After 4 years as Vice President of the Multiple Listing Service, this past Thursday I was sworn in as 2014 MLS President. I have to admit that it was a proud moment, but I also feel very strongly that there is quite a bit of work to do. Our association has merged with 3 other boards in the past few years, and the last merger resulted in the union of two MLS systems running on different platforms. In 2014, both databases, the old Empire Access MLS and Greater Hudson Valley MLS will now not only be the unified Hudson Gateway MLS in name, but also in fact on the Matrix system. To the public this may sound like a bunch of gobbledy- techno-gook, but to fellow Realtors this is monumental and presents the challenges of change to over 9000 agents on both sides of the Hudson.
I foresee few issues with the transition. Our neighbors in Connecticut switched to Matrix last year and it was very smooth.
The bigger issue I see is that of data policy. The real asset that any MLS has is its data. We have over 15 years of market activity in our archives, and of course the MLS is to the real estate market very much what the stock exchange is to securities. We currently provide the inventory of homes for sale to Realtor.com, every real estate website with an Internet Data Exchange (IDX) and use a 3rd party to import our listings to dozens of “syndication” sites like Zillow and Trulia. When I first started my company brokers who wanted their listings syndicated opted in through their own means or vendors. We then adapted our current policy, and there are some systems that provide some syndication sites with a direct (“RETS”) feed.
There are complications and pitfalls with each model. Syndication sites (disclosure: I am a member of the Zillow Agent Advisory Board) have fostered some suspicion from licensees over how they have monetized their business models, and there have always been data accuracy issues. The cure for one compounds the other. I will be forming an advisory group to review our data policy from the ground up to determine how best to provide data to outside sources in service to our participants and consumers with a long term outlook. It sounds easier than it is. But I live for this stuff.
It will be great to work alongside newly-installed Hudson Gateway Association President Diane Cummins on the executive board. When I first met Diane years ago she was rocking a Motorola Xoom tablet computer and she has always been a pleasure to collaborate with on association matters. She also gets my sense of humor. Also serving as Vice President of the Association will be none other than our own Jenn Maher, my partner in J Philip Commercial group and manager for the residential firm. I could write a month of posts just on Jenn’s exploits-she is an asset to the firm and the association.
This is a volunteer position that will be undertaken outside of running my brokerage. I will be busy. I am also extremely honored, and as I have promised many before, I will say it again here: I will give it my all.