Yesterday, I attended Digital Media Summercamp – A sold-out one day social media conference organized by the Houston Association of Realtors. Among other speakers and panelists, they had invited Jay Thompson, Paul Chaney, Jeff Turner, Rudy Bachraty and fellow genius Ken Brand. For the curious ones, here’s how the event went down on Twitter. In between presentations, the association’s chair and other officials took time to let their members know that when it came to technology we “didn’t know how good we have it” compared to other associations. Not only that, but Jay Thompson mentioned something to that effect in his presentation and our very own Lani confirmed it in a Twitter conversation.
There are some undeniable truths that put HAR at the forefront of most REALTOR™ associations. For starters, the fact that they threw a social media conference in an of itself puts them ahead of the pack. But there are some tools they provide to their members for free or close to it, that solidify their position:
- Light IDX Lead Generation – An external, lightweight IDX search page that members can use to generate leads.
- HAR Member Websites – Template based sites hosted on HAR. Light IDX solution is incorporated.
- HAR Member Blogs – A platform that members can use to start their own blog. Light IDX solution is incorporated.
- Agent Profile Videos – Professionally produced 30-60 seconds spots that members can buy for $99. HAR promotes videos through YouTube.
- Housing Trends Newsletter – A one size fits all stats and trends newsletter that members can point clients to or use in an email campaign.
- Social Media CE Classes – For a minimal fee (usually $20) members can attend 101 type classes on using Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or Blogging for real estate.
- Consumer Site – HAR’s pride and joy is the consumer side of the site from which members can generate leads on their listings if consumers schedule a showing or contact the agent.
I listed all their achievements because I wanted to give credit where credit is due. But in stark contrast with all those positives, the association falls short when it comes to the crucial tool they provide their members: The MLS.
The same association that brought you all that forward thinking hits in the previous paragraph, has brought us the Gigli of MLS providers – Tempo. What’s wrong with it? If we start with what’s right, we’ll finish sooner. Here’s some of my beef:
Kludgy mummified interface – When consumers have a better, more functional interface than member agents, something ain’t right
Photo and Character Limitations – Good agents take a lot of time perfecting their photography skills and spend a lot of money on equipment all in the interest of taking great listing photos, only to be reduced to pixelated mush from HARMLS photo compression. Moreover, why allow just 16 photos and 500 character descriptions and not more?
Browser Incompatible – Tempo works on in IE which is the only reason why IE is still installed on my computer. In this day and age, this is inexcusable.
Sucky Reports – Neighborhood stats on TEMPO are less than sorry. You get a one liner with the total number of listings, average list and sold prices and days on market. No running average, no export to Office or Google Docs, no email to client.
Zero Charts – If an agent wanted to generate an activity chart or running median sales price chart on a neighborhood they’re farming to write a post on their member blogs, they’d be out of luck. No such thing anywhere with Tempo.
But all the techie issues with the software don’t bother me as much as this. Four or five months ago, the HAR MLS commitee had a meeting to discuss whether or not to continue with TEMPO for another three years. There wasn’t an announcement or an email to members. I’m sure is listed somewhere deep in the captivating HAR Committee schedules and someone will surely tell me I need to get involved more. But my point is, shouldn’t members get a say on the selection of the software that can make the difference between thriving success and sameoldology? I’m willing to bet most HAR members think TEMPO is MLS and are not aware of any other choices. That’s the way it’s always been done and why change it.
Better or Great?
In part, the purpose of this post was to show other associations and their members what is possible. And in that context, HAR is an example of how it can be done better. But the real question is should we revel in “how good we have it” or strive for great, instead?
What say you?