Historically, the words, “location, location, location,” have guided the real estate industry; but today, a strong argument can be made to suggest that, “portal, portal, portal” has replaced location as a symbol of mysterious change and almost certain disruption. Forecasters and trend watchers such as Stephan Swanepoel, Jeremy Conaway, and Steve Murray have, for several years, warned us we were witnessing the final unraveling of our increasingly dysfunctional status quo. Our collective tone-deafness to broker concerns, including their desire to own profitable businesses and control their listings, the endless wave of new third party portal competitors and the ever present innovative teen in his parent’s basement all have contributed to this new reality. Over and above these factors is our increasing connection with Wall Street and the life of American big business with its constant pressures, change and high competition. This is our new world.
One of the most impressive “shots across the bow” in this transition came from our own National Association of REALTORS® in May of this year. In a series of stunning moves starting with the 2014 Core Standards strategy, NAR broke the mold on 100 years of cozy rela- tions with REALTOR® associations and multiple listing services and moved organized real estate directly onto a path that will promote everyone’s best business interests. Following the stellar leadership of CEO Dale Stinton the NAR Board approved $12M in funding over the next three years to undertake two exciting initiatives, Project Upstream and AMP.
Project Upstream is a direct and positive response to the broker community; it creates:
- A private database of real estate-related information designed to give RE practitioners control over their data
- A data entry and collection platform between real estate firms and recipients of their data – will change flow of data, making Upstream the starting point
- Upstream takes away the MLSs’ need to syndicate and broker’s ability to protest.
- Upstream means MLSs will continue to provide the cooperation and compensation rules, while brokers are free to experiment with their consumer-direct advertising
- Upstream will complement and leverage the Realtors Property Resource® (RPR) project in the works called Advanced Multilist Platform (AMP)
As we watch the emergence of these two critical projects over the next year look for rules and roles to change. They must and they will.
On other fronts, watch another project called the Broker Public Portal project. This project is designed to provide brokers with their own portal allowing them to compete with existing portals that have data to attract millions of consumers including buyers, sellers, and browsers. The exiting portals are using them as currency with brokers and agents. The goal of the Broker Public Portal project is to build a national consumer-facing listing portal that will offer brokers and agents free leads. Broker control will be the central theme and the basis of its operation as well.
As real estate-related technology portals continue to grow, become even more accessible, attract even more consumers, and, imagine this, become profitable, there will be no end to new entrants. We joke about the sixteen year old in her or his parent’s basement, building the next best tech toy in real estate, but rather than laugh we would do well to keep our eyes open. Moreover, keep in mind that we have yet to see even a tenth of Rupert Murdoch’s potential impact upon our industry. (Murdoch is the media mogul who owns Fox, the Wall St. Journal, other media properties, and now MOVE.Com, the operator of Realtor.com). There will be much more to see.
MLSListings is on top of these developments. Chairman Quincy Virgilio and his leadership team have been tracking these newest developments for the past several months. In May, he directed a new research and development initiative that will ensure that MLSListings will be in position to deliver the full benefits of the new reality to its subscribers. Here again there will be much to see.
Jim Harrison, RCE, CAE
President and Chief Executive Officer