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 spoke with RESO’s Membership Manager, Brian Ohnesorgen, about the differences and similarities between the for-profit MLS and nonprofit side of real estate, the ins and outs of RESO’s Working with Real Estate Data (WWRED) course, and the magical subculture of electronic dance music festivals. Enjoy!
Q1: You came to RESO from an MLS. How has that experience informed your role and approach to the industry? Particularly, what is roughly the same and what is very different?
Brian: First, a little background. I was in IT at the MLS. That was completely different from what I do now at RESO, which is more of a front-line role that directly faces and interacts with the membership.
But, interestingly, this position harks back to my first MLS role, which was as support staff for our MLS software, Flexmls. On that level, RESO is similar in that members are customers and that customer service is of the utmost importance.
As I progressed from that early support role to become the IT Director for MLS of Southern Arizona, I started hearing about RESO more frequently, barely knowing what it was.
The more I grew into my IT Director role, the more I was able to dive into RESO to figure out what it meant for us at the MLS. In terms of setting up data and an API, the Data Dictionary explained why things needed to be a certain way.
Other similarities are working with a highly involved Board of Directors, working with technology vendors, collecting dues and fees for services and products from members, and navigating mergers and consolidations of member organizations.
Although where I am now is not IT, per se, there are definitely still technical things I have to do, like managing association management software (AMS). I’m tracking membership in the AMS more closely for retention and other purposes. Although the concept is not new to me, being fully in charge of it is, and I’m honestly excited by it.
At the MLS, I worked with 22 people to cover 8,000 members. Our team at RESO is one-third of that, managing a core of 700 organizations rather than individuals.
Q2: Before you joined RESO as Membership Manager, which is a role that entails management of the WWRED course and associated designations, you actually completed the course while working for MLS of Southern Arizona. What is something that the course got completely right and where would you like to see it evolve?
Brian: I don’t want to sound too cheesy, but it very much got the baseline knowledge correct. As I took that course, I was thinking about somebody who might be a new entrant into the real estate technology space, and I immediately saw it as the best place to start.
WWRED touched on everything someone would need to know as a new MLS staffer – from the basics of what an MLS does, to how brokerage is involved, to the regulatory and organizational purposes of the National Association of REALTORS®, to data transport – it was and continues to be such a well-rounded introduction to the MLS world that I wholly inhabited at the time I completed the course. I asked all my staff to get their RED-B designation as well.
Going forward, I would like to see more technical implementation, which is exactly what we’re working on next. I think it will help vendors apply more context to why things are as they are, which can seem obtuse and probably frustrating when entering this space from outside of the real estate fold.
I would also like to see more examples that explain how associations and MLSs are paired in terms of data policy. I don’t mean setting the policy but explaining the different kinds of policies that exist.
When I first started at the MLS, I wanted to know why things were set the way they were, especially related to different transport protocols. More details about IDX, VOW and BBO will go a long way towards clearing things up at the front of the journey to acquire data feeds rather than trying to figure it all out from inside the maze.
Q3: When you are not doing real estate-related work, you have a passion for electronic dance music (EDM). In fact, you do some side work amidst late-night raves, sweaty bodies and, hopefully, lots of hydration. What exactly do you do at these events and what’s a memorable experience you can share with the people in the industry that go to bed before 10:00 pm?
Brian: I am part of the site operations team for a company that puts on EDM events in Arizona. We literally build the festivals. That includes anything from vendor booths, production when needed, hospitality and security. You name it, we do it.
It’s important for me to note that being part of this community is not what most people think. In the rave community, it’s all about what we call PLUR – Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. It’s a good release from normal, everyday life. I enjoy the music, the environment and the fact that people are able to be themselves. I take great pride in this community and the work that I do for it. The organization that I work for helps make thousands of people happy, and I find that incredibly moving and motivating.
As far as memorable experiences, I’ve had so many good memories in this space. In addition to seeing celebrity DJs like DJ Pauly D of “Jersey Shore” fame and meeting NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, one of my most cherished experiences was being on stage behind the DJ in front of 20,000 people, looking out over the sea of humanity, one nation under a groove.