The standards for how real estate data is transferred from MLSs to data vendors has been updated. Has your real estate brokerage platform vendor updated their platform to use the data dictionary and the RESO WebAPI? Sam DeBord, the CEO of RESO, joins Eric Stegemann to discuss how RESO helps brokers and why they should pay attention to these standards.
- What is RESO and why brokers should join
- MLS Clear Cooperation (Rule 8)
- myDX (brokers getting their own data)
Hi, everybody. Welcome to Brokerage Insider the podcast where we interview some of the leaders in tech for real estate today, I am very lucky to be joined by Sam DeBord. He’s the CEO of the Real Estate Standards Organization. Thanks for joining me, Sam.
Thanks for having me on Eric. It’s nice to see you at least virtually whenever I can.
Yeah, I know. Right before the show we started recording and, and Sam was mentioning how we would normally see each other maybe eight times a year, at least. And you know, it’s very different year this year, and we’re not able to do that, but resell put on a great virtual conference. If you need a, a primer for how to put on a great virtual conference where people actually felt connected ring up Sam and his team, they put on a fabulous one a couple of months back, and it was a lot of fun to be there during the day, get great information, but also they kept people connected even at night. Like a lot of these events you do when you’re in person where you have a beverage with somebody after hours Sam’s team actually made that happen in a virtual environment, which I hadn’t seen up until that point. So cheers to do to you and your team doing a great job there. And hopefully we can be in person again here soon.
Yeah, thanks for that, Eric. We actually did have a lot of fun with that. Nothing like changing a full in-person conference to a virtual one in a month, but our, our team did an awesome job getting that event together and we really did have a lot of fun and resell conferences are all always supposed to be a good time. So we’ll do virtual receptions however we can and make the best of it. And we’re trying to have the usual sort of a hotel bar room and lobby con conversations that we don’t get to have in in this current situation here. So we’ll keep trying to make these events fun.
Yup. You’re doing great. Keep it going. So for those that aren’t knowledgeable on what RESO is, and it’s unfortunate that I’m going to say the next sentence, which is, I think most brokerages, brokerage staff, people do not know what the Real Estate Standards Organization is. Can you give us a little background on it and what the mission of the organization is?
Sure. And I think you’re right in assessing the situation. And, and it’s okay that a lot of brokers don’t know I was a broker for 20 years. I didn’t really know what resell was for quite a few years at the beginning of that time, because most of us aren’t that deeply involved into the guts of your technology. You’re looking for products and services that work together. So that’s what RESO is.
RESO creates open standards that allow for efficiency in your technology. It allows your tools to talk to each other. So, RESO was started about 20 years ago with a small group of very smart techie people looking to build a standard so we can transfer data between different systems to fuel your apps, your programs, your reports, et cetera. And it’s over the last 20 years to be a very influential organization. It, we have hundreds and hundreds of member organizations that represent technology companies like the biggest portals in the world you’d expect the biggest brokerages. The biggest MLS is, and lots of small independent organizations as well to where our membership now covers 35,000 brokerage offices, 1.5 million licensees or salespeople. So it’s really a very broad effect and continues to bring more and more efficiency. So if you want to think about it on a very simple level when you talk about technology standards, what does that mean?
I, it’s basically just a common universal language, so the tools can talk to each other. So you have an iPhone, you’ve got Gmail on the iPhone. You can pull up a Chrome browser and look at your Gmail, go to Amazon, go to the Microsoft store. These are all companies that want to put each other out of business. They all want to eat each other’s lunch, but these tools work together because all those technology companies have said, let’s agree to an open standard, let’s agree to a standard that will allow us to share data in the same language. And then we’ll compete on top of that. And that’s really what Risa was founded on was to be able to help people’s technology tools, talk to each other. And as a brokerage advocate, Eric, you know this very well, this is a difficult thing to do in the brokerage stack to get your front end agent tools, to work with your back office tools, your financial tools, CRMs, MLS tools. And so that’s really what RESO exists for is to continue making those connections and helping people make their systems speak that same language. So we can basically help professionals do a better job with consumers and be more informative that way.
I oftentimes call the reef, the standards that RESO has created and, and all of this inner workings that most brokers and most agents will never see. I call it the plumbing of real estate. And I, I think it’s, it’s, you know, obviously a house it’s so vital to have good plumbing, good, you know, electric lines and you don’t always see how it all works, but gosh, darn it. You need it to work. Right. And I think that’s part of the mission of RESO is to keep that plumbing of the real estate tech world, particularly, I think it’s part of their mission to, to keep it working efficiently, not only to keep it working, but also to keep it up to date and running as efficient as possible. And Sam has done just a phenomenal job since taking over as the CEO not terribly long ago, he’s done a phenomenal job at impacting the industry with this.
Well, thanks, I think as good, a good extension to your analogy. And that’s to keep that plumbing modern and anyone who’s remodeled old house, you know, those old corroded pipes that fill up the water may be flowing, but it gets smaller and smaller and less and less throughput in your systems. And at a certain point, we need to continue to upgrade the infrastructure and put in new plumbing systems and allow people to use all of the new things they want to be able to do, and not simply have a one bed, one bath sort of home. So there’s, there’s always work to be done in improving standards and moving people’s technology forward.
Yup. So let’s talk about standards for, for here for a little bit. So, you know, the big standard that was around for, you know, 20 years now that RESO pushed out there and has helped create. And one of the ways that technology is as good as it is today in the real estate industry is because of Rex. Tell us a little bit about the history of rats, how it came to be, and then where, where it’s going and being sun setted here.
Sure. So it’ll Rex was, was really important. It was an agreement by players across the industry. That again, let’s have a single language for getting data back and forth. Let’s have the same way that we all know. We can go pick up data from one location and put it into another system. And the industry decided we were going to do a proprietary language. We were going to create this ourselves. And so we sort of did I wouldn’t say out of thin air, but you had a lot of really, really smart people come together and say, let’s build this language specifically for real estate. So it served the industry really well. It, it allowed people to understand how to transfer data in a more modern way than what we did before, which what we did before was just go out and pick up massive buckets of data and bring them in and try to find how to organize those.
And it would be different with every single technology company that you worked with. But it was also something that was a first stage. It was something to start to modernize. And, you know, maybe take us from a steam engine to a, a, a model T car. You know, we’re looking at just sort of stages of advancement in technology. So more recently we’ve looked at modern API APIs. And I know if everybody’s not a techie person on the call, you might your API APIs and think, Oh boy, they’re going to go down a rabbit hole here. But really all it is is again, a way for systems to talk to each other and technology companies all around the world today, use API as an easy way to integrate. You can think about it as a, a, the back of your smart TV.
And it’s got all these plugs and jacks and everything on it. It’s like an API. This is how you get information in and out in a modern way. And while Rhett’s was an API, it was a custom proprietary one that a lot of people would hire technology staff and the real estate industry. And you’d have to retrain them right away. So they understood this new language that wasn’t used anywhere else in the world. And we realized over time that if we were going to really have great advancements in real estate technology and efficiency, we should be using what everybody else in technology uses. These very basic things. This way, we, what we call transportive data. Are we going to share data in a common language that people understand, or are we going to continue to do it in our proprietary way? So the move today is toward web API, which is a modern promise.
I’ll only say this once restful API, but it’s something that technologists love when new technology come companies come into the industry, they say, yes, we get this. We know exactly how to do it. When brokers hire technology staff, that staff can come in and work right away in that because they understand how that modern API works. And there’s great progress in the industry. Moving forward with that. It’ll take time there everybody’s got systems in place. It’s sort of like those, that plumbing that we talked about the water’s working technically. So there’s a lot of reds implementations that will be around for a certain amount of time because people just don’t want to change what they have, but eventually it becomes problematic with that old technology. So over time, more and more organizations are going to make that move and upgrade their systems through the web API.
Great, great feedback. There are great histories there. I think reds gets a bad rap sometimes because you know, it is 2020 and, and Rhett’s is still the dominant way of transporting data between two different companies. But you have to remember what Sam said here Rhett’s has been around for 20 years. And if you go back 20 years ago, think about the computer that you were using 20 years ago. Think about the phone that you had 20 years ago. And when you think about it, that it was created at that point and that it’s still working, you know, fairly well today overall. And I think web API is definitely the way to go, but it’s, it’s served its purpose for 20 years pretty well. And if you think about all that’s in there in terms of data and I, and Sam, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about, I think there’s kind of an intermediate item that happened at RESO between Rhett’s and web API. I mean the data dictionary, I’d love for you to talk a little about the data dictionary and how well that served both threats and then coming over into now the web API.
Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s a great point. There’s, there’s a difference between how the data is defined and how we move the data. So Rhett’s and wait web API, our transport, that’s how we move the data around. But there’s also a way of structuring that data. So everybody understands what those words are within the data. Exactly. So the data dictionary has been a huge benefit to the industry. And that’s one of our work groups, we’ve got a web API transport work group. We’ve got a data dictionary work group, and these are volunteers from all over the industry. Some of them are engineers, developers. Some of them are business executives. And they’ll come bring these common terms to us and say you know, we a full daylight basement in our market. And in this area they say, well, we use three quarter basement.
And we look at all the different terms in the industry and say, how can we coalesce around a common terms? So the data dictionary has been a huge benefit in making sure what we’re moving across these transports is, is common so that we can define things like a patio, and maybe we call it a Lanai in Hawaii, and maybe we call it a patio in Cleveland. But in that underlying data set, we’ve got a field that’s common. And so the technology systems understand what that is, and then they can make their local variations, however they need to in terms of reporting. So data dictionary continues to expand. It, it’s probably one of our most valuable assets at RESO because of the membership involvement and the community involvement there, we’re currently talking to more commercial real estate organizations about expanding that even further as new commercial organizations are joining our membership. We’re talking to international organizations who are property search organizations, assessment international and local appraisal organizations that are working with GICs to be able to start defining really broad sets of data and real estate. And again, bring that just greater efficiency to people’s systems.
And, and just for the brokers that are listening out there to give you an idea from a technological advancement standpoint it used to take us at minimum five hours and on the high side, about 15 hours to map in a new MLS worth of data using red scent and the old way of doing things today, when a vendor is fully data dictionary compliant, there are MLSs that are out there that we can have an entire board of your data, not just mapped in, but downloaded within 15 minutes. It is a massive change into speeding up the technological technology side of RN of being able to replicate that data and get your website or your real estate brokerage CRM or whatever it is up and running so much faster. So the data dictionary definitely a huge advancement, something you probably, as a broker, don’t see every day but has, has dramatically sped up the innovation, I think, in the, in the industry. And can’t wait to see it now, as it’s rolling out into, into web API,
You definitely see it. You may not realize it, but, you know, as Eric’s talking about this you know, his company, obviously as the experience with doing this years and years for broker systems, we would do integrations as a broker at organization. And what you’ll, what you’ll realize when you start seeing these points is where you bring a new vendor in and they say, well, it’s going to take us three months to map your MLS system to what our tool is, or for us to be able to get your agents, you know, company interoffice, mailer, to integrate with some other system that we’ve got, that is on our backend. We’ve got this mapping period. When you hear that from your vendors and they can’t just light something up in five, 10 minutes, which some of these new companies can do with data dictionary and web API, as a broker you’ll know, this is probably a RESO issue. My tools probably are not standardized to RESO standards somewhere in that stack. And that’s why my technology folks are taking so much time. It’s a reality of, of, of a lot of our situations still that we haven’t fully standardized a lot of our tools yet.
And speaking of that, Sam, I’ll tell you an interesting story. We have a client that is growing very, very quickly in terms of size as they are acquiring other organizations. And so they’re needing to add in multiple. Other MLS is you know, we went from four at the beginning of the year that there’ll be at nearly 20 MLS is by the end of the year that they’ll need to have in. And we were able to execute when they tell us, Hey, there’s a new company that’s rolling in here. We’re able to get those up and running most of the time and in no more than one to two business days, total, once we get the approval from the MLS and the franchise organization, that they’re a part of because they’re not data dictionary compliant yet, and don’t have the easy way of getting this data. And and aren’t written to these kinds of standards. They’re telling him, it’ll take two to three months to get the data. So that’s the benefit of you know, at least from our side and things like that, that we see that we can turn on data very, very quickly in a market and the same.
Yeah, no, I was just going to say, you know, there, there are really no arguments out there against standards, at least no one publicly making those comments.
I want chaos,
The, the, except for the work. And that’s a reality. I mean, there’s a time and cost to standardizing your systems. And we understand that that’ll always be something that people will take into account, but in general, there’s just a widespread understanding that this is absolutely essential and, and useful. And, and it’s just going to be about how much of a priority we put around it.
Yeah, absolutely. Now you talked about two subjects. I would love to dive into a little bit more. You talked about international standards and mortgage standards, or I think I was going to bring up mortgage standards a little bit international standards. So, you know, RESO is not just a United States organization, right? So talk to me a little bit about RESO working with these companies worldwide and what we’re seeing and what we’re learning at RESO here for the United States in working with them. Sure. So we talk a lot.
What about the different verticals, whether those are in the United States or outside, that also can benefit from these standards and then the actual international organization. So you know, we talked to Freddie Mac who they get appraisal information out of the MLS and that should come in a standardized format because it fills out their reporting tools that allows them to do an appraisal. Well, that’s pretty straightforward stuff. When you look at the data dictionary, and if every MLS is allowing their appraisers to have a certain export of appraisal data that allows these hugely important organizations in the U S to do reporting on that. Well, these are things that are a big benefit from, from RESO and being able to identify and define that. So then we look at international organizations impact in Ontario is the biggest property assessment data organization in Canada.
And they’re RESO members and they’re looking at how their data can conform to the RESO standard because they want to move that into all of their technology partners across the country. If they can get their local real estate boards and MLS and government organizations to share data in that same format they’ve got these great opportunities for efficiencies for everyone. And it’s usually one of these first one in is the leader, and you’re going to get credit for that. I mean, this is what we love about our membership who go out and lead. These kinds of things is other folks end up conforming to the standard that you’ve brought to them over time. So we’ve talked to organizations in Europe, property search organizations who are looking for more of a, sort of a, a badge of standardization for their new startup companies who can say, yes, we can conform our data to a certain standard.
And our technology partners will understand exactly how to work with us upfront. We’ve even got a fiber, which is a, an international block chain organization that has looked at our universal property, identify our model and taking that to government organizations in Europe to look at as, as their model for identifying properties in a unique way. And these are just solutions that are really location, independent. They’re just technology. You know, we always talk about local real estate. You know, what makes real estate really important and valuable is all the local difference, but the technology is global. The technology is international and all of these systems can talk to each other. When we adopt the same sort of standards
And, you know, something that we’ve seen too at Travis is in other countries, they’re starting to really understand the standards and it’s at least a conversation. In fact we talked to two different other clients in two other countries. Both of them happened to use flex MLS as there as the MLS. And by the way, if you don’t know, MLSs are, are not very common in other other countries, but it just so happens. Exactly. So one of them was the Dominican Republic and they, you know, happen to have some of that data there and it was important to them that there was standards. And it’s also becoming, as you said, Sam, I got pitched an investment last week in a company. And they, one of their things in their pitch deck was we’ve built our system to be resale compliant.
So you know, it’s great to see it get expanded out into companies that are seeing it before having 20 year, you know, experiences in the real estate industry like you and I have. So there’s also, and I know it’s not part of RESO, but just to, as a sideways mentioned to the organization, resale works with other organizations for these standards that are creating standards too. Like, for example, there’s one in mortgage and I couldn’t remember the name of it off the top of my head, but it does mismo, that’s it? Yeah. So they’re also building standards and I know Sam and his team and, and the members of misma are working together to try to create over where there’s overlap to make sure it’s standardized between the two as well. Correct.
We always have that outlook of what’s already there. What’s already been defined. So miss most got some mortgage standards. And a lot of that has to do with parts of the transaction that may not be something that’s focused on by your traditional you know, real estate broker MLS agent, and the tech vendors should serve them. But they’re important to know that they’re there, you’ve got organizations like an Oscar who’s more associated with commercial data standards. And so, you know, it’s always important to see where that overlap exists, because if we’re truly standards organizations, and we believe that that’s important, we shouldn’t be duplicating each other either in, in those standard spaces. So we continue to make that outreach to try to expand those data sets and make them valuable for everyone.
Yeah, it’s great. It’s great work that RESO does too, to try to do that. So nobody has to double up their efforts. So let’s talk about some of the rules that you have pushed out at RESO and Sam, why don’t you also talk about the the management and implementation of the rules and how, when RESO pushes out a rule what’s the teeth and how does the teeth work behind it to say, Hey, look, here’s the rule that’s been implemented for MLSs. How do you go through and make sure that MLS is actually implement some of these standards?
Sure. So RESO membership is voluntary and certification is voluntary unless there’s another organization that says you need to be certified. So almost all of the MLS is in the U S are certified because there’s policy that requires them to do that. But, but starting from the beginning, many, many organizations are resell members and get certified because they want to be able to give that to their technology partners, that they’re up to date with the current standard. And if they get certified, which we actually have technical tools that go through their systems and ensure that they work according to the standard, then they can work with other companies who have been certified and they know that their tools will integrate right away. So that’s a really straightforward reason for organizations whether their MLS is or not. We have brokerages who have certified and you know, website company, so it’s certified.
So then on the policy side, the national association of realtors has adopted policy for realtor owned MLS. So there are a little bit less than 600 MLS in the U S and the vast majority of them are owned and operated by realtor associations. They may be an individual association with an MLS and may be many associations that have a regional MLS, but when their realtor owned and operated, they have policies to follow that come from the national association. So that policy says when RESO passes a new standard, those organizations need to update their systems to the newest standard within 12 months of when RESO has ratified it. So we have our certification systems available if they if these organizations want to use RESOurce certification to show that they’re in compliance, which most do then they’ll certify with us within 12 months after we ratify a new standard.
And they all move up to a similar level. And the exciting part for us right now is you know, as we said, this has been a 20 year process with threats and with where we are today with the data dictionary and with transport we’ve been moving organizations up from bronze to silver, to gold, to platinum, and they were all sort of on different levels for many years, but this year we’re bringing them all to the same level. So starting next year, every certification will be what was thought of as platinum in the past is the highest level. But it’s basically a core that all the organizations getting certified are the same level, and that’s really truly people speaking that common language. And, and it’s great that there’s policy in place that makes sure that happens with MLS, but it’s also really important for organizations who work with MLS is, and with brokers and frankly with non traditional organized real estate companies, to be able to come in to resell membership and get that certification themselves as well, to show their partners in their community, that they’re standardized and they’re ready to work with them.
Absolutely. And I think wave group did a study in partnership with you guys last year or the year before that, while brokers didn’t necessarily know what the standards meant or were in terms of the technology side, they understood that there were benefits of the standard. So it’s, it’s great that it’s out there that you can get certified, not just be compliant, which is something that I’ve said for a while. There’s a lot of companies, a lot of our competitors they’ll use the term or RESO compliant and you know, nobody really understands what RESO compliant means. But there is a complete a standard for what it means to be certified. And so if you’re a broker out there, you should definitely ask your vendors, are you RESO certified and make sure that they’re staying up with the, up to date with that because the standards are changing and updating constantly with what’s out there.
So, and I think that to that point, you know, brokers do know what it means in action when they see it. And so we, we looked at something like we worked with Stella stellar MLS down in Florida, and they have, they switched up their entire system to be native data dictionary. So sometimes people will have sort of an older database that’s not standardized and they’ll put a layer on top of it that cleans it up and get that standardized for certain people who need to use that. But as these as stellar MLS went to native data dictionary brokers using tools, there could see very quickly how much faster those tools could be onboarded. You know, they joined MLS grid and using those tools. It was two to three times faster for integrations. They had remind tools that brokers were using.
I think they were saying that was probably a four to five times faster integration, a real scout. They, they were estimating about 10 times faster integrations with MLS when they’re truly data dictionary compliance. So these are all things that brokers working with agents and vendors can see in, in real life in their business. And it’s sort of that the result that everybody’s asking, what are the standards do well, that’s it your tools for your brokerage and for your MLS and for your agents are just faster and more accurate. And you can onboard just much more quickly.
And, you know, certainly Sam, his team have been great at helping us because we’ve definitely found some MLSs that were not in compliance that may have stated they were in compliance and Sam and his team have done a great job of speaking to the MLS is, and kindly suggested to them that they needed to, to get everything up and running and working correctly. And it really helped us out and helped us keep our costs for our, our broker clients down. So,
And I think that’s the important part is the vast majority of the time. It’s just an education process. Most organizations want to comply with the rules. But as anyone could expect those of you listening to a podcast right now who may not have thought about RESO for months beforehand were not always top of mind with everybody, they do the work to get standardized and certified, and then they focus on their own business. So there are times when these things will slip through the cracks, not everybody’s focused on policy every you know, every month and most of the time, whether it’s a call from RESO, whether it’s a call from NRS, MLS policy folks it’s usually just an education process of this updated. You may have missed it. Here’s what we need to fix on your systems. And by and large folks are very happy to comply and get that fixed for their brokers.
Definitely been my experience too. The education sometimes they’re just unaware and, and we just need to remind them that, that that there is that standard and they need to follow it. I know Sam and his team, like I mentioned, have helped us out in multiple cases like that in the past. So okay. Well, I want to talk about a couple of the rules. So I want to go back a little bit before your time at being, as being the CEO because this is, you know, still to this day, I get on occasion and MLS, that is unaware of the rule being in place or that the brokers aren’t requesting this, which is the sole data rule. So Sam, do you want to talk a little bit about that and what the rule requires and how brokerages can leverage the data that they would get through through that?
Sure. And, and it’s funny because I was thinking before this, you and I discussed, let’s just have a chat, like old friends meeting at a conference because that’s kind of what we’re doing right now. And of course I didn’t, I don’t have that rule up in front of my screen. So I’m not going to have an exact date or anything for you.
Oh, I think it’s more of the, I just meant, let’s just discuss a little bit of the the premise behind it and the requirements, because I know from, from RN that at try this, that was definitely a change moment for us. Because most MLS is up to that point. It was very Willy nilly, as far as what data you could expect to get from an MLS. And it was very much a, you called the MLS and they said, no, we don’t do that. And that’s all there was to it. And this was kind of the first rule that came out and it said, okay, well, yes, as an MLS, you have to provide some level of data to a vendor that’s out there, that’s working with our broker. And so, you know, you just discuss a little bit from a high level. You don’t have to recite the exact wording.
So it just a little bit of background as, as a broker for many years, I worked with NAR on their policy committee for multiple listing services. And the advisory board that usually does the first analysis and recommendations for technology related policy for MLS is and in general, just emerging trends and issues. So one of the things that came through that group over the years was defining more exactly what you were looking for, what can a broker expect to get from an MLS? And it’s, it’s important to start from that point. It’s, it’s a broker, this is a broker. So if a broker’s a participant, there’s a certain expectation that the broker would get their data from the MLS and, and really cooperative data. Cause that’s why the MLS exists is for those brokers. So we have, you know, companies like yours, who are there on behalf of the brokers, even though it’s a separate vendor organization, but, but you’re there to help the brokers run their tools.
So one of the things that was sort of all over the board over the years was pending data sold data. What should you be able to get from the MLS? And I believe it’s going back to about 2012 at this point, but the, the policy, and this is again for realtor, MLS is, is that participant brokers should be able to get that sold data back to 2012 ish, which don’t quote me on that. But what’s important is you can get years of sold data at any point. And it’s not an arbitrary decision by the MLS as to whether the brokers can have that it’s written into the bylaws not the bylaws, but to the policy of the MLS that brokers do have access to that. So it was, you went through this, there was a little bit of a Rocky time as people tried to understand this.
But I think we’ve all seen the way technology and policy related to it have gone over the years is the data’s out there. The, you know, the horse is out of the barn, it’s on all kinds of different websites. All we need to be doing is obviously protecting confidential information because that’s really important for our clients, but then enhancing a broker participant’s ability to use technology, to serve their customers to serve their agents and let their agents serve their customers. And sold data is a big, important part of that. And there’s lots of tools with lots of different systems and valuations and, and everything else that need that sold data. And it’s just a very consistent policy across the board now, but as I’m sure you’ll relate there’s still some education needed in some situations.
Yup. And we’re dealing with that with with an MLS right now. It’s, it’s not that they don’t want to do it. It’s frankly nobody’s ever pushed them on it before. This is a, an MLS that’s in a outlying territory of the United States. And so, you know, things are a little behind there in terms of this but they are required to follow, follow the rule. And it’s just a matter of saying, Hey, look, you know, this is something that you have to do and I hate to be pushing you on it, but it’s best for our client. If you go ahead and follow this rule. So I only mentioned this rule and I know it was before your time, Sam, but it’s funny that we’re still here in 2020, and that rule was in around 2012. And we’re still working with MLS as to get it done, but it changed the conversation.
And I guess that’s where I was going for our side, from the tech perspective side, and also from the broker advocate side that I always like to speak from, it was the first time where we could go and say, you have to at least give us X. And then we’ll talk about the next one. That’s a new rule that Sam helped get past which is called MITx or what I call and many of us in the industry called MITx. I’m sure there is a different title to the rules somewhere that that is more explicative. If that’s a word then my IDX, but Sam, do you want to talk about that just a little bit?
Sure. And I want to be clear too, you know, these, when we’re talking about these things, since there’s multiple roles involved here, you know, Risa doesn’t necessarily have a position on any of these policies. Most of this conversation is work as, as a realtor, as a broker advocate, as you put it within the national association of realtors, policy committees but we also exist for efficiency in technology. So these things certainly make sense in terms of you know, why those would get moved through any our policy. So, yeah, what’s, what’s been called my DX, which obviously some folks don’t like it, it’s a fun, easy to remember name. But it’s really just stating something that people are surprised has to be stated, which is that a broker can get its own data back from the MLS. It’s not about an MLS wide dataset of other participants data.
Although there are requirements that brokers can get some of that too. But there was there was concern that in certain situations, you know, a brokerage might want to take its data and do whatever that brokerage wants to do with it. Join another MLS, whether they’re leaving the current MLS, whether they’re staying, whether they’re using it for different tools the MLS exists as a brokerage cooperative, and it seems very obvious that a broker who’s in the MLS should be able to reasonably get that data back that they’ve put into the MLS. But apparently that wasn’t the case in certain situations. Otherwise we wouldn’t have spent time on policy around that. So yeah, the, the new policy just simply says, you can get all of your data back. And if you need a technical designee to do that for you, that makes sense companies like yours, Eric would be doing this sort of thing for brokers because not all brokerages have tech staff, many have none. They rely purely on vendors. And, and it’s a very straightforward, but obviously in some situation needed policy to, to ensure this very basic right of a brokerage participant was fulfilled.
And I’ll tell you, Sam, I, I, you said that it seems obvious, but I’ll, I’ll tell you from our perspective, it has been a head banging experience for 10 years in this business of trying to get MLS is to get their own data to their broker. And they ask, you know, 10,000 questions of why, you know, why do you want your data? And I kind of have to comment back to the MLS and say, well, it’s the broker’s data. A D doesn’t matter like the bird, it’s their own data they put in there in the first place. They just need it normalized. And they’re trying to follow these standards of how it goes in and then want to get it out in that way too. But number two is, you know, brokerages want to use more data these days. It’s not, we’re not in 2000 anymore.
It’s 2020 burgers are getting more sophisticated and saying, I need a data warehouse. I need every single listing I’ve ever had and be able to map out where it’s at. So I can make decisions on where to put my next office. And the MLS has, has always been the best RESOurce and repository for that data from an entry standpoint. And then it’s just a matter of now I need to analyze it or do whatever I need to by getting it out. And so I think MLS is, are starting to you know, implement this now and what you’re finding, what we’re finding at least is that while many of them had good ways of getting out your active listings, obviously getting out the souls, particularly because of the sole rule that we just talked about. We’re, we’re finding more and more difficulty and that they’re working on this, and many of them are working on us is to get out pen pending that one’s not so hard, but expireds and withdrawns and canceled canceled listings. And those ones there they’re seemingly having difficulty with, because many of the, the systems in many of the infrastructure of the MLS never were designed to push that data back out again. So it’s starting to open up, but definitely something that the MLS is, are struggling with right now,
Right. And the systems were never intended or at least not set up to get things like your cancels in your expired back out because the systems were originally designed as display based systems. I think the first things most people probably did was try to get just IDX feeds set up for brokers. So brokers could advertise and do the cooperation portion of, of the MLS and if it was expired or canceled, certainly being able to log into the MLS and see that for all the folks who call on expired listings, et cetera you know, made sense, but there wasn’t a real redistribution as a, as a primary focus. And we all know that there are many, many MLS that don’t have much of a tech staff as well. So they’re very reliant on their vendor and the vendors gonna focus on the priority tools.
So if brokers, aren’t asking for canceled and expired to use in their back office tools, that’s not going to be a priority feature probably on their list. You know, I can, I can put my, my broker hat on at any point and say you know, the, the MLS is brokers. There’s not a separation here. It’s, it’s a cooperative and a tool of the broker. So the focus should be on whatever broker’s needs are today. And you said it really well. Brokers are increasingly dependent on quality data not for their customers to be informative, to make decisions within the brokerage, but as part of their sales pitch, they’re recruiting. They’re very focused on technology. You know, w we’re not going backwards, we’re not going to get back to a point where we shrink the data back and we go back to books.
This is going to be an ever expanding situation where brokers and MLS is, are working together to get more and more of the data out to the brokerages and less of it’s siloed within. So that’s really sort of the mindset that anybody, whether they’re working in, you know, MLS technology, there are a vendor working there, whether it’s, you know, an executive governance is realizing in the next five to 10 years, this is only going to accelerate. And so building systems out that can deliver literally everything out to your participants and customers, you’ve got local rules, you’ll set. I mean, there will always be certain rules display guidelines, distribution guidelines, and that’s great locally. But the technology should be built with the thought in mind that brokers are gonna want everything they’re gonna want all the data, and they’re going to want to get it back in a very easy, modern way. They’re going to want it standardized. Theresa is data dictionary, and they’re going to want to get it through a modern web API, so their developers can easily get access to that. And that really has to be the mindset of building out real estate technology going forward. Exactly,
Exactly. And by the way, for all of you young ans listen in on here, and I don’t just mean age. I mean, if you haven’t been in the industry for 20 plus years like Sam and I have you may not know that when he was referring to books before the MLS literally was a book before technology systems came out and every week or every month, depending on the MLS, they would send you the updates to the books that you would have in your office. And that was the only way of finding what other properties were out there for sale. So,
And I hope you’ve got a listener on here who can remember the index cards, because I think that was the precursor to book. So we’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a lot of work to do still.
Absolutely. Okay. So one last rule I want to chat with you about here is the clear cooperation rule, which was also known as rule eight or my personal favorite nickname, the Osho. Yeah. So why don’t you talk just a little bit about that one?
Sure. So, you know, my role there was as president’s liaison at NAR for MLS and data management. So that’s really to make sure whatever’s happening within the advisory board of MLS and the committee is, is relayed obviously to the leadership team there, but also to help, you know, any, any sort of movement within the policy that the group was needing to do with staff. So if we needed to write up policy and get that exactly the way they wanted it we’d work with that there. So so really the, the intent of that was to just open up more transparency for customers and professionals. It’s just to make sure that listings that need to be in there.
Obviously to the leadership team there, but also to help, you know, any, any sort of movement within the policy that the group was needing to do with NAR staff. So if we needed to write up a policy and get that exactly the way they wanted it we’d work with that there. So so really the, the intent of that was to just open up more transparency for customers and professionals. It’s just to make sure that listings that need to be in the MLS are getting turned into the MLS. So clear cooperation requires that if a listing is publicly advertised, which clearly shows that the agent has had a conversation with the customer, they agree public advertising is good for them because they’re getting exposure. If you’re an MLS participant, that listing needs to be in the MLS within one business day of it being publicly advertised.
The goal is not actually really for it to be advertised first. The goal is for it to be in the MLS first and then advertise, and that can happen simultaneously. But the reason for that is just to ensure that the MLS is, are being fair to consumers and the brokers are being fair with one another. If they’ve agreed to be a part of a broker cooperative they should be sharing their listings with one another. Now, if there’s privacy needs, those situations will come up. You’ve got a celebrity, you’ve got someone you know, with some sort of a safety concern. You can certainly have an office exclusive listing. You can have a listing that is not being displayed on the internet and be in the MLS. But if it’s being publicly advertised, you’re part of a cooperative that listing should not only be out there for the other brokers, so they can bring buyers and they can cooperate, but it should be out there for other consumers. So we make sure we’re not you know, committing defector fair housing violations by only sharing housing opportunities with certain portions of the community that we know. And so there’s really great capabilities in there and flexibility for brokers to ensure safety, privacy, celebrity, any of these kinds of things that are needed. But then a real hard and fast rule that says, if those are not the current situation, then the rules of the cooperative say we’re going to be a cooperative and we’re going to ensure consumers have housing choice that way.
Yup. And Rob Hahn has called some of those items loopholes, but I I’m, I think they’re vital of these rules as far as the, this goes, because I think if you’ve ever dealt with homes high end home sales before, you know that sometimes sellers, like for example, one of our clients has Tom Brady’s house listed. Right. but they don’t want to plaster necessarily everywhere. Here’s the address to Tom Brady’s house. Right. And so I don’t see them as loopholes. I see them, I see it as well thought out rules that allow there to be leniency in the rule if, as long as it’s requested by the seller and as long as it’s in the MLS in the data, but it doesn’t necessarily, depending on the MLS has implementation, doesn’t necessarily have to be made public once it’s entered in.
Right. Right. And, and if you’ve actually worked as a real estate agent, you know, that there are some very functional things in place that allow you to still do what you need to do here. If your agent, excuse me, if your client has special needs, if you’ve got somebody who, you know, just can’t have showings because of some certain situation you can have limited showings. I mean, your MLS obviously is going to require you to have some showings, but you can have the people have to call and schedule a time with you for the folks who are worried about people traipsing through their house at all hours of the day. You know, real celebrities, a lot of MLS is we’ll have a situation where they’ll have an unpublished address, but the listings there. So other folks that know that it’s there and you have to get a special exception from the MLS to do this sort of thing.
But there’s some very practical ways that this allows that flexibility for consumers and for their professionals to give them what, you know, what it is that they need for their certain situation, but to not incentivize the situation where you know, a consumer who clearly wants exposure and the benefits of supply and demand doesn’t get that because for some reason, we’re, you know, they just don’t get the exposure that it seems very obvious that they should get. And also the other brokers buyers they’re working with, don’t get the opportunity to see that property for sale. And most of the folks involved, I think they get past about 91% through the MLS committee and the board of directors that NAR seemed pretty, pretty much like a RESOunding agreement that this kind of rule, which there are hundreds and hundreds of rules that brokers and agents abide by when they agree to work at an MLS and, and be a realtor. And there’s, there’s wide agreement that this was just a huge consumer and MLS benefit, which ends up being a broker and agent benefit.
Yep. Okay. So we talked about some rules. I want to talk about two things that I know are important to you, UPI and U L I, so why don’t you talk about what each one of those is and the benefit?
Sure. So this is again about data accuracy. So you know, for the brokers, when we’re talking about what you deal with day to day, because I’ve been there when the agent calls you and says, my sellers screaming, my listing, didn’t show up on, you know, an old name, a bunch of them. So I’m fair Zillow, realtor.com, homes.com, Movoto, whatever you want to talk about is your favorite portal website. And, and it’s not there for a host reasons, but there’s some data accuracy issue somewhere. You didn’t have a unique address. Maybe you had a duplicate address, maybe it got input a different way. You put condo number four in here, but the MLS inputted as apartment four there are a host of reasons why your listings get inaccurate data and they don’t show up correctly online. They don’t show up correctly in your back office tools.
They don’t show up correctly in the reports and alerts that you’re sending to consumers. And a lot of that’s because we don’t have unique IDs for these things. You think about a social security number is really the concept. If all you have is a local ID, you probably can’t get out of the country. If you needed to fly, you can’t file your taxes. You can’t vote. You need to have a central ID so that everybody knows exactly who you are to work with these kinds of big broad systems. And that’s what we have in real estate today. We’re not the books, we’re not the index cards. We’re not this little local siloed sheltered market anymore. We’re a massive network of technology and then really valuable local people who provide those services to local consumers, but the technology needs these identifiers. So you think of a universal property identifier.
If you thought about it, that is just a social security number for a property. We can’t just use a parcel number from a tax record, which we’d love to do. But we know those are duplicated. The U S is actually in a kind of unique situation compared to a lot of countries, a lot of countries have a central land registry. So they’ve got unique numbers for all of their parcels. We’ve got a property in Seattle, that’s got a parcel number of one, two, three, and one in Boise. That’s one, two, three, and one in Miami. That’s one, two, three. And so you’ve got even just two counties right next to each other with duplicate numbers. So what the UPI does is assign a way of creating this identifier so that you know exactly what property you’re talking about. And now when a listing on your agents you know, new listing comes in and it goes out through your MLS to a portal site and it goes to your franchisor.
And it goes through their system that lands on the same portal site and the agent posts it to the portal site and they get it through another marketing tool that portal can understand that this is all the same listing. They can see that unique identifier for the property. They don’t post five versions of the listing. You’ve got agents who work in five MLS. That’s going to look like five different listings to the portal, unless it’s got one unique social security number for that property, which is the UPI. So that’s getting a lot of traction. Some of the big MLS software companies are starting to use it in their internal systems. We’re seeing interest again, this is European organizations. Some of them are highly focused on block chain, but it doesn’t have to be that in depth either. It can just simply be a record keeping system. So that’s critical the data accuracy something that we just don’t have that again, once people think about the concept nobody disagrees with, but it just takes the work of integrating it into systems and everyone agreeing to abide by the standard for property identification.
Yup. And I, you know, I think that that piece for companies like ours Sam really hit the nail on the head. And in fact, even County and the next County over can have the exact same parcel numbers, right? So you can have in one MLS, two properties with the exact same parcel number. And I, you know, that’s why we’ve never used a unique identifier per property, or try to use an APN before. And in fact brokers have asked us, well, Hey, why don’t, you know, if we have the property and it entered, and I’ll give you a good example in Boston in Boston. And they cover part of Cape Cod too. Those are two different MLSs. You have the Boston MLS, which is MLS Penn. And then you’ve got Cape Cod MLS, which is a Cape Cod and the islands MLS, CCI MLS.
And so between the two of them, the requests, you know, is, Oh, well, why don’t you use a parcel number because we entered the listing both in CCI, unless, and in MLS pen, we, you can’t use that because it can also cross over between the two areas. Right. And so it’s great to have this new coming standard or new standard that’s, that’s been out there that we’re finally get some adoption on. And I am looking to you, MLS is for any of the MLS execs that are listening to this vendors would love to implement this, but so far it’s seemingly been that you have to kind of build your own ID once you download the data. It sure would be easier if the repository of that data, the MLS created the the UPI for the property and made it right there. And then we just download it and we don’t have to calculate what the ID should be.
Right. So, yeah.
Any other future things that you’re looking ahead and saying, Hey, here’s some things we’re thinking about doing at Risa or, or new standards that we’re thinking about pushing down the road somewhere?
Sure. I really similar to the property identifier is the unique license, the identifier. So it seems sort of concept, you’ve got an MLS ID and you may have a realtor ID but you have a state license and these have duplicates as well, and you’re in five MLS and you’re in one or two realtor associations. You can see the exact same problem happening where you get to a national technology level, and you’ve got all these IDs colliding, and none of them actually provide that social security number for you so that everybody can rely upon it. So the unique licensee is the same idea. We’ve been working with a ton of technology organizations in the industry to make sure we’ve got the requirements, right. Talk about what they’ve done. We’ve talked to realtor associations, MLS software companies, portals. They brought us their models of how they do you know, matching across 10, 20 different factors to try to figure out when a listing comes in, which agent to attach that, to that shouldn’t happen.
This is absolutely unnecessary technology hurdles that we’ve created for ourselves. And, and the closest thing we have today is a nerds number, which is from the national association of realtors which is a huge benefit, but it’s also limited to realtor only marketplaces. And we know that there are probably at least 10 States that have MLSs that include non realtors. We have some MLSs that are basically agnostic. And so maybe half of their folks in the MLS or on realtors. And at the end of the day, we always need to think about these concepts in terms of what are we providing to consumers on an app, on a brokerage website, in a report, are we providing them what they want? Is it not complex? Is it simple? Is it really just down to exactly the information they need? And if we can provide them cross market information, that’s accurate because we have a single identifier for every licensee in the industry.
Now, your MLS, your portal, your franchisor, your aggregator, your agent apps, your consumer tools, they all know who the person is and who the listing agent or even buyer’s agent, but you’ve got people and you’ve got properties. And you add the unique organization identifiers at RESO, and you start getting these sources of truth that just brings so much more accuracy to our data systems, which brings so much better consumer experience to your clients, the folks that you’re working with you know, the, the home buying and selling public, the better you make that experience, the more the professionals benefit who are working with them. So these are very straightforward concepts technologically not particularly difficult, but getting the uptake and doing the work to have people adopt it is a really, really big job. And so it requires people to say, yes, this is important. Let’s put in the time and effort to make it happen.
Yeah, absolutely. But I think the beauty of RESO and, and one of the last things that I want to ask you about but I think the beauty of RESO is that that snowball is building the demand for standards and the willingness to accept when sometimes a standard is going to do things differently than you would plan to, but you wouldn’t understand the benefits of the standard. I think the idea of that and the ideal of that is becoming more and more accepted and demanded in the industry. So the last thing that I want to ask you, Sam, I got two last questions for you. Number one is I’m a broker I’m listening to this podcast right now. And I’m saying, Oh man, all this stuff that Sam and Eric’s teams are working on to make my life easier is great. It’s fascinating, right? Yeah. Hopefully yeah. But they are probably saying, sitting there thinking to themselves it’s great that Eric’s team is working on this. It’s great that Sam’s team is working on this. But I really have nothing, nothing to do with this. So talk to that broker, that’s listening to this right now and saying, it’s great that they’re doing it, but why should that broker join RESO as a broker?
Sure. So I think the first thing is just looking at your current environment right now, you know, what the competitive landscape looks like in terms of technology and that’s growing the need to have great data and technology is only growing. And while you may or may not have the staff that builds that yourself, you’re working with some organization, that’s supplying that to you. And we’re no longer looking in the real estate industry as ABC Realty versus XYZ Realty across town, that these are your biggest competitors. The biggest competitor, probably to brokers today is not progressing in technology. It’s other organizations beating you to the punch with new technology that consumers are asking for. So whatever the consumer experience is that is going to bring the eyeballs and bring the clients. That’s what you have to be looking for as a broker that personal in person service is never going to go away.
It’s fantastic, but getting those introductions to those clients and giving them that technology experience is critically important for a broker to remain relevant and keep their business going. So if we think from more of a high level like that in terms of not just competing locally, but having this global improvement in broker technology, now you want to go out and ask all the vendors you work with your MLS software company, your vendors that work with your association, are you at the front leading bleeding edge of this standards, work here and not just checking off a box to get certified because it’s required, but either doing the work or having your people involved, do you have your tech people going to meetings and going to conferences? Do you have your people actually making these implementations or pushing those in the industry who can make those changes to do it?
It can’t be passive. It has to be active. It’s certainly not going to be a broker’s day to day every week priority, but it’s something that you should regularly be checking up on with your folks, because you know, this is critical to your business going forward. And if you’re thinking about your consumer clients and whether or not they want to use some clunky old app and have to, you know, drive into an office to do things and use three different sets of technology to do one simple part of a transaction, they’re not, they’re looking for not only for more streamlined efficient experiences right now. We’re more focused than ever on having digital enhanced remote experiences that don’t take up people’s time that don’t need to. So yeah, so it’s, it’s just a critical question to ask everyone you’re working with anybody who touching your technology. Are you aware of what’s happening, happening in standards and are you getting yourselves involved or asking someone else who is a decision maker to do that? Because everyone is tied to this initiative. It requires everyone to move this along together so that everyone can continue to speak that same language.
And I think it’s important that brokers have a seat at that table, right, is, you know, from a, from a tech standpoint, the vast majority of people in tech and the vast majority of people in tech that work for tech companies that are at RESO have never put a sign in the yard, have never sold a piece of real estate, never sat across the table from somebody and don’t understand the real, the real day to day life of what’s going on. Now, I’m fortunate. I am, I have done that. And our entire team executive team here at Travis has, and so we bring a different view to our conversations. Like I said, every time I go into a recent meeting, I always joke with the chair of the work group that I’m part of is that I’m taking off my tech hat and putting on my broker hat for a minute.
Eric Stegemann (62:28):
And I speak from that, that side of it. But if you’re a broker grab a seat at the table, it’s not expensive to join RESO. It’s worth your time to be there or to have one of your team members there. And that way, when there’s these monthly calls that we’re talking about changing this or adding that your voice becomes part of that, your voice can say, Hey, look, I have seen this. I think we need to be, need to be looking into this and help us stay ahead of things at resale instead of working behind things. Since we’re not day to day and the vault involved with selling real estate. So I highly recommend if you’re a broker owner or a staff person, ask your broker to join RESO and be part of the solution that’s helping making making tech better
Sam DeBord (63:22):
Join, join membership, come to our broker advisory group. You don’t have to be techie to come to a group like that and bring your business issues. This is where we figure out what’s happening in brokers technology. What kind of issues are we having? Is it a RESO thing to solve? Is it another organization to solve, but you don’t have to know the technical solution. We’ve got a research and development group that will go through those problems and find out if there’s a technology solution and those things make their way through the organization. And you’re going to be there talking to the implementers, your, your portals, your MLS software companies, the vendors, everybody who creates the foundation of your technology is there in those meetings, talking about what we need to fix and what we need to be doing to add to what you have going forward.
Sam DeBord (66:11):
And so even if you’re not heavily involved on the technical side, you know, what your business issues are, and that’s all we need to know. If you come to the broker advisory group and say, this is my business problem, we can figure out if we’re the right solution. If we have people who can work on that. And that’s really important for us at the end of the day, the brokers and consumers are the biggest beneficiaries of what we do. It’s why we exist is to enhance that relationship so that we can go from consumer to consumer facing technology, to MLS, to agent and broker. And that efficiency really moves along that entire spectrum.
Eric Stegemann (61:48):
I I’m a hundred percent with you. Sam, one last question for you that I ask everybody on this podcast that I get to interview
Sam DeBord (61:56):
And get prepared with this beforehand. So it ought to be, yeah.
Eric Stegemann (61:59):
I like to ask this question without telling you ahead of time, because I want to hear your gut reaction to it. If you could change anything about the real estate industry, what would one thing be that you would change immediately?
Sam DeBord (62:14):
Wow, that’s difficult. And I’m not going to give you a a copout standards, just standards answer for me to do, but I’ve done quite a bit of that already. You know, I think it would be to get people to think from a global perspective, first to start from a high level first, as opposed to starting with what’s happening right in front of my nose, on the ground. Maybe that’s a, a world thing and not just a real estate industry thing. But when we’re, when we’re making rules and organizations and policies, if we started out thinking, why do we exist? It’s about housing. It’s about consumers and housing opportunities, and it’s about professional serving them and then start rewriting the rules and rewriting the ways we do business from that perspective, as opposed to we have organizations that we’re here to serve first. And I think we could really create, you know, some just much impressive.
Yeah. Well, great answer. There you go. Sam thank you so much for joining us. Sam again is the CEO of renewed a Real Estate Standards Organization, you can find more and become member. Thanks again, Sam.. And if you are listening to this all the way through, please make sure you hit the subscribe button anywhere that you get podcasts, including Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, and Spotify. Thanks so much for listening to Brokerage Insider. We’ll see you soon. Take care, everyone.
Hope to see you again