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May 24 18

Would you like some cheese with your whine Greg?

by Greg Robertson

There has been a shift lately. It’s happened over the past couple years and it’s starting to get a little ugly.

I believe the advent of “front end of choice” is amping things up. Here’s what I’m hearing from others in the industry and my own observations. I’ll break it down it to two parts.

Part I: Why should I help you?

As they say everything old is new again. The MLS industry is going through some changes. It reminds me of back when web-based MLS systems were starting to come out. The traditional MLS vendors freaked out as these new systems were installed “in parallel”. Same thing is happening now. But the 3rd party vendors today are a bit more brazen. Here’s an example.

Remine’s wheel of fortune

MLS 2.0? Now, can you see why some current MLS vendors are hesitant to work with these companies?

A common rant is, “Why should I work with these guys when they are openly trying to put me out of business”?

You add that to tactics like employee poaching and product bashing and you can see how this could get out of hand. And full discloser my own company has been guilty of this to some degree.

These new companies are well funded, but NEED to get big fast. They have a certain amount of capital that won’t last long, so they NEED to be aggressive, otherwise they die. That puts a very different dynamic into the mix.

Yikes!

-MLS launches app, email goes out.
-All agents get phone call
-More emails…more phone calls
-Agent downloads an app, agent gets a phone call.
-More emails…more phone calls
-Agent touches a button, agents gets a phone call.

It can be relentless. All powered by state of the art software, auto-dialers and the latest in marketing automation.

Look I’m all for competition. I thrive on it. And many of these companies have really smart and talented people working for them. I also believe many of these same people want to improve the industry. But it’s still important to remember that we all have a symbiotic relation to each other. We all need to work together and play fair. Which brings me to part two.

Part II: Leveling the playing field (not that playing field)

The other shift I’m seeing is MLS providers giving special access to the MLS membership to select vendors. Most data access agreements coming from the MLS provider have language that states the 3rd party vendor cannot use the agent roster for marketing purposes or to create any derivative work form the MLS data. To me the membership roster was always “sanctum sanctorum“. It made sense that the MLS provider wanted to protect their membership and not show favor to any one vendor.

But lately this seems to have changed. It seems that because of special pricing or that the MLS provider now has equity in these new products they have let things slide.

I see a lot of emails (and get a lot of phone calls) that are obviously using the MLS roster. Hell, I just get a few of these calls and I’m afraid to pick up the phone! Sometimes these inquires come in the form of straight up spam (possibly on behalf of the vendor) from agents wanting me to activate my “X” account or crazy claims like fulfilling the promise of “100s of leads now”, or even “beating Zillow”. Here’s just few examples.

This also has existing MLS vendors scratching their heads. Is this special access? Is this type of marketing available for their tools? Or are these vendors going rouge and not ahering to their agreement with the MLS provider? Same questions come from many 3rd party vendors.

This seems to go against showing favor to one or more vendors. If so, how can others get this same level of access?

I’m fully aware that some might take this post as one vendor whining about another vendor. Or “talk about the pot calling the kettle black Robertson!” I get that. Again, I think competition is good thing but have always prided myself on following the rules and being a good “partner” and part of the community. But still, as I’ve stated, my company is far from blameless.

That being said the feeling I’m getting now is that the gloves are off. And sooner than later everyone will be protecting their turf. And that can lead to bigger problems.

As I said, many of these new companies are playing a different game, they NEED to be super aggressive. And that’s the worry. How do we strike this balance? And I think we need to look at the importance the MLS provider’s role in, dare I say, making the market work and vendors need to look at how their behavior can make positive change as well.

May 23 18

Ebby Halliday being sold to BHHS

by Greg Robertson

Dallas’ Ebby Halliday Realtors is being purchased by billionaire Warren Buffett

Ebby Halliday, which handled more than $8 billion in home sales last year, said Monday that it’s being bought by HomeServices of America Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate.
For months, speculation has swirled about a sale of the 73-year-old Ebby Halliday firm to billionaire Warren Buffett and his Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway Corp. Company officials had previously discounted talk of a sale but have finally confirmed that a deal is in the works.

Ebby Halliday was an incredible person. And there’s this…

“The company is owned by its employees.”

May 22 18

EXp Realty crosses $1 billion market cap

by Greg Robertson

EXp Realty crosses $1 billion market cap on first day of Nasdaq trading

““Today is a special day in our history, but also just like any other day in building a great company,” eXp World Holdings CEO Glenn Sanford said in response to a question about eXp Realty’s $1 billion milestone. “Our team is super focused on helping our agents, and our agents are staying super focused on working with their clients. I am really excited about where things have the potential to go as we mature as an organization and continue to scale.”

For comparison, Re/Max has a market cap of $944 million, Redfin is at $1.83 billion, and Realogy is at $3 billion.”

Amazing story. Congrats to Glenn and his team.

May 22 18

This ain’t your father’s Century 21

by Greg Robertson

May’s cover of RIS Media’s REAL ESTATE Magazine…

More like this please…
#legit

May 22 18

REColorado and IRES end merger negotiations

by Greg Robertson

From REColorado.com

REcolorado-IRES Merger Talks End

“For more than a year, the managements, Boards of Directors, and shareholders/members of both REcolorado and IRES have tried to move forward with a potential merger of the two MLS organizations. The parties could not reach agreement on a number of key terms. We appreciate the deep involvement of the shareholder/member associations of both REcolorado and IRES, and are not ruling out future discussions.”

From IRES MLS

IRES Subscriber Update May 22, 2018

After working for more than a year to find a mutually beneficial path to merge IRES and REColorado, we received a letter from REColorado’s CEO on May 21st stating REcolorado is terminating all merger negotiations.

We are both surprised and disappointed by this. In fact, we were discussing a meeting with some of the owners of REColorado to further the conversation just hours before receiving the letter of termination.”

You can just tell by the tone of each post how far apart they still are.

May 22 18

Marty Frame leaving RPR

by Greg Robertson

Word on the street is Marty Frame, CTO President of RPR, is leaving the company before the end of the month.

May 21 18

Prospects Inc. chooses CoreLogic as exclusive distributor

by Greg Robertson

CORELOGIC TO OFFER NEW CRM AND MOBILE SOLUTIONS TO MULTIPLE LISTING CLIENTS

Under the agreement, CoreLogic is the exclusive distributor of all Prospects solutions to new users of Prospects’ solutions in the real estate industry. Specifically designed for real estate, Prospects CRM™, TouchCRM™ and MLS-Touch™ (called Prospects Mobile™ in Canada) empower users to manage callbacks and follow-ups, stay in touch with clients, share their calendar with team members, synchronize contacts with their smart phone and much more. Prospects’ solutions will be deeply integrated with Matrix™ by CoreLogic, one of the most popular multiple listing platforms in the industry with more than 780,000 end users.

“This is a terrific opportunity for us and for the industry at large,” said Charles Drouin, CEO of Prospects Software. “We have experienced tremendous success in a dozen different markets— our mobile solutions are already used by over 200,000 agents—and are now poised for explosive growth across America. With their reputation and reach, CoreLogic is the perfect ally to help spread the news about our CRM and mobile applications.”

Larger companies fronting third party solutions is nothing new and CoreLogic seems to be doing a lot of these types of deals. To be successful you need to have the right product and partner. In this case I think they nailed it. The key now is execution.

May 21 18

Miami AOR launches Platinum Plus membership level

by Greg Robertson

MIAMI REALTORS® Launches MIAMI Platinum PLUS for its Members

“The MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) is now offering its members subscriptions to MIAMI Platinum PLUS, an exclusive and unparalleled suite of upgraded Realtor products and services, so Realtors can utilize an even higher level of industry tools to improve and expand their business while enhancing the home buying and home selling process for the public….

MIAMI Platinum PLUS includes Form Simplicity Ultimate Edition, Cloud CMA, access to a second MIAMI Multiple Listing Service platform and Proxio Premier Agent in addition to a number of benefits including one free NAR designation class.”

I’m seeing this tiered level of membership a lot more these days. The key is to have a compelling offering.

May 15 18

HAR clarifies position on dues increases and comments on recent MLSListings retracted op-ed

by Greg Robertson

From H.A.R. Chair Kenya Burrell-VanWormer

REALTORS® Are Stronger Together

I didn’t expect to write anything else on the topic of the proposed NAR dues increase, but with the situation as it now stands, I feel I must speak to make sure people don’t jump to the wrong conclusions.

First, let me start by reiterating once again that we have the utmost respect for Elizabeth Mendenhall, John Smaby, and Bob Goldberg, as well as the rest of the NAR Leadership Team and staff. We consider them all to be friends. This isn’t a “fight” as some people have characterized it. We believe they are trying to make the best out of a bad situation that they inherited. We’ve been in near constant contact with them during the past few weeks. In fact, when we took a particular action, we informed NAR leadership before we did it. We have had an open dialogue with them, which we appreciate.

HAR’s opposition to the proposed dues increases, including opposing the 2.5% annual automatic escalator, simply comes down to a question of how to fund the budget in the most financially prudent way. Some have said that $30 isn’t that much money, and many of our members agree. This isn’t about $30 though. It is about $39 million. They feel it would be throwing good money after bad.

We have asked questions about the budget, but they have always been professional and respectful. These questions have resulted in a thoughtful dialogue with respected leaders of our industry, such as Sam DeBord and Bill Lublin. That’s a good thing and was part of our real goal; get people talking and looking at all sides. We don’t believe it is ever appropriate or warranted to make reckless claims against anyone in volunteer or staff leadership.

The op-ed I submitted to Inman News, as well as letters sent to HAR members and association leaders across the country presenting our positions, were written as a collaborative effort among the HAR executive officers and executive staff. A small group of us drafted each of these documents and then sent them out to our executive committee, boards of directors and local NAR directors. This list totaled about 37 people reviewing each of these communications before they were sent to anyone outside of HAR. Some people had very valuable suggestions, which were incorporated into the letters. If our original letter expressing our positions was somehow twisted into the accusations that were made about honorable NAR leaders, then I personally apologize. That would never be our intent.

No consultant was involved at any time in our process, including preparation of the member survey, Inman op-ed or any other communications related to the proposed NAR dues increase.

The fact that we surveyed our members has also come into question. NAR invited member feedback, which is what led us to survey our own members, which are also NAR members. We are all on the same team and want to do what is best for REALTORS®. We have a robust research program, which includes regular surveys of consumers and members. We are a membership-based organization, so we want to know what our members think. Does it mean you have to follow exactly what they say? No. But it does provide helpful insight and give you a sense of the sentiment among the members at large. When 97% of the respondents say they oppose something, then that is hard to ignore. There are literally thousands of comments that they submitted, all of which may be viewed at www.har.com/NARDues.

Even though we have been sidetracked by the other (now retracted) op-ed, we stand behind our original proposals for funding the budget. We fully support the REALTOR® Party political advocacy efforts at which NAR usually excels. Note that HAR is well on its way to raising more than $1 million for RPAC for the third year in a row.

We don’t necessarily expect the vote to go our way on May 19, but we do hope that it has opened a constructive dialogue about priorities and how to fund them. All of our communications with Elizabeth, John, and Bob lead us to believe that this coming year will be one to review these activities, and we believe they are the right people at the right time to make NAR stronger.

As I also keep saying, we want NAR to succeed because its success is our success. If there’s one thing we learned from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it’s that REALTORS® are stronger together. I, along with everyone else from Houston, look forward to a productive NAR Midyear and Board of Directors meeting.

Respectfully,

Kenya Burrell-VanWormer

Kenya Burrell-VanWormer is the chair of the board of directors of the Houston Association of Realtors, which is the second largest local Realtor association in the country, with more than 37,000 residential and commercial members.

Together. Yup.

May 14 18

What were you doing in the 80s?

by Greg Robertson

If you are Rob Larson, CIO of CRMLS, then you were playing bass in a hair band. My only question is, why is his left hand in his pocket? 😂