fundamental to any App Store is the ability to manage transactions: some recurring monthly or annually; some one time only; others free and so on. In real estate, that gets very complex, especially in a regional MLS. Regional MLSs will need to support Association offerings and differentiate Association offerings without creating competition between Associations. If one Association offers a product like digital signatures as a member benefit via a site license; and another Association does not – the agent member needs to see the correct offering. Again, this is permission accuracy issue, but technically it is easy to support if the agent roster is accurate. Moreover, some products are only available to REALTORS. Furthermore, some or all of these products are only available if the subscriber is current in their dues. Lastly, some brokers who offer competitive products to their agents may not want the MLS to LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD.
The App Store is the future of MLS service provisioning. It may generate MLS non-dues revenues, allow subscribers to pay for the services they use, or even emerge as something that makes MLS service free. If you are putting a strategy together for an App Store, we hope that you will call WAV Group. We have a great understanding of the current industry offerings from RE Technology and Zurora. We are building a deeper understanding of FBS Spark. We are happy to talk on the phone with you or your board of directors to discuss your plan. We can also meet at NAR Midyear.
Fundamental to success with launching an App Store is a strong strategy, articulated goals, reporting, and marketing. Today’s agents and brokers will need to learn to visit the App Store. If you think that they will come just because your built it, you will fail.
For more reading:
- Figuring out MLS Non-Dues Revenue
- How Metrolist, MRIS, and MLSListings are winning with the App Store.
- 1000Watt Consulting writes about the App Store.
- FBS Announcement of the App Store.
- RE Technology Launches App Store.