NextMLS: RPR Upstream/AMP and the Value of the MLS

I love James Dwiggins, CEO of Nexthome. He’s a really sharp guy who knows the business inside and out, backwards and forwards. And I think his perspective is somewhat representative of the more enlightened brokers who truly get technology, its uses, and its limitations. So when he posts this on Facebook earlier today, I thought it a perfect jumping-off point to reiterate something I just don’t see talked about very much.

RPR Upstream/Amp Diagram

RPR Upstream/Amp

James then commented on the photo:

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There’s a lot to unpack here, but bottom line is that this view of the MLS will surely lead to the destruction of the MLS one way or another. Strategic planning committees and leadership of MLSs around the country really ought to start examining the core identity/value issue presented here. Let’s dive in.

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Transparency in Bidding… A Question That May or May Not Be Hypothetical

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Let me tell you a story. It may be fiction, it may be nonfiction. It’s about a man, who may or may not be a Ivy League-educated lawyer who is the chief counsel for a Democrat Congresswoman with enormous power in the House. Let’s say his name is Dave. He may or may not be a law school friend of mine from NYU, who has now been a DC insider for a couple of decades. All kinds of names and facts and circumstances may have been changed to protect the innocent.

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Monell v. Boston Pads Ruling: Hold Off on the Jubilation

Earlier today, the Massachusetts Supreme Court handed down its decision on Monell v. Boston Pads, one of two independent contractor status lawsuits that the real estate industry has been watching with baited breath. (The other one, still being litigated, is Bararsani v. Coldwell Banker in California.)

Bottomline: the brokerages and the REALTOR Associations that backed them won. I can almost hear the champagne corks popping from my house in Houston. Here’s the press release from MAR (Massachusetts Association of REALTORS):

This decision is a win for consumers and the entire real estate industry because real estate brokers and salespersons will still be able to work as independent contractors. Affiliating as an independent contractor  has been the backbone of the profession for more than 100 years.

“We are pleased that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the pro-consumer choice by real estate professionals to affiliate as either independent contractors or employees.” said 2015 MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald, broker-owner of FITZGERALD Real Estate in Greenfield. “This relationship has worked for generations and it is what consumers have come to expect regarding agent entrepreneurship and availability. We’re glad the choice will continue.”

Inman News headline on the story looks like this:

Appeals_court_upholds_centurylong_real_estate_broker_structure_in_epic_win_for_industry_and_consumers___Inman

And on Facebook and elsewhere, the celebrations continue.

First of all, I’m glad the case came out the way it did, and I can get behind the whole “this is a win for consumers” angle on the decision.

But might I suggest tapping the brakes on this joyride a touch? I’ve read the actual opinion itself, and while this is not legal advice, it is advice to consult your attorney when looking at how you’ve structured your brokerage operations.

This ruling is not an epic win. The ruling does not confirm that real estate agents are considered independent contractors. In fact, it is not a clear-cut victory for the brokerages at all. As Mos Def says, “Relax, pump the brakes. You’re speeding, money.”

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Meditation on Meaning of Membership

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The talk within the industry these days is all about technology. Well, by “these days” I suppose I mean the last ten years or more. Sometimes I honestly wonder who talks about technology more: REALTORS or venture capitalists. Go look on any of the social media channels frequented by real estate folks, and all the hubbub is about AMP, RPR, Upstream, Zillow, mobile apps, etc. etc.

Well, I just got home from an important engagement — one of the most important I’ve undertaken in my (comparatively brief) career as a consultant to the industry — and I wanted to jot some thoughts down that has nothing to do with technology but everything to do with the shape of the industry going forward.

The question is, what does membership mean?

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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.

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