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September 2013

NWMLS Member Meetings - July 2013

NWREporter, September 2013

Northwest Multiple Listing Service continues to roll out new services and enhance existing offerings in response to member expectations and feedback, as well as ever-changing technologies. At a series of member meetings for brokers and branch managers held in July, MLS staff highlighted updates to Matrix, a new forms platform, and online/cloud storage for transaction files.

Guest speaker Glenn Crellin, associate director for research for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, opened the meetings with updates on current projects at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research.  WCRER, formerly located at Washington State University, is now a unit of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

Crellin framed his comments around the question "Are you or our clients confused about housing prices?" Using a series of slides, he compared home price statistics and trends tracked by various sources while explaining different methodologies and the strengths and weaknesses of each. 

The guest speaker noted WCRER research is specified in state laws (RCWs).  Among current projects, Crellin and his associates are researching the state's housing market, analyzing apartment market data, tracking commercial real estate sales, devising a licensee forecasting model, conducting a continuing education "audit," and preparing a licensee profile survey.
 
Following the economic review, Northwest MLS staff described changes to listing input forms, including new "green" fields, and new construction updates.  Brokers can now include up to 25 property photos with their listings, up from the previous maximum of 15. 

In August an incomplete listing tool will be unveiled, followed by Matrix 6.3, which will feature Realist map layers, unlimited mapping search results, and client portal notes.

Another significant addition will result from a multi-year agreement with Instanet Solutions to offer a complete range of real estate technology tools. It includes online forms, document management, cloud storage for real estate documents, electronic signatures, and fax to email services.

Northwest MLS started working with Instanet two years ago when it launched the Authentisign product for electronic signatures.  Tom Hurdelbrink, president and CEO of Northwest MLS, said the addition of the Instanet forms platform and the suite of document management tools would provide members "with a very efficient and effective way to serve their clients and customers."

A winter release is anticipated for the new tools, following beta testing, training and importing existing files from other programs.

The member meetings also included a review of recent Listing Agreement changes and changes to Rule 2 affecting the promotion and advertising of listings.

MLS staff also provided a synopsis of the latest member survey to gauge member and subscriber satisfaction with existing services and how current levels compare to findings from a previous survey. The results reflected responses from around 4,200 members and subscribers, who were also polled about future expectations.

Overall, members and subscribers gave Northwest MLS higher marks this year than 1.5 years ago. When measured against the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the MLS fared well. The U.S. average score of major business is 7.7 out of 10, the Northwest MLS earned marks of 8.1 and 8.2, which the research firm said approaches satisfaction levels similar to Google and Nordstrom.