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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 Paul Hethmon, CTO of AMP Systems and a long-time contributor to RESO causes all the way back to the creation of the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS).

Q1: How many clients does AMP have at this point, and what is your go-to pitch that gains you leads? 

Paul: We have one major client, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), and we are looking for more clients.

Our pitch tends to involve the ability for an MLS to have entire ownership and control of its data and system. Our model gives the MLS operator complete control of the data model. We adjust AMP to the MLS, not the other way around. So now, as an MLS operator, you can go in and define what your data set is. This allows the MLS to have complete control of their most important asset, the data.

For instance, we suggest that they let the Data Dictionary do as much as it can and layer local fields on top. So they have this core system, they have syndication, and now the data consumers can get that data and put it into that search system that their agents use. That might be a traditional MLS search for agents, but for an appraiser, it could be their appraisal software consuming the data via Web API.

Q2: You went through an acquisition in the transfer from Clareity to CoreLogic. What can you say about being part of that experience that start-ups or other smaller companies can learn from?

Paul: Honestly, the acquisition process was okay. It happened in fewer than 90 days, so it was quick. I have nothing but respect for everybody inside of CoreLogic, so that made the transition easy. I’ve spent a long time working with them and consider them friends.

But the interesting part was the realization that CoreLogic is a data company where real estate solutions is a division that represents a smaller portion of the whole – maybe about 10 percent. The MLS tools are the SaaS [software as a service] portion of the business, and the rest of CoreLogic is in the business of providing data.

Working for a large company provided an awakening for me personally. The reporting structure can be unique and more vertical for someone coming from a smaller company. It’s by no means bad; it’s just different.

You have to be willing to move away from your babies when you are a small company acquired by a larger one, because the tail don’t wag the dog.

Q3: RESO regularly promotes the extinction of RETS in favor of moving to the RESO Web API. You were there at the dawn of RETS and speak of it respectfully while also recognizing that its time is past. Ultimately, how do we firmly move the real estate industry over to Web API, especially considering smaller, budget-conscious MLSs?

Paul: There are always costs to making maneuvers of this nature. I think we’re getting closer to the tipping point where the cost to maintain RETS is getting to where it’s higher than switching to Web API. There are elements of RETS that we have had to work around, and they are mounting.

For instance, we defined a bunch of custom HTTP headers 20 years ago to make RETS work. However the Internet grew up, the bad guys moved in and, as a result, security appliances would drop the non-standard RETS headers. As you can imagine, most RETS software didn’t react well to that.

In tech – heck, in everything in life – you have to be willing to evolve, especially when what you are trying to evolve to will make the industry better. We don’t walk around with our Sony Walkman or our Palm Pilot anymore  – although I am still buying vinyl albums. Change is constant and improves our lives.