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 Liz Sturrock, Chief of MLS and Innovation at MIAMI REALTORS®. Liz has worked in real estate tech for 15 years, taking on several key roles at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) before figuratively migrating to Miami. We talked about organizational innovation, agent tracking and commuting in the 21st century. Enjoy!
Q1: REALTOR® associations are not always known for forward thinking, but Miami has a rich history of pushing the envelope on innovation. Can you talk about what drives their culture and if it played a part in your joining forces with them?
Liz: Our goal is to always make sure our members have the best tools available to them. With 55,000 primary members and over 60,000 total members, business gets done in many different ways, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t make sense. We want the right tool for the right member at the right time.
We have around 65 staff to help us provide services and support to our members. We look for people who can think on their feet and who are bilingual, as Miami is one of the most international cities in the U.S.
I wanted to work with this organization, because it moves fast! Miami was my customer when I was at NAR, because I put RAMCO there in 2013, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. RAMCO runs all operations for associations that use it to its full extent.
Q2: RESO is working on a Unique Licensee Identifier (ULI) that is intended to work hand in hand with association management systems, state licenses and the REALTOR® NRDS ID, now called M1. The goal is to make it so every agent has a ULI, whether they are part of the REALTOR® family or not. As a long-time professional in this industry, what advice might you have for the continued development of this tool?
Liz: I sat in the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee at the 2018 RESO Fall Conference for one of the first meetings about the ULI in a little boardroom behind the bar when I still worked at NAR. We were focused on ensuring that it could not be reverse-engineered to reveal personally identifiable information (PII) about agents.
I’m excited that it has come so far. I’m interested to see how a central database for a repository of IDs and member verification will be built and managed. Great work by that team.
RESO: I’m not sure if a centralized or decentralized model has been chosen.
Liz: There has to be a central authority or else it’s going to be the Wild West. Unless you use a blockchain, but then you would use a distributed ledger as the authority.
Q3: You live in the Chicago area but work for a Miami-based association. That is rare in the association and MLS world. What advice do you have for other associations looking to expand their geographic horizons and work-from-home policies for the right hire?
Liz: Communication and setting up expectations is key to building trust and keeping progress moving forward.
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but what helped me personally was already being familiar with having a remote staff, expressing my expectations as a leader and knowing what is expected of me as staff. Creating an environment where these things are understood and will be fulfilled is critical for the success of remote work and leadership.
You also have to set time aside for face-to-face interactions. Building meaningful relationships and critical brainstorming still often happens in a room with members and peers.