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 Shawn Meissner, QA Manager at Realtors Property Resource® (RPR). We had an excellent chat about data, using the right tools for the job, the art of listening, how standards save time and how MLS vendors can spread the API joy with more ease. Enjoy!
Q1: You have worked in the data trenches at a lot of major organizations in real estate tech. It’s safe to say that you haven’t burned any bridges along your career path, even returning to Move.com at one point after a three-year stint at Rapattoni. Do you find that data is the same no matter where you are, or are there major nuances between companies?
Shawn: I think that, deep down, data is data is data. How it’s stored, how it’s transported – SQL, Oracle, Elasticsearch, whatever it may be – the data remains the same. The fields are what they are, and it’s all the same with different approaches by different tools. It’s simply a matter of how you’re getting to it.
As far as the jobs I have had, people tend to get hired because of the skills they have, and I’m no different in that regard. But once you are within a company’s infrastructure, you can evolve from there and make the most of your time spent in the role. I have been lucky to have gained a wealth of experiences across our industry.
Q2: It is still surprising to me that the quality of data transfer, aggregation, deduplication, etc. is so often overlooked by hungry young companies with big tech ideas but little patience for critical details. Can you cite any experiences during your career that illustrate how important data quality is for new (and old) tech companies in this space?
Shawn: When I was doing RETS support, there were definitely times when it was the new cool thing – like an IDX website or a new mobile app – and they built it on an Access database. It would not perform, and they tried to blame it on our data when it was actually the platform.
They couldn’t understand that wherever you put the data, if it didn’t perform there, then you have to try the next thing.
My advice to new companies coming into the real estate tech space is to ask questions and take the criticism and advice from other people in the industry who have been there and done that. Don’t blow it off.
If you’re coming for a different view on things, great, but still take that opinion for what it is. If you want an honest answer, listen and ingest. People in this space are incredibly gracious with their time and experience and can save you a lot of wasted effort.
Q3: RPR is a long-time supporter of RESO standards. In your estimation, how much time have standards saved you over the years and where do you think we can save you even more time?
Shawn: Where mapping efficiencies were 15 years ago, it would take six to eight weeks to map a feed. Today, if everything is right – if everything is there and the feed is working – you can have that same work done in under a week. And we need fewer resources to do that work, so staff can do other things with the data or for the data, like additional QA or recording. Standards have pushed us to this level.
I would really like to see the MLS vendors truly provide the API where they are supposedly certifying. We often struggle with finding it, or they don’t give it out. It’s a simple problem that can be resolved with a simple solution, and we have recently seen an increase in MLSs switching to API feeds.