by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO
Welcome to “Three Questions,” a new interview series that introduces you to real estate industry professionals, their businesses and how they interact with real estate standards. Another goal of this series is to humanize the tech side of the industry, fun included.
First on the docket is a dual interview with Bill Fowler, Senior Director of Industry Relations at Compass, and Melissa King, Director of Industry Relations at Compass. These two industry pros have wide open eyes towards data standards from prior roles in the MLS and vendor side of the industry through to today’s brokerage angle at Compass. Fowler currently sits on RESO’s board, and King is a past board member.
Q1: Your involvement in RESO at the board level, as speakers at RESO events and beyond has already been key to RESO’s advancement. It’s no secret that RESO standards are largely in place for the MLS and MLS vendor industry, but we have sought to include more technology companies and brokerages as we evolve. Why is it important for brokerages to care what RESO is doing?
Bill: We wouldn’t be able to work across markets unless RESO has already done the work. Our product and engineering team is 1,000+ employees and contractors, and most of them come from environments outside of real estate. We have a responsibility to the technology community as well as to our own brand to create and work with standards that help us grow faster and wiser as an industry. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Melissa: The operational aspect of RESO applies to us on several levels, particularly within the workgroups. For instance, we are a national brokerage wanting to work towards expanding the Data Dictionary more quickly to meet our needs. The Payloads Workgroup is another good example, defining what expectations should be in data feeds. The Transport Workgroup works with more modern data – even if ftp is somehow still a thing in this industry. The UPI [Universal Property Identifier] Workgroup provides a technical flagpost for property identification. The Broker Advisory Workgroup is focused on conceptual and emerging issues. All of this matters to us at Compass.
We’re looking at the BBO [Broker Back Office] policy and the policy path that it takes. RESO is involved in that conversation, and it is crucial to our business. That’s why it’s important to stay involved. If you’re not personally involved along the way, you can’t as readily help yourself.
Q2: Neither of you started out in brokerage, but here you are, burrowing into the industry from your different ports of call within the MLS and vendor worlds. Has the experience been about what you expected, more complex or smoother sailing?
Bill: We operate in an environment where we’ve gotten things done, because we’re doing things that other brokers might not be doing at the same level. Compass hired its own technology. Brokerages are now tech companies, and tech companies are now brokers. I’ve had to speak louder than I wanted to during this transition. The environment is not used to so much “pushy.” The job is very satisfying, but being on this side is much harder than I expected.
Melissa: It may not be “easy,” per se, but I wanted a different perspective. I thought brokerage was at the foundational level of what I hoped to achieve in the real estate industry. Some MLSs are amazing and are terrific partners, and some are, shall we say, challenging. The spread of where different organizations are in terms of understanding policy and even how they treat you as a human is so much bigger than I ever imagined. But, wow, I’m learning a lot. I’m getting what I wanted out of being on the brokerage side, but it’s not what I expected.
Q3: This is a little weird, I know, but I once dressed as Bill Fowler for Halloween. If I were to dress up as Melissa King, where should I begin?