Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Paragon Connect [Sponsor]

My thanks to Paragon Connect for sponsoring this month’s Vendor Alley. Paragon Connect is the latest and greatest version of the popular Paragon MLS system. In my podcast with Lucie Fortier at ICE we talked about how they started by adopting the Material UI design system, created by Google, and reimagined an MLS system. Check out the video below for a peak of its clean interface.

Learn about Paragon Connect’s new all-in-one dashboard, power and near me search, and many other features at this website. My thanks again to Paragon Connect.

How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice solution at your MLS -Webinar Video

I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people registered for and attended our Front End of Choice webinar yesterday. Hopefully, Katie and I put some simple, actionable ideas for MLS organizations that will drive the discussion forward.

We recorded the video of the webinar, which also had a quick Cloud MLX demo and sneak peek of our new Cloud CMA LIVE enhancement launching in a couple of weeks.

Due to the screen lag that sometimes accompanies these online webinars, we re-recorded the product demos to match the audio for better quality during playback.

I would love to hear your comments and thanks to everyone who attended. To see the video click on the link below

Click link = > Webinar Reply: How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice

Webinar: How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice solution at your MLS organization

I hope everyone is staying safe out there! I haven’t heard of any of you getting sick, so that’s a good thing.

I wanted to let you know about something I’ve got planned for next week.

Katie Smithson and I are hosting a webinar next Tuesday on How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice solution at your MLS organization.

When Dan Woolley and I started our first company (IRIS, LLC) in the early nineties our first product was a front end of choice type software solution, it was called Lightning – Easy MLS Access. It was an alternative to the other terminal access software solutions being provided by MLS Vendors.

So when the concept of Front End of Choice came back into vogue I knew our company, W+R Studios would be a natural to take advantage.

But things are different now. MLS organizations have had varying success launching and increasing adoption with these new solutions. Giving your members more choices can bring a lot of benefits but also more than a few challenges.

So next Tuesday Katie and I are going to be talking about ways to successfully implement a Front End of Choice solution in your market. We will have actionable things you can do at your MLS organization today, with just a small bit of effort.

If you are interested, please click on the link below to register.

Click here to register = > How to Effectively Implement a Front End of Choice Webinar

P.S. This video I did three years ago, pairs nicely and gives some perspective with what we are going to discuss on the webinar.

All I want for Christmas is for NAR to fund RESO a million dollars next year

Now more than ever I feel that RESO has a lot of momentum of helping the industry crack the problem of standards. Many people have led to this stage. I credit Jeremy Crawford for really transforming RESO from a small group of dedicated members to a large industry powerhouse made of people from all roles of organized real estate to help push standards further.

I’ll also give credit to Art Carter and Rebecca Jensen. Both prodded (shamed?) a lot of us to be more involved.   Art was also key in the hiring of Sam DeBord. Sam brings a business acumen to the RESO leadership that I believe is a crucial step in helping make standards a reality.

At the time of his hiring, I wrote  the industry needs to “step up and give Sam and RESO our full support.”

That time is now. I’ve heard that NAR budget for RESO is less than $300K a year. That is shocking. When I think of the millions of dollars spent on RPR, AMP, and Upstream it boggles my mind. Less than $300K?

The arguments for standards in real estate data don’t need to be re-stated here, but to keep this momentum going, RESO needs proper funding. Membership dues and events can only do so much.

In the most recent episode of my podcast, Industry Relations, I recapped the biggest new events of the decade. One of them was the accession of Bob Goldberg to the role of CEO for the National Association of REALTORS. Bob has stated and has delivered on the promise of being more inclusive, wanting to be a partner to new technology companies, and therefore keep NAR members in the mix. I can’t help but think the role of standards fits perfectly into this message.

So on Christmas Eve and the second day of Hanukkah, all I want is for NAR to bring RESO funding to a level where they can do the work needed to bring standards to life.

The birth of Stellar MLS

A Stellar Idea: My Florida Regional MLS Reimagines the Multiple Listing Service

Merri Jo Cowen, CEO of Stellar MLS

“Becoming Stellar, says Cowen, starts with asking one question: “Is what we are doing Stellar?” she said. “Our customers tell us we provide excellent customer service. But our goal is to be Stellar in everything we do; Stellar isn’t just our name — it is our new culture.”
Stellar MLS will continue its leading customer service efforts, delivering regular Broker Summits, quarterly broker conference calls, and onsite training. In terms of its curated customer journey, Stellar will leverage information collected from its new Customer Profiles to help develop new initiatives, as well as new products and services.
“Our customers are Stellar,” said Cowen. “As we get to know more about them, we can create even better customer journeys, because Stellar is not just about us, it is about our brokers and their agents,” she said.”

There is a lot to unpack here. Their press release is chock full of ideas, initiatives, and lists of services. It’s clear Merri Jo and her team have something they want to say and change about the perception of what an MLS provider/organization can be. I think the thread that runs through it what they call a “Curated Customer Journey’. I’m hoping to learn more as they being rolling out some of their programs.

MLSListings adds MLS-Touch

MLSListings Inc. and Prospects Software Join Forces to Bring MLS-Touch App to Northern California Real Estate ProfessionalsMulti-year agreement offers unique and custom mobile functions to MLSListings professionals

“We heard from many brokers and agents that mobile apps for real estate are good, but an app with expanded functionality would be great. Charles Drouin and the MLS-Touch team understands that and they have used the input of thousands of brokers and agents from California to Montreal to build their model. They are committed to working with associations and MLSs to create a custom experience. We are proud to offer convenient features to support the more than 15,000 real estate professionals who trust us with their business,” said James Harrison, RCE, CAE, President and CEO of MLSListings Inc.

Félicitations to Charles and his team. Their persistence is inspiring. I’m big believer in giving agents more choices when it comes to the tools they use the most, like the MLS. This “front-end of choice” movement is gaining steam.

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.”


The Evolution of MLS Technology, Front End of Choice & Cloud MLX

Awhile back I was asked to give a presentation about the “history of MLS technology”, at a MLS strategic planning session. I spent a lot of time on it and I liked what I had put together. I’ve been using parts of that presentation, and how it fits in with W+R Studios’s “front end of choice” product, Cloud MLX.

The video is about 20 minutes long. It’s not too polished, I have a few flubs, some “umms” and “ahhhs”, but overall I think the video does a good job of showing our thinking about Cloud MLX.

I would love to get any feedback you might have. Enjoy.

Sponsored By Giant Steps Advisors