Remine is trying to mine the MLS, not re-invent it

Feb 12, 2019 Michael Wurzer

Inman News is reporting that Remine has raised more money to compete with FBS, Corelogic, and Black Knight, based on the presumption that:

MLS platforms are all built upon a very closed architecture that frankly does not play nicely with other third-party technologies. . . . [A]ll of these MLSs don’t realize that a lot of their data and their [intellectual property] is buried in a closed system . . .   [I]n Remine’s MLS 2.0 system a saved search will be delivered over an open application programming interface (API) that the MLS will make available to agents. . . .

These quotes make me seriously wonder if Remine or their investors did any market research, because FBS has provided this functionality via its Spark API for years. Oh, and the Spark API provides by far and away the most robust functionality for third party integrations of any MLS software in the industry, and is doing so live in over 150 markets.

In stark contrast to the claim in the article that “if an MLS wants to change something about its MLS system, including integrate with a new tool, it has to ask that system’s provider and then get in line and wait,” FBS provides its customers with direct control of the Spark API so they can integrate with any vendor they choose, without having to ask FBS for anything. So, basically, based on the quotes in the article, Remine is investing $48M to create something we already delivered to the market years ago.

I don’t think API innovation is actually Remine’s focus. Rather, Remine’s focus has been on their up-sell to their “sell score” and related products that allow agents to target prospects. (Interestingly enough, I went to look for the pricing on Remine’s web site and it looks like they’ve taken it down. I wonder why?) These are cool tools but they are aimed at the broker and agent, not the MLS. Why do I say this? Because the “sell score” and similar products are ways for brokers and agents to compete with each other, and the MLS is about cooperation. Competitive products like “sell score” have a negative network effect in that the more agents use them, the less valuable they are to any one agent (imagine all the agents calling the same high “sell score” prospects).

The reality is that, as much as Remine might want to claim they’re creating MLS 2.0, to me it looks like they’re really trying to use the MLS to monetize the tools they want to sell to agents. In my experience, that’s going to be a tough sell to a lot of MLSs, who are pretty sensitive about their MLS vendors pounding away at their agents with marketing and sales tactics. And, if somehow Remine’s supposed innovation actually is about APIs, I’ll just reassure our customers that they already have the best API that puts them 100% in control of their and their members’ data. Problem solved!