by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO
Welcome to “Three Questions,” an interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards with a goal of humanizing the tech side of the industry.
This week, we talked with Olga Ermolin, Director of Engineering at MLSListings in Silicon Valley, California. We recently featured MLSListings on stage at the 2022 RESO Spring Conference and in a blog post for their work with the RESO Universal Property Identifier (UPI). We thought it would be fun for our readers to learn more about one of the architects of that endeavor. Enjoy!
Q1: MLSListings is one of the first MLSs to publicly state that they have incorporated the RESO Universal Property Identifier (UPI) into its system. What was the impetus for this endeavor and why now?
Olga: We released our data share in 2021, and we wanted it to be as accurate as possible. Aggregating data from multiple sources presents various data management issues. I was fortunate enough to become the decision maker for this initiative, and I wanted to adhere to RESO standards as much as possible. We could have done it our own way, which is something we have had success with over the years, but this felt like the right opportunity to invest in what we believe the industry should do going forward.
We believe in standards at MLSListings. We were one of the first to adopt Data Dictionary and one of the first to implement RESO Web API. We even built our consumer portal on top of it. This is our culture, because we have seen that it pays off to do it the “standards” way. This is simply the next standard to implement, and I have faith that more companies will eventually do as we have done.
Q2: After graduating cum laude from California State University, Sacramento in Mathematics, you built up your tech credentials during the dot-com boom (and bust) in the Bay Area before landing at MLSListings nearly 20 years ago. Over the last several years, you ramped up your focus on machine learning and data analytics through certification programs at UC-Santa Cruz, Indiana University and Stanford. What can you teach others about your path, especially with continuing education after your career is established?
Olga: During the dot-com era, I worked for a tech company that was acquired, which created a situation where I had to commute one hour each way. As a working mother, it became unpleasant enough for me to explore other technology avenues, which is how I arrived at MLSListings.
As I became more comfortable in my role, I noted that the real estate industry was technologically behind other industries. I saw this as not a negative but as an opportunity – a positive thing – and looked at what people were doing in other industries.
This led me to data applications of statistics, a favorite subject of mine in college. So I took various courses in data analytics, data science and machine learning, and I enjoyed learning many new and practical things that I could potentially bring into 20 years worth of data at MLSListings.
Since then, my teammates and I have unearthed many interesting trends and have been able to build useful business intelligence tools for our subscribers.
To answer the question, I would say never stop learning. And bring back what you learn into your industry, because you know what’s missing.
Q3: When I’m on Zoom with you during RESO workgroup meetings, you make sure to always appear on camera. Why is that?
Olga: I feel that it increases engagement. It’s important to see a person’s reaction. It makes it easier for the people who run the meeting to know how their discussion is going. To me, it’s a matter of fully being present.