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Greg Sax and Dan 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 installment is the first of two parts with Dan Ray, Director of Product Development at the California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS). For the first entry, we talk about hiring outside the industry, building the perfect team and when MLSs are tech companies.

Q1: For someone who has spent the relatively short time of five years in the depths of real estate technology, you have held some lofty positions at CoreLogic and now CRMLS. Are you that good or did you come into the industry with prior experience others might not know about?

Dan: I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it triggers my Imposter Syndrome. No, no, I’m kidding! I started at CoreLogic on the back of 24 years of progressive software engineering experience across a bunch of different industries.

Although my experience was all outside of real estate, Lucie Fortier, who is now VP of Product Management–Data at Compass, took a flier on me at CoreLogic in 2018. I was brought up to speed by Lucie, Amy Gorce, Matt Cohen, Al McElmon, Ethan Bailey, Paul Hethmon and so many others. Big, fast learning, and I couldn’t have picked better teachers!

I’m now a proud holder of the CMLX1 designation from the Council of Multiple Listing Services and the RED-B designation from RESO. I’m working now on CMLX2. Much thanks to CRMLS CEO [and former RESO chair] Art Carter and my amazing boss, COO [and current RESO board member] Marty Reed, for supporting my more formal industry learning.

You know, I’m incredibly lucky. I think that my current gig is the best job in the industry, full stop. All the products that we are building internally are extremely exciting, and I also get to dig in on new third-party products coming into our market. It gives me a very direct hand in the MLS mission to empower real estate professionals to cooperate and succeed.

Plus, I’m in such an amazing company, working with folks like Art and Marty. And, you know, Katie Smithson and Mark Bessett and Ed Zorn and Sarah Trent Miranda and many other amazing people who are so brilliant and so influential in the industry. Working with all of them is a big part of what makes this job so great. It’s a huge honor to be on a team of such superstars.

Q2: The products and strategies coming out of CRMLS often turn heads and create headlines. How do you balance the product load? Do you have a large team? Strict prioritization protocols? Clear paths from build to beta to launch? What makes y’all tick?

Dan: I love my Product team. I have two Senior Product Managers, and they constantly blow me away with their creativity, ownership and drive. For my part, I make sure they are aimed in the right strategic direction, that they have everything they need, and that the many competing demands for our attention are wisely prioritized and well communicated. And then I stay out of their way and let them do what they’re great at!

We are also fortunate to have a top-notch engineering team led by CTO Mark Bessett and Principal Engineer Demian Quinonez. Honestly, it’s one of the best dev teams I’ve ever worked with. We work hip to hip with them, sprint by sprint. Our teams are very close, fighting the good Agile fight together.

Q3: Speaking more specifically about those head-turning products, CRMLS recently signed NorthstarMLS to a new single sign-on (SSO) and dashboard platform. What was the reason behind creating that product and are MLSs your only customer target?

Dan: There’s a lot of energy behind MLSs becoming more self-sufficient right now. The volatility in the vendor market over the last few years has added a ton of risk into the old site-license strategy. Some folks have taken their futures into their own hands by building their own software solutions. But the reality is that few MLSs are equipped to do that. And, historically, those projects haven’t exactly been without risk.

CRMLS is uniquely positioned to move toward the vendor space and bring valuable solutions to our own members and to the MLS community. And, of course, we’re not going it alone. We’ve recently announced partnerships with several other MLSs that are aimed at similar goals.

So, we’re hard at work on a platform that will provide a broad range of MLS services. We’re implementing it right now for ourselves, and we’ll offer it white-labeled to the MLS market. Not listing management, but many other services and business functions specific to MLSs. The first release is Single Sign-On and Dashboard, and we’re delighted to have NorthstarMLS as the first taker for that.

We have a few other modules live right now in our own market, including a training event scheduling module and a marketing automation system that very elegantly handles unique MLS needs. And we’ve got a roadmap of super cool stuff coming. We’re taking on use cases from listing compliance to customer care to a groundbreaking approach to market analytics.

All these modules will be made available on a semi-à-la-carte basis to MLSs. They represent the first-ever truly comprehensive and cohesive MLS service and operations toolkit. And it’s built from the ground up by a leading organization within the community of MLS itself, rather than from outside.

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