If you’re looking to help your members sell more homes in 2020, one of the best things you can do is provide a robust property data/tax system that’s easy to use. However, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what such a system can and cannot offer. Are you falling prey to any of these myths?
In this article, we’ll bust the most common myths we hear about property data vendors—and uncover the truth about what’s really possible with the right platform.
Myth No. 1: Property Data Is Only as Accurate as Its Source
If there’s one common theme that we hear from MLS and association leaders about property data, it’s that getting accurate data from their local counties can be… challenging, to say the least.
But just because the process is difficult, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible—it just takes a property data vendor that’s willing to do what it takes to get the latest, most accurate data possible.
The Tuscaloosa Association of REALTORS® (TAR) found a solution.
“In West Alabama, we’re in a precarious, unique position where it’s really difficult to get tax records from our probate court. The records are a matter of public information here in the state, but they’re not constantly updated like they should be,” says Shay Lawson, executive vice president of TAR. “CRS Data just has really good access and inroads from processes of how they’re able to pull that data as soon as possible so that our members are getting the most accurate information.”
And on those occasions when property data from the county is incorrect?
“If we find one or two of those examples, CRS Data notifies us, then takes it upon themselves to make sure the county probate office knows that that information is inaccurate so they can correct it.”
Myth No. 2: Customizing Your System to Local Needs Isn’t Possible
Different real estate markets have different needs. Even terminology may differ from region to region; what’s called a “plat map” in one area may be called something entirely different in another. While a system that looks and operates exactly the same for all customers makes things easier for a nationwide vendor, it makes things confusing for the end user.
Extensive customizations are time-consuming to build, so some vendors don’t offer them, or only offer minimal system tweaks. However, best-in-class property data platforms understand how important it is to offer a platform that responds to local needs.
Take the Central Oregon Association of REALTORS® (COAR), for example, which needed complicated customizations.
“I have a very random scenario with an unincorporated city in my MLS that’s governed by an HOA, which is probably unlike anywhere else in the country,” said Casie Conlon, COAR’s CEO. “The property owners use a different address than what is in county records. It’s a different address than 911 uses. It’s a different address than the internet company uses. CRS has offered to work on a way to customize a commonly known address field so that members can see it. It’s a very small community, but CRS Data was willing to work with us to help those local members get the most out of the system.”
She continues, “I was surprised at CRS Data’s willingness to help us customize the system, which is another thing I really like about them. CRS…gets the data in a format that my members can understand, and they’re willing to customize the things that my members see to make it as user friendly as possible.”
Myth No. 3: Changing MLS Systems Means Changing Tax Vendors
Sometimes organizations decide it’s better for their members to change to another MLS system. For MLSs that use a property data/tax platform that’s operated by their MLS system provider, that may mean changing property data vendors, too. That means two huge disruptions to your members’ day-to-day workflow.
The solution? Consider an independent property data provider.
“CRS Data is its own company. It’s not owned by CoreLogic, it’s not owned by Black Knight, it’s not owned by Zillow. They are who they are,” says Denise Mecseji, MLS manager at the Omaha Area Board of REALTORS® (OABR). “So we were confident that no matter which platform we went to for MLS that CRS Data would go along with that, because they weren’t specifically only working with that particular platform.”
Myth No. 4: You Should Expect Endless Upselling
So you found what seems like a great property data vendor that offers all the features your members need—for an extra fee.
While that may seem de rigueur when dealing with any real estate technology vendor, it doesn’t have to be. Instead, look for a company that provides the features you need in one package—and stay away from “tiered” plans where you have to pay more to get more.
Denise Mecseji of OABR says that “it’s the value” that makes CRS Data a worthwhile investment for their members. “It’s not just a pretty, little shiny thing that you can use to make your life easier. It makes your job easier, better, and you can be more thorough when you meet with a client. It’s a real value to the agents, right through the end without having to go to another site.”
Myth No. 5: You Should Be Happy With an “Okay” Level of Customer Service
What’s an “okay” level of customer service? A few webinars here and there, maybe some videos or an online help center.
What’s a “great” level of customer service? In-person training, the ability to talk with a real person when you need help, and a willingness to go above and beyond. These things aren’t a pipe dream—they actually exist! Here are a few stories:
When the Tuscaloosa Association of REALTORS® switched to CRS Data’s new Tax Suite, their sales rep came down for a full week to train TAR’s members.
“We greatly appreciated her willingness to do that. CRS Data has always been willing to come to our association, offer any online webinars, get onsite training, any videos that may be helpful,” says Shay Lawson. “Just their offering of training and support are fantastic. I really don’t find anybody that does as good a job as CRS Data does.”
Lawson also appreciates the ability to have one-on-one time with their CRS Data rep. “I see her at national events, regional events. She always makes herself available to me to just update me on any changes that may be coming or to seek me out and ask me if there’s anything that we need, or the membership needs, or if there’s any problems at all. So she’s just always reaching out and making sure that there are no problems or issues, and offering support. If one happens to come up, she would find a solution for us.”
Nick Jones, MLS director at the Memphis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR), says, “I was impressed by their technical ability and our access to that ability was a lot higher than what I have experienced with other vendors. Throughout the experience, I really felt like they had an intuitive understanding of what we were trying to accomplish. It really felt like we were working together toward a shared goal. It wasn’t just us trying to tell them what to build.”