Some of our time at WAV Group involves supporting brokers and their technology vendors at problem solving. Yesterday we encountered an issue with the data feed to a vendor. The vendor claimed that everything was working. The broker knew this was not the case. So we got on a call and did a screen share to match the listings in their system to the listings in the MLS.

The marketing staff member for the broker is not a savvy expert of using the MLS. But the broker does pay associate fees every month so she has access and she goes to training. In reality, she only logs in a few times a year to handle situations like this. The vendor had no clue how to search in the MLS as they never see inside. They can look at the data feed, but they cannot match that up with the MLS. WAV Group’s experiences helping MLSs choose their vendors and years of helping MLS vendors with their technology road map enable us to span the bridge. But what struck me in that moment is how overly complicated the MLS has become. And I don’t know why.

Any competent business professional should be able to look at the MLS system and operate it with the skills carried from using other software applications and online applications.

Our task yesterday involved pulling up all of the broker listings and sorting them in order based upon the last time they were updated. It took about 5 minutes, and we pulled it off. The brokerage has multiple offices so it involved delving into office ID lookups, writing each ID down, and creating a string search. It is the best way to do it in this particular system. (I will send a bottle of wine to the first person who sends me an email with the correct name of the MLS System). We accomplished the goal and realized that the MLS had made changes to the data feed and (according to the vendor) did not notify them. Problem solved. Remap the data; pay $1500 in vendor’s development fees for the custom work. Notify all of the agents so they can notify their sellers. Lament. Move along. Start new project to test every vendor getting a data feed from that MLS.

We enjoy the task of notifying the broker owner about what happened and the upcoming communication plan to the agents. We advise them of the new Quality Assurance project, and the potential that they will pay more vendor (and consulting) fees. We are not sure of the extent to which their systems have been impacted. The broker curses the MLS for breaking everything, but only to me. They don’t want to read the MLS Executive the riot act because the relationship is too important and they fear retribution.

What happened?

The MLS thought that the MLS System vendor was notifying everyone who gets the feed. The system vendor thought that the MLS was sending the notification. “Oops,” said the MLS Executive when I called. “No, we cannot roll back because our MLS vendor will charge us for that,” she continued. “You will just need to fix it on your end. Sorry that the broker will need to pay all of those fees. The MLS is not responsible for anything between the broker and their vendor.” Turn the page. Move along.

But today, after another great sunrise on the central coast, I saw some refreshing news from MRIS. They made a few name changes in the MLS to improve usability. They did not move the cheese (move the buttons), they just changed some names and improved usability.

“Revise” was changed to “Criteria.”

“Map Search” was changed to “Map.”

“Search” was changed to “Results.”

These are three very subtle changes that will make a world of difference to new users of their MLS system, without disrupting power users very much at all.

Sometimes, doing little things can go a long way and improve usability. At other times a subtle change can break everything. Here is the difference. Some MLSs are well run and others are not. This is why some brokers love their MLS and others think that they are incompetent and should go away. Both brokers make compelling cases.