So we did it, the Point2 NLS was released. If you didn’t happen to see the release you can, here’s one of the links: http://news.point2.com/inman_010407.asp . We announced it a couple of days before Inman and it made for some interesting conversations. All in all, the P2 NLS has been very well received. Our membership is growing rapidly, some days we have hit over 400 new members and now have over 107,000 members. We practice what we preach about transparency, if you want to check out how we are growing stop by http://p2a.point2.com/ and see exactly how many members signed up in the last 24 hr period.
Some people who have been following my blog guessed that we might release a National Listing Service long before we released it. The posts “National MLS?” And “National MLS Part Deux” give insight into what I feel a National MLS ought to be and the P2 NLS for the most part is just that. At the Inman conference much of what we have been postulating with respect to state of the union and the region MLS system was verified. There was a specific break out session called “The MLS Under Siege” With the ink not yet dry on the P2 NLS press release I was a bit concerned that either a) nobody would know about our NLS or b) if they did know they would see us as an enemy of organized real estate. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a) almost everyone knew of the P2 NLS and b) most of them must have read my blog (just kidding) as they understood that the P2 NLS is a friend of organized real estate.
Jessica Sweeny was the Inman moderator for the breakout. It proved to be quite a job. The room was broken into four corners and it was intended that four breakouts of equal size would take place simultaneously. What in fact happened was very interesting. The “MLS Under Siege” session took over the room. Chairs were taken from the other sessions, people stood and crowded around. All in all there were likely less then two dozen people attending the other three sessions.
From the get go it was obvious that the Broker participants in the “MLS Under Siege” session were passionate and outspoken. I had assumed that the theme would be that MLSs were under siege by technology companies and outsiders. In fact, at least here in this venue, the MLS system was under siege but by its very life blood – Brokers themselves. Brokers were asking tough questions: “Why do I need to join more then one MLS and pay dues to them all to cover my market area?” “Why can’t I control where my listings go?” “ Why is the data so poor and different in each MLS?” “What, exactly am I getting for my dues?” “Why are the administration costs of my MLS so high?”. These were just some of the questions. It seems to me that most of the questions come back to four main issues, these being:
- The MLS is regional by nature, their boundaries can overlap and they don’t always align with a Brokers marketing area.
- The MLS was never meant to be a public facing marketing vehicle. The data structure just doesn’t cut it for marketing. It’s why brokers are being out marked by 11 year old kids selling baseball cards on eBay.
- The current MLS system gives Brokers little or no control over the marketing of their greatest asset: listings.
- Current MLSs have no (or very little) analytics
- 900+ MLSs translates to thousands of executives and tens of millions in salaries all which need to be supported by dues paid by Brokers.
These issues embodied exactly what the P2 NLS has set out to rectify. Specifically:
Regionalization: The P2 NLS is national, in fact international with members in 85 countries. There are no artificial borders for Brokers marketing areas.
Data Structure: The P2 NLS has a rich data structure that allows 36 photos, has free virtual tours, sound, lengthy descriptions, seller participation and empowerment and structured homogenous data.
Data Control: The P2 NLS gives Brokers Complete Control and Choice. Data distribution and syndication is completely controlled by the Broker. Brokers are able to leverage the power of organized real estate by advertising on each other sites. The are also able to capture consumer upstream and brand themselves by syndicating their listing assets to all the places consumers are looking: Google, Yahoo, New York Times, Trulia, P2homes, Propsmart and many others.
Analytics: At this latest Inman conference it was said that anything worth doing should be measured. We agree and the NLS is chock full of Analytics of every type including important ROI calculations.
Governance: The P2 NLS is developing what I consider to be the most efficient and effective form of governance. The current MLS systems elect officials to represent its membership (agents and brokers). This is effectively a “Representative Democracy” That is, those you elect to represent you make decisions that reflect their constituents will. (Saul Klein would say that in reality they are oligarchies but that is a different story). Ostensibly these representative democracies are necessary for purposes of efficiency – it would cost to much to have every member cast a vote on each issue. Unfortunately there are simply too many of them and cost of the elected officials simply drive up the cost of MLS membership.
Technology can help. Simply put, technology allows for Brokers to participate in a “Direct Democracy”. The P2 NLS is in the early stages of developing a direct democratic social governance system. Brokers get to call the shots on their advertising partners and the usage of their greatest asset (listings). Ultimately a Direct Democracy ( the type Plato and Aristotle espoused) is the best and most efficient.
We are committed to putting this framework together. We have a great start. Check it out at http://nls.point2.com/ . Send me comments and ideas. I assure you we will listen. 2007 is going to be an exciting and prosperous year.