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 sat down with Rob Wagoner, SVP and MLS Director of Heartland MLS, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS® (KCRAR), about the relationship between MLSs and associations, investing in software versus creating your own, and industry longevity. Enjoy!
Q1: The RESO Unique Organization Identifier (UOI) is our industry tool for explaining the interrelatedness of organized real estate, but many issues still arise when helping industry newcomers figure out who is who and who does what. How do you explain the difference between KCRAR and Heartland MLS?
Rob: Our agents are taught the differences and roles during orientation. We explain the reason why both organizations exist – how the association offers them advocacy, professional standards and continuing education amongst other services and how the MLS is the tool for finding and cooperating on real estate transactions for their clients in their marketplace. At Heartland MLS, we also provide additional tools for data insights and showing scheduling.
Our members and subscribers see us as one organization. Therefore, we offer as much combined information as possible during orientation. That said, we offer two separate orientations for each side of the business that are specific to the functions of an association and an MLS.
Q2: You are part of MLS Grid. We have interviewed MLS Grid CEO Joseph Szurgyi for Three Questions about that end of the operation, but it would be good to hear from one of the MLSs that they serve. What was the impetus for relating yourselves to that initiative, and what can you share about the experience so far?
Rob: We were one of the founding partner MLSs behind MLS Grid. We saw a need to invest in software that we could have ownership in and that was vendor independent. We also wanted to be able to manage this software in an efficient manner with future growth and flexible development in mind.
We also knew that we needed to be compliant with RESO and that we could, along with our partners, create forward progress in that regard by creating our own software.
Being involved with MLS Grid creates efficient data markets. We have brokers that are in multiple states. MLS Grid partnerships with other MLSs allows for data to be packaged into one feed back to the vendor or broker, which is a tremendous development in this industry.
The local, MLS-specific fields, as well as the RESO payload fields for IDX, VOW or Back Office, are all there with unique identifiers for the MLS data that is being packaged into that one feed. It’s a very efficient process, and feedback from vendors and brokers has been great.
A pattern related to time spent in the real estate industry has emerged in the time that we have been doing these Three Questions interviews at RESO. Subjects have been falling into one of three buckets: 30 or more years of experience, less than a year of experience and then a crew of us that are kind of like the industry’s Generation X, hanging tough at around 15 years. You yourself are up to 17 years. What has kept you engaged for this amount of time?
Rob: My employer, for one, has kept me engaged, because we have two high-quality organizations that provide services to the real estate industry.
I started as an IT Manager, and I was intrigued by the idea of providing a service that helps people find their first home, their move-up home and possibly even their retirement home. I truly buy into the American Dream of homeownership. Knowing that I can play a part in finding somebody a home is highly rewarding.
I have worked with all of our areas of business through my IT work, onward into data feeds and compliance, then MLS system product management and support, and now as MLS Director. Through all these positions over the years, it has been great being able to help out behind the scenes getting information and products to REALTORS® who help their clients realize their dream of homeownership.