CEO’s Message: Are You Prepared for Standardization?

Jim Harrison: MLSListings Inc CEO and President

Jim Harrison: MLSListings Inc CEO and President

As I have mentioned in previous editions of this column there is a significant number of seminal events that, over the next several months, will reach either maturity or operational status on the current industry landscape — Upstream, UpstreamRE, AMP, Zillow Group, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), NAR Expansion, and the continuing emergence of the millennial generation homebuyer, just to name a few.

At MLSListings, we are constantly monitoring these developments for their individual impact, while at the same time trying to better understand how they will influence the industry and marketplace as a group. Specifically, their possible impact upon the careers and businesses of our subscribers and participating brokers. Through this process we believe we can best achieve one of our primary objectives – providing an MLS product that can effectively assist our subscriber community to meet the evolving challenges of a disrupted marketplace. This month, I would like to share one such observation.

Comparing the various elements of the above forces brings to light the fact that one of the things that all of them have in common, both in terms of concept and application, is their reliance on high levels of transactional standardization.

In order to establish a historical foundation for this observation it is appropriate to point out that the long standing rule within our industry is that every practitioner has the right to proceed with each transaction in an order and manner that best suits his or her interpretations of that transaction’s specific characteristics. Accordingly, the industry has, for many years, celebrated the individuality and uniqueness of its practitioners thus creating a marketplace in which no two approaches to a transaction are exactly the same. The statistics of home ownership and REALTOR utilization bare tribute to the success of this traditional approach and the MLSs’ successful role in supporting it.

However, the events of the past two years seem to be demonstrating that the criterion of a successful real estate experience is changing. For example, the key questions currently being asked are:

  • What is a successful transaction?
  • How can it be measured?
  • And for whom must it be successful?

The historical criterion for success was generally measured from an agent’s perspective – was the deal closed?

In today’s marketplace, however, the definition of a successful real estate transaction is increasingly being measured from the perspective of players other than agents.

NAR is increasingly concerned about the application of ethical procedures and considerations. The CFPB is increasingly focused on a transaction that protects the consumer from financial harm. The Zillow Group has become a significant proponent of the role of consumer satisfaction and data in the transaction. The agent team sector is strongly impacting the idea of agent specialization as a key element of the transaction. The Upstream movement is focused on ensuring that the listing broker has the ability to impact the transaction. Finally, the large brokerage and franchise communities are increasingly concerned about issues relating to production and profitability.

What all of these approaches to the transaction appear to have in common is standardization. While the definition for success differs in each of the examples above, the common element in each is the fact that there is a “right way” to conduct a transaction and the highest level of success will be attained when that “right way” is used in every deal.

MLSs are not in the business of judging their subscribers’ transactional requirements but rather are charged with providing approved transactional paths with the data and information necessary for their successful execution.

We, at MLSListings, want you to know that we will be prepared to meet the expectations of our subscriber community in this new and exciting environment.


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