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May 2013

NWMLS Updates Presented During March Meetings

NWREporter May 2013

Strategic planning, a new website, systems enhancements, new and revised rules and regulations and a legislative update were on the agenda for March member meetings presented by Northwest MLS senior staff. 

Tom Hurdelbrink, president and CEO of the MLS, reported about one third of the membership has downloaded the Matrix mobile app, and said about 25 percent of access to Matrix is now via mobile.

As part of the association's strategic plan, leadership analyzed the dues structure, resulting in adjustments for subscribers and members starting in May. Regionalization continues to be a focus, with an emphasis on outreach and collaboration. A third aspect of the strategic plan is ongoing research on enhancements to products and services, including document storage service, listing syndication, and an MLS property search website for consumers.

Hurdelbrink also outlined plans for the annual member survey and enhancements to the website.

The Northwest MLS Discover website, which incorporates more than 3,000 pages, is being redesigned to reorganize the most trafficked features and to streamline navigation and joining options for three types of industry professionals. It is expected to be live in mid-May.

Bob Gent, director of business development and member relations for Northwest MLS, summarized recent updates to the MLS system, calling the Matrix upgrade "the smoothest we've had in years." Among features he highlighted were uploading custom CMA pages, a CMA map page, and improved client activity tracking in the portal.

Gent also previewed a feature-rich auto e-mail mode, developed in response to member requests (topping all other wishes). It has been the subject of extensive training. Among features, it enables subscribers to choose the timing for their clients' notification emails. 

Other upgrades include:

  • the availability of Realist map layers in Matrix (e.g., parcel maps, flood maps, and school districts);
  • no limit on results for map searches;
  • listings notes in the portal, with both clients and brokers having the ability to add notes to listings;
  • single line display customization with the ability to resize and reorder columns

Efforts are under way to achieve full compatibility across devices by fall. With the industry's rapid migration to mobile, Gent said considerable energy is being invested to achieve integration.

Attorney Justin Haag briefed members on current challenges related to market conditions, especially as they pertain to tight inventory.  Pocket listings, pre-marketing and in-house transactions are a source of concern. Other challenges are sellers' delays in responding to offers and concurrent showings.

Haag also noted items expected to be on the agenda for an upcoming meeting of the Rules Committee and summarized 2012 statistics for infractions, notices of violations and errors (or suspected errors) reported by agents. He said 55 percent of member-reported errors and concerns were not violations.

The final agenda item was a legislative update. Haag highlighted updates to Agency Law, clarifications on real estate brokers' status as independent contractors, and a proposed measure that would require information on home energy efficiency to be included in residential home inspection reports.