I’ve been asked by a couple of Realtors to pass along to them questions that they should be asking about the new Innovia MLS system the local real estate boards are considering. Its not that they are either for or against it, they just don’t know enough about MLS systems, so they asked me. I have reviewed Innovia’s information (as well as for many other 3rd party vendors for MLS systems), so I’m pretty familiar with what it can (and can’t) do. I’ve talked to Realtors in the USA who use it and they like it. But they follow that up with, you have to really know it, and use it, to get the most out of it.
Let me say once again that it really is an impressive system. It offers a lot of options and flexibility for managing your properties and clients. I keep coming back to the word “overkill”, but that’s subjective. Perhaps Realtors really will put all the options to good use. Or, if you only use a few options but the price is really good (less or equal to the current MLV), then that would seem to be fine. But if I was being asked about this system and what my questions were, these would be them:
1. What’s this going to cost?
I’ve heard that FA will not be charging anything. I’ve also heard that it would be the same cost as what MLV currently is. If its the latter, then where’s the money for AMPI in this, and how do we pay for the office and employees?
2. When I use the maps system that FA uses (Microsoft), La Cruz and Fluvial do not show. No streets. Can this be updated and when?
Would bird’s eye view be available in this region? When I checked out the Microsoft maps, the aerial images were old. Tres Mares was not built yet. Only one tower at Peninsula. So how many other developments that were built during the past couple of years, don’t show up? And why can’t you zoom in more, like with Google maps, and what are the images not as clear? Are they only going to update the images every couple of years?
3. The CMA. This seems to be a primary benefit/advantage that people talk about with Innovia. And it is nice. But what is going to change that people are going to start reporting sales? What good is the CMA if there are no solds in the system?
AMPI and the office of MLV have tried for years to get people to report their sales. MLV calls each month about this. But rather than getting better it seems to be getting worse. Some offices have taken the position this is not their information to divulge, its the sellers. And if that seller for some reason doesn’t want it disclosed, but the office discloses it anyways, could they be liable? Why has one of the top offices in town decided not to post their sales? What do they know, or do they think could be the downside to listing sales? We all know that there are still people that register a lower value than that of the actual sales price. I’m sure those people don’t want the sales price disclosed. And now with the current IRS position that all foreign trusts have to be filed with them, how would this effect this? I would love to see this information available so we could generate better reports and have a better idea of what’s going on in our marketplace, but under the current system, I don’t see how that can happen. And as one Realtor put it GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). If its not being entered, no matter how wonderful the CMA module is, it won’t work right. Great CMAs would be wonderful, statistics would be wonderful, but this system is not going to change they way people think about reporting sales. Unless I’m really missing something.
4. Public Side of MLS – will we have this, and when?
This for Realtors to ask: Multi-List Vallarta promotes all of our listings at http://www.mlsvallarta.com. It has some of the best ranking with Google, as does http://www.vallartarealestateguide.com and http://www.virtualvallarta.com. If these sites no longer are featuring the MLS, how will people find my listings? If the ratings in Google for a my office aren’t that good, how will my listings be found? Only on my competitor’s sites (who have good positioning but only show THEIR contact information)? Perhaps AMPI is planning on having their own website to put the MLS, but how long is it going to take them to get good ranking? This is a very competitive business, there are 70 real estate offices and 100 developments that all want to show up for “Vallarta real estate”. But #1 right now is http://www.mlsvallarta.com. So how will my listings be found online? This is really important if I want to compete/survive with the big offices.
5. What’s the rush? Is the best system that approached us really the best one?
There are about 25 3rd party vendors offering MLS systems. First American provides is one of the largest, but it is the largest for medium-to-large MLS boards (that’s right from their website). They work well with 3,000 to 10,000 Realtors – we have just over 200. What is the top system for small boards? Systems Engineering; they have about half the market. Why aren’t we talking to them? IF FA’s system is so good, why did Los Cabos decide to go with FlexMLS?
6. Money (again)
Its really important to ask about what this is going to cost. Is FA really willing to do this now and for years, for nothing? Currently MLV charges $50 per member. With 70 members that’s $3,500 USD per month. Yes, some pay $100, but that’s to receive services such as listings in a MLV catalog, classifieds in the Real Estate Guide and office directory listings on our websites – things FA won’t offer so you can’t include this in what this can bring in. Will they do it for $3,500 USD a month? Wasn’t there supposed to be something there for AMPI as well? And what about the cost of now having an office, employees, equipment, tech people, utilities, etc. Has AMPI done a detailed study on what the actual incomes and expenses could/would be? If so, why not share it with us?
7. Multi-List Vallarta was operated by non-competitors for agents. Who will control the new MLS?
Got to ask this. For 20 years Flo and I have operated the MLS and we have not sold real estate while doing so – we were not your competition. There was no reason for us to use the information in some way to personally benefit ourselves. But now the control will be with whoever are president of the boards. People who are your competitors. I’m sure they will be honest and fair. But just saying: that was never the case, or had to be brought up, with Multi-List Vallarta.
In summary, FA has a great system. Plenty of bells and whistles. But has AMPI done their homework properly here? Can they supply a budget of what this would cost/earn? And is it smart to take the first system that comes their way?