RESO is often seen as an organization that serves Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and the technology providers that create products for them. Yet, standards benefit everyone downstream of MLSs, including brokers, agents and consumers, so RESO regularly features brokerage perspectives at conferences and in workgroups.
During the RESO 2023 Spring Conference, RESO Broker Advisory Workgroup Chair Jeff Bosch and Vice-Chair Nina Dosanjh led a Q&A with Chad Nall, Broker/Owner at Suburban Spaces in San Antonio, Texas, and Nikola Dosev, Manager, Product Growth & Innovation at SkySlope.
They talked about how standards-based technology improves their businesses and what more can be done around listings, interoperability and data sharing. | WATCH VIDEO (20:07)
Nall’s business is classified as a small brokerage with 14 agents. Dosev’s role as manager of growth and innovation covers more than 3,700 brokerages and 650,000 real estate professionals. Both are directly impacted by RESO standards.
What role does the MLS play in your technology needs?
Nall said that he leverages the MLS for about 80 percent of what his brokerage does because of their small size. The MLS offers them technology products that they might not otherwise have access to on their own.
Search functionality, showing services, and maps/layers for research provided to their agents and clients are all examples of valuable tools provided by the MLS.
What differences do standards make when entering a market or into a relationship with brokers?
Dosev said that in order to be a partner to MLSs and brokerages, SkySlope sees itself as a conduit of value. In order to provide value, they need to plug into both systems – the MLS and the brokerage.
Sixty percent of SkySlope’s clients are small- and medium-sized brokerages. Integrating with MLSs and associations requires a great deal of project management, data mapping and making sure that they serve the right information to brokers.
This is where standards play a huge role for them. SkySlope must make sure that fields are pre-mapped, that Data Dictionary structures are understood and that standards are followed as much as possible. Doing so saves a massive amount of time on project management and integrations. In places like Canada and California, standards have been prevalent during onboarding, and Dosev said it’s been tremendous for them.
When standards are not followed, what are the challenges?
Dosev said that some major MLSs have great standards that not only comply with RESO but also have wonderful relationships with other APIs. Others that are still using RETS feeds and custom-naming conventions create problems for engineers, project managers and even agents downstream.
Dosev added that customers can tell the difference between a standardized MLS and one that is not standardized. The user experience and speed of value are greatly improved in a standardized MLS, as is buy-in and agent adoption of the products they serve.
What is missing from MLS data?
Nall encouraged MLSs to add more tools for rental business. He said that it’s a huge part of his local marketplace and should be brought to the table in other markets.
RESO has heard the call for more rental standards in MLSs and has been working on a collection of additions via the RESO Rental Subgroup.
Nall also cited texting capability within products and engagement with clients as other important factors to consider. He said that clients will find properties on the MLS and then go to third-party sites for more interaction.
These clients will often come back to his brokerage, but the lack of texting ability directly from the MLS side is a proven threat to his business. He would like to see a technology platform that keeps the client more closely tied to the MLS and his brokerage.
How does robust data and data standards empower SkySlope as a vendor and the brokers they work with?
Dosev said compliance comes down to a risk mitigation strategy – having the ability to comply with the proper processes, procedures, data compliance policies, data access requirements, data certifications and more.
Where compliance really helps is by speeding business up for them on the technical side. Having a compliant partner simply makes business go faster.
Compliance also allows them to work on less technical angles of business, such as anti-discrimination compliance and other components that help them focus on what agents deal with in their day-to-day work with clients.
By not having to just think about the 1s and 0s, they can move the needle on these important aspects of the real estate industry. Standards help them innovate further and create more broker products.
What does data sharing mean for you?
Dosev said that data sharing reduces duplication. They know that when data shares don’t happen and walled gardens are in place, problems occur. From a reporting perspective, it creates huge data issues and gaps. Data shares encourage closer collaboration, which allows faster integrations as a vendor. They don’t have to tell them five times what’s important.
Nall said he supports it as a small broker. They have up to five different MLSs feeding data into the San Antonio market. If they had a data share, it would help with sales, having a standardized platform and having to pay fees for access to multiple MLSs. Plus, they could count on the data being the same rather than different per MLS, which can be confusing to clients.
Nall added that it is actually a disservice to both buyers and sellers to not have a data share. If an agent is only listing in a portion of the available MLSs, there are fewer opportunities for buyers to find their dream home and less exposure for sellers.
What are some challenges in a market with a data share component?
Dosev said that having a monolithic structure in place for decision-making and access can create slowdowns. Every little shift in data structures and new field requirements when the market changes can take a long time when you have multiple parties involved in how to incorporate those changes.
But he was quick to note that it is still valuable vs. no sharing. Adoption of SkySlope products is upwards of 70 percent in markets that are standards compliant and/or have a data share.
From a small broker perspective, what’s the biggest technology disconnect while working with buyers and sellers?
Nall stated that brokers are the source of the data, and they just want to keep their relationships as close to them as they can. Having more products and more information in a good format that’s usable by agents and consumers is first and foremost.
Dosev added that one of the biggest disconnects in all of the work that is being discussed – whether it’s standards or data sharing – is behind the scenes. The consumer doesn’t understand any of it, and the agent doesn’t necessarily care about it when they are simply trying to do the best possible job that they can for their clients. He said that good communication will always help with efficiency and speed to market.