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Greg Sax and Stan Martinby G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO

Three Questions is 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 Stan Martin, the COO of the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABOR) and the recently renamed Unlock MLS. We talked about personal connections to RESO, boomtown growth and what keeps a job interesting after more than 20 years. Enjoy!

Q1: Austin has hosted a server with sample data for Web API implementations for several years now, and we at RESO wouldn’t be as far along on the path toward a transition to the RESO Web API as we are without your help. What prompted you to support the RESO cause in such a tangible way?

Stan: I’ve had great mentors in my career who trained me to support industry relationships and collaboration.

Therefore, when the opportunity arose to help RESO, it was simply an expectation that we would be there to help out. In turn, it helps the industry.

Going back in time, before Jeremy Crawford was the CEO of the Atlanta-based First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS), he was CEO at RESO. I worked with his wife at ABOR and prior to that at the same bar in Austin. She actually met Jeremy when they both worked for MarketLinx. So Jeremy and I had a connection.

Tim Dain, the current CEO of Minneapolis-based NorthstarMLS, was our MLS Director in Austin at the time, and he asked me to look into setting up a developer reference server. I got with our legal counsel, we drafted up an agreement and there you have it. Not sure who approached who, Jeremy or Tim, but happy to have played a small part.

RESO: Every time I do one of these interviews, I become more aware of how small and interconnected our industry truly is.

Stan: Indeed.

Q2: I can’t think of a city in the U.S. that has changed more in the last 20 years than Austin. Have you had to change anything in reaction to all the growth? Like have you had to add more staff, more systems, more technology?

Stan: We certainly had to add more staff. We went from serving 7,000 members up to nearly 20,000 in 20 years. We were probably at about 38 staff 20 years ago, and now we’re up to about 60. We recently hired an economist, which we are really excited about.

With city growth and increased expenses in the area, we had to increase wages. We expanded staff in the realms of support, marketing, communications and events. Education has been about the only department that’s been the same, because we always had a full education calendar.

Reflecting on the biggest change, I would have to say adding more quality professional staff has been the most impactful. The fee structure, services, lockbox program and MLS system go through updates, sure, but the underlying systems have remained the same.

Q3: You are about 20 years in with ABOR. What are some newer initiatives or tried-and-true processes that keep you motivated at this point in your career?

Stan: I have had to sit in on depositions about photo copyrights. I don’t want to do that ever again. We need to get the listing input APIs up and going, so we can have better delivery methods and processes for photographers to submit content. Photographers currently can’t upload directly to the MLS. Agents and brokers must do that. It would also allow us to apply terms of use that reduce risk.

I believe that AI will finally help the industry deliver real change. AI vendors do a great job with data integrity and compliance. As they continue to make progress with mining images and adding property attributes to the data, I believe the industry will leverage this technology, and we’ll be getting somewhere!

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