And on the second day of my road trip, I got to sit down for an in-depth discussion with ECAR Association Exec Mr. Cliff Long and MLS Exec Susan Beck. Cliff is a 39 year old powerhouse of a man with four kids. He was previously the Association’s Legislative Liaison but and he’s recently been brought in to fill the seat left vacant by the departure of ECAR’s long-time AE, Barry Stafford (now at Hernando MLS on the Atlantic coast). Susan Beck was recently elevated from her position in support to MLS Director, replacing long-time MLS Director Geoff Gurney. So while we’ve worked in ECAR for 10 years, there is an entirely new group of leaders at the Emerald Coast MLS and Solid Earth is very excited to work with them.
As I drove from Pensacola to Ft Walton today, I noticed lots of new building, huge beachfront and near-beach construction and what felt like some renewed activity in a market that’s been pretty flat (see inset for 5-year chart). The best news about this chart is found when you compare it to Orlando, or Birmingham, or Louisville. Many places have faired very badly indeed when compared to ECAR.
Today Susan and Cliff and I talked about a wide range of things including the future of Spring MLS, the revolutionary new MLS platform from Solid Earth and how we’ll be releasing it to ECAR. We talked about advertising on the public site, EmeraldCoastHomesOnline.com and how that might work, if the MLS Committee wants to pursue the concept. We cited the example of www.mlsarealistings.com in Tennessee as a “comp”. There is significant revenue being generated from the site and ECAR has more traffic. There are issues with advertising though, and Cliff and Susan are still thinking about it, understandably. The public site in the area, www.emeraldcoasthomesonline.com has huge traffic but it’s the only site that does not carry ads. The public loves this I’m sure and we may loose traffic if we cover up the site with ads. Still I think tasteful placement of ads could be tolerated and would produce significant revenue.
At the end of our meeting today, as a serious thunderstorm passed the restaurant, we shared our hopes for the market, we also shared a desire to increase cooperation on the panhandle and to advance the interest of the real estate trade associations who have done so much for their subscribers. Thanks Cliff! Thanks Susan! And thanks all of those who made this long relationship possible.