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Greg Sax and Sean Murphyby 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 Sean Murphy, Product Owner at the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS). We talked about the operational differences between MLSs, the importance of physical presence in a marketplace and the endurance of being a member of a community. Enjoy!

Q1: Your work in the MLS industry has put you in Reno, Nevada; Tucson, Arizona; and Phoenix, Arizona. Is there anything that stands out as different between these markets in terms of the uptake of data standards and why?

Sean: Yes. Each market I have worked in has certain fields that are important and differ a bit from what is in the standard. It could be in the naming, a slight variant or a subcategory of some sort. No matter what, it is important to the agents in that given market.

There were cases where it took a mandate to get some things changed from potentially using a custom (or local) field in a market.

The positive news is that whenever, say, a new Data Dictionary field was approved and push came to shove to actually have to do something the RESO way, the results were not nearly as bad as what the powers that be were expecting.

This is something that I try to project in my work today: there is no doomsday scenario or liability in terms of moving to standardized data. It’s never really been the case, but it is even less so now. The Data Dictionary has evolved and figured most of that out.

There’s never really been data degradation due to standards, and everyone needs to hear that.

Q2: Related to the last question, is it important to be physically present in a marketplace to do MLS-related work, or is it possible to perform from anywhere. Related, does this punch a hole in the “all real estate is local” mantra?

A wall built with Slump Block

Slump Block

Sean: I don’t think you have to be exclusively local to work for an MLS, but there is an element of being present that is important.

When dealing with a lot of data and how it’s put together, being face to face with my customers, agents and brokers gives me a first-hand, boots-on-the-ground look at the situation, and I prefer that. It helps me understand what my customers have to do every day.

Theoretically, I could live anywhere to do my job, but I believe that it’s important to be able to drive down the street to see how a slump block construction is going – slump block being a type of brick in the Southwestern U.S. I’m not going to see or have experience with that from a home office in Denver or South Carolina or Washington, DC.

Q3: It is always fascinating to compare other industries to the real estate vertical. You worked in grocery distribution for years prior to this industry. Was there anything about that experience that informed your MLS experience, or was it an entirely different world?

Sean: It’s funny, because I dealt with some of the same people. I have had agents come into the MLS office and be nice to me and say they miss me from my grocery days.

For me, that’s a testament to keeping relationships clean and polite across industries. People are people. Some of my customers today knew me when I was a bag boy or a cashier at their local grocery. Then they see me later in life in a different capacity, perhaps helping them get set up on their MLS software.

That also really speaks to the community aspect of what we do at the MLS and in real estate in general.

I have so many examples of when people would come into the MLS office and be pissed off and then see me, a friendly face from the grocery. From the service aspect, that was a huge benefit.

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