Igniting Dialogue: MLS RoundTable Starts Strong with “2020 Agenda”

By Anne Marie DeCatsye, CEO

Consolidation, technology and standardization are big MLS topics. Fortunately for CarolinaMLS, we are right in the middle of the discussions as part of a new group called the MLS RoundTable.

As CEO of CarolinaMLS, I serve with seven other MLS leaders as part of the MLS RoundTable. When we came together in early 2017, our sizes ranged from CarolinaMLS with more than 11,000 subscribers to Bright MLS with more than 85,000 subscribers. (CarolinaMLS will grow to more than 15,500 with the acquisition of North Carolina Mountains MLS by mid-January 2018.)

Despite our size variations, all MLS RoundTable members share a desire to lead change in our industry as we respond to needs of brokers, agents, consumers and others in the real estate industry. I see the MLS RoundTable as means to that end and am glad your CarolinaMLS Board of Directors has invested in it. It’s already producing significant results.

The MLS RoundTable released a report this past fall whose goal is to advance the dialogue on MLS issues. I believe it does just that, and you can download the free report, MLS 2020 Agenda, by going to https://store.retrends.com/product/mls-2020-agenda.

I highly recommend it, and here’s why.

The MLS RoundTable hired respected real estate consultant Stefan Swanepoel to interview MLS leaders, brokers, owners, customers, technology vendors, association leaders, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg and large industry players such as realtor.com, Zillow, The Realty Alliance and the Real Estate Standards Organization, best known as “RESO.”

Stefan asked each person the same two questions: “What do you think are the top two issues facing the MLS industry over the next two-to-three years, and what is your proposed solution?”

Conducting the interviews between June and August of 2017, he interviewed individuals from 28 organizations. The final report contains a write-up of each interview and includes Takeaways and a Proposed Action Plan.

I was happy to see interviewees saw the proposition upon which the MLS is based — cooperation, compensation and data aggregation and integrity — as valuable. I was also pleasantly surprised that not one interviewee said the MLS should go away.

Though these results were reassuring that foundational principles of the MLS are strong, there are clearly other issues to address. A major one is how MLSs work with brokers. At CarolinaMLS, we see ourselves as a partner to our broker subscribers, but unfortunately, that’s not true everywhere and it creates problems.

“What MLSs Can Do to Solve Broker Pain Points” was the subject of our Association’s Nov. 16 Hot Topic panel led by David Charron, chief strategy officer of Bright MLS, which covers Washington, D.C., and the mid-Atlantic region. Representatives from CarolinaMLS as well as from other MLSs in the Carolinas attended the session.

I view the MLS 2020 Agenda as a starting point for MLSs to examine if their operations are benefiting their brokers. Also, there is a list of questions in the Proposed Action Plan to stimulate thinking in general on MLS operations. The Takeaways section identifies issues the interviewees saw as most critical:

  1. Technology and the essential tools necessary for brokers to successfully compete.
  2. Raising the standards for access to and use of the data by those who own and create it, thus ensuring better decision-making for the entire ecosystem. (Note: this is the MLS standardization concern.)
  3. Market consolidation must be accompanied by innovation, responsiveness and efficiency.

I believe the MLS RoundTable can help move our industry forward. It’s already been highly beneficial with the MLS 2020 Agenda; I look forward to what’s next.

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