It’s been three years since Shelley Specchio made the leap from being CEO of a large regional MLS in Nevada to CEO of the MIBOR REALTOR® Association, a large local association in Indiana with its own MLS, but she continues to rely on her tech savvy to drive programs and member services.
“What I appreciate most about being able to operate both the association and the MLS is directing the important balance between the technological through the MLS and the fundamental protection of homeownership and professionalism through the trade association and its outreach and advocacy arms,” she says.
Technology and data are the tools Specchio wields to drive innovation, efficiency, and professionalism at MIBOR. We recently caught up with Specchio for some association tech talk.
Q. What piece of technology is having the most significant impact on your members today?
We’re keeping an eye on artificial intelligence while we continue to watch the work being done in blockchain, and then there’s the industry’s painful transition from RETS to RESO API for MLS data distribution. In fact, I had a whole TED Talk–style presentation ready to go for the March AE Institute about why it’s so important that, as an industry, we move forward with RESO API.
There are several ways for MLSs to distribute their data through APIs. The one MIBOR has invested in is called the MLS Grid, which is a long-term brokerage solution to national market and data-access issues. It was created by a network of MLSs and is designed to help brokers, MLSs, and product vendors work efficiently together to provide a single, standardized data access point to brokers for MLS access and management.
I think the MLS Grid is a significant technology for many reasons. It creates efficiencies for vendors, saves our brokers money, and gives them control over their own proprietary data. Ten MLSs so far have come together to support it and are working with more than 300 vendors to power more than 5,000 websites with about 8.5 million listings, and it’s working beautifully.
Q. How did your association’s own professional certification program come about?
We are incredibly proud of the work that went into getting MIBOR Master Professional launched and the response and participation of our members. The idea came from a question in our annual member survey where we asked, “How professional do you feel your peers are, and who is responsible for ensuring members are professional?” The answers were alarming, and we began to focus on improving professionalism.
We were very excited about C2EX and wanted to build on that certification by adding a local component. Our program includes coursework on navigating our state contracts, attending industry and community partner sessions, fair housing education, a deep dive into our Broker Listing Cooperative rules, and becoming proficient with technology tools.
We have only launched it this year so I can’t speak yet to the impact, but we are meeting all our goals in the number of members signing up, and I am very optimistic.
Q. Briefly describe a benefit, program, or service that your association launched in the past year that has been particularly successful.
Well, beyond distributing our IDX, VOW, and broker back-office data through the API with MLS Grid, launching MPRO, and generally freshening all of our member-facing websites, portals, and dashboards, the benefit I am most proud of is a new application for looking at monthly market data.
We call the tool Market Insights, and it has both a public- and member-facing component. Basically, this meets our goal that REALTORS® should be the definitive source for real estate data in Central Indiana. By providing this tool in conjunction with our monthly market trends press release, members can become much more granular in answering the age-old question, “How’s the market?” And media and consumers both can access a pared-down version on our consumer-facing website. I am super proud of it, and it is growing each month in member adoption.