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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 Rob Larson, Chair of the RESO Data Dictionary Workgroup and the former Chief Information Officer of the California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS) who now serves the industry as the head of Larson Consulting, LLC. This interview, as with many others in this first wave of Three Questions content, was conducted at the RESO Retreat in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, during October 2021. You’ll hear references to the event within the interview, because, frankly, people couldn’t stop gushing about it. Keep that in mind as you look ahead towards Tucson, Arizona, April 25–28, 2022.

Q1: The RESO Data Dictionary has your fingerprints all over it. How would you like to see and help it get molded as it continues to evolve? 

Rob: I think maintaining some of the principles that were set up from the get-go with the dictionary are my main concerns for the long-term. I operate on what I call the Golden Bus Theory. At some point, I might either win the golden bus or get run over by it. Either way, I’m gone.

So there’s a lot of policy, procedures and other things that are cascaded across notes from conversations and things like that. One of the most important things along those lines for the long term for the dictionary is that we’re here for representation, not invention.

Invention is okay, but it has to be represented by actual implementation. We are a standard, we’re not a marketing engine to have a field named after your company.

I’m pulling some of these things out as far edge cases, but I think it’s illustrative of what’s not good for standards.

As RESO continues to grow, looking at some of these aspects over the long-term of how we’re here to unify the things in common, not necessarily try to represent everything that exists but to really solve the majority of the business case, which is ultimately driving cost and errors out of the entire industry to make it easier for someone to step in, innovate and launch a product and deliver it to the members of our entire industry with less complexity and problems.

Then the ROI of delivering software in our industry becomes more attractive. Today, I just don’t think it’s attractive enough. I think you can make more money elsewhere. We want to fix that situation. As long as, ultimately, that is the goal, then a lot of the details may be a little bit less important – as long as that focus always stays there.

I just refer back to some of the policy and how we’ve been working with RESO staff to get more and more of this documented. It’s about that goal – not necessarily any little policy that we have written – but as long as that vision is maintained long-term long after either the bus or just time gets me. That’s what I’d really like to see.

Q2: You recently said to me that RESO marketing over the last several years has generally revolved around convincing people of how great RESO is. How would you suggest we change our communications and marketing focus at RESO over the next 5 to 10 years now that we know that people believe in RESO? 

Rob: To be fair, RESO had to grow. In order for RESO to survive, it has to have members who are paying dues, right, so that RESO can fund its operations. And not just events like this, which is fantastic. What a cool place to come to. This has been such a vacation for me.

But RESO is doing well, and I think a shift in the communications more towards:

  • How can you use RESO?
  • What does certification really mean?
  • What are some of the particulars that certification doesn’t necessarily tell you?
  • What about the extensibility of the dictionary?

What about the things going on with the flexibilities that actually exist with where Transport is going to allow you to not necessarily develop this overly complex thing that you’re not fully using, but just to use the pieces that are important to you.

Getting those words out and getting that understanding of how to best leverage RESO…honestly, I think is an area that I would suggest that we focus on.

And I say “we” very intentionally. This is a collective effort. For anyone who’s not involved, this is a group thing. Come in and flex your voice.

Sax: Well, I very much took that to heart as somebody who’s working in the marketing and communications team, and wanted to elaborate that on camera so people know that we are not just going to rah-rah RESO anymore but try to actually express what we’re doing in a wider way to the industry.

Rob: We’ll still do a little rah.

Sax: A little rah. Especially, you just said – this conference. We are in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, for our fall conference, and I’m glad you’re enjoying it. You called it a vacation. I don’t think people want to hear that. They want to know that we got our nose to the grindstone. But it has been a very beautiful place.

Rob: The nice thing about being my own boss, you know, I don’t have to worry so much about those impressions because I check on myself, and I see that I’m working often enough. But, yeah, this is a really great venue. I just appreciate everything.

Q3: We’ve been in a lot of workgroup meetings together over Zoom, our faces have shown. People seem to think we look alike. Do you agree?

Rob: Now that my beard is much longer than yours, no.

Sax: Well, let’s look at the camera. Do you agree?