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I hope that you had a chance to attend the Council of MLS Hot Topics webinar held this week. The call was opened with an overview of many contributions that the Council of MLS offers to its members. Here are a few great initiatives to be reminded of before we jump into the content of the webinar:

Council of MLS Launched a Self-Assessment Tool

This is a web-based program that allows a multiple listing service provider to step through a series of questions to highlight opportunities for improvements. The Self-Assessment Tool is part of the learning management solution that powers the highly acclaimed CMLX MLS Certification program. There are two self-assessment tools listed today – Customer Service Best Practices and Finance Best Practices. It took me about 4 minutes to go through each of the assessments.

Every MLS should try it: CouncilofMLS.org/assess-your-mls

Making the Market Work

As a reminder, it is very important for MLSs to continue to deliver a strong message on the value of the MLS to both consumers and customers (subscribers and participants). There is great marketing material available to members to download and use. Visit https://www.makingthemarketwork.org

Other Key Initiatives

  • Improve MLS Governance and Leadership Survey
  • Advance National MLS Policy
  • Foster Better Broker Relations

Hot Topics

 The webinar featured four excellent panelists hosted by Denee Evans(CEO of CMLS). Joining Denee was Sam DeBord (CEO of RESO), Lauren Hansen (CEO of IRES), Turan Tekin (Zillow Group), and Shelley Spechio (CEO MIBOR).

I really liked the format of the webinar– it was conversational, rather than slide based. The blend of MLS Executives along with other industry technology experts generated a lively conversation.

One hot topic that jumped out at me was driven home by Shelley Specchio on the issue of broker communication. She shared that the MIBOR Broker Listing Cooperative (a.k.a. MLS) has had a policy of allowing Accessors to be members of the MLS and access the data. This policy was created long ago before the current executive team or board was in place. One of her brokers was not happy about the policy. It stimulated Shelley and her board to revisit the policy decision, talk to her board and to Tax Accessors and examine the goals and outcomes of the decision made years earlier. This is an excellent process that follows the rethink business management strategy.

Lauren Hansen talked about the challenge of MLSs who are approving new vendor access to the MLS data as requested by the broker. The MLS is engaged in quick approvals of data applications, but new vendors require more investigation by the MLS to see the application and assure that the data is being property used. Remember, the MLS agreement has clear terms of use of the MLS license, but the MLS is responsible for enforcement. Sometimes, the balance of protecting data complicates the speed of data approvals. Hansen’s organization has a goal of being fast and careful at the same time.

Turan Tekin shared some earthshaking data. Despite the RESO WebAPI being required for all NAR affiliated MLSs more than 3 years ago, API adoption is not widespread. Only 16% of data recipients are utilizing API, the remaining 84% continue to access data via RETS. The transition from RETS to API is really a tech upgrade, an improvement in the way the industry shares and accesses data. As an industry, we need to do a better job of utilizing the industry infrastructure that’s already in place before looking for what comes next.

Some of the MLS Aligned group are insisting that all feeds be WebAPI. It sounds strong handed, but it’s not. Our industry has provided tech firms with a three-year runway to switch to API. My perspective is that it is time to pull off the Band-Aid. If this forced conversion is going to be a hardship for any tech firm, they can have a conversation with the MLS about it.

Sam DeBord did a really nice job of talking about the importance of MLSs adopting data standards and applauded Stellar MLS for adopting the Data Dictionary natively in their CoreLogic Matrix database. The detail here is that listing input into the MLS is different than listing output in the data feeds in nearly every MLS market other than Stellar. There is a data conversion that happens between the MLS system and the RETS/WebAPI data feed, then another conversion into a technology vendor’s data schema. That sometimes causes data mapping issues. The advancement created by Stellar is that listing input is Data Dictionary fields, data is stored in Data Dictionary fields, data is transferred using Data Dictionary fields, and hopefully the tech vendors have set up their application schema to be Data Dictionary format. All for one, one for all!

Sam also identified an emerging trend among MLSs to separate the MLS data from the Applications that users experience. For example, create a data repository and any MLS system can access the data – so you can run parallel systems for example. There are a variety of markets running multiple systems today – like Matrix and Black Knight or FBS. I believe that Northstar MLS, MLS Listings, TREB, CRMLS, and a few others operate either redundant database repositories, or production data repositories.

This addresses many MLS data security and data ownership concerns. When the MLS has the data on their own servers, they are less dependent on the MLS application vendor.

Great meeting CMLS! Hope ya’ll can make it next time.

WAV Group will be attending the CMLS conference in Salt Lake City – October 16th-18th. If you would like to meet with us, email jules@wavgroup.com