In the next year or two, your MLS must be able to receive new listings from outside sources – sort of “syndication in reverse”. That’s because in April of this year, RESO passed a new data specification: RETS 1.8. Since then, there have been several good posts about it, like this one from my friend (and fellow data geek Matt Cohen). Matt asked a great question, “Why Should Brokers Care about RETS 1.8?”
For our audience, MLS executives and their REALTOR leadership, we have another question: What effect will this have on the MLS membership and revenue? In an environment where membership has fallen 30% for many associations, will this further decrease membership? Solid Earth thinks it could, definitely; it could make MLSs irrelevant entirely. Or MLSs could evolve their platforms to further empower brokers with features allowed by the new rules.
Listen to RETS luminary Sergio De Rio of t4bi who said “…Brokers could have their own software that they could write for their agents that sends listings directly to the MLS. They would look to the Realtors as having a more useful part in the whole process of listing management.”
Matt Cohen added “With new standards comes lots of new opportunity – it will be interesting to see if there’s a renewed push either from brokers or software vendors to create solutions that take advantage of the opportunity.”
So, keeping it short… the new rules will require, in a year or two, the RETS Server at your MLS to receive as well as transmit MLS data. The major consequences are: (1) that your MLS vendor must take all of your MLS’s business rules, such as which field is required, how dates can relate, who is allowed to post an update, etc., and rewrite them in the new standard format; and (2) that brokers will be able to write (or buy) software that will update the MLS without ever logging into the MLS (LIST-IT). As a consequence, many folks may never login to the actual MLS-provided software again.
So, what are the implication of those two things? First, there is an EPIC new development project for your MLS vendor (or your IT staff if you do MLS in-house) All MLS rules have to be “ported” to the new standard and tested. It is really important that this is done well. Great care must be taken to ensure consistency, so that listings entered through the new process are required to pass the exact same QA process as listings entered through the traditional MLS channel (LIST-IT > Maintenance Menu for my customers). There are lots of other concerns, like knowing how many agents a broker has working in their office (and should be members of the MLS) if none of them ever login? Those are a two really good questions.
Still, Solid Earth thinks this is a HUGE new tool for brokers and that the MLS must ”follow” MLS into the Brokerage office where it’s moving (as Matt Cohen said above) to offer these tools to brokers. Solid Earth is ahead of the game with a co-development project in Louisiana that we will be talking about in a few weeks. The project uses RETS to receive listing changes into the MLS using the SERETS Client and will soon allow whole listings to be entered without ever logging into the MLS software.
Questions for MLSs: How can we be sure every agent is a member if the entire brokerage never logs in? How does this effect secure log in? What will MLS look like when it’s “broker-branded”? Are MLSs going to “follow” the MLS out into the brokerage offices?