The ground between portals and IDX is being defined in large part by Alex Chang from Roost. As a result, I was psyched Alex agreed to be a part of our panel on MLS portals. I had several take aways from Alex’s talk:
- If you peel back the onion, Roost is a marketing platform for brokers. If I sit back and ask myself what the MLS of the future might be, that’s a pretty succinct definition — a marketing platform for brokers. Does this mean a portal? Tools? Both?
- Thinking about an MLS portal as a weapon to ward off competing portals like Zillow, Trulia, etc., is a red herring. So is the proposition that an MLS site shouldn’t be done because it will compete with brokers. Why? Because the listings are already out there.
- A web site is an “organic living animal” that requires constant care and feeding. So, an MLS building a portal best be prepared to care for it properly to deliver return on the investment. Making that investment wisely requires the MLS to set measurable goals and then to measure them as the investment continues. Alex didn’t say this, but I think another way of putting it is that this is a business decision and needs to be made with rigor.
- Either build a Buck knife or a Swiss Army knife, but don’t go in between. From personal experience, this is one of the hardest things for an MLS. As we’ve tried to make our MLS system more consumer friendly, the challenge becomes figuring out how to translate MLS-ese into something easier. I’m convinced this helps all users, both in the MLS and out, but it’s not easy and, as Alex says toward the end, constant iteration is the key.
After the panel, I had many participants say how much they enjoyed Alex’s perspective, which was just enough outside the MLS perspective to be fresh and invigorating.