Northwest Multiple Listing Service resumed in-person membership meetings for brokers last month for the first time since 2019. As with previous fall meetings, they featured an information-packed agenda that included reminders about elections for directors, updates on strategic initiatives, updates on rules, forms and the industry, and updates on systems and services.
At the Tacoma meeting, NWMLS director Jeff Pust, owner and principal broker at Van Dorm Realty Inc., served as emcee. After introducing candidates and calling for nominees for an open position in the Pierce/Thurston district, he reminded brokers of the timelines for voting using electronic ballots.
Monica Beck, COO at NWMLS, led the discussion on strategic initiatives, drawing applause with her announcement that Northwest MLS received a “Great Place To Work®” certification. The certification is based in part on employee trust in the people they work for, their pride in what they do, and their enjoyment in working with their colleagues.
Beck outlined four core philosophies at NWMLS (service, integrity, communications, and leadership), which were developed from member-driven strategic planning sessions and staff input. She noted as one of a very few broker-owned multiple listing services in the U.S., NWMLS is poised to respond quickly to changes and emerging issues.
As members of The MLS Grid, NWMLS is part of a powerful, unified network of multiple listing services that contribute to a shared database and licensing process that enables streamlined access to data for member firms.
Among the five strategic initiatives Beck highlighted were growth and expansion, telling the audience NWMLS continually looks for ways to build relationships and partnerships that benefit member firms. She also discussed the status of Homesnap and its transition to a vendor-provided service, while noting that NWMLS will still provide the HomeSpotter mobile app as a core service.
Beck shared with her audience that NWMLS will continue to address industry issues and opportunities as part of its 2023 strategic plan. NWMLS also remains committed to inviting member and subscriber input using various feedback methods.
For updates on rules and forms, Beck handed off to Justin Haag, general counsel at NWMLS. He opened his remarks with comments about efforts to modernize and evolve the broker compensation framework. The member-driven changes will enhance transparency and consumer understanding of broker compensation and provide additional flexibility for brokers and consumers. The revisions also create opportunities for member firms to continue to differentiate their services and innovate.
Leading up to the October 3rd effective date, NWMLS worked with member brokers and firms, industry attorneys, other local and national industry experts, NWMLS broker committees and task force groups, and the NWMLS Board of Directors. The recent updates (explained in Legal Bulletin 222) elicited little pushback, according to Haag. “The vast majority of feedback from members has been positive,” he remarked.
Between June and October, more than 5,000 brokers participated in virtual and in-person trainings about the revamped compensation framework.
Haag also previewed potential revisions to RCW 18.86 covering real estate brokerage relationships. He noted that Washington REALTORS® is working on a bill that will provide the first significant update to RCW 18.86 in more than 20 years. The collaboration is a “work in process” with the timing of its introduction and the implementation date yet to be determined.
In concluding his remarks, Haag highlighted some current rules issues, commenting, “With properties not selling as quickly, we are seeing rules issues that we haven’t seen in a while.” Among the rules he highlighted were:
- Cancel/relist and insignificant price changes (Rule 1(b));
- Honoring showing instructions (Rule 11(g)); and
- Key/keybox protocols (Rule 50(a))
The final segment of the program covered system and services updates, presented by Devin Bacon, membership manager and business analyst. He opened his remarks by showing a two-minute video about the NWMLS rebranding and website refresh project. That undertaking involved months of data analysis that guided the structure and content of the website, followed by extensive testing and training.
Bacon credits the training and communication prior to the launch with fewer than expected calls and questions from members. More than 5,300 users took part in some form of training.
Part of the project involved updates to the public-facing website, which now includes statistical highlights “front and center,” easier navigation, and the addition of a broker/firm search. The audience applauded when Bacon mentioned the new password-saving feature on the login page.
Another well-received feature on the member home page is the one-click “Info & Support” link adjacent to many of the menu options.
Members were encouraged to add or update their photo associated with their NWMLS profile. That image shows to other brokers and also in the public broker search.
Bacon reminded the meeting attendees of the robust and flexible training opportunities at NWMLS, which includes instructor-led and self-paced classes, live webinars, and virtual 1:1 Q&As with a trainer. He invited brokers to visit the Training & Education section at nwmls.com, adding “We’re open to customizing our training to fit the needs of your office and to hearing about particular topics of interest.”
Also part of Bacon’s presentation were updates on System Advisory Groups, which this year included in-person meetings with brokers, appraisers and clerical/administrative staff. The wide-ranging topics discussed at these sessions included collecting additional information at closing and how such data would be used, Matrix square footage calculations, a review of Matrix enhancements, optional versus required fields, and feedback on OneHome.
Listing input field changes, based upon recommendations from the System Advisory Groups, expected in early 2023 were previewed. Consensus was reached on several items, including field enhancements (e.g., tweaks on waterfront inputs, separating heating and cooling into distinct fields, resuming refreshments at open houses, more detail on room locations and community features.)
Bacon noted several new fields will be added early next year, some of which will be required, and he confirmed the removal of map book and page information as part of listing input.
In closing the meeting, Bacon reminded brokers of opportunities to get involved with NWMLS, mentioning the Systems Advisory Group (open to all brokers), the New Product Review Taskforce (open to all brokers), and the Arbitration & Discipline Committee (open to designated/branch brokers only). Details and the application link are online at MyNWMLS.