At long last, the NAR’s Gateway concept is out in the open for discussion. I’ve been asking about more details for some time and want to thank Jim Duncan for making it happen.
Here are some of my initial observations on the PAG Report on the Gateway (PDF):
RETS — As Chair of the Real Estate Standards Organization overseeing development of the Real Estate Transaction Standards, I’m very happy that the PAG clearly states that any Gateway that is built will be RETS compliant. Whether anything is ever built or not, this is a strong validation of the standards work on-going in our industry. Coupled with the adoption of RETS by all the major regionalization efforts across the country and the new NAR MLS policy supporting RETS adoption by all MLSs, this gives all in the RETS community massive incentive to continue the hard work that has already been done.
Consumer Access — I’m surprised the document doesn’t say anything about public access or portals. The rumors circulating while the PAG was meeting the last several months were that they were trying to define a public access mechanism (e.g., replacement to Realtor.com) but that seems pretty clear that didn’t happen. There is the sentence that reads, “Participants can register their buyer-clients, including their real property search criteria” but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean those buyer-clients get access. (Side note: It’s a little strange that only buyers are referenced here. Most systems today allow seller prospects to be registered as well. Oversight or intentional? Probably oversight.)
Broker, Appraisers and Property Mangers — These, along with agents and staff, are the only ones with access. This is such a simple list, it seems there must be someone missing.
Front End Versus Back End — The report talks about it being a “repository” but it also repeats several times that access is through one or more “front ends”. I addressed this issue at length in MLS Systems and Gateways, Front, Back and Middle, concluding:
The idea that all the data can be stored in a single repository is flawed. It will never happen, because there will always be some agent somewhere who wants to differentiate their service and they’ll start collecting data outside the repository. That’s what innovation and competition does, it differentiates.
Perhaps hearing my plea for pro-competitive approaches to regionalization, the PAG report lists as one of its “principles and characteristics” that, “The Gateway is organic so it can evolve as industry needs change.” What does that mean exactly? Seems like a throw-away line meant to appease but it certainly doesn’t appease me
Pipe Dream or Inevitable Reality? — The biggest question raised by the PAG report on the Gateway is simply whether this is RIN redux or whether a national gateway is the inevitable result of all the MLS regionalization discussions occurring right now. I’ve got another post coming that delves into this topic in more detail, but I can say that I see a place for repositories and maybe even the Gateway, but the devil is in the details and the current plan is woefully short on those. Will something real ever get built? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m interested to hear what others are thinking.