Investing in MLS for the long-term

Feb 24, 2015 Michael Wurzer

I wanted to take a moment amidst all the syndication turmoil to write about how pleased I am that some of the long-term investments we’ve made over the last several years are now starting to bear fruit. Building products based on a long-term vision for a future that’s anything but certain is scary. Despite all your best efforts, there’s simply no way to know if the software will prove valuable or not.

I want to highlight two long-term investments we’ve made — Spark and Syndication — that are now proving to be very valuable for our MLS customers. We first built syndication options into Flexmls Web way back in 2008/2009. At the time, however, the major portals didn’t use RETS as we required. Instead, they all had proprietary formats that allowed companies like ListHub and Point2 to deliver solutions by implementing them all.

For our part, FBS kept pushing RETS, including when, as then-Chair of RESO, I wrote an open letter to the portals encouraging them to adopt a syndication standard, which ultimately resulted in the RESO Syndication Payload. Over the years, these and the efforts of many others on behalf of RESO started paying off as the portals joined and started working with RESO.

As the portals started adopting RETS, the syndication tools we had built into Flexmls Web long ago became useful for helping brokers send their data to the portals. Of course, with ListHub and Point2 having jumped into the vacuum in a timely manner, there still wasn’t much of a market need for our syndication options and so adoption was low. But that’s all changing now and our investment long ago is proving valuable to our customers now.

Another significant investment we’ve made over the last several years is in the Spark Platform, which from the very beginning has been about promoting the RESO Data Dictionary. Several years later, this investment is paying off for our customers big time as the NAR is now requiring MLS compliance with the RESO dictionary by January 2016.

The significant effort we’ve put into Spark and Data Dictionary compliance means we have a massive head-start for our MLS customers in this industry-wide standards effort. Of the initial 166 core fields required for compliance, we already have the vast majority mapped across all of our 150+ customers and we have well-established tools and processes in place to work with our customers to map all the required fields by the deadline. Not only do these long-term investments allow us to deliver value to our customers in a timely way, they allow us to do so at no additional charge to them.

What’s even more exciting to me is how these two investments are likely to come together over the coming months as well. As dictionary compliance comes into place, we’ll be able to provide syndication using the dictionary standards as well, which will result in easier, faster, and more accurate syndication of data under broker control. This is the long-term vision we had back in 2008 when so much of this started, and I’m very grateful to all the other companies and leaders pushing RETS forward for the long-term future of our industry.