A Pivotal Technology Shift to Empower Brokers

MLSs Should be the Source of Technology Choice for Brokers

For so long, choosing MLS technology partners was practically a binary choice. There were only a handful of big tech providers for the core MLS systems. On top of that, there were a handful of newcomers that filled some necessary value gaps or offered products that could do some things differently, better.

In the last 10 years, that landscape has changed completely. Now, there are a multitude of options for nearly every niche that you can imagine. Some companies are happy to offer services directly to brokers, while others partner directly with a MLS to deliver greater member benefits driven largely from integrations, data management and compliance. I believe both solutions have their place.

Fast-forward to today’s real estate marketplace and it’s different, again. A lot has changed, and more changes are forthcoming, some of which may be unsettling, uncertain, and stressful, resulting from all the recent lawsuits, soft market conditions, fluctuating interest rates and limited inventory. If we know one thing is certain, it’s that change is constant in real estate.

What hasn’t changed is the role of the MLS, which is to advocate for brokers and empower them with reliable data, insightful statistics, and the necessary tools to be efficient and effective in their dynamic and competitive markets. Most brokers feel apprehensive about adopting new technologies and integrating them into existing operations, fearing potential disruptions or inefficiencies leading to angst amongst agents and staff.

With all the technology options available to brokers in the current market, it can be challenging and confusing to zero in on exactly what’s needed and how it will integrate. At the same time, brokers want flexibility and freedom. We have heard brokers say that it can be difficult to choose, or that they feel they are stuck with inferior products. They want to have a voice when choosing the products and systems they use daily to conduct their business. I believe the MLS can be the best advocate for broker choice, however it takes work and communication.

I’m not saying that MLSs should offer every type of product available, but if they have the means to do so, they are in a unique position to offer the best choices. Some MLSs with larger member/subscriber bases are doing this already, offering multiple front ends, and several ancillary products.  They have the buying power to do this, however smaller MLSs – which is most MLSs in the US, are not in the same position.

So how do we change the landscape?

First, the old ways of doing business need to change. For years the handful of big technology vendors have had it easy with a captive audience, but in the last few years, the options for front end products have become much more competitive and there are some great and powerful choices out there. The MLSs need to start using their collective power to force the providers to offer different, and more flexible ways to pay for their services.  If you believe that you have the best product, prove it by allowing MLSs to offer multiple front ends in a marketplace environment and let the best prevail. Some demographics may be drawn to more advanced or simplified options while others may prefer a more traditional structure. I advocate that we should find a way to let the end user decide what’s best for them.

Second, if the MLS does not have the financial means to offer an array of products, then they should do everything they can to bring their brokers into the decision-making process.  Whether forming a committee of tech-savvy members to do research together or offering to evaluate products the broker is interested in and providing their expert feedback.

As the MLS, we need to grant brokers the opportunity for their voice to be heard. Better yet, let’s spearhead the dramatic and needed change and deliver brokers freedom of choice in technology without responsibility for maintenance, support, and seamless integration. Only the MLS is in the best position to create choice rather than just offering the bare minimum at the best price.

Adam Beck

Adam leads the strategic direction and development of the REsides technology platform focused on member experience, application enablement and data optimization.
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