“These combinations are fragile. You’re pulling 43 associations together. You’re pulling all these different boards together. You’re pulling all these different things together … so, I suppose you could look at blowing it up and go, ‘Why the hell did you do that?’ [The consolidation of MLSs] was a big deal and was very, very expensive. It really was, both in time and energy and everything involved. But you could also look at it this way: It’s something that had to be done. It really, really did. So, you can take your pain now or later.”
Brian Donnellan is the interim CEO of Bright MLS, a consolidation of nine forward-thinking MLSs in the Mid-Atlantic region that serves 85K real estate professionals and facilitates approximately 250K annual transactions valued at more than $70B. Brian has 13 years of industry experience, serving as CFO and COO of MRIS prior to the merger. On this episode of Listing Bits, Brian shares the challenges of merging different personalities and cultures and explains how the Bright consolidation gave others the courage to follow suit.
Brian also offers insight around the power of relationships in the real estate industry, the factors that influence growing agent attrition, and the value of building a product that helps brokers and agents make better decisions. Listen in to understand why Bright MLS is bringing on new staff from outside the industry and learn how the team’s commitment allowed them to endure criticism during the consolidation and get to a place they can be proud of!
**A quick note, due to a microphone issue the sound quality of this isn't that great.**
Brian’s background in information systems and public policy
How we underestimate the relationship aspect of real estate
Brian’s insight on the factors that influence agent attrition
How building a better product supports agent production
The challenge of merging the cultures of MRIS + TREND MLS
The distinction among members, customers and subscribers
The rocky start to the process of consolidating Bright MLS
How the Bright team endured the criticism on social media
The value of bringing in new staff from outside the industry
Brian’s pride in Bright’s progress and vision of the future
Connect with Brian:
Ever wonder what happened to all the business cards you’ve handed out over the years? Wish there was a better way to engage with prospects beyond simply giving them your contact information and hoping for the best? The SavvyCard platform affords real estate professionals the opportunity to provide immediate value to new leads, sharing information relevant to their initial conversation with the prospect. And most importantly, SavvyCard gives the agent control of the follow-up!
David Etheredge is the cofounder and CEO of SavvyCard, a lead development platform designed to facilitate proactive, tech-enabled follow-up with prospects. David and his team are committed to helping real estate agents, brokers, associations and affiliates build a direct relationship with buyers and sellers through technology and networking tools that put the customer experience first. Prior to SavvyCard, David managed software development teams for Disney Interactive, Microprose and Hasbro Interactive and cofounded a boutique digital marketing agency.
Today, David shares the origin story behind SavvyCard, explaining the platform’s intent to facilitate proactive follow-up by way of a digital business card. He discusses the SellerShare feature, describing how it can be used to engage sellers in promoting their own listing on social media. David also walks us through best practices for following up with prospects, addressing the data around how quickly agents should follow up and offering ideas for how to provide value. Listen in for David’s insight around the role of advertising in growing a business and learn why real estate professionals should take advantage of social platforms to promote new property listings!
David’s background managing software development teams
How SavvyCard originated as a better way to engage prospects
How progressive web apps will change the way content is distributed
How SavvyCard facilitates tech-enabled, proactive follow-up
Engaging sellers in promoting their listing on social via SellerShare
The data around following up within 10 minutes of meeting a lead
Following up with a relevant article or service recommendation
Why it’s valuable to post new property listings on Facebook
David’s insight around the role of advertising in growing a business
SavvyCard’s intent to become a part of the real estate toolkit
Connect with David:
“We will never sacrifice service to our existing customers to growth. We just won’t.
Our first priority is taking care of our customers.”
Merri Jo Cowen is the CEO of Stellar MLS, the third-largest regional MLS in the US with nearly 60K members in 16 REALTOR Associations throughout Central and Southwest Florida and Puerto Rico. Formerly known as My Florida Regional MLS, the organization’s recent rebrand is inspired by its reputation as the country’s most customer-focused MLS and intention to design a curated experience for each subscriber. Merri Jo’s resume also includes a 6-year run as CEO of Northern Nevada Regional MLS, and in her 35-plus years in the industry, she served as president of CMLSand played an integral role in the development of the CMLXprofessional accreditation program.
Today, Merri Jo shares her journey from entering listing input at the Reno Board of Realtors to CEO of Stellar, offering insight around the challenges she faced in moving from NNRMLS to MFRMLS in 2008. She discusses her commitment to foster future industry leaders, her involvement in the MLS Grid, and her proactive approach to solving for front-end of choice. Listen in to understand how MFRMLS has grown under Merri Jo’s leadership—without sacrificing service—and learn how the organization is working to create a ‘curated customer journey’ for each of its members.
Merri Jo’s journey from entering listing input to MLS CEO
Merri Jo’s commitment to foster future industry leaders
Merri Jo’s leadership in developing the CMLX program
The challenges of moving from NNRMLS to MFRMLS
The experience of expanding Stellar to include Puerto Rico
What inspired the rebranding of MFRMLS to Stellar MLS
Stellar’s emphasis on creating a curated customer journey
Why Merri Jo sees value in being part of the MLS Grid
Merri Jo’s proactive approach to solving front-end of choice
Connect with Merri Jo:
Email: ceo [at] stellarmls [dot] com
Rather than trying to predict the future of real estate and act accordingly, Gene Millman is working to collaborate with brokerages to create the future together. He comes to MLS leadership from a unique perspective, leveraging his experience running a brokerage to find ways to say YES to his members and champion the industry as a whole.
Gene is the CEO of Northern Nevada Regional MLS. With 32 years of experience in the real estate industry, he served as an agent, broker-manager and broker-owner before making the transition to MLS executive. Greg has held key leadership roles with various local, regional and state associations, and his recognitions and honors include Realtor of the Year for the Delaware Association of Realtors and Hall of Fame Inductee at the New Castle County Board of Realtors.
Today, Gene explains how serving on the board at TRENDintroduced him to the MLS world and how working on consolidation ignited his passion for the space. He introduces us to his mission to partner with brokers and create a future together. Gene also offers his predictions around the potential iBuyer market share and shares his take on portals as a broker versus MLS exec. Listen in for insight on creating culture within a team and securing buy-in for your vision—and learn how Gene’s background as a broker influences his approach to running an MLS.
How serving at TREND introduced Gene to the MLS world
How MLS consolidation ignited Gene’s passion for the space
The differences among governance models from MLS to MLS
Gene’s approach to running the MLS to serve the brokers
Why Gene doesn’t believe that the MLS is under threat
The MLS’s responsibility to secure data, give brokers control
Gene’s aim to partner with brokers + create a future together
How a market correction may impact views toward the MLS
Gene’s take on portals as a broker-owner vs. MLS executive
Gene’s predictions around the potential iBuyer market share
The value in creating culture + getting buy-in for your vision
Connect with Gene:
Glenn Kelman has always had the ambition to make real estate better for consumers. But it took him a while to realize that he wasn’t the only one who wanted to do that. He came into the game with an US vs. THEM mentality, assuming that all of Redfin’s competitors were villains and snake oil salesmen. To his relief, it turned out that his industry rivals were actually good people. And while that doesn’t make him any less driven, he does concede that this shift in perspective has made him ‘not quite so insufferable.’
Glenn Kelman is the President and CEO of Redfin, a technology-powered brokerage designed to redefine real estate in the customer’s favor. Prior to Redfin, Glenn cofounded the startup Plumtree Software and served as its VP of Marketing & Product Management until its acquisition in 2005. Glenn has been the CEO of Redfin for the past 13 years, and under his leadership, the company was twice named Innovator of the Year by Inman News. Redfin went public in July of 2017, and today, its market cap is $1.82B.
Today, Glenn explains why he still feels like an underdog, despite Redfin’s success. He weighs in on running a mission-driven company, discussing his aim to ‘do something good for real estate consumers’ whether Redfin makes money or not. Glenn also covers the civil nature of the relationship between Redfin and Zillow, Redfin’s new partnership with Re/Max, and the impetus behind Redfin’s ‘buy without an agent’ feature. Listen in for Glenn’s insight on cultivating agent professionalism and learn how his perception of the competition has changed over time.
Why Glenn still feels like an underdog despite Redfin’s success
Glenn’s aim to ‘do something good for real estate consumers’
Glenn’s take on the tribal nature of American politics
How becoming a father has made Glenn a better leader
The learning culture Glenn works to cultivate at Redfin
How Glenn’s perspective of his competitors has changed
Glenn’s solutions-based approach to candor with employees
How Glenn is driven by the desire to live up to his potential
The civil nature of the relationship between Redfin and Zillow
How Redfin addresses the idea of agent professionalism
The impetus behind Redfin’s new partnership with Re/Max
What inspired Redfin’s new ‘buy without an agent’ feature
Connect with Glenn:
“A phone call is worth a thousand emails, and a Slack channel is worth a million conversations.”
RESO’s push for an industry shift from RETS to Web API makes a lot of developers nervous. You can spin your wheels for days trying to figure out how to make the new way to consume MLS data work with your application. But here’s the thing: Somebody else has probably already solved that problem. So, how do we create a platform where developers can team up to move adoption forward? How much does accessibility to the experts serve as a game-changer in the switch to Web API?
Jon Druse is a Senior Developer at W+R Studios, a software company dedicated to building tools for the real estate industry. Prior to W+R, he served as a Software Engineer and Interaction Designer with Socialcast, Sleepy Giant, and Central Desktop and cut his teeth as a Senior Developer at PhishMe, Inc. Jon has 11-plus years of experience in the industry, and he was recently responsible for leading Cloud Agent Suite’s shift away from RETS, making W+R the first vendor to put Web API into production.
Today, Jon explains why direct access to ‘people with answers’ was critical to his success on the project. He describes how Web API is less error-prone and requires fewer requests than RETS yet displays in the same format. Jon also discusses the minimal differences among Bridge, Trestle and Spark when it comes to replication of a data set. Listen in to understand why collaboration among developers is key in moving Web API adoption forward and learn how Jon was able to make the transition happen at W+R in just 6 months!
How John set up the Web API feed in W+R’s Cloud Agent Suite
Why accessibility to ‘people with answers’ was crucial to Jon’s success
RESO’s push for an industry shift from RETS to Web API
The intention behind RESO’s Replication Workgroup
How Web API outperforms RETS in terms of time and accuracy
How a common schema will solve for maintenance in Web API
The 3 vendor-MLS partnerships delivering data through Web API
The minimal differences among Bridge, Trestle and Spark for replication
Jon’s insight around how to move Web API adoption forward
How Jon taught himself to program working tech support at a high school
Connect with Jon:
In a world where national brands like Zillow and Realtor.com dominate search results, how can individual brokerage websites compete? And how do real estate brokerages stay relevant as the iBuyer market continues to grow? Eric Stegemann believes the firms that adapt and take on alternative options for transacting will be well-placed for the future—and adopting the right real estate tech is a big part of that solution.
Eric is the founder and CEO of TRIBUS, a custom brokerage platform vendor tasked with providing medium and large real estate firms with made-to-order websites, intranet, email marketing, transaction management and CRM systems. Eric became a licensed agent at the age of 18 and started his own tech-oriented brokerage, River City Real Estate, at 21. In short order, River City became the largest independent brokerage in St. Louis due in large part to its real estate tech innovations, which became the framework for TRIBUS. Eric is often called upon to speak at industry events, including Inman Connect and the NAR Annual Conference.
Today, Eric explains why brokerage websites still matter in the age of Zillow and Trulia, discussing what differentiates a TRIBUS site from the national brands. He shares his conservative approach to growth for TRIBUS and offers advice for aspiring vendors in terms of building trust and fixing your mistakes. Listen in for Eric’s insight around the challenges facing brokerages today and get his industry predictions on MLS consolidation, the changing role of the agent, and potential winners in the iBuyer market.
How Eric started selling real estate to pay for college
What inspired Eric’s shift from broker to software vendor
The meaning behind the company name, TRIBUS
TRIBUS’ aspiration to be a zebra rather than a unicorn
Eric’s take on the challenges facing brokerages today
Eric’s insight on why brokerage websites still matter
How TRIBUS customer sites rank in Google search results
How local content differentiates a TRIBUS site from Zillow
TRIBUS’ pioneering collaborative search mechanism
How brokers can build their own iBuyer programs
Eric’s top advice for vendors on persistence and presence
Eric’s predictions on MLS consolidation + iBuyer success
Connect with Eric:
The Clash. The Police. Journey. Talking Heads. Some of the most well-known bands in recent history also happen to have some of the most powerful names. Names that describe their music and articulate what separates them from everyone else. Just like those bands, the name of your real estate brand has a job to do. So, why are so many of us afraid to break traditional paradigms? Why is every brokerage Insert-Last-Name Realty? And why are so many logos a roofline? What if you liberated yourself from what everybody else is doing and made your own kind of music?
We recorded this podcast live after Marc spoke at the MLS Summit, an event hosted by Annie Ives of The MLS™/CLAW.
Marc Davison is the cofounder of 1000watt, an agency dedicated to helping real estate brokerages, tech vendors, mortgage and title companies, MLSs and associations build better brands through marketing and design. Prior to 1000watt, he served as the Vice President of OnBoard Informatics and founded Access Media. Marc’s resume also includes a long stint in the music business as a musician and manager, and he is the author of All Area Access: Personal Management for Unsigned Musicians.
Today, Marc shares the parallels between building a band and building a company, discussing how his background in music informs his work at 1000watt. He offers insight around the dynamics of the team at 1000watt, describing the unique voice of the company and how its name serves as a differentiator. Listen in for Marc’s challenge around breaking paradigms in branding your real estate organization and learn how your name, logo and messaging can work together (in harmony, of course) to articulate what’s important to you as a company.
How Marc’s background music relates to his work at 1000watt
The parallels between building a band and building a company
How 1000watt’s unique voice differs from its team members
Marc’s take on real estate as an intoxicating, aspirational business
The significance of thinking of your company as a product
Marc’s insight on the charisma of the name W+R Studios
How names serve as vehicles to create differentiation
Why 1000watt chose to brand itself as an agency vs. consultancy
Marc’s challenge around real estate terminology (i.e.: Team, Realty)
The necessity of alignment among names, logos and messaging
Connect with Marc:
This episode was recorded live at the Clareity/Corelogic MLS Executive Workshop in Scottsdale. Art and Josh were good sports when I spotted them at the lobby bar at the Scottsdale Plaza. Also, full disclosure, I think I’ve had at least one drink.
So, what’s it going to take to get vendors to transition away from RETS to Web API?RESO is hoping that both a carrot (providing easy-to-use replication tools) and a stick (large MLSs putting a ‘death date’ on RETS feeds) will facilitate the move.
Art Carter is the Chair of the 2019 RESO Board of Directors and CEO of California Regional MLS. Josh Darnell is the Chief Architect at RESO and Founder and CEO of kurotek, a real estate tech consultancy. Both Art and Josh are committed to RESO’s mission around creating and promoting the adoption of standards to drive efficiency in the real estate industry.
Today, Art and Josh discuss the transition from RETS to Web API and discuss what RESO is doing to rectify the replication issue. Art gives us an update on the progress of RESO’s search for a new CEO, describing the combination of technical skill and evangelism the organization is looking for in a leader. Josh shares his take on independent systems like Trestle and Spark API and walks us through the RESO initiatives that address the separation of listing input. Listen in for insight into the ongoing evolution of real estate standards and learn how you can support RESO’s work to give agents access to the data they need.
The progress of RESO’s search for a new CEO
What RESO is looking for in a leader for the organization
What the RESO Board is doing to rectify the replication issue
RESO’s understanding that standards will continue to evolve
RESO’s focus on giving agents access to the data they need
The intent behind RESO’s RCP010 and RCP019 initiatives
Why we will eventually rely on MLSs to handle compliance
The value of working together in an open-source model
Art’s insight on how proprietary systems impact innovation
Why vendors need to accept that RETS is going away
Who Josh would like to see at RESO’s Workgroup meetings
What it will take to get vendors to transition to Web API
Connect with Art & Josh:
Is it better to develop an all-in-one CRM? Or focus on relationship-management and work with other vendors to create a flexible package of best-in-class offerings? In the ever-evolving world of real estate tech, LionDesk is choosing integrations, leveraging partnerships with top third-party applications to create a CRM that plays well with others—and allows agents to maintain their independence.
David Anderson is the founder and President of LionDesk, a complete sales and marketing solution for real estate agents, broker and lenders. As one of the premiere CRMs, LionDesk makes it easy for sales professionals to connect, communicate and close more leads, and its open API platform integrates with hundreds of the best management tools, allowing professionals to run their entire business from a single system.
Today, David shares the challenge LionDesk faced in designing a CRM flexible enough to accommodate any workflow. He discusses the early days of the startup when he was ‘giving it away for free,’ focusing on individual agents and referral business and developing the subscription business model. David also speaks to Compass’ acquisition of Contactually and how it is impacting his business. Listen in for insight around how LionDesk integrates with other best-in-class real estate systems like Cloud CMA and ShowingTime and learn why agents prefer an independent, third-party system to an all-in-one, broker-led platform.
How David’s experience building tools for travel translated to real estate
The challenge LionDesk faced in designing a flexible CRM for any workflow
David’s focus on individual agents and referral business in the early days
LionDesk’s recent deal to provide CRMLS members with a full account
How LionDesk integrates with best-in-class apps like ShowingTime + Cloud CMA
Why agents appreciate the freedom and independence of a third-party system
How Compass’ acquisition of Contactually is affecting David’s business
Why David believes an all-in-one brokerage CRM system is the wrong play
The LionDesk SaaS month-to-month subscription business model
Why David discourages new vendors from pursuing the freemium model
The challenge around determining a CRM’s number of active users
Connect with David Anderson: