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by G. Sax, Director of Growth Management, RESO

Eric Stegemann and Greg SaxWelcome 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 another special one with a good, old friend in data admiration, Eric Stegemann, CEO of TRIBUS. We talked about creating new products, flying planes and our shared love of statistics. Enjoy!

Q1: TRIBUS owns Solid Earth, which began as an MLS provider but now appears to be a front-end provider of the newly named PrimeMLS in New Hampshire, among others. Is that your plan for this piece of software or do you have further designs?

Eric: We’re making a huge investment into Solid Earth over the next 18 months, and public-facing websites are definitely a big part of that strategy. But we’re working on a lot more than that. For instance, we’re launching a new product called Ezement™ that solves the problem of unique records and passwords for individual REALTORS®.

For example, we’ve completely removed the need for any MLS to require password changes ever again. We’ve done this by making Ezement and our SSO / IdP platform completely passwordless. We like to say we’ve killed the REALTOR® password for good!

But it’s been a major issue for 20 years that agents are in multiple databases without any real relationship between those systems.

We will support the RESO Unique Licensee Identifier (ULI) when it comes out, because it has a lot of promise to help solve some of these issues. However, it’s not designed to work in the crossover situations we require, like for someone who is an appraiser and REALTOR®.

We will create a ULI value for every person in addition to our own unique value that we’re calling the EZID™. The EZID system will work with associations, MLSs, brokerages and franchises on a national level.

The first MLS we will go live with will be Triangle MLS in North Carolina and all members of the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS®.

Q2: You are a pilot, which is a curiosity in real estate circles, so this is going to be a multifaceted question. Where did the urge to fly come from, how long did it take to get licensed, how often do you fly, do you fly to real estate conferences and client meetings, is it expensive, and how long do you expect that you will do it? 

Eric: It started for me during the pandemic. Travel was incredibly difficult, and where I live, you’re stopping at least once to get anywhere. My best friend is a pilot and talked me through the numbers, which I was completely shocked by! If you’re flying a Gulfstream, sure, it’s expensive. But the costs for us are completely in line with buying two round-trip tickets since Katie [Ragusa, TRIBUS VP of Product Development] and I almost always travel together.

In 2019, I flew 76,000 miles on American Airlines. In the last few years, I’ve taken only one commercial flight.

It only took me two months to get my private pilot’s license. The biggest mistake people make with gaining a new skill like becoming a pilot or learning a new language is to not compound on their education. The more frequently you do it, the more it stays with you – it’s why apps like Duolingo push so hard to create daily streaks.

Pilots get reinspected every two years, which is fine with me. Being a pilot is a license to learn – there is always something new and interesting about it, always something new to read and practice to make you better and safer.

Piloting plays into being an engineer, because, as an engineer, you are trained to think through all scenarios before they happen. You always have a plan when something goes wrong. Even if you are flying over the Rockies, you have an option planned for how to get on the ground safely. Data-minded people are also thinking of where they will land when going over their own virtual Rockies.

My “get there” plane is a Daher / SOCATA TBM turboprop. It has a cruise speed that tops 300 knots and can travel 1,700 nautical miles without stopping. The other one is my project plane, a 1966 Bonanza V-Tail. Most planes have a straight back and this one has a V. It’s a classic.

I will fly planes for as long as the FAA and doctors will let me keep flying!

Greg Sax and Eric StegemannQ3: You have a passion for statistics. In fact, the first time we met was at an RE BarCamp at the Trulia office in San Francisco, a sentence that makes us sound old. We were in a session by Mike Simonsen and Scott Sambucci from Altos Research, and our first interaction was an argument over the relevance of using ZIP Codes for housing statistics. You were pro ZIP, and I leaned towards organic boundaries like county, city and neighborhood. A friendship was formed. Do you still love statistics and why?

Eric: I love stats. I’ve always loved stats, because stats don’t lie. People lie. But stats and data do not lie.

I enjoy seeing the analytics on who is actually using the MLS and who is using the broker tools provided by an MLS. It tells the real adoption of a product. I’m sick of seeing numbers thrown around, like 78% “adoption” without facts to support it.

As an example, we can prove that a huge brokerage has 48% of all their agents that log in regularly. That is something I can hang my pilot’s license on.

Overstated numbers devalue proptech companies. Because if you have a product that is actually good, it ultimately hurts the product. MLS, association and brokerage leadership teams are so jaded that they lose trust in the numbers. And they aren’t willing to pay for premium products, because they assume that few will use them.

At Solid Earth and TRIBUS, we bring a true light to the numbers by providing a dashboard to our broker and MLS customers. I am proud of our transparency, and I’m looking forward to bringing our adoption dashboards to our MLS / association / brokerage clients in the near future.

By the way, I believe that ZIP Codes are a good way to see how a market is doing at a macro level. But there are micro markets, and to understand what your individual home might be worth, I agree that organic boundaries make much more sense!

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