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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 Sara Fogg, the Director of Product and Implementation at the New England Real Estate Network (NEREN) MLS. Sara has worked for NEREN for more than 16 years and was a Quality Assurance Tech in the printing industry prior to starting her career in real estate. She is also a veteran of the United States Army.

Q1: The northeastern U.S. has seen some dramatic consolidation well ahead of more widespread merge trends across the nation. Is there room for more MLS and/or association consolidation in New England or have we reached an apex in that part of the country?

Sara: There may be room for some expansion in the New England/New York area. It really depends on your business model – whether you are a broker-owned or board-owned MLS. If it’s a smaller association model, then you don’t really have buying power. You may need to find an alliance with another association to find affordable solutions for your members.

Q2: You have been an active supporter of the RESO Research & Development Workgroup over the past couple of years and particularly of the Unique Licensee Identifier (ULI) Subgroup. What is your specific interest in this potential new product? 

Sara: I look at this as advantageous for agents that we share with other MLSs. For NEREN and MLS PIN, for example, we share over 1,000 members. I also think of it from the vendor perspective. If you have just one ID, then you don’t have to deduplicate your data. Having unique identifiers to consolidate the data makes sense.

Q3: Do you think that RESO can pull off a ULI, and how long do you realistically think it will take to get the industry to adopt it, a year, a decade or a century?

Sara: None of the above! Two to three years would be my guess.

The conversation doesn’t end in the ULI Subgroup. It’s not a finished product when we’re done discussing it. It will still need more growth, creative problem solving and some form of consensus among technical professionals in order for it to come to fruition.

Then you have to sell it to the CEOs, some of whom aren’t as technically savvy because they have staff for that. You have to be able to explain the business benefits and cost benefits.

The more programming that IDX or third-party vendors have to do, the more it costs the members for IDX sites, and that’s not going to be popular, so we need to find ways to keep that to a minimum.