RPR! We hardly knew ye!
Without a doubt, the topic of conversation at this year’s NAR National Convention has been the REALTOR Property Resource (Link: PDF) or RPR, the ambitious $20mm program rolled out with much fanfare by NAR. You couldn’t avoid talking about RPR even if you tried. And I wasn’t really trying that hard, because RPR is a fascinating product, an awesome user interface, and one where the team led by Marty Frame deserves a whole lot of credit for pulling such a great product together in such a short period of time (roughly 4 months). Despite my concerns that RPR will trigger a civil war in the real estate industry, I thought (and continue to think) very highly of RPR.
However, it is now time to bury RPR. It is dead on arrival in its current incarnation.
Having presented at, and then having sat through the presentation of Dale Ross and Marty Frame on RPR, at the MLS Executives Meeting at NAR yesterday, I believe that the general mood of the MLS operators ranges between open hostility to cautious neutrality. The larger MLS’s are biding their time, to see what some of the details are, possibly to see what is being offered by RPR for early adopters. (Full disclosure: a large MLS, MRIS, is a client of 7DS, but I am writing this post, as I have every post on this topic, based on what I personally saw and heard, and public information, as opposed to anything discussed with them.) The smaller MLS’s are worried what RPR could mean for them, and miffed that there is no revenue sharing arrangement for the sale of “their” data.
Brokerages are not bursting over with enthusiasm either. They also wonder what’s in RPR for them, since they feel that the data that the MLS is supposed to provide RPR belongs to them. The broker-owned MLS’s can’t make a decision without getting their shareholders on board, and the mood appears dark, to say the least.
The fatal flaw of RPR, I think, is the lack of revenue share. Brokers, MLS executives, and Association executives might all look with favor or at least interest on a proposal that promised revenue streams that would allow them all to either make greater profits, or reduce the cost of service to their members. Dale Ross made it crystal clear to the MLS executives that there is no revenue share for them; he urged them, in fact, to cooperate and collaborate with RPR for the good of the members because RPR will provide tools to help the members of MLS’s become better practitioners. Ross’s concession that maybe five years down the line, after RPR’s revenues and profits are stabilized, he may consider revenue share did not, it seemed to me, to go over all that well with the audience.
Trouble is, those types of answers do not appear to assuage the suspicion on the part of MLS executives and brokerages that what NAR intends to do with RPR is to create a national MLS.
Into this environment of suspicion comes a critical piece of information.