Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

MLS App Stores – Spark and ClareityStore overview

I’ve had many inquires from other vendors asking my opinion on “MLS App Stores”. All of these inquires were either related to FBS’s Spark Platform (“Spark”) or Clareity’s ClareityStore. With that in mind I thought I would put together a post to give a little comparison and insight to both solutions. I do encourage you to get the information for yourself. Both solutions have put up very informative websites:

http://ClareityStore.com
http://Sparkplatform.com

At this time Clareity has yet to launch a ClareityStore implementation. But many MLS providers on their list are some of the largest in the country. So, I am basing my information found on the above website and conversations with Clareity staff.

In contrast Spark has close to 70 MLS providers (mostly smaller, but some larger) up and running. You should also know that I shared this post with both companies ahead of time to make sure I had my facts right. But I’m sure I missed something so I will be providing updates/corrections as I get feedback.

Some longtime vendors have argued that they already know how to sell to larger MLS providers. In that case the Spark platform might be a good solution to expanded their market. I think new vendors will appreciate all options. Which is why I think there is room for both solutions. Now let’s get into it.

To me the single biggest difference between both solutions is the Spark API. Clareity does not at this time have any solution of integrated MLS data in to your software application. Like many others, Clareity hopes RESO will come to the rescue, at some point, with a data standard for all of real estate. Other vendors don’t care because they already have a method for integrating MLS data in to their app. As said previously, new vendors will appreciate not spending anytime worrying about data integration and instead focusing on creating great software applications. With Cloud CMA we have a hybrid solution that I will talk about later in this post.

Below is a simple comparison chart that highlight the key aspects of both solutions.

Click To Enlarge
Click To Enlarge

*Spark’s revenue share is only 10% if you are using other methods of getting MLS data, not their Spark API.

Other Important factors:

Exclusivity

Neither solution requires you to be exclusive. Meaning if I sign up for Spark or the ClareityStore I can also sell my product through other channels. This is important, if you already have an outside sales force who is successful at office meetings, live presentations, or trade shows they are not required to use this store.

Data integration

While both solutions require you implement a SSO method (Oauth or SAML) in the case of Spark you are not required to use their API for data integration. This was a big misunderstanding based on a lot of my phone calls with other vendors.

ClareityStore has a Turbo Seller Plan, which also offers 10% revenue share but requires 100% revenue share for the first 3 months of subscription.

Use case example: Cloud CMA

In the case of Cloud CMA we continue to use our own RETS integration with our existing MLS customers, even if they have opted for the Spark Platform. With new MLS providers on the Spark Platform, , that our not our customers, we have taken advantage of the Spark API. This hybrid solution has worked well because it lets up tap in to the “long tail” of MLS providers we typically would not have integrated with due to their size/location/time.

Alternative uses for MLS App Stores.

In the future MLS App Stores may also help in decreasing the “friction” of customers signing up for your service. Here are some classic scenarios.

Outside Sales.

What I mean by this is that in any outside or inside sales effort there is always that moment of truth, where they ask the fateful question. “VISA, Mastercard, or American Express?” In an live presentation environment rather than having them fill out a long order form with name, address, phone number, email address, etc wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to direct them to a web page and they just click a single button and “Boom” you’re done? I see a lot of agent bringing their iPads or notebooks to presentations nowadays. Could this increase your closing percentage from 50% to 60%? I think it might if implemented correctly.

Inside Sales.

One of the big factors of selling over the phone is trust. Sometimes agents are very wary of who is calling them, much less giving them credit card information over the phone. Imagine a situation where the rep is directed them to their MLS system (which they trust) and having them putting in a special promo code and clicking a single button to sign up for the service. Boom! Both the trust issue and friction of reading a 16 digit credit card number over the phone has been alleviated.

In Summary

To me real estate software sales is still a belly to belly enterprise. MLS App Stores should serve as a perfect complement to your existing sales efforts. But, you should not solely rely on them. Adoption of these models will take some time. We are still very early in the game. Would I like to pay less than 30%? Of course I would. Everyone’s business model is a bit different so make sure you find the right one for you.

  1. Both great solutions meeting different business demands. Knowing what the MLS hopes to solve or accomplish is a key gate in decision making.

    RE Technology builds stores for MLSs for a basic web development set up fee and hosting fee. $2500 set up, $2500 per year. Vendors pay a reasonable slotting fee to have their product in the store – they keep 100% of the revenue or share back to the MLS, or whatever arrangement they want. We also support the MLS with content that explains the products

    The auto-provisioning feature and data feature of spark are huge and distinct features. So is the single-sign on feature of Clareity. These are all solutions deserve a look at.

  2. Couple things.

    In your one scenario on the showroom floor don’t let that customer get away without an immediate purchase. You know from experience that the customer may very well change their mind before they hit the exit. Why not have YOUR iPad already set up to take orders. You can get a CC attachment on the cheap and now you have them immediately captured.

    The other big issue with any store is that each vendor still has the issue of being vetted by the MLS and gaining access to the MLS content to use within their product. That doesn’t go away with a store because we (MRED at least) will not just give carte blanche to any store to provide access to our content without a data licensing agreement.

  3. @Russ I think for a trade show situation being able to take credit cards digitally (Square?) is a good idea. But in a demo situation where you have 50 people in the audience it’s not feasible to go to each person individually after the demo with your iPad. Most will leave by the time you talk to the third person. You need to be able take many orders at the same time.

    Imagine 14,000 Realtors at United Center, you pitch them your product on the big screen. And then tell them all they have to do to order is visit mred.buycloudcma.com and click the green button. Boom!

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