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, we interviewed our illustrious RESO Chair and the CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Rebecca Jensen, to talk about the business of RESO, strategic initiatives and fashion. Enjoy!
Q1: How many years total have you served as the chair of RESO and why do you keep coming back for more?
Rebecca: It’s been about seven years. I keep coming back, because it’s an incredibly important organization to be a part of as we continue to introduce more technology standardization to the real estate business.
The people at RESO are from all different sectors of the industry – from MLSs, brokerage, associations and technology companies. This variety lends itself to some fierce conversations. It’s not for the timid. But we get stuff done, because we take the best and brightest ideas and hammer away at them until we make advancements happen.
You have to be able to defend your ideas. They’re not just taken at face value. RESO does not represent a rubber stamp process, because we expect everything that we work on to become part of how the industry does business, whether it’s an improvement upon an existing process or an entirely new idea. It’s hard work, but it’s fun to complete hard tasks.
Q2: MRED has exhibited a strategy of spreading out across Illinois in search of MLSs to gather into your sphere of influence. You are now the MLS of record for 16 local REALTOR® associations. You also have a reputation for supporting new enterprises, as you did by helping to create MLS Grid and as you are doing now with the Showing HUB project with your partners at the California Regional Multiple Listing Service and Bright MLS.
You appear to do things differently at MRED compared to much of the rest of the MLS industry. What is the motivation for taking on new projects, and how does it set you apart in a way that others can learn from?
Rebecca: Our ownership structure at MRED is different from a lot of other MLSs that I know and have worked at. We are owned by common owners (associations) and preferred owners (brokers). Because of that, we need to tailor our services for associations and brokers alike. They all want us to pursue technology solutions and help them find further efficiencies for their businesses.
MLS Grid came about, in part, from my very first strategic planning meeting at MRED in 2015. Our brokers said they needed a better way of getting data from MLSs across the Midwest. Brokers in other MLSs were saying similar things, so several MLSs decided to work together to solve common pain points.
At the time, Upstream was an active project being developed to also solve broker pain points related to efficiency in MLS data. Upstream was about data input. The MLS Grid started with data output via RESO-compliant technologies. However, our brokers made it clear that having a standardized license agreement was also important, which is why MLS Grid added that component as well. All of these initiatives – and the important work that RESO has done for years – are a direct result of solving brokers’ needs.
Q3: I’ve mentioned to you before in casual conversation that I’m a fan of fashion and think that you have an impeccable sense of style. It’s clear to me that you either think about it or someone else thinks about it for you. Style can set someone apart to be noticed for the right things, like attention to detail or professionalism. Do you concur with that statement, or is it fine to wear anything if you have the right skill set?
Rebecca: First, thank you! I concur 100 percent that it can set someone apart. And I do have a stylist!
For me, it’s about having the right tools for the right job. Context is important, and if my context is that I’m going to represent MRED or RESO on a national stage, then I will dress the part of the professional person addressing my colleagues.
If the context is that I’m working in the middle of the night and nobody can see me, or I’m an audience member at a tech conference where it’s okay to be more casual, then I’m definitely not dressing the same.
As for my stylist, it’s a great story, actually. I met her at the neighborhood school bus stop during my last job in Utah. We were making small talk, and she asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was a CEO. She said, “Not wearing that you’re not!”
I loved the candor. I hired her to give me a fresh style, got some new clothes and gained a lifelong friend in the process. We are still close to this day, and she frequently sends me surprise FedEx packages with a new dress to wear. I’m very lucky.