2018: Our top priorities and new HQ

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By Jason Gentry, Association/CarolinaMLS President

Our Association’s mission of “leading, educating and equipping members to be productive” has never been more relevant and important.

As your 2018 president, I’m excited about the three primary areas the Association and CarolinaMLS are going to focus on this year: MLS consolidation, technology and surveying the membership. All three tie directly to our mission of serving our members and subscribers.

Also in 2018, we will continue growing our Housing Opportunity Foundation Board of Directors. We are looking to add three more members from the community — representing education, health care and government. If we find strong candidates for the positions, the three additions would expand the overall Foundation board to 20 members.

We will also start building our new headquarters in 2018. Groundbreaking at our Midtown site is expected in the first quarter of 2018, and we look forward to having a building that not only is a beacon for our Mingle School of Real Estate but a space that enhances member engagement and support. We want it to become a second home — a place you’ll want to visit and hang out. Stay tuned for details.

Meanwhile, the three topics we’ll target in 2018 came out of our annual visioning session last fall with our board members and other industry leaders. Here’s a brief look at each one.

MLS Consolidation

Conversations are going on across the country about how MLSs can offer more services to subscribers, thus helping agents to stay productive and competitive. This has been a focus at CarolinaMLS for many years, and we’re in a position because of our size to continue expanding, not only to serve our subscribers but to serve MLSs that contract with us or want to consolidate with us.

By mid-January, the North Carolina Mountains MLS (NCMMLS) will be part of CarolinaMLS, and we expect to begin wholesaling MLS to Catawba Valley in February. Also, our Business Has No Borders campaign at the end of 2017 was a big success. About 70 South Carolina licensees who practice in South Carolina took us up on our offer to try CarolinaMLS for a nominal, $5 fee.

Having the resources to keep pace with changing MLS technology is driving many small MLSs to look to larger MLSs for the latest and best listing services and tools. Many large brokerages also would prefer to pay only one MLS fee in the regions they serve. These two factors are spurring MLS consolidation across the country, including our region.

CarolinaMLS is open minded about talking to other MLSs and not out to dominate the MLS world. We are simply in a position because of our size to offer more and better services for less cost than small MLSs; it’s simple economy of scale. To give you an idea of our size — as of Nov. 30, we had 11,787 CarolinaMLS subscribers. Once the NCMMLS acquisition occurs, our subscriber base will exceed 15,000.

Technology

Two examples of CarolinaMLS’s buying power on behalf of subscribers are the Remine and Broker Public Portal platforms we are rolling out in the first quarter of this year. Subscribers will be able to use them by clicking on an icon in Matrix.

Remine allows agents to see what properties may be good listing prospects. “The platform analyzes property records, transactional history, consumer data and delivers actionable insights on an intuitive user interface,” the company said in a recent release.

Broker Public Portal is a public-facing website created by large brokers and MLSs that competes with Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com®. The portal follows “fair display guidelines” — which means it will not include ads for other brokers or agents next to a brokerage’s listing and will send free leads to listing agents and brokers. The portal has partnered with Homesnap on the website and application — which allow users to take a picture of a house and quickly see the data associated with it, as well as to take a virtual walkthrough of a property.

Member Survey

Going into Roger Parham’s year as president, 2017, the Association and CarolinaMLS identified surveying members as a priority. But 2017 wound up being so packed with other activities, we determined it was best to only survey the membership about our new building.

This year we’re charging ahead. We are refining our survey topics and know that MLS services will be a focus. My goal is to ask the right questions and to keep any survey short and sweet to respect your time. Watch for more on this in the near future.

Here’s to a great 2018!