Enriching Your MLS with the Best-fit Property Data Partner
Changing vendors of a core technology service is not a process that MLSs and associations undertake lightly. This is especially true when that service is a tool that your members use heavily, like a public property records/tax system. There are disruptions to your members’ business to consider, along with the significant effort and manpower required of your organization’s staff.
But when you find a technology partner that fits your organization just right, all that upheaval is worth it. That’s what the Fresno Association of Realtors (FAR) learned when they decided to seek a new public property data partner. In 2017, they changed public property data vendors and began offering their members CRS Data’s MLS Tax Suite.
“Accuracy and timeliness of information is always important. Above and beyond that, finding a partner to work with you to find a solution to the issues that arise is paramount,” says Steve Flach, President of FAR’s 2022 Board of Directors.
So what should real estate organizations consider when seeking a property data solution? Here’s what to look for when seeking the best-fit data partner:
Accurate Data Is No. 1
If you think that accuracy is one of the most important factors in a property data solution, you’re not wrong. That’s one of the issues that drove FAR to seek a new data partner. “The main factor was cost, and we were also having some issues with accuracy of information with our previous vendor,” says Flach.
It is important that any vendor you consider has processes in place for ensuring accuracy and for promptly fixing any errors that may occur.
At CRS Data, we check for data accuracy “when we load property data into our system, throughout our production process, and perform automated checks to look for errors or concerns,” says Sara Cooper, Executive Vice President of the MLS Market at CRS Data.
Sometimes, however, data errors happen beyond the control of CRS Data—they come from the data source, the county office. “We make it a priority to correct any errors brought to our attention. Most are corrected within 24 hours,” says Cooper.
FAR has been pleased with CRS Data’s accuracy. “The quality of CRS’s data is impressive,” says Flach.
Data accuracy? Check. How about new data? The real estate data landscape changes all the time—is your property data partner able to change with it? It is critical to know how often your property data partner adds new data sources and how they vet those sources.
For CRS Data, adding new data sources is a process that’s most often driven by customer feedback.
“Because customers in different markets have unique needs, a lot of times the feedback only applies to a few customers in that same area,” says Cooper. “In these situations, our source is typically a local entity in that area. When we start hearing the same request from our customers across the country, we start looking for a single source of the data. We are picky about these sources. They must have great customer service times because our users are waiting on answers from us when we run into data questions.”
Planning a Smooth Transition
As mentioned, one major challenge when switching technology partners is the potential disruption to your members’ business. Ask potential partners if they have a plan for smoothing that transition.
“Good data partners go beyond the data—we also identify the needs when it comes to addressing the pains of adoption and support,” says Nikki Morgan, CRS Data Sales Manager. “We spend a lot of time creating an individual transition plan with a team of people we call our Customer Success Team. Together, they will listen as you define what’s most important to you. The team grows from there, and we do the heavy lifting all the way to launch, including walking your members through customized training. It doesn’t stop after the sale and launch—we are your data partner for life and remain engaged through distance learning options, trade shows and sponsorships. We want your members to know us personally.”
Beyond the Data: Customization, Training, and More
Change can be a dirty word, especially among real estate professionals who don’t always have the time to learn new technology platforms. Ask potential property data partners what kind of customization they are able to do for your organization in order to tailor the solution to your members’ needs.
At Fresno, for example, members wanted a customized report layout. FAR staff created a mock-up of the format they preferred and asked if CRS Data could create that report for them.
“CRS Data was able to accommodate all of the changes we made and the new format was well received by our membership,” says Flach. “Some folks are resistant to change, and the new platform and new reports were a topic of conversation. After CRS Data was able to make the changes we asked for to the report, as well as the Advanced Search which now includes a map, our membership has been so happy with CRS Data.”
Part of keeping your members happy with the technology you provide is making sure they know how to use it. CRS Data offers both webinar and live, in-person training not just at launch, but throughout the life of the partnership. In fact, CRS Data’s robust support options was one factor that led FAR to partner with them.
“The fact that CRS Data has a full Help Desk team—for not just members, but staff as well—was the icing on the cake,” says Flach.
“We make it a priority to know our customer and their membership’s needs,” says Cooper. “It’s just as important as keeping our software running and data current.”