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Broker Advisory Spotlight Focuses on Broker-Specific Data Issues

RESO has a major positive operational impact on Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and the technology providers that create products for them.

Since standards benefit everyone downstream of MLSs, including brokers, agents and consumers, RESO is working on more data solutions for others in the real estate ecosystem and has been featuring brokerage perspectives more prominently at conferences and in workgroups.

An Overarching Theme: RESO Common Format
Brokerages and vendors can now become RESO certified through a new RESO Common Format (RCF) endorsement that is independent of MLS-specific requirements and is compliant with the RESO Data Dictionary.

BAWSS Blog V2Brokerages now have the ability to transfer data between vendor partners outside of the MLS in a RESO-compliant way.

Facilitating things like roster data accuracy and technology products on backend broker systems is an exciting development in terms of solving some of the issues that brokerages have with maintaining accurate data.

Broker Spotlight
During the 2024 RESO Spring Conference, RESO Broker Advisory Workgroup Chair Jeff Bosch and Vice-Chair Nina Dosanjh led a panel discussion with John Perry, CMO at ARC Realty in Birmingham, Alabama, and Anna-Marie Ellison, COO at ERA King Real Estate.

The group discussed easier access to high-quality images and putting an end to the duplication of data entry. They also talked about tech in regards to adoption rates and how to train real estate professionals to accept the challenges associated with tech-driven change. | WATCH VIDEO (31:51)

Quality Images
A good portion of the discussion was dedicated to how brokers are looking for a more efficient way to access and distribute high-resolution media and other details for all of their listings. Possible helpers here include:

  • MLSs storing hi-res original media made accessible to brokers
  • Brokers storing hi-res media in their own software products with accessibility for the MLS ingest
  • MLSs ingesting listing details from broker software, creating one point of data entry

The first scenario accepts the current workflow of agents uploading media directly to the MLS. But MLS rules around images are stringent around watermarks and broker branding, and listing images stored by the MLS are often scaled-down versions of the originals.

The brokerage that wants to pull all of its listing media back from the MLS will only receive a downgraded version of it. According to Perry and Ellison, brokers want MLSs to maintain the high-resolution version of the media with direct access for the brokerage to download.

With the MLS being the central source for the brokerage to pull the rest of its listing information, it would create tremendous efficiency to also be able to pull every listing’s original media from that same source.

Alternatively, the brokerage could require all of its agents to upload hi-res media directly to a brokerage software product. In this scenario, the media would be brought into the MLS from the broker’s tools, and the broker would retain the aggregated hi-res media.

Currently, the broker often has to go back to the agents and their photographers to obtain high-resolution photos and videos. From a brokerage standpoint, quality imagery should already be available through their local system, and there should be a way for the MLS to ingest that in a RESO-compliant way. 

Ideally, the MLS would also grab listing details from the broker’s software, ensuring that the agent has one process for getting information into the MLS.

Even Oil Changes Are Modern
Getting an oil change today is a bang-bang operation. A technician uses a tablet to record a basic set of information to obtain immediate information about your car’s latest maintenance, no matter where you last received care.

Agents already have the ability to enter quality data just once that could be written to the MLS and wherever else it needs to go.

“I think the agent should only have to write their customer’s name one time, one place, the first time,” said Ellison.

In a perfect scenario, a listing’s “iPad data” would go directly to the broker’s selected software vendors with the appropriate subset going to the MLS. The MLS would, in accordance with the broker’s wishes and local rules, continue to manage further distribution to advertising portals, a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) provider, etc.

At the same time, the broker could maintain data such as buyer incentives that can go directly to marketing vendors or whoever else they need them to go to.

The MLS would still be getting the MLS information that they require in a seamless manner with just one point of data entry.

Data Control
It’s not just photos that brokers would like more control over. Existing character limits are a problem for them, as are things like bathroom count where one MLS will have a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom listing and another will round that 4/2.5 up to 4/3.

Both brokers discussed having a back-office solution with the capability to write listing data to the MLS that includes RESO-compliant fields for MLS entry and for external vendors, which is precisely the sort of thing that RCF is designed for.

Not having this ability was cited as a strong pain point for both Perry and Ellison. They want to be the start-of-marketing source of property data instead of the MLS, and they believe that there should be a better mechanism in place for sharing information.

An End to Duplicate Effort
The ideal is to perform data entry once instead of into multiple different systems.

Getting to that point, the brokers recognize, will take a healthy amount of good faith and trust, while realizing that each party is looking out for the other’s best interests.

BAW Stage Scaled E1716385052811

Left to right: Jeff Bosch, John Perry, Anna-Marie Ellison and Nina Dosanjh.

Adoption Rates
After image quality and access, the discussion turned toward adoption rates for new technology. Advice was offered for MLSs and technology vendors alike.

Ellison looks at the nimbleness of vendor products and is in search of a “stupid high” adoption rate – something that agents will use every day. She noted that if it doesn’t seamlessly drop into an agent’s regular workflow, it probably won’t work. 

For a CRM platform, a healthy adoption rate was cited as 87%, but other technologies are acceptable at 20%–30% or even lower and are dependent on product cost and agent experience.

And “experience” doesn’t necessarily mean years of wisdom. Thinking mobile first is critical. Imagine that agents are using most real estate technology products in their car.

Ellison cited one 23-year-old agent that did all of her business on her MLS mobile app and had never been to the local MLS website. While that is an extreme case, it emphasizes the importance and secondhand nature of mobility to agents born in the 21st century.

Change Is Hard
On the other hand, said Ellison, some agents don’t know what a browser is, and you have to consider that as well. 

Perry suggested that MLSs need to have conversations and an open dialogue with the brokerage community.

Ellison added that whether you are an MLS or tech company, you need to live a day in the life of a REALTOR®. Watch them put listings in the CRM, in the MLS and in other areas where data needs to be entered. See if your idea on paper is how it is playing out in the real world.

Bosch noted the many difficulties related to training seasoned and beginner agents alike how to use new tools, stating that “RDR” is a real thing – REALTORS® Don’t Read.

Not mincing words, said Ellison, “REALTORS® are the brakes of America when it comes to change.”

How to Train
So what is the most beneficial training method for the average-aged REALTOR®?

Perry stated that they first have to know the product exists. He said they won’t hear it until about the fifth time you tell them, so you have to be persistent. And if there is no face in front of them, it is not going to go well. In-person training is critical.

MLS office staff should be properly trained about all technology tools, knowing that agents will often only call upon a product in a moment of crisis.

If agents are not ready to absorb a product, they are not going to use it. Do not count on them to watch a video or go through a tutorial.

For data products, it’s the actual data entry people that need to get the message.

“Everything’s easy once you know which buttons to push,” said Perry.

Then Ellison added that even moving buttons around on a home screen can ruin an agent’s day.

Perry shared a situation where the color of a button changed in one of their products. That was it. Neither the button placement or functionality changed, just the color, and they received a mountain of phone calls about it.

Bringing It Back to RESO
Both brokers expressed high respect for RESO and said that finding RESO-compliant partners is important.

Being tied to the MLS, they want tools that work in unison and don’t overlap in incorrect ways between MLSs and other tech. In a RESO-formatted world, it’s easier and better for the community to work with interoperable tools than to forge out individually without a plan.

Ellison noted the important ways they interact with RESO standards and even said that they have rejected vendors for their inability to present data in a RESO-compliant way.

Said Ellison of RESO, “I think of y’all like the ocean. I think it looks pretty. I can kind of stay in the shallow water, but I don’t know where any of the riptides or sharks are. I know just enough, and I know how pretty I want it to be. I have a lot of respect for you, just like I do the ocean, and I know that you can take my life as well.”

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