AMP and the Small MLS

Small, am I?

Small, am I?

Over on Facebook, Sam Debord (regular readers are familiar with Sam) asked a really, really good question:

Sam DeBord Rob, give us your take on AMP benefiting small MLSs. Does better software slow consolidation, or are other issues driving it?

AMP, of course, stands for RPR’s Advanced Multi-List Platform, a project with which I’ve been intimately and personally involved. Since I didn’t immediately know what I thought about it, I figured I should write this post. I often don’t know what I think about something until I’ve read what I’ve written about it. So here goes.

Continue reading

Realtor.com Tries to Get the Balance Right

Without question, the big topics coming out of NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings were  about RPR-AMP, Upstream, and the future of the MLS. I’ve already written a few posts about them, and expect to write more in the future. But lost in all of that was a big rebrand and relaunch by Move of Realtor.com. For what it’s worth, I really like the new logo and the rebrand. As Ryan O’Hara says in the Inman article:

“Everything’s about real — real knowledge, real data, real insight,” said Move CEO Ryan O’Hara.

We shall see whether Move can live up to that brand promise, given that it does not control the one million plus local touchpoints of their Realtor brand, many of whom are only distantly acquainted with concepts like “real knowledge” and “real insight”.

But this post isn’t about the rebrand. It’s about the ideas that appear in Realtor.com’s Open Letter to the Industry that was distributed at the MLS sessions. Here’s a PDF of the letter, courtesy of BayEast. The three bullet points are:

  • Respecting the economic interests of the industry by not commingling FSBO listings with brokerage firm listings;
  • Not displaying value estimates on “for-sale” properties because the local real estate professional is the best person to determine the value of a listed property; and
  • Displaying the online reputation of brokers and agents in a way that both meets consumers’ needs to find the “right” professional while also being done in a fair way for the industry.

I wonder if these goals are even achievable. Can this balance between consumer interests and the industry’s interests really be struck?

Continue reading

What is the MLS, Post-AMP?

Who am I, what have I become?

Two stories hit my awareness overnight that confirm something I’ve been saying for a while.

In 2013, I wrote this:

The second possible unintended consequence is not regulatory, but practical. For a while, I’ve argued that the reason why the MLS has become so important was that in the newspaper age, it was the most cost-effective form of advertising a home for sale. I’ve argued time and again that it is a mistake to call listings “data”; they are fundamentally advertisements.

More recently, I’ve wondered if what the brokers and agents value the MLS for today is that it is the conduit through which they advertise properties for sale on the ultimate destination: the Internet and mobile apps where consumers actually are today.

For years, I worried that without reform, without change, the MLS will cease being the marketplace for homes and become the conduit to the marketplace: the Web. Everyone assured me that I was smoking some powerful herb. Then…

Yesterday:

Today, Quill Realty announces that it will be leaving the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. This will allow Quill to sell homes while charging owners only its own, single broker commission of 1%. So home owners will soon be able to sell their houses using the services of a fully licensed REALTOR™ for far less than the 3% to 6% of the MLS.

Quill frankly admits that sellers will lose some market exposure when they forego listing on the MLS. But not much. Ninety two percent of all home buyers used the internet themselves in 2014 when looking for the home to purchase. Quill anticipates being able to put its listings on numerous, highly trafficked web sites, such as Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com, exactly those places where buyers are searching today. All without using the NWMLS and without paying the commission of a cooperating broker who represents the buyer. [Emphasis mine]

Today:

Although the MLS is crucial to me as a broker — both for the data it provides and assisting in making dealings between brokers run smoothly — it is no longer my number one marketing tool to get properties sold. Yes, my MLS has a public-facing site, but it’s so ugly and clunky that I’ve never had a consumer tell me they’ve searched with it. The top real estate search portals — Zillow and Trulia and realtor.com — have the buyers’ eyeballs.

Zillow captures almost a quarter of the Internet real estate searchers. If that’s where people are searching, that is where my brokerage needs to be, front and center. That does not mean buyer’s agents are marginalized in the picture. I don’t care who sells my listings — one of my agents or an agent from XYZ brokerage. My goal is to get it sold.

Well then. So much for those assurances. Maybe that herb I was smoking is called prophecy?

In any event, combine those two stories with the fact that the Modular MLS has taken a huge step forward with RPR-AMP. RPR will provide the MLS with a technologically advanced back-end; a whole variety of vendors can and will provide the front-end (including custom broker or agent-specific front-ends that can access the MLS directly).

What then, is the MLS in the post-AMP era?

Continue reading

We Need to Separate RPR AMP from RPR Upstream, Conceptually

B0003294 Human melanoma cell dividing Credit: Paul J.Smith &Rachel Errington. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://images.wellcome.ac.uk Human melanoma cell undergoing cell division. The chromosomes (blue) have separated and the two daughter cells have almost split apart - only a small bridge of cytoplasm remains. The green staining labels the endoplasmic reticulum and the red labels the mitochondria. The image was produced on a confocal microscope; the ER and mitochondria are from a single optical section but the chromosomes are a 3D reconstruction from a series of sections. Confocal micrograph Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 UK, see http://images.wellcome.ac.uk/indexplus/page/Prices.html

Credit: Paul J.Smith &Rachel Errington. Wellcome Images
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2.0 UK

In a recent post on Realuoso, my friend Erica Ramus, wrote an Op/Ed on how Project Upstream will change everything:

The Project Upstream broker initiative is an attempt to gather real estate data under one umbrella, again trying to wrestle back control of our listings and data.

Hahn’s description of “MLS Mashups” and the modular MLS model makes sense in today’s app-driven world. My own MLS uses a vendor whose portal looks like we’re working back in the 1990s. It hasn’t evolved with how we practice real estate today. I won’t even rant here about having to belong to multiple MLS systems, pay duplicate dues to market my listings on multiple platforms, and enter/re-enter the same data again and again (and again). Our fragmented MLS system needs to evolve and change with the times.

The solution is a plug and play, where we pay only for the tools we want and use. A network where data is pulled in without having to re-enter it on multiple platforms is efficient, so I look forward to seeing what Project Upstream and RPR put together.

I like Erica’s take on this, as she’s a working broker/REALTOR in the field. I worry, though, that her confusion between AMP and Upstream, two distinct and different projects by RPR is commonplace. Cant’ blame anyone who wants to conflate AMP and Upstream into one, since NAR and RPR themselves conflated the two into one proposal for NAR’s Board of Directors.

Conceptually, I think it’s important to separate the two projects and evaluate each according to its own merit and its own issues.

Continue reading

The RPR-AMP-Upstream Materials from NAR Midyear

This is not a post. This is an information dump.

A reader sent me the materials that were provided to the Directors at the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings that just concluded to support the proposal to fund RPR-AMP-Upstream. Thought many of you hadn’t seen these, so I wanted to upload them and make them available. I may be referencing these in future posts.

So here they are:

1. Talking Points document on RPR AMP-Upstream

Direct download:

NAR-RPR AMP-Upstream Talking Points 5-13-15-FInal

2. A… “brochure” promoting RPR AMP-Upstream

Direct download:

Upstream-rprv4

To be sure, there’s more meaningful material in #1 then in #2.

-rsh