When the Broker Public Portal (BPP) was coming into fruition, the leadership of Northwest Multiple Listing Service was supportive of a consumer-facing portal controlled and operated by the industry with much more input from brokers. At the time, our two biggest brands in the Northwest MLS (NWMLS) were Windermere and John L. Scott. Both were founding members of the BPP, and so was NWMLS.
We saw the BPP as an opportunity to help preserve—and even raise—the stature and reputation of brokerage firms with consumers. But the challenge for our MLS, which is broker-owned, was to overcome the resistance our owners have to anything coming between them and their consumers.
Broker Public Portal, fortunately, did the opposite. The BPP was created by the industry, for the industry, to deliver consumers directly to our brokerages’ agents and teams.
How did we convince the NWMLS Board that BPP was the right call?
A Fortuitous, Pivotal Event
When our Board was considering the BPP, I attended a meeting of the American Society of Association Executives. One panel featured Country Music Association leaders. They discussed how they managed a dramatic decline in their revenue as consumers went from CDs to streaming, and disruptors like Napster gave away their product for free.
The impact of this transition on the music industry was astonishing. Imagine an industry that today generates one two-hundredths of the revenue that it generated 20 years ago. I was shocked.
Afterwards, I asked some of the panelists if they knew much about real estate and how MLSs work. They chuckled, “Yeah, we know what the MLS is.” I asked, “What can our industry do to not go through what you did?”
They said, “There’s only one answer: Your members need to get control, run their own service and not use another company, because they will take you down.”
I reported that conversation back to our Board right before the Broker Public Portal decision. Although the BPP was in its early stages, it was following Fair Display Guidelines, an essential requirement of our Board, and we decided to pledge our support.
Deploying BPP With Homesnap
Since then, BPP with Homesnap has emerged. Last year, NWMLS made it available for our members. We understand it’s the most rapid adoption of Homesnap technology by any large MLS in BPP history.
Many of our broker members already have mobile apps. You’d think NWMLS would never deploy a competitive technology, right? That’s not how our broker/owners see Homesnap; that view misses the bigger picture of the true value of the BPP.
The Big Picture: Protecting Your Future
Before adopting BPP with Homesnap, we assembled an Advisor Group, headed by John Deely, head of Seattle’s Coldwell Banker Bain. The group was comprised of the three biggest brokerages in the area and smaller independents, too.
Our Northwest marketplace challenge is that many of the larger individual firms want to maintain “consumer-direct-to-their-website” control. But with the largest commercial portal headquartered in our backyard impacting everyone’s business, the consensus was that we needed to do something to level the playing field with technology that serves broker-agent needs.
The one dollar per agent a month that it costs to offer Homesnap does more than deliver free leads; it helps protect our industry’s future. It gives control back to real estate experts instead of advertising salespeople. That’s what consumers and agents deserve.
Ask any agent in your market if one dollar a month for BPP with Homesnap is worth it to ensure a better future for all of us. Our answer at NWMLS was clear and definite.
Tom Hurdelbrink is president and CEO of Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 28,000 real estate brokers serving 23 counties in Washington state. For more information, please visit www.brokerpublicportal.com or www.homesnap.com/bpp.
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