The MLS 5.0 (as Saul Klein and others are calling it) is being pitched as a much-needed, national parcel-based repository of data controlled by NAR with an “easy” single point of entry. There is talk of a consumer-facing side in addition to the back-end Realtor-only piece. There is also talk of “standardization” and easier/greater access to developers and software designers for API’s, etc.
These things and the MLS 5.0 in general are being pitched in ways that marketing companies will tell you work well – they’re supposed to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling, especially if you’re a Gen X’er or Gen Y’er. But should you trust everything you hear even if it comes from such intelligent and respected people as Saul and the powers-that-be at NAR? Definitely not before you look at the fine print and the overall picture…
Who’s really in control?
- NAR is a membership controlled organization. But it’s not really the agent members that have control, it’s the brokers. The brokers with the most amount of agents and market share have the most say.
- There are about 15 major brokerage firms that comprise the majority of control of the US real estate market because they have the majority of the agents and transactions in the US. To give you an example, Keller Williams International which has 70,000 agents only has 4 percent market share. It’s really the top 3 or so brokerage firms in the US control the majority of the market and agent count.
- Within these 15 major brokerage firms, there are about 50 top brokers that have the most say (aka control and power). In essence, it’s these 50 brokers that control the NAR and the RE industry in general. Since NAR will have control of the “MLS 5.0,” it will in fact be these top 50 brokers that have control of it.
- Is NAR concerned about money or about control? Control. And controlling the flow of data is just as important as controlling the data itself. The MLS 5.0 gives the NAR not only control of the data itself, but the flow of that data. This is exactly what the big brokers want because it helps ensure their survival.
“Sure, we’ll give you back the leads you deserve”
- That’s great and I’m a fan of giving the listing agents the buyer leads they deserve. But if the top brokers control the MLS 5.0 and the leads that come through it, only the top brokers will benefit. This goes back to the control issue discussed above as well as the commission and split issues discussed below.
- The NAR bylaws clearly state that it will not and can not be involved in offers of compensation between brokers. Because of that, the MLS 5.0 will not have offers of compensation. With the MLS 5.0 having all the information and data that local MLS’s once had, there is no use for the MLS as a data source/repository. Rather, local MLS’s will be used to communicate what one broker will offer another for selling their listing.
- Should the local MLS’s switch from an “offer of compensation” to an “offer of cooperation” (there is already talk of this), what will stop one large brokerage firm from offering another large brokerage firm “300 chickens” while only offering other smaller firms (aka competitors) only “100 chickens”? Nothing… (And no, it’s not illegal)
The “good ‘ol boy” network versus innovation
- Once agents see that they’ll make 3 times the money by switching to the larger brokerage firm(s), they will. That will cause the small, up and coming (and typically revolutionary) brokerage firms and brokers to go out of business almost overnight.
- This is a horrible proposition for the RE industry because it’s typically the new, forward thinking people and companies that lead the way into the future and revolutionize industries. Without them two things will most likely happen – the larger firms will have all the power and say and there will be much less innovation within the industry.
Take it or leave it
- If the larger firms have all the power and agents, they can adjust the splits to increase their profits while diminishing the profits of their agents. If their agents don’t like it, oh well – there’s nothing they can do about it. The larger brokers know that the smaller split on “300 chickens” is still more than a larger split on “100 chickens.” In a nutshell, it’s an instant pay cut for agents and more money for the brokers.
Can’t afford a Ferrari? Too bad, so sad
- Much like the MRIS (the local MLS in the DC metropolitan area) charges between $1,500 to $50,000 for its data feed, what will stop the MLS 5.0 from charging for its data feed. And they could charge whatever they wanted because they’re the only player in town-from whom/where else will you get the data from? If you’re big and profitable enough to pay the fee, great. If you’re a small to medium sized firm that can’t, oh well.
- Yes, there is talk of “one standard” that will make it easier to design API’s, etc. But what will stop the MLS 5.0 from charging whatever they want for that just like they could for the data feed?
That little thing called consumer sentiment
- Consumers hailed when Zillow, Trulia and other listing sites came about. These companies came at a time when consumers thought about Realtors in the same light as they did used car salesmen. Consumers were happy to feel as if Realtors no longer controlled the information and the flow of it.
- Having multiple places to find information about real estate (including listings) is what consumers want. They want to be able to question a Realtor by throwing other data points and information at them. This make the Realtor earn their credibility versus just acting as if they’re omnipotent. This is what consumers want and we have to learn to work with consumers, not against them.
- What will happen when consumers see that Realtors and NAR now have control over all the information on one single platform and are trying to get rid of Zillow, Trulia and others? (Remember, Zillow is a parcel-based type platform as well)
- Is NAR trying to improve our perception with consumers or make it worse?
Is there a solution?
- Get one or several agent-centric, new-way-of-thinking brokers with national presence that haven’t drank the Kool-Aid into the upper realms of NAR power and control and throw a wrench into their evil plans
- Many of you will say there’s no way to do that. Some of you will also say that the “good ‘ol boys” will never let that happen and squash such a thing even if there is a way to do it. I say that you’re right about them not wanting that to happen. They will do anything and everything they can to stop anyone from getting in their way. But just because you and I don’t have the money, power and control in the same way as they do doesn’t mean it can’t be done. (If you haven’t read it yet, check out “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky)
Call it what you will…MLS 5.0, Gateway, TREC, the greatest thing since sliced bread…I believe that this could potentially be the single worse thing to ever happen to the real estate industry (except for the very few elite at the top of the food chain and those that get into bed with them). If you’re an agent or small to medium-sized broker like most of us, then you should be seriously worried about your livelihood and future should this project materialize.
But then again…you probably shouldn’t listen to just me either. Do your own research and digging and come to your own conclusion. Just don’t confuse opinions and sales-pitches with facts. And dig deep – the truth is sometimes buried many layers down.
Apprenticeships: How focused training can jumpstart your career
(EDITORIAL) Apprenticeships have been a buzzword recently, but if you haven’t looked into it, we asked the experts to tell us all about them.
When President Trump announced he’d be opening up more federal dollars for apprenticeship programs to improve the economy, business owners’ ears perked up. That interest is now trickling down to employees, especially people considering a new career or a pivot.
I had a meaningful conversation last year with the folks behind Digital Creative Institute (an apprenticeship program that seeks to bridge the gap between higher education and job experience in the digital marketing field) not only to learn about their plans to impact the central Texas market, but how apprenticeships could alter the workforce in years to come. Will the model supplant internships? What of coding schools or hell, even higher education? If you ask Europeans, they’ll probably say yes, while Americans are new to this old term.
To dig into how apprenticeships could speed up a career move, we reached back out to the folks at DCI and asked them to spell it out. Alexis Bonilla from their leadership team penned the following:
Maybe you graduated with a B.A. in theater, started a blog, and found a great love for marketing. It could’ve been that you had a passion for video, but instead of finding yourself creating films, you found yourself telling a brand’s story. Or, by some stretch of the imagination, you went from scientist, to teacher, to social media strategist. All of these are real stories that belong to real people. The two things they have in common:
- They all started somewhere completely different from where they would end up.
- They all used apprenticeships to transform their careers.
The key is to find that one thing you love to do and run after it full force – because the truth is – you’re probably going to spend over 90,000 hours of your life working at it. Only about 30 percent of adults are actually engaged or excited about their work. You can either spend that huge portion of your life doing something out of “because you have to” or learn how you can invest in a career that will keep you on your toes – constantly learning and actively growing.
Digital platforms are always changing, and lifelong learning is becoming absolutely necessary. If you think about it, most Chief Marketing Officers among companies today didn’t start out by being formally trained in automation software, paid search, Google Analytics, or other digital tools. That’s because much of it didn’t exist when they started their careers. They most likely engaged in a very intentional learning process or self-styled apprenticeship. Their willingness to learn turned them into the best in their field, and the same can happen for you.
We’ve identified a few myths that might be holding you back from standing out among your peers and how you can come out on top!
Myth: You can only find a position in the field you majored in.
Truth: Your major doesn’t determine your career path.
Only 27 percent of college grads actually have a job related to what they studied in college. The fact of the matter is this – a lot of people don’t want to continue their learning once they have their Bachelor’s degree. Typically, if they do, they pursue graduate school, whose students often face challenges that are similar to what undergraduate students experience upon graduation.
This whole idea of “once and done” is over, to the extent that leaders in our government are recognizing it and working on implementing new, innovative ways of learning in the United States.
A few ways you might work on reinventing yourself as you establish or change your career:
- Start freelancing – We know that working for free doesn’t sound great on paper, but the portfolio you’ll come out with is all the ROI you’ll need. When you have a variety of experience, whether it be a branding project you pick up, a video you edit, or a logo you make for a friend, employers recognize that as experience. Just be sure to pick up projects that are relevant to the direction you’re looking to take your career.
- Perfect your resume.
- Turn your work into an awesome portfolio – It’s one thing to do the work and another thing to organize it in a way that is visually appealing to an employer. Around 53 percent of employers say that your resume is not enough. You’re going to need that extra differentiator, so invest in crafting the perfect portfolio to have a place for all of that hard work. We recommend Pathbrite for an easy digital portfolio experience.
- Connect with a learning community – Whether it be early post-grad or a drastic career change, apprenticeships are a perfect way to engage with a community that pushes you and challenges you. And what if we told you apprenticeships can take the place of graduate school?
So you’ve probably been asking yourself: “What is apprenticeship?”
The historical or traditional definition for an apprentice is a person legally bound to a master craftsman in order to learn a trade.
Think professions such as carpenter, electrician or welder. But those were the old days – apprenticeship is now applied to all professions and modern skills.
Apprenticeship has evolved into more of a partnership: where one person learns a trade or skill by working with someone more experienced. Think of an internship, where you’re at a company to accelerate your learning while you’re still in school, but more advanced, long-term, and with deeper levels of commitment. Instead of being at a school, you’re at a full-time paid position, applying your learning hands-on with the support of a learning coach, mentors, and instructors.
Myth: Between my Bachelor’s degree and staying up to date with online articles, I’m already set to advance my career.
Truth: Coaching and mentoring are two of the best investments you can make for your career after professors are out of the picture.
I’m willing to bet that a lot of you have had a coach of some type in your lifetime. Whether it be a sports coach, a choir instructor, an invested teacher, or even a driven parent, you’ve had someone in your circle of trust that pushed you toward your goals. Well, a career coach isn’t much different.
It’s easy to come up with reasons as to why you don’t need one. “I’m too old for a coach”, “it costs time and money that I don’t have”, “I’ve been through college and got all the help I needed”. You can make all of the excuses you can think of, but it’s pretty hard to argue with the results.
What does the development process look like with a career coach?
You define tangible goals, your coach guides you through practical ways to achieve those goals, and after a defined period of time you evaluate your progress. The retention rate is extremely high. Generally, people are extremely happy with what they gain from having a career coach. Fully 96 percent of people who were coached say they would repeat the process and 86 percent said they at least made their investment back.
What’s holding you back from identifying a coach or mentor and reaching out for support?
Myth: Post-college education isn’t necessary to be successful in my career.
Truth: Rigorous self education, graduate school, and innovative learning like digital apprenticeships are essential.
Continued learning and specialized training are valuable to your career. They are so valuable, in fact, that multiple governments are either investing, or beginning to invest, in new, innovative models.
For example, if you’ve been to the UK, you’ll know that apprenticeships are a big deal. A huge percentage of workers develop their skills through an apprentice-like experience. Since 2004, the U.K. has been actively creating more apprenticeships through supporting employers. The huge success of apprenticeship programs led to the creation of a National Apprenticeship Levy that requires almost all employers to offer apprenticeships.
AAA Apprenticeships has successfully scaled their digital apprenticeships to serve 6,000 apprentices in 22 locations across the country – now it’s time to apply that to the U.S.
Why don’t we have a similar model in the U.S.? It’s harder for businesses to start apprenticeships on their own when it isn’t their core competency – but apprenticeship programs are popping up to fill that gap.
The Obama Administration earmarked $100 million to create more examples of modern apprenticeships. The intention is to fuel more success stories through individual programs around the country; creating positive momentum for a larger movement and scaled strategy.
President Trump recently announced a $200 million plan, nearly doubling what was invested last term, to create more apprenticeships.
This is just the beginning of a major movement to make marketplace aligned learning more accessible. But don’t wait for some new national program to support your learning path, start owning your learning today by outlining a strategy to continuously develop yourself into a highly sought after digital expert.
So don’t wait. This is for anyone that finds themselves in a place to pursue a new job or launch their career. Ask yourself, “What’s next?” Take that step – it’s worth it.
If it’s something you’re interested in, the first digital marketing specific apprenticeship in the U.S. has launched – and right here in Austin, TX. Digital Creative Institute’s next Austin cohort launches in January 2018.
Is working less the key to productivity?
(EDITORIAL) It’s that time of year where we obsess about our habits and productivity, but maybe we’re overthinking the whole thing…
The “work smarter, not harder” mantra has for a long time been, in consensus, about a simple truth: the massive amount of work that we have is kicking your productivity in a few ways, for example:
- Our never ending work load is further exacerbated from technology that removes the boundary of work and home.
- The addiction of multi-tasking makes us feel good, but for the most part leads to massive inefficiencies because our brains aren’t designed to do that – they just switch rapidly (and clumsily) between different activities. A little primer is here.
- We have competing roles and priorities – spouses, caretakers, gig economy participants, careers, business owners, realtors, clients, professionals, friends, dog owners, cat servants – that engage us and that give us more and more to do.
And the never ending work spiral leads to a number of troubles – inferior work, emotional breakdowns, inappropriate Netflix procrastination, sleep deprivation, burnout, relationship troubles, and more. Basically – it sucks for your health.
Having too much to do, sadly, for many of us is a fact of life. There are a few ways to help get around it by working less (aka streamline your efforts):
- Have a to-do list – they are awesome. Put it in a planner, use outlook or Google Calendar, etc.
- Use a science driven list like an Eisenhower Matrix! What’s that you say? Glad you asked: an Eisenhower matrix pulls from the wisdom of Dwight Eisenhower and encourages you consider what is Urgent (as in what requires urgency, immediate attention), and what is Important (tasks that contribute to our long term). It’s a simple 2*2 Grid. Basically it helps move away from the idea that we conflate urgent with important, and we are basically always in a highly reactive and “shocked mode.” I like this tool because it’s a great way to prioritize – lean more about it from our buddies at Trello.
- Engage delegation and love it. Can you pass it on to someone else? Can you use it as an educational or teaching tool? Does it have to be your mess?
- Eliminate things that don’t bring value – in one of my favorite books “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life,” Mark Manson puts it brilliantly: What problems do you want to have? What things can we get rid of? We do things out of obligation or a feeling of “I must” that doesn’t correspond to reality.
- Embrace automation. Whether it’s auto-bill pay or automatic deletion or automatic lists, if you can automate it and it gets the quality you want – engage it. If you use social media a lot – can you schedule your posts? Can you automatically reblog content? Or go crazy, get a Roomba.
- Practice self-care, dude. Eat better. Go workout. Walk in the middle of the day. Get on your workplace wellness plan. Sleep. Repeat healthy behaviors.
In general, the assertion that we do too much is very true.
Most of that comes from the overwhelming sense of “now” that we experience. Take a breath and explore what you can do to either eliminate, delegate, or prioritize effectively so you can spend more time doing what’s important, and maybe eventually, we can marathon TV shows guilt free more often.
If Reddit goes IPO, will it have to shed its soul?
(EDITORIAL) Reddit is known as a firebrand, a bastion of free speech, but if they go public, will they be able to remain as they are now?
Reddit, the eighth-most popular website on the Internet, is reportedly considering an IPO. As a site valued at over 1.8 billion dollars, this is great news for the company itself – but how much of Reddit will remain if the IPO goes through?
Reddit’s history is steeped in controversy, from minor incidents such as invasion of privacy and a few creepily quirky community members to allegations of child pornography and egregious hate speech. While Reddit’s policy has allowed it to tighten posting restrictions regarding the latter two, the fact remains that Reddit – for all its usefulness – is viewed by many as a ticking time bomb.
An IPO would certainly lend back to Reddit a degree of credibility not seen since its inception, but the problem is that Reddit itself (the haven of free speech and original content that made it so popular in the first place) might not survive the offering. Given the platform’s controversial past, many believe it likely that stakeholders would move to tighten further the restrictions on the platform, ultimately ending a significant era in Reddit’s history.
The platform’s developers’ dedication to free speech and truth-seeking is what makes Reddit so fantastic, and that’s not liable to change – it’s the most marketable aspect of the site, after all – but perhaps the rationale behind going public lies in a sense of duty rather than routine. 2017 has seen some of the most reprehensible instances of false reporting and deliberate misguidance in recent history; maybe Reddit’s team feels that they can provide a stable news platform at the cost of some personality.
At any rate, the IPO itself isn’t set in stone, and is unlikely to take place for quite some time. As the situation develops, it will be interesting to see if Reddit embraces its past, or sheds it altogether.
Web design and development trends that will dominate 2018
Publishers anticipate price hikes after Facebook’s purge
Facebook’s news feed changes will impact how you reach consumers
Walmart may have just solved the biggest snag in online grocery shopping
Yes, cryptocurrency pricing has been manipulated
Facebook adjusts how much repeat video views matter
Tinder creators launch Ripple, a professional networking app void of pros
How veterans can get some free LinkedIn services
Zillow sued for concealing Zestimates on certain listings
Cryptocurrency sets new historic market cap of $600 billion
Amy’s Ice Cream founder on Austin’s business risks and rewards #WhyAustin
Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted
P. Terry’s founder on the booming economy in Austin #WhyAustin
Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. National Anthem
Indeed President, Chris Hyams tells us #WhyAustin [video]
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