Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

RPR doesn’t like competition.

Yesterday Dale Ross, CEO of RPR, wrote a blog post named “The Future?“. The fact he used a question mark isn’t surprising.

Mr. Ross is a bit perplexed on why many MLS providers have not chosen RPR or continue to use their competitors for what he calls “short-term gains.” He references a widely distributed blog post written by Kim Prior of OnBoard Informatics, called “MLSs Taking Control of Destiny – a Plea, an Observation, a Call to Arms“. (Sound the trumpets!) Her post is a bit naive but does lay out challenges many industries face including the MLS.

When RPR launched Mr. Ross stated their plan was to have RPR break-even in 3 years. It’s been a bumpy road since then as many MLS providers challenged their value proposition. In his post Mr. Ross repeated RPR’s value proposition as this:

“What RPR seeks to offer NAR members is REALTOR® control of property data, analytics and valuations.  At the core of the RPR system, the licensed data provided to the MLSs by brokers is aggregated with the additional licensed parcel-centric data.  RPR then seeks to return valuable tools to REALTORS® designed to bring national and local information as well as agent and broker support systems directly where they are needed the most, at market level to benefit the consumers, but provided by REALTORS® to reinforce REALTOR® value. “

The linchpin to this strategy is how “valuable” the tools RPR is providing. In a recent blog post Brian Larson asks many MLS providers to consider this before resigning with RPR. Reports have suggested that usage of RPR’s toolset are very, very low even by 3rd party software standards. Recently RPR has refocused efforts to improve this.

I’ve been creating and selling software solutions for REALTORS since 1992 and feel your pain. Based on that here a some suggestions for RPR to consider.

1. Stop complaining. NAR has committed 20 million dollars to you and ponied up another 12 million to buy assets to get you started. Add to that you also have a rock star team that includes Marty, Mona, Reggie, Ohan, Kristen and others. Nobody gives a shit about your problems, implement.

2. Don’t be greedy. I still think that sharing future revenues from MLS data with MLS providers is the right thing to do. Look at it this way, I bet you CoreLogic paid 100 times more towards the CIVIX settlement than RPR and still was able to share revenue back to the MLS via its data deals. In that situation who’s the better “industry partner”?

3. Make a product agents love. This is the hard part. But, I guarantee you if the RPR toolset was something agents actually loved all these barriers with MLS providers would disappear overnight. But so far, other than NAR cronies, I’ve never really hear that agents really LOVE RPR’s tools.

4. It’s NOT the data stupid. Data, data, data is all I ever hear from RPR. It should be User Experience, User Experience, User Experience! I’ve had a few off the record conversations with trainers at MLS providers tasked to train on RPR. The feedback has been the same, it’s “too complicated”, it does “too much”. So how about introducing a stripped down version that offers less flexibility but gives the agents something quick and easy. Your data means dick if nobody can figure out how to get at it or how to use it.

5. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. It would be interesting to see what Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, and other industry 3rd party software developers could do with RPR data. Hell, Zillow is swimming in money since their IPO. How about striking a deal with them for an API to RPR data? Get them, and others, addicted to RPR data.

You’re welcome. : )

  1. Greg, nice post but you really have to stop beating around the bush and get right to the point! 😉 But I do agree with you.
    Except regarding the API to RPR data- what’s the point? They all license the same crappy data from the same company I think.
    Garbage in- garbage out- now available through an API!!!!!!

  2. I hope RPR reads your post, Greg. Our MLS just recently decided to authorize our feed to both RPR and CoreLogic for a year. We understand the money part of the latter, but still can’t really get a handle on RPR. And as a MLS Board Director, I probably understand a lot more than the average Realtor end user. I deal with so many great tools and resources available through my franchisor (Keller Williams), third party vendors (Top Marketer), and Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com, FrontDoor, etc., it’s hard to imagine I’d find RPR any different or better. Maybe less expensive, but if hard to use or one doesn’t see the value, one is not going to readily adopt. It’s hard enough to get those in our office to implement and use the freebie tools available to us as part of or nominal monthly fee, i.e., virtually free, just because of the learning curve and lack of appreciation of the value. If as you suggest, RPR, were able to provide, free of charge, similar, easy to use, tools I already use and pay for that require a data feed, that would be awesome! Otherwise, I’d rather our MLS just collect the license fee.

  3. Greg, the team you mentioned is top notch but somehow the job is not getting done…..I appreciate the need to initially focus on signing up new customers but the quality of our rpr implementation leaves much to be desired and getting an early adopter’s attention now is a little too late. We have stopped allocating our time and resources to promises not kept….for almost a year we have been told the data will get better, be more accurate and be updated in a timely fashion etc etc to no avail The private FIND product from REALTOR.COM is blazing fast, more current and more complete than our implementation of rpr….in my opinion NAR rode the “wrong horse out of the barn”…. even the best marketing team can’t sell the proverbial “pig in the poke”. Its time for NAR to stop spending members money (additional $12 million? when did that get approved?).
    As an MLS Exec who is proud to be a REALTOR I strongly urge NAR leadership to let a vendor that knows what they are doing back into the fold.

  4. Look!, Living in a van down by the river, what makes it all work, your local RETS experts ladies and gentlemen. I saw a bumper sticker that said “If you can read this, thank a Teacher. If your reading it in English, thank a Soldier.” Someone should make one “Browsing the internet for homes for sale? Thank a RETS expert.”

  5. “Look!, Living in a van down by the river, what makes it all work, your local RETS experts ladies and gentlemen”

    @Jonathon, please step away from the bong.

  6. Pingback: Friday Flash: Homes.com, Move/AOL and competing software visions | 1000Watt Consulting

  7. As an MLS exec who has worked closely with NAR and RPR to get the product designed and implemented, I could not be more impressed. It’s absolutely amazing at what the RPR team has accomplished in their short time frame…and certainly NAR’s money and the amazing team lead by Dale Ross has a lot to do with their success. Realtor.com accomplished a lot less in a longer period of time even though they were paying MLS’s for data initially. We have many subscribers who have built their marketing systems around the RPR tools and love it. We have many who will not apply themselves to it. The content is rich. It’s not perfect, but with the commitment and dedication I see from the RPR team, it will continually improve. And, RPR reaches out for feedback from the family and iterates the product based on constructive suggestions from REALTORS. Our organization and our customers significantly appreciate NAR and RPR for this new resource and look forward to it’s continual evolution.

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