Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

TRREB partners with Restb.ai

TRREB enhances performance by integrating Restb.ai MLS Suite solutions

“Restb.ai’s product suite will automate TRREB’s listing input process on its AMP MLS platform by extracting data from listing photos.  This process saves users time, provides WCAG & ADA protections for members’ IDX/VOW websites, increases the value and searchability of MLS data by providing advanced image tags, and also provides photo compliance protections for its members. “

What wizardry is this? I think that tagging photos automatically would be a great innovation. Using that data to help with the listing input process is just the tip of the iceberg.

“NAR’s Goldberg kills AMP…”

NAR’s Goldberg Kills Amp and Powers Up Upstream

We’re starting to see the impact of a new leadership team at the National Association of REALTORS® led by Bob Goldberg, a strategic, yet practical leader that is SERIOUS about making the industry function more effectively. He also seems to be critically evaluating every investment in technology and making some bold moves to re-focus efforts.

NAR announced yesterday that is shutting down development on its Advanced Multilist Platform, or AMP. AMP was under development for a few years at a burn rate of $6 Million per year. The concept behind AMP was solid – consolidate MLS data into a single data repository and allow developers of systems like Matrix, FlexMLS, Paragon, Stratus, Rapattoni, Navica and others focus on the front-end software development.”

Victor does a good job in this post summarizing, at a very high level, what’s going on with all the initiatives and his thoughts on AMP. I don’t agree with some of his assumptions (especially the Upstream propaganda toward the end) but its a good overview.

N.A.R. shuts down RPR’s AMP program

Looks like letters are being sent out this morning:

“At a meeting of the RPR Advisory Council this week, the future of AMP was discussed, and its relationship to its overall resource and funding levels supported by NAR. The result of this assessment is that NAR Leadership, with the full endorsement of RPR’s Senior Management, have concluded that continued funding of the AMP project is not within the 2018 strategic plan for RPR.

This will result in the reallocation of funds for the AMP program in 2018 to other, higher priority NAR initiatives. At the same time, this will allow RPR greater focus on both its core features and products, and to add resources to the Upstream project. The AMP program will be suspended and begin winding down its operations as of February 1, 2018.”


FBS acquires Solid Earth

FBS acquires Solid Earth’s Spring software platform to achieve powerful industry vision

“Michael Wurzer, CEO of FBS, says he looks forward to building on the foundation established when FBS and Solid Earth announced a partnership earlier this year to build the Spring Portal on the Spark API. “Spring is the best MLS consumer portal in the market and powering it with the Spark API reduces duplicate entry and data lock-in for brokers and agents,” Wurzer said. “Today, MLSs, brokers, and agents need to clearly and beautifully communicate the full-breadth of the powerful value proposition they deliver together, and Spring is laser-focused on creating the best portal to deliver on that value proposition.”

Smart (an both sides). It basically gives FBS more design focused products to sell in to its market, and the integration work is already done. Matt Fowler, Solid Earth co-founder will stay on and serve as Vice President and lead the Spring team.

and this…

“Spring and Spark together create a platform that does not exist today and achieves a long standing goal of MLS industry leadership,” Wurzer said. He noted that an initial focus is to enhance the current Spring offering to include products that help MLSs showcase all of the valuable products and services they provide to members. “Together with Flexmls, this will be the most complete MLS portal available, serving all customers of the MLS beautifully and efficiently,” Wurzer said. “

This is basically a counter to the Clareity Dashboard, which was acquired by CoreLogic earlier this year.

Unsaid in this release is any future involvement Solid Earth might have in AMP, NAR’s backend effort into the MLS business. I’ve seen Matt at many of the AMP presentations. Not sure if that is going to happen any longer.

2017 was certainly a year for consolidation, both on the MLS side and the vendor side. And I don’t think its going to slow down. Congrats to Michael and Matt and both of their teams.

The N.A.R.’s CEO, Dale Stinton, talks about partnerships.

The CEO of the National Association of REALTORS, Dale Stinton wrote a 1,800 blog post entitled, “TO “B TO B” OR NOT TO “B”” about the N.A.R.’s commitment and partnerships with the Brokerage, MLS and Vendor community. It’s worth a read, and a re-read. I found it pretty fascinating and gave me ton of insight to the N.A.R.’s thought process.

The first part of his post summarizes the N.A.R.’s success stories, starting with the formation of RETS, CIVIX, domain names, the recent hire of a MLS advocate, Caitlin McCrory, and its expanding relationship with CMLS. Later in the post he did seem to acknowledge some of friction with RPR, Upstream and the MLS and Vendor community stating..

“Whether you’ve come to see it this way or not, RPR too was hoped to be an important (B to B) example of cooperation between NAR, RPR, and the MLS and Vendor communities.”

and I thought this section was encouraging.

“One of the first things Alex Lange did after coming on board with Upstream was to create an MLS Advisory Council to bounce ideas off of and create a channel of communication. He did not cherry pick our ‘friends’ so to speak, rather he engaged a cross section of all types of MLS’s and MLS executives. It is out of that group’s advice and counsel and the Upstream Board’s desire to bring everyone back together, that the second option (MLS input first) was born and which has been very well received.”

Furthermore he looks to walk back, or at least further explain his widely reported statement about the MLS/Vendor community being a “cartel”.

Some of you may have missed this signal or dismissed it as yet another attempt on NAR’s part to interfere or intrude itself into space in which it does not belong. Or you may have spent some time commiserating about what was accurately reported as my ‘cartel’ comment. Unfortunately, what was conveniently omitted was what I said right before that, which was:


….. followed by applause from the NAR Board of Directors.

Unfortunately the link to the audio portion of this statement on the blog post isn’t working. But good for him. I think his “cartel” statement was ill conceived and he seems to acknowledge that, or at least in my reading the sentiment is there.

This next section also caught my eye.

“Then, after the Midyear Meetings, I listened to a couple of excellent online interviews; one covering the events at the Midyear meeting and one which occurred shortly thereafter. I can’t say I liked everything they discussed nor do I agree with all of their conclusions, but they were even handed, and generally fair in their observations about the ‘pivot’ to option B and other NAR activities. What’s the saying …. ‘if you can’t take the heat’.”

Could Dale be a podcast fan? I wonder if this podcast or maybe this podcast was on his playlist. : )

And for reasons you’ll see I thought this section was particularly insightful.

” As previously mentioned, CMLS has blossomed as a force for cooperation and ideation. MLS data sharing is happening all over the place. Some MLS vendors are really stepping up with some state-of-the-art products, particularly focusing on MLS front ends. FBS and Cloud MLX are just a couple of examples of high quality vendors pushing the envelope.”

I always knew Dale had great taste in “high quality” front end of choice software!

Here’s the deal. It’s real easy to be cynical about some of the points he’s making. But, maybe, just maybe this can be a turning point. As Dale points out…

“One of the first things Alex Lange did after coming on board with Upstream was to create an MLS Advisory Council to bounce ideas off of and create a channel of communication. He did not cherry pick our ‘friends’ so to speak, rather he engaged a cross section of all types of MLS’s and MLS executives. It is out of that group’s advice and counsel and the Upstream Board’s desire to bring everyone back together, that the second option (MLS input first) was born and which has been very well received. Some have said this is where Upstream should have started to begin with and that its name now belies its mission and brokers original intent. The NAR learning moment was and is to remember to listen more closely to the Brokers and MLS executives.

Emphasis mine.

Maybe this can be a “learning moment” for us all.

Here’s yours truly from a previous blog post.

“We all need to press the reset button, and move forward.”


NARlando 2016

Many of you are already in Orlando, personally I don’t arrive till tomorrow afternoon. Which means I’ve got a jammed pack weekend! Here are some of things that we have going on.

W+R Studios booth!
Stop by and see our newly redesigned booth. Our booth number is 1185. No ping pong this year, but sit in on a demo and get a free t-shirt!

MLS Association Executives Session
November 4, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. (that’s this Friday)
Hyatt Regency, Windermere Ballroom Z

Brian Donnellan has asked me to moderate a panel with Mike Wurzer, Matt Cohen and Chad Curry on the future of real estate technology. We are going to geek out on future tech and what it means for real estate. (I’m just glad not to talk about Upstream)

AMP Presentation
November 5, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. (Saturday)
Katie and I will be demoing our Cloud Agent Suite (Cloud CMA, Cloud Streams and Cloud MLX) and highlighting recent integrations we’ve done with the AMP API.

ListHub Party
November 5, 2016 5PM-9PM
ICEBAR – 8967 International Drive, Orlando FL
W+R Studios is co-sponsoring the ListHub party. We will have a cool photo booth set up for attendees.

Corelogic Party
November 5, 2016 8PM-11PM
B.B. King’s Blues Club – 9101 International Dr. #2230, Orlando, FL
W+R Studios is also co-sponsoring the Corelogic party as well (what can I say, we like to party!)

Come by our Suite!
Katie and I will be in our Suite at the Rosen Centre giving private demos. We have a few slots open so reach out to Katie if you like to talk about adding the Cloud Agent Suite to your MLS or brokerage.

Other than that I’ll most likely be at the lobby bar (but you already knew that.)


See you soon!

P.S. We are going to miss you Skinny!

It’s raining APIs

Mike Wurzer, CEO of FBS
Mike Wurzer, CEO of FBS
Mike Wurzer must be rolling his eyes every time he reads Inman News lately. Its 2016 and the industry has finally caught up with him and his company, FBS. Back in May of 2012 (yes you read that correctly, 4 years ago) FBS announced its Spark Platform, which includes the Spark API. Which gave software developers two great things, an easy way to get MLS data and permission to sell their products to any of their flexmls customers. The Spark API allowed us to get Cloud CMA up in running in “long tail” MLS markets that we may not have served due to size or some other challenge.

Now, along with AMP, two others have joined the fray. Zillow and CoreLogic. Zillow with its Retsly Connect initiative and CoreLogic with its Trestle initiative. So since a big component of these initiatives is to target software developers to make cool stuff, and I happen to run a software company that makes cool stuff I thought I would give a quick run down of the pros and cons of each.

Owned by NAR. RPRs effort to provide a back-end database to MLS providers has announced they have MLS providers representing over 200,000 agents interested in AMP. That’s a lot of agents, and as a software company I like the size of that market.
Owned by NAR. Nobody that I know have has seen any API documentation, and it still isn’t clear how the revenue model would work for 3rd party software developers integrating with AMP.

Zillow’s Retsly Connect
Owned by Zillow. Sexy technology, we used their Public Records API in Cloud Streams and were impressed. Retsly Connect looks equally cool, and lots of bells and whistles I think MLS providers would like (which is why I think Bob Hale signed up).
Owned by Zillow. They have a chicken and egg problem. They currently have only 6 MLS providers signed up (and I think a third of them are in Canada). So, they are going to need to get some sort of traction for developers to write for the platform, but also need more coverage to entice developers to do so.

CoreLogic’s Trestle
Big company. Knows data. They have over 300 MLS databases. Some of them the largest MLS providers in the country. That a HUGE market potential. If the Spark API provided the “long tail” MLS markets, CoreLogic would provide the freaking Elephant.
Big company. Not launching until Q3 of this year. No API info, no revenue model announced.

For the record our plans at W+R Studios is to be platform agnostic and make our products work on any platform our customers want. But, I still want to give
a couple words of advice:

1. Try and stay away from an App Store model. I’ve been a big proponent of an “Agent App Store” in the past but it has been very brutal to get agents to change their purchasing behavior. Maybe in the post “front end of choice” world things might change, but that’s a big if.

2. Your initiative must include data access rights AND permission to sell. Make it an opt-out for MLS providers. One without the other will not scale. If I build something fast and it takes 6 months to get approval from your MLS committee to sell it, then these initiatives are essentially worthless.

In the end competition is a good thing. I think the next few years are going to be very exciting times for real estate technology. Sometimes all it takes is just a spark.

Rapattoni plugs in

39Rapattoni announces integration with RPR Advanced Multi-List Platform (AMP)

“Rapattoni is a long-time industry partner and veteran MLS system developer,” said Dale Ross, CEO of RPR. “RPR is extremely pleased that Rapattoni has embraced the AMP™ concept of an open database with universal access for all licensed application innovators. Rapattoni has been a leader in providing both association management systems and MLS technology to REALTOR® associations for decades,” he continued. “We look forward to working with the Rapattoni team to help them bring the promise of the AMP™ system to their many MLS clients.”

Times, they are a changing…

2015 “Brass Balls” list

Lists, lists, and more lists. I’ve read a lot of lists in the past couple weeks. So, in honor of our site mascot, a picture of Alec Baldwin playing “Blake” in the film Glengarry Glen Ross holding two brass balls, I thought I’d kick off 2016 with a list of my own. These go individuals who made the news last year that have displayed that they have a pair, for better or worse.

Art Carter – California Statewide MLS
The day CRMLS launched the itsmybusiness.me site it showed that Art wasn’t afraid to stir things up.

David Charron and Tom PhillipsMLS Evolved
The narrative has always been that the egos of MLS executives would mean consolidation at any meaningful level would be impossible. David and Tom proved them all wrong by changing the game.

Chris Crocker The Zillow “Whistleblower” letter
You can argue about his motives but the guy knew the possibility his identity would be revealed.

Dale Stinton and Dale Ross – Upstream and AMP
The relationship between NAR and MLS providers has never been great (or even good.) The launch of RPR (Realtor Property Resource) only served to increase the acrimony. But when NAR announced that RPR would be funding Upstream and AMP (both initiatives aimed directly to disrupt MLS providers) it took the more than brass, but maybe titanium balls to say “our members told us to do it”.

Kevin Tomlinson and “The Jills”
South Florida. Those two words can cause a involuntary eye roll in most. I don’t know which took more balls, “The Jills” who appear to have knowingly manipulated MLS data to protect their “1 percent” clients, or Kevin Tomlinson who looks to be caught on recording “blackmailing” both of them, (and subsequently being forcible arrested by the cops) and later declaring its all a “misunderstanding”.

Is NorthstarMLS’ implementation of “RPR View™” a peak at AMP?

NorthstarMLS announced a data share solution powered by RPR, dubbed “RPR View™“.

MN State Data Sharing

“RPR View™, consolidated into RPR, is already available to you through your NorthstarMLS subscription. You may now access listings in RPR (including offers of compensation) from these Minnesota State MLS’s:

Duluth Area Association of Realtors
Greater Alexandria Area Association of Realtors
Lake Region Association of Realtors (Fergus Falls)
Northwest Minnesota Association of Realtors (Bemidji)
Realtor Association of Southern MN (Mankato)
Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors (Rochester/Winona)
West Central Association of Realtors (Willmar)

A couple things:

1. I guess this could count as part of the “alternative front end” trend we are seeing.

2. A clever way to using RPR data, and a proof of concept for its backend services (which is what they are pushing for with AMP)

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