RESO volunteer Jessica Edgerton is the Executive Vice President of Operations and Corporate Counsel for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Her role allows her to bring RESO standards to 70 different countries represented by 550 member brokerages of LeadingRE.
The worldwide scope of her position is fitting, given that she moved around the world regularly as a child, spending time in Kenya, the Dominican Republic and throughout Central America while her father helped set up educational programs for USAID.
Edgerton entered the world of real estate as Associate Counsel at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). At the time, she couldn’t understand why an entire organization was devoted to data standards in real estate…until she discovered how discordant real estate data standards really were.
“After hearing from brokerages, I began to understand the monumental nature of what RESO was grappling with,” said Edgerton.
She saw that between the MLSs (REALTOR®-owned or otherwise), small and large brokers, independent and franchise brokerages, and LeadingRE, there was a lot of room for confusion.
“Data is the lifeblood of this industry,” said Edgerton. “We cannot function day to day, week to week or with a business plan for years ahead without this resource.”
To Edgerton, RESO’s goal – a universal language for real estate data to ensure clarity and transparency – reminds her of the challenges of Esperanto, a universal second language for international communication created in the late 1880s. “RESO is basically trying to get the real estate industry to speak Esperanto,” she said.
The Broker Angle
Based on Edgerton’s own experiences, the key to progress is finding more opportunities for broker-owners to become part of RESO conversations.
RESO recruitment efforts include exposing and addressing challenges that are important to brokers. For example, RESO’s most popular conference session on broker pain points has led to a significant number of initiatives, including NOW (Networked Office and Web), LEAP (Listing Exchange and Access Policy), and the new RESO educational primer course and designation, WWRED (Working with Real Estate Data).
The most recent session elevated the discussion on a wide range of broker issues, from creating better roster data standards to the continued improvement of the consistency in Web API implementations.
Edgerton noted that clear communication between brokers and their tech vendors and support staff is critical. Brokers have to understand how their data is flowing from vendor to brokerage and beyond.
“I think today we have reached a new level of understanding among brokers. They get that this is the key to not just survival, but to ensure that they are winning over their competition,” Edgerton said.
For Edgerton, when it comes to real estate data, “the gold standard is RESO.” It’s why LeadingRE’s involvement in RESO has flourished and why she is personally committed to seeing RESO’s impact grow.
“I am passionate about it,” Edgerton said, noting that LeadingRE is on the cusp of deploying RESO-compliant projects that include a new website and updated data feeds spanning its entire network.
Edgerton knows that implementing RESO standards globally within LeadingRE is not going to happen overnight.
“We’ve got members in over 70 countries – a lot of different brokerages – and our data is coming in from a lot of different sources, but RESO has been the tool, the resource for us to reach whole new levels of organization and sanity,” she explained.
Without RESO standards, managing data flow can be cumbersome, frustrating and time consuming, said Edgerton.
By contrast, RESO offers, in Edgerton’s words, a “beautiful, crystalized, accepted industry-tested solution.”
In the future, when LeadingRE develops new data feeds, they will be using RESO standards. Less time spent on custom data feeds means more “room for integration and growth,” she said.
Having seen so much of the world at such a young age, improving real estate on a global scale is something Edgerton was wired to accomplish. Raised by writers and educators, she also became an exceptional communicator, earning a Master’s in Journalism in her hometown at Indiana University Bloomington after graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio.
She went on to Law School at Indiana University School of Law–Bloomington and excelled at litigation. But Edgerton’s image of what litigation would be collided with the reality of immersing herself in it.
“I had this insanely naïve sense of what litigation was all about,” she confessed. “I found it somewhat pointless. People were spending money just to continue fighting for the sake of fighting…for years.”
While Edgerton continued her dedication to the law, she found her industry niche via a real estate appraisal management startup. She discovered that the key to leveraging the law was preventing litigation before it began, through corporate risk management and implementing robust contractual review processes and procedures.
Edgerton’s entrée into real estate coincided with an exciting new chapter of motherhood while living in a downtown Chicago high-rise. One day, while pregnant with her first child, a note appeared under her door that said, “Hi, I am hoping to form a group of fellow pregnant women at our building.” The note was signed by Constance Freedman.
Freedman, currently the Founder and Managing Partner of Moderne Ventures, was at the time a Managing Director of NAR’s Second Century Ventures. Eventually, Freedman recommended that Edgerton apply for an associate general counsel position at NAR. Edgerton was hired and immediately knew she had found her niche.
Her role at NAR led Edgerton to join LeadingRE more than three years ago. “It’s a world-class group of people that I get to work with – staff, members and industry colleagues,” she said.
Education is an area that Edgerton describes as “a huge passion.” Her responsibilities at LeadingRE include overseeing its educational services, and one of her favorite projects at NAR involved developing risk management materials for members.
Her decision to take the position at LeadingRE was rooted in learning. “I would not only be able to continue to develop educational materials but own that whole tranche. I couldn’t say no,” she said.
Edgerton is excited about the next in-person RESO conference this October in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
“There is something so important about everybody coming together and learning together,” she said. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
Edgerton lives in Chicago with her husband, three children, and their oversized and completely untrainable dog. She spends her time with her children, visiting the city’s exceptional sites and museums (her favorite is the Field Museum) and enjoying a perfect professional fit at LeadingRE. RESO is thrilled that she is dedicating a portion of her busy life to increasing the use of data standards in the real estate industry.