MLSlisting LogoPerhaps its just because, or happenstance, or not. But MLSListings, based in the heart of the Silicon Valley in California, is the second MLS in the nation to join MRIS in RESO Server Certification. Like MRIS, MLSListings is a broker governed MLS. In truth, the title of the article was drafted to get you to read this article. The fact is that MRIS and MLSListings, along with many of the COVE Group MLSs repeatedly lead the industry in adopting best practices. Its in their DNA. And yes, Anne Bailey does a great job facilitating the COVE group and both of these MLSs are WAV Group clients.

RESO is real. The Data Dictionary has been out for a long time now and it is a shame that more MLSs in America have not converted. It is the very first step in the process of becoming compliant. Remember, for an MLS to be covered by NAR’s insurance – you must be RESO compliant. I guess only MRIS and MLSListings are – but that is another issue. NAR seems pretty relaxed in setting the bar high on MLS compliance with rules and requirements. Heck – there are still dozens and dozens of MLSs that do not have a RETS server yet – still forcing FTP. Still taking a year to approve a broker application for a new IDX/VOW vendor. Some continue to block brokers from getting data access to develop their own AVMs even in the light of the MLS policy committee and NAR clearly indicating that they must provide data for this purpose.
When broker networks like The Realty Alliance or Leading Real Estate Companies of the World send staff to tell these stories at places like CMLS – everyone gasps to learn that brokers are frustrated. The truth is that brokers are not frustrated by MLSs like MLSListings and MRIS. In fact, in reviewing their customer satisfaction surveys, I can confirm that their brokers are not frustrated. They are not upset. Leading MLSs are delighting their brokers.

Broker owned and broker governed MLSs are delighting their brokers. The problem lies at the bottom of the MLS industry, not at the top. It’s the small Association-Owned MLS that has a part-time job sharing CEO as its leader who is really underfunded in the effort to deliver world-class, industry-leading MLS services to brokers and agents. To be clear – I am not blaming the CEO. I am not condemning Association-Owned MLSs. In fact, HAR, Long Island, Kansas City, Miami, CRMLS, and many others are among the best run MLSs in the nation. The issue is size, revenue, and resources.

I do not know what a minimum number of members should be to establish a world-class MLS. But at a minimum, the CEO will need to make $100k per year. The CEO attending NAR Midyear, NAR Annual, CMLS, RESO, and doing strategic planning and member satisfaction is at least $100k per year.  $200k per year to just keep the CEO in the game is about $17k per month. That equates to $34 per user per month for a 500 subscriber MLS before you even consider an MLS solution, billing solution, support, data checker, tax system, RETS server, compliance, RETS application processing, and training. Unless MLS subscribers want to spend $100 to $150 per month, I think that there is a strong argument that 500 member MLSs are too small to be able to provide a minimum service level.

If you take that base sum of $200,000 and spread it over a 10,000 subscriber MLS, and you get a number of $1.60 per user per month. To be sure – it takes a lot more than one person to operate a 10,000 subscriber MLS – but the point about how scale lends efficiency to MLS leadership is clear. Many Regional MLSs were formed because they can deliver world-class services and wholesale them to local Associations for under $30 per user per month +/- $10. If it is a feature-rich MLS, the price is higher. If it is a feature-light MLS, it could be a wholesale price below $20.

In the simplest of terms, every MLS in the nation should be on the path to adopting the Data Dictionary before the end of the year, and becoming RESO certified by the end of Q1, 2015. There is no excuse not to, and every reason in the world to get it done.