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The Crusaders... John Reilly, Saul Klein, Mike Barnett

Welcome to the “BEST OF MLS”

BEST OF MLS INFORMATION #1

The following is a compilation of postings from MLSInformation, the largest MLS Community on the Internet. To subscribe, please send an eMail to MLSInformation@InternetCrusade.com with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.

My name is Saul Klein and I am the President of InternetCrusade®. Together with my partners, John Reilly and Mike Barnett, we expect to grow this List Serv, and its soon to be developed accompanying web site, into the number one MLS information resource, on and off the Internet. These resources will highlight information contributed by real estate professionals and association and MLS staff who are faced with the challenges of running an MLS, including the selection and conversion to new, Internet based systems over the next few years.

For your time, we believe you will be well rewarded, as much of the information we gather and classify here will be found nowhere else in the world. We plan to collect information and build a database, which will be extremely valuable to all participants, and we will make it available to you on the Internet as well as through this List Serv and a series of Auto Responders.

The purposes of this List Serv Community are many, and we will discover more as we grow. To begin with, MLS Information will:

  1. Gather information on new and existing MLS vendors and provide assistance on where to find information on vendors
  2. Create check lists of questions to ask MLS vendors when considering them for your MLS, including evaluation and testing of systems prior to launch.
  3. Provide an updated list of MLSs currently going through vendor conversion and how the conversion is going -- good points as well as bad
  4. Put subscribers in touch with one another across the country encouraging private discussions, which can be helpful when searching for a new MLS vendor.
  5. Create discussions and understanding on the subject of Broker Reciprocity
  6. Discuss the pros and cons of a “National MLS” should the time come to have such a discussion
  7. Serve as THE resource for MLS information for MLS committees across the country

It didn’t take long for subscribers to share their valuable personal experiences with the web-based MLS evaluation and selection process. St.Clair’s John Cooper underscores that the “devil is in the details”…

Saul: I add my thank you for this service. St. Clair County AOR in Port Huron Michigan just cut over to VistaInfo's RE/Explorer internet based system [formerly Moore Data] in a format for small associations to pool hardware. We are about 6 weeks into the new system. We may have made a mistake by running our previous system parallel for a month. Retarded the user learning curve on the new system. I'll cut & paste responses to earlier posts. John P. Cooper @ cooper@bignet.net

"Here is our first chance to begin to probe and ask questions." I'll respond in ALL CAPS for my impressions from St. Clair County conversion --
How many members (users) of your system?
WE HAVE 240 USERS.
How many listings at any point in time?
ABOUT 850-1000
Do all members access through an ISP?
ALL USERS
Is there a user group set up?
NOT YET :-(
How are the members of the user group communicating?
SEE ABOVE
Would a list serv for users have been valuable to share user situations with vendor?
YES, OR WITH THE COMMITTEE. TWO WAY COMMUNICATION IS VERY IMPORTANT. Were any users dis-satisfied? IT SEEMS THE NAY SAYERS BEFORE THE CONVERSION ARE STILL NEGATIVE. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO LISTEN TO THEM AND ADDRESS THEIR ISSUES. THE CONVERSION NEEDS TO INCLUDE, NOT EXCLUDE, MEMBERS.
If so...what were the aspects and areas of dis-satisfaction?
IT IS NOT LIKE THE OLD SYSTEM
Is there anything you didn't know to ask ahead of time but if you had to do all over again, you would ask?
DEVELOP THE DESIRED END RESULT PICTURE, CRAFT THE SYSTEM TO CREATE THAT PICTURE, AND THEN READ THE FINE DETAILS OF THE CONTRACT BE INSURE YOU DID IT. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS.
ASSUME NOTHING. GET IT IN WRITING.

During the conversion process, should you run a parallel system? Not according to Toronto MLS Chairman Richard Forster…”

Saul, this is a great idea. Thank you for giving us this chance to be the largest MLS user group meeting, probably in history.

I read the concern about "The Vendors" are watching, and they should. If they had listened to us as customers, we would not be scrambling for solutions that have not been delivered. The systems and services today are being designed by the kids who know there are better ways to shop for a home, without leaving home!

With "Sex" being the top search engine request and "Real Estate" not far behind, how can there be a choice of whether or not to deliver this information to wherever it is needed via the internet. Mediametrix.ca tells us that Canadians spend 15 minutes of their on-line time looking at real estate stuff, in measuring the stickiness of our sites north of the border.

I won't repeat what a colleague from my board shared earlier. As MLS Chair for two years, I can tell you running parallel systems when changing over is suicide. Members will grab onto the old system with more zeal and resist the move. Playing with the start-up/shut down dates makes the phone ring too! (Not the kind of calls you want).
Education makes a big, big difference!! Who chooses change?

MLS's today need to work like the stock exchange rather than the old weekly news we all know and love. Discussions like this will help us stop our committees from playing "What colour is the screen" and get on with the role of publisher for area REALTORS. Even the best committees sometimes can't move fast enough - I have also noticed!

In the Eight New Rules of Real Estate, we are reminded to know clearly what we do. Is the job of MLS to publish or run computers?? If the goal is to put the information where it is needed and can do the most to benefit the position of the REALTOR, like a stock exchange does today, this could get easier for us all.

The decision to licence data (please don't sell it) is easy in the publishing model of MLS. Should powering up every agents web-site with live data should be a basic feature as an MLS subscriber?

Richard Forster
MLS Chairman - Toronto
highrise@ican.net

Saul's note:

We plan to (as any committee should) get down to specifics in the next few weeks and begin to create the data base for those frequently asked questions by MLS committee members about vendors, new vendors, hardware and software offered by vendors, financial stability of vendors, what MLS are undergoing conversion and how it's going, those MLSs that have completed conversions in the last year, and those MLSs whose contracts are up in the next year...as well as knowledgeable staff and volunteers who will share information with others across the country.

So we are like one giant committee...and because of the technology (list serv), no one has to show up at any meetings :-)

What surprised us is how many Boards are going through the same process of evaluation and selection of an Internet based MLS. Many have shared their stories with MLSInformation. Here’s an example provided by Terri Meehan of the Fresno Board in Calif.

I appreciate your efforts in setting up the MLS forum and look forward to the exchange of ideas. I am MLS Chairman of the Fresno Association of Realtors in Fresno, CA. We have approx. 1200 members. There are roughly 25,000 listings in our database. We use Maestro for our primary MLS connection and have for several years, but busy signals and limitations on our site license have resulted in our decision to look for additional or replacement systems to increase service to our membership.

We contracted with Hillside about a year ago for their distributed database program. Hillside downloads from our Maestro system, then our agents can download the information and work offline. It is a much better system for speed in taking floor calls, and for jumping through quick-find searches by price, address or MLS number. In addition, laptop users love the portability of accessing full data without having to have a phone line connection. Another benefit has been for Palm Pilot users who can easily import the MLS data from Hillsides distributed database onto their Palms.

On the downside, there has been significant reluctance on the part of some agents to use Hillside, because data appears in different locations on the page than it does with Maestro and because the font size is smaller. More computer savvy agents like the ability to do their own downloads and the freedom to customize them.

We contracted with Hillside for their internet based web server product and had a target "go-live" date of March 1. Unfortunately, one of the key players at Hillside had a heart attack early this year and although he is back at full speed, it did result in an understandable delay in delivery of the product to us. It is now mid-June, and we still do not have a product that is ready to go live. We are close. Issues we are still working on include prospecting, agent WebPages, downloading and most importantly, consistency of the database.

We have been beta-testing for more than 60 days. We are currently running identical searches on Maestro, Hillsides Distributed Database product AND the on-line version. This is an area that I would recommend others pay close attention. For example, we discovered in a recent comparison, 11,300 solds on Maestro, 6887 on Hillsides Virtual Office (the dist. database) and 11,899 on the Hillside web server! There are other issues, but they are getting worked out, one by one. We are probably within 2 weeks of going live.

And, from the wonderful Island of Maui, with its long time involvement with the T3 system, Pres-Elect Tracy Stice < tracy@selldirt.com> points out that leadership needs to find the right Internet based system for its members, who often don’t seem to care too much about what is going on. Tracy asks some very pertinent questions.

Dear Saul and the rest of the Gang, We greatly enjoyed your Dog and Pony show with John Reilly hiding in the shadows in D.C. at the mid-year. The Internet Crusade hit the ground running and never stopped. It also appeared that you guys never stopped hanging out at the bar. Is this coincidence or just your method of recruiting ? {Editor Note: That’s just our way of “lobbying”}

On wonderful , sunny , Maui we are searching in earnest for web based MLS systems. We are now offering our entire MLS data base to our membership to post or frame on their web page. We are using the T-3 (now GEAC) system which has served our membership well and is still ahead of most server-based MLS systems in most functions. However, we realize that the web is the way of the future. It is foolish to think that we will control the data forever so it is time to look to systems which serve both the Realtor and the Public at the same time. Part of the problem is data security, part of the problem is speed of connection.

We are slowly coming out of the dark ages here on Maui. We do have primitive DSL service to many locations. We do not have cable modems. We do anticipate wireless and cable to be available soon.

  • Who is using an entirely web-based system , not running in parallel ?
  • Who is your vendor ?
  • How much are they charging you per member/subscriber?
  • How much did they work to earn your business?

    We want to know . We are a 950 member board in a very healthy market. Our members are too busy making money to be bothered with the realities of the changing world of MLS systems. I want to make lots of easy money but I was fool enough to take the unpaid position of being their President.

    Thomas Grant, EO of the Broome County BOR in Binghamton, NY, < eo@bcbr.org> raises the important issue of generating non-dues revenue through the MLS operation.

    Our Board, of about 350 REALTORS, is considering an MLS which is Internet-based. Our probable supplier has arrangements, with other Boards, for splitting revenues based on national firms advertising on the Board's Internet Site. Our Strategic Planning Committee asked me to try and find out if we could get an estimate of how much non-dues revenue is generated by a similar sized Board with, say, 5,000 listings. Can anyone offer any approximations for me?

    Don’t discount the smaller Boards when it comes to having a solid understanding of the MLS conversion issues, as shown by Sally Baker sally@pbbr.com in the following post:

    I am the EO of a small/medium board (260 members) and feel like a "veteran" with regard to MLS conversions. Our members feel their current vendor, RISCO, is satisfactory to very good.

    In 1992, when I started as their EO, our board was using Realtron in it's early technical development stage (Realtron was later bought out by Interrealty). Then we moved to Compulist (later bought out by RISCO). Then they voted to try something "innovative." They moved to a little-known vendor from out west who promised more autonomy, less cost, (you probably know the spiel). Well, that was an "innovative" nightmare from my perspective and what turned out to be the perspective of a majority of our users. The vendor for that less than lovely interlude was REsource Data. We ended up "leaving" the contract early in order to get a majority of members out of their technically screwed up misery and then went to an interim vendor until we could get back to Compulist. That vendor was SEI (System's Engineering) and we were satisfied, but felt we needed to get back to (Compulist) RISCO. In the meantime, RISCO bought out Compulist. We belong to a 9 Board Reciprocal Alliance where we allow access to each others databases and the rest were with RISCO. So last year, we did yet another conversion and went to RISCO. With experiences learned through these various conversions, I've come to the following conclusions:

    *Conversions are costly, difficult and sometimes traumatic. Conversions can create situations where data is lost or corrupted. Learning curves are time consuming and expensive to the Board. In a small to medium sized board, the headaches to make the corrections from data exception reports fall to a small staff who are already trying to perform all the rest of the board functions as well as keep up with all that is required with conversion problems.

    *Unless your MLS committee has mostly technical users in these times, they still think from the "old school" where, for instance, we would send their listing information via a paper sheet along with a photo to have their books produced.

    All they had to do was figure out a "grid" for the book format. Many of them don't quite understand the logistics of making program changes after the initial custom design to the vendor software, nor that there are most often costly fees associated with making these changes.

    *Most of the problems with a new "install" stem from data conversion issues and user issues rather than actual functionality of the program related issues.

    *If considering a change in vendors, don't just call a board office currently using the vendor's software for a review of software functionality, how it is working for them or finding out how the vendor lives up to promises and technical support. Make additional calls to not only current boards, but also boards that have changed from that vendor, changed to that vendor and some of their member/user firms. It takes a little investigation to find them, but you can find them. Contact a user group for that vendor if possible.

    We are currently considering changing from RISCO's Voyager download and distributable program to their Galaxy/Voyager2 system (a realtime program combined with the download and distributed version via the Internet). The program looks good, but our concerns are (1) user technical learning curve (getting them up to speed) (2) communications issues such as modem connections, ISP availability (we live in the northern area of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan), options and availability of communication avenues such as DSL lines, cable modems, ISDN, partial T-1s and the costs associated with (3) the vendor insists on a 5 year contract (BOOH!). We currently have our listings online in a limited format for the public as well as using the MLS system for our members. Our major concern with this is whether or not the vendor will continue to support the older version of Voyager since they are really "pushing" the Internet version.

    As to the Pros and Cons of an Internet MLS, RussBergeron@socalmls.com (Southern California MLS - Russ Bergeron) notes that Laurie from Adams & York counties wrote about the pros and cons of an "Internet MLS".

    The last three under Pros have nothing to do with the fact that your MLS is an Internet based or is still your legacy system. We have had IP access into our MLS system (Stellar) for 2 years and we get all of those advantages.

    One pro that is at the top of everyone's list is not having to use a proprietary software to access the system - just your browser.

    The Pros & Cons of an Internet Based System is an easy question.

    Cons
    • Speed
    • ISP Downtime (& no control over it) etc... (we don't have to maintain)
    • Agents & Offices not internet ready
    Pros
    • Links to Virtual Tours
    • Links to School Info.
    • Ease of eMailing info to clients
    • No long distance calling when out of town
    • Less telephone lines for the Association
    • Less headaches for MLS staff (Communication ERRORS)
    Laurie responds back on point:

    I don't how your MLS works. But the three pros that I mentioned on the list serv are important to our MLS.

    • . In our area we have members that are outside of our local calling range. So that means a long distance call to our MLS system and that adds up for members that need to spend a lot of time on-line.
    • Right now, we are not on an internet based system - and we have over 60 dial up telephone lines with modems, so that our members can access our system. When we go to internet access we will have one T-I line. Our Association is going to save a lot of money, in telephone costs.
    • Our MLS staff fields all members support calls. 80% of the calls are communication errors. (modem problems, connection problems, etc..) When we go to an internet based system - the staff will have to refer the members to the ISP for communication problems and leaves the staff free for other tasks.

    I hope this clarifies for you our Association's situation. You will have to remember that everyone is not in the same exact boat.

    Laurie

    REALTORS Association of York & Adams Counties

    We have received a number of postings from Boards praising the virtues of certain vendors they use. The following post points out the importance of considering the source of some of the recommendations and endorsements. Incidentally, MLS Vendors were allowed to subscribe to MLSInformation after the initial month of launch.

    It occurs to me that some of the MLS vendors may use their "beachhead associations" (the ones they use to demo the product) to PROMOTE their product in this venue. I think it's important that we consider the source, and not just one source, when listening to recommendations and endorsements

    I believe that "internet-based MLS", defined by me as "an interactive database, delivering information to agents and the public about properties for sale by brokers, both through internet and intranet set-ups", are virtually inevitable, across the board. We must be careful to protect our data from aggregation, but the medium for mirroring advertising to the public with our own information systems may have the same kind of benefits for us as the creation of an MLS in the beginning.

    I see internet PORTALS as the battleground today. Many different players are positioning themselves, like Yahoo, Excite, iproperty, realtyplusonline and now even Realtor.com. Many recognize the importance of transaction management online, and I see the need to be sure that our transaction management software works hand-in-hand with our MLS online product. If the public recognizes YOUR portal as THE place to start LOCALLY for information on homes for sale, etc... you will dominate the online traffic... reducing your dependence on national sites

    Sometimes I get confused, because I wear 2 hats: one as MLS Chair, but the other as competitor, and sometimes they are at odds with each other.

    Larry H

    Saul's note: Could be an important consideration when listening to MLSs sing the praises of their vendor.

    And, Russ Bergeron points out another side to this issue:

    Larry, It works both ways. We need to take with a grain of salt those comments from MLSs and customers who have an ax to grind with their vendor.

    Judith Lindenau from Traverse Area, MI, www.taar.com echoes Russ’s feeling that the vendor isn’t always to blame if things don’t work out as planned.

    As an MLS general manager myself (though not of Russ' magnitude)I must agree and add that in the complicated environment of managing an information service by committee, often the vendor is the least of the problems in a successful installation of software.

    High among the 'real problems' is the skill and business success level of users, the integration of the software into the operations back office for billing and data maintenance, and--pulling no punches here--the expertise of the staff General Manager.

    I'm no fan of vendors, but theirs is a tough job. Did you ever sell a building to a non-profit board of directors who had to vote and agree? And then offer to manage the building and its related activities for the next five years? And work with a staff who was at best incapable and untrained? The ultimate success of that scenario has very little to do with the building you sold.

    Oh, you say you would like to ask some questions of your Internet MLS vendor candidates? Try these that were submitted by Larry H from Dalton GA

    Here are some lists we have used in interviewing vendors. There is a tiny bit of duplication, but very little.

    The original list:
    • What size MLSs do you handle now?
    • How long Internet-based? ______ Distributive capability? Y N
    • How long in MLS business? _______ Get list of clients to call ____
    • Any major program changes in next 8 mos? Y N
    • # Installations _______ #Installations Pending _______
    • Lead Time Needed to install after have info?
    • FULLY Customizable fields/inputs/pre-set values? Y N
    • SELF-customizable CHANGES in layouts? Y N
    • FULLY Customizable REPORTS (internal and for clients)? Y N
    • How flexible are searches? VERY FLEXIBLE 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 INFLEXIBLE
    • How are searches MARKED, printed, saved (as prospects & lists)?
    • Do you provide 'Agents' side pages AND 'Public' side webpages (with MLS #s) Y N
    • Where is the server's database and/or backups stored?
    • If the main site goes down, is there an alternate available? Y N
    • Will the distributive product perform and automatic Daily Database Update?
    • Daily AUTOMATED uploads to realtor.com? Y N
    • Easy eMailing of 'flyers' to prospects, including photo Y N
    • Daily Auto Searches set up BY AGENTS OR PUBLIC for auto eMails of new matches Y N
    • *** Can the system do reverse prospecting, and automatically eMail LINKS or html to 'public' access pages when matches to their "wants" come up for sale? (with BCC eMails sent to agent)
    • Do you have a printer relationship or capability?
    • Can be set up to be eMailed automatically to the PRINTER?
    • Books cost:
    • Installation/Training Charges to MLS and/or Remote Users?
    • Total cost/mo. $___________ Cost per agent per month? __________
    • Will you contract for 2 years? ____________________
    • Is there a separate charge for DATA TRANSFER to the new database matrix?
    • Is there a separate charge for customizations of your database?1
    • Is is feasible to host this system ourselves?
    • Host Hardware needs:
    • Remote Hardware needs:
    • What prevents hackers from vandalizing our data?
    • In a contract with us, would you agree not to allow OTHERS access to our data?
    • Can the system send personalized, AUTOMATED eMails to prospects? Y N
    • How would I send a detailed info sheet on my listing to a prospect via the internet?
    • How would I make a list of "possible matches" for a prospect, then save or print?
    • How are PHOTOS added to the database, assuming we have them as .jpgs already?
    • Can inputs for adding new listings be done mostly with KEYBOARD, as opposed to mouse? (keyboard inputs are faster)
    • NETWORK capable with ONE server connected to internet, distributing updates to other PCs with distributive databases?
    • Must each user on the network have a separate connection to internet?
    • Can we make offline modifications of listings, uploaded later?
    • Are the searche functions easy, useful?
    • Ongoing searches for clients (using saved parameters) possible and easy?
    • Automated?
    THEN LATER THESE QUESTIONS WERE ADDED....
    1. Can we get ASCII output to load a palmtop computer with data from the MLS?
    2. Can we set up a LAYOUT or REPORT which will basically print the same kind of page as would be printed by a BOOK printer?
    3. Can we set up a public version of a search and displays, complete with eMail and web page links to listing agents?
    4. Will the program automatically REFORMAT photos being added to a listing, to the "correct" filesize and type?
    5. Will part of the program be an office and agent roster, making our rosters on our association webpage no longer necessary?
    6. Can we stack comps on a CMA vertically, 3 or 4 columns?
    7. Can we eMail listings as links or html with a click of a button?
    8. Can we basically give you OUR design of our screen layouts, with no FEATURES type section, and all fields' positions being fixed on a layout, with different possible values for each? That is, can we design the contents and character AND LOCATIONS of all our fields as we wish, which involves adding listings mostly by multiple choice from a list of values?
    9. Can we get a solid quote including all design, conversions, up front money, etc, via eMail? We have ## members, we want a public and private internet access, with a distributive product for a remote database.
    10. Can we get full management reports, showing share of market by office, and other stats, etc?
    11. Is MAP integration a part of the program and in what way?
    12. Can we use the data via a separate portal service, like iproperty, realtyplusonline, and now realtor.com are developing?
    13. Does your system comply with the RET standard?
    I have also used a checklist of how functions work:
    • Add a listing
    • Copy a listing
    • Fax a listing
    • eMail a listing
    • CMA
    • Custom report
    • Auto eMail of matches to prospect
    • Public inventory
    • Links to agents' webpages from listings

    Saul's note: Thanks for the great info Larry. This is exactly the type of information that many across the country will find to be of value in their quest for MLS information.

    Some words of wisdom from Joseph Traynor jtraynor@traynorassociates.com about not promising more than you can deliver.

    In response to some of the comments about were you screwed by your MLS vendor, it has been my experience that many if not all of them promise more than they deliver, either in time, or reliability or other issues. They don't start out to "screw" you or whatever the end result, but something doesn't happen when it is supposed or it doesn't quite work the way you thought it would. If both sides start out with reasonable expectations, the problems are far less.

    A side note, not only do vendors sometimes oversell their product to board leadership and MLS committees, the committees and leadership then sometimes oversell the product to justify a potential cost increase. Bottom line -- Don't promise more that you can deliver

    There is need for a matrix display of the various MLS vendors and their offerings. So far we haven’t had much input from the vendors. I would like Saul to make a matrix display of MLS Vendors. Use the MLSInformation forum to find out what should be on the matrix, i.e.. Access to the Internet.

    Kathy Pencek Harbaugh

    Kokomo Area Association of REALTORS*

    kathy@kokomorealtor.com

    Saul's note: That makes sense to us Kathy. We would like to start with a list of all known vendors and their URL. We will then post the list on the Internet (probably at MLSVendors.InternetCrusade.com)with a "hot" link to the vendor's site. Please notify your vendors of this project and if they want to participate, please submit their company name and URL to me via eMail...Saul@InternetCrusade.com

    Next step would be to ask interested vendors to submit information which will to be included.

    So...what would be important to know about MLS vendors that would help in the evaluation and selection process?

    It didn’t take long for Lisa Tabke from the Cheyenne MLS mls@cheyenne-mls.com to respond to Saul’s call for important matters to cover in the matrix

    I really would like to see a vendor matrix formed. We have gone through two conversions (in the 6 years I've been here) and I know how much work is involved in finding & analyzing the information, trying to make an educated decision, then hoping it all works out for everyone. Think of how nice it would be for new committee members, new directors, and new staff - they'd have a great place to start with a wealth of information they might not think of to ask.

    I think the list that was posted by Larry H. in Dalton, GA (in digest #11) is great. I know our committee is finding it very useful (Thanks Larry!) That list may be too much information for a matrix, so a few of the important things I'd like to see in a matrix:

    • Internet based?
    • What sized Boards they serve?
    • Distributed?
    • How long in business?
    • Fully customizable?
    • Book capabilities? (either they print, Board can print a master to have local printer print the book, or agent can print a mini-book from a querry?)
    • Statistics? (can agents pull? Board pull?)
    • EASY eMail capability?
    • Network capable?

    Thanks for such a great opportunity for all of us to share information. I really like the idea of a "nation-wide committee". I'm find it very interesting & useful.

    And these were added by Kathy Harbaugh I would like to see the following on a Matrix:
    • Is the MLS System a Distributive and/or Internet Access system?
    • Is there a fee for software for Home and/or office computers?
    • Where is the server? In our office or theirs?
    • Is the system a true Windows based system? Or what is the base?
    • Tech Support hours?
    • Access Speeds

    Larry Hathcock choice@DaltonGa.com reminds us of the importance of using these systems to save the agent time and avoid duplication of effort.

    I spoke to one MLS vendor 2 days ago, who said that a member of this forum is forwarding all these posts to that vendor. While that is not surprising, I believe it is important that everyone here understands that this IS actually happening. The vendors will be a silent part of these discussions, more and more as time goes on, and I think that is probably NOT a bad thing anyway. If the vendors can improve their own products, based upon something they read here, then we all benefit. They'll have to roll with the punches, too, I suspect.

    Among other criteria, I believe the Internet-Based MLS program should cut down on duplication of the entry of data. The Transaction Management systems being developed and implemented do a lot of that (removing the duplication of data), and totally seamless interaction of the MLS data with realtor.com, book printers, palmtops and advertising should be a primary function of the IBMLS (a Larry-ism). Allowing the public to do some preliminary searching on their own will just save US time (public side MLS) and any improvements to IBMLS software should attempt to save agents' TIME, reducing the number of steps required to operate the system. Features are important, but TIME is our trade.

    Saul's note: No doubt Larry, vendors are listening. And as you do, we believe that it is in the consumers best interest if vendors (any vendors) listen to their customers. If product improvement or better customer service are a result of our conversations here...we will feel like the community is successfully serving its members (subscribers and staff).

    There is a place for vendors participation in a community such as this and after a little time passes and all are comfortable with the idea, we will begin the process of adding them.

    MLS is still the major product REALTORS purchase and use and now we have a way to create a national conversation on this vital aspect of the real estate business for the benefit of all.

    We are working on setting up a few other communities online...but we need more staff to handle the work so it will probably be the end of the summer before the next communities are announced.

    Thanks to everyone so far...we are still in the early stages here but a lot of great information and contacts are already flowing.

    Definitions sure are important when talking about Web-based MLSs. John Hicks http://www.trendmls.com does a nice job distinguishing between Web-based and Web-accessed MLS systems This is certainly an area where terminology is abused, according to what the vendor's potential customer wants to hear. For myself, when talking to members, I distinguish between 'Web-based' and 'Web-accessed'. We are currently a Stellar3 (in NJ) system which can be web-accessed. You download or direct dial, so we are distributed, but you can substitute your direct dial-in by using your ISP connect (TCP/IP). You are still dialing in, but over the Internet. This is web-accessed, not web-based, in my opinion.

    Our new system allows you to work with just a browser and the entire MLS system can be used right on the 'Net. Any member with a browser (IE 5.01),Internet access and current valid membership can then work right on the MLS website from any computer anywhere in the world at any time. The system resides on a Website on the net. You can still use software to dial up and download, but it is optional. This is what I refer to as web-based.



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