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, fun included.
This week’s interview is with none other than the CEO of the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), Denee Evans. RESO works closely with CMLS on issues that affect our shared membership in order to create a stronger real estate industry. We talked about measuring success, customer service and energy efficiency in the desert. Enjoy!
Q1: You have been at CMLS for more than seven years. If you were to spend another seven years at the helm, what would you say is your greatest success at the halfway point and what would be the most important thing you need to accomplish next?
Denee: The greatest success at this point is the collaboration among industry stakeholders. The level of collaboration that happens today wasn’t there when I started, and it’s amazing what we can do when we work together to power the professional to better serve the consumer.
This has helped the collaboration between brokers, technology vendors and MLSs. When people like Craig Cheatham at the Realty Alliance and Caitlin McCrory from Anywhere are more engaged with me and our MLS constituents, it makes for a good day, and great things happen.
I’m personally always trying to understand what the stakeholders want, and then I bring that back to our organizational leaders for discussion. No single one of us can create change without the others, at least not with sustained success.
Q2: Your background is clearly rooted in finance, with a reputable pre-CMLS career in banking and home loans. Have you had to shift your line of thinking at all now that your “customers” are MLS executives vs. the general public?
Denee: No. In my previous roles, I lived and died by the consumer experience. We had mystery shoppers that checked on us. I think I brought that level of oversight to this endeavor. The consumer is not the customer of the MLS, they are a customer of the real estate ecosystem. We have to step back and look at who all the participants are in the transaction.
If the consumer is asking the agent for something, we have to make sure that the MLS can power it. Perhaps we don’t build it right away, but we had better be ready for what is trending.
We will often bring speakers to our conferences that work in fields where real estate needs to go, like 5G mobile, artificial intelligence (AI) and the metaverse. We want to know what could possibly propel an MLS forward. How does the metaverse or AI improve the consumer experience on finding a home and interacting with it or closing a sale because of it?
We are constantly asking ourselves forward-facing questions, like what is the TikTok of real estate? Is it TikTok itself or something else? Where are people consuming real estate information? We want to be there.
Q3: This last question is a two-parter. Another passion of yours has been energy efficiency, and you have dedicated part of your career to advancing that message. How has living in Nevada contributed to your relationship with energy efficiency and what more can the MLS and the wider real estate community do to help with this topic?
Denee: Nevada has become an energy efficiency leader in the U.S., recently being named as “most improved state” for energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and has more than tripled its renewable energy production since 2011.
I worked for the office of sustainability in Las Vegas. They have an interesting challenge, because they can’t openly promote the “city of lush” as a conservation paradise. You are not going to see high-profile advertising about low-flow showers and recycling, even though the city of Las Vegas has a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
As for what the MLS and the real estate industry can do to help with energy efficiency and conservation, it starts with us as individuals and the values many of us grew up with – turn off the lights when you exit a room, leave things better than how you found them, that sort of thing.
When we went camping when I was a kid, we cleaned not only our campsite but the five sites around us. My dad worked at a power plant and was the union steward. He cared about doing right by others. It’s how I was taught, and it made sense to me.
Personally, I’ve been able to use my financial background to create a statewide zero-interest loan that helps homeowners finance their energy improvement projects.
And I was lucky enough to recruit current MIBOR REALTOR® Association CEO, Shelley Specchio, to be on the Board of Directors at EnergyFit Nevada, a collaborative energy efficiency organization that helps homeowners make energy-efficient home upgrades, back when she was the CEO of Northern Nevada Regional MLS.
I had met Shelley at various housing-related meetings long before I was at CMLS. There are people in this industry that are willing to help for the greater good. We simply have to locate them and ignite their passions to ensure this energy efficient and renewable data is shared with consumers through the MLS so that they can make informed decisions.