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November 2017

Northwest MLS abuzz with activity and service enhancements

Board of director elections, survey results, system updates, a new task force, and of course the usual update on legal forms and rules were among topics covered in the fall meetings for member-brokers of Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Tom Hurdelbrink, president and CEO of Northwest MLS, kicked off the agenda with a brief "state of the MLS" report and by sharing highlights of the membership satisfaction survey.

NWMLS Systems Usage chargThe Matrix system was accessed nearly 1.4 million times during September and TransactionDesk notched 849,659 logins during the same timeframe. Hurdelbrink said NWMLS membership use of Transaction Desk may be the highest in the USA based on percent of members' access, electronic document signings, most transactions created, and electronic signings. He also noted a surprisingly high number of keyboxes are assigned relative to the number of active listings.

In his report on the member survey Hurdelbrink told the audience the research has a dual goal:

  • Assess satisfaction and compare to previous results; and
  • Understand future expectations.

More than 5,000 respondents took part in the survey. "This extremely high response rate demonstrates both high interest and high levels of engagement among members," stated Don Morgan, senior partner and CEO of GMA Research, a Bellevue firm that conducted the survey. He also told Northwest MLS leaders the consistently high favorable marks are impressive.

When asked "How satisfied are you with the NWMLS services," both members and subscribers gave the MLS higher scores than during the 2015 and 2013 surveys. The MLS also showed steady gains on ratings of various attributes, including "responsive," "knowledgeable," "easy to work with," "innovative," and others.

Hurdelbrink also shared respondents' ratings of the importance vs. satisfaction with Matrix, TransactionDesk, and other NWMLS systems and services. The upward trends are exciting, he remarked, while noting the gap in scores between "importance" and "satisfaction" for TransactionDesk indicates continued improvements on its functionality and "user friendliness."

The highly-valued and heavily-used Call Center elicited some of the highest scores, a positive reflection of the MLS focus on its customers.

Learning Management System presentation slideAsked about preferred modes of communication from NWMLS, survey participants expressed overwhelming preference for email (74%) as the way they'd like to receive news from the MLS.

In response to that feedback, Tara Marino, director of communications and training at NWMLS, announced plans to upgrade to more robust software for emailing members. Also coming is a "learning management system" that promises significant time-saving features and will allow NWMLS to offer self-paced, online courses that can be taken for continuing education credit.

Also on the horizon is the addition of a "My NWMLS" button on the website, which will enable easy updates of profile information and provide other features to enhance each user's efficiency and productivity. Marino said this addition will eliminate the need to log in to the IMS site to make changes.

Bob Gent making a presentationLongtime MLS staff member Bob Gent briefed the audience on the work of the Product Review Task Force, which meets a few times a year to evaluate interest in new products and services. The group recently evaluated three products - Remine (a real estate intelligence platform), MarketView MLS (an add-on to InfoSparks), and eProperty Watch (a tool for staying in contact with clients and prospects). The Task Force will be reporting the results of its assessments to the board of directors..

Gent, the NWMLS director of business development and member relations, also demonstrated a tool known as Down Payment Resource which helps brokers and their clients discover homeowner assistance programs associated with eligible properties.

Real Estate Advertising Guidelines brochure coverTo close the program Justin Haag, corporate counsel and director of policy, highlighted updates to rules and legal forms. These included photo license agreements (explained in Legal Bulletin 210), noteworthy rule revisions (LB211), recent changes to DMCA (LB212), and updated advertising guidelines from the Washington State Department of Licensing.

In discussing the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Haag reminded brokers the NWMLS's current registration for member sites expires on December 31, 2017 and will no longer be able to register its members. By that deadline, member firms should register with the Copyright Office, pay the nominal fee, and designate an agent to receive takedown notices. Details are outlined in the DMCA legal bulletin.

The attorney also urged members to upload the DOL's new 26-page guidance brochure that assists designated brokers, managing brokers and brokers in understanding the requirements of lawful advertising within the real estate industry.

Upon adjournment, audience members were invited to visit a display table.

NWMLS director Robert Wasser and NWMLS trainer Roxanne Faryar