Just wanted to take a minute to update some of the current events from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) AGM that I just returned from in Ottawa April 2 and 3, 2011. This year’s discussion, debate and focus was on a proposed Data Distribution Facility designed to ensure that our data, trademarks and marketing options online are not only accurate, but members’ intellectually property is protected and displayed in a positive manner.
What Data Distribution means to Canada
I just wanted to take some time in this blog to discuss a topic that dominated this years Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) AGM and that topic is our newly approved motion for a national Data Distribution Facility. I am sure like many of the motions passed in these meetings our general membership has very little knowledge on this topic and how it will effect their daily trading in real estate. However this was a groundbreaking motion and the discussion leading up to the vote was to say the least was exhausting. Let me start by giving you some information about the proposed Data Distribution Facility and I will then follow up with what this means to us as practicing REALTORS®.
Understanding the Data Distribution Facility (DDF)
On Saturday April 2 during the CREA AGM presidents, EOs and other voting designates from across the country gathered in Ottawa to vote on a motion that I feel is a real game changer in protecting the integrity of how our data is distributed online. The proposed and passed Data Distribution Facility allows CREA’s members to easily distribute MLS listing content to multiple websites and ensure that listing content displayed is accurate, up to date and using trademarks correctly. This DDF consists of three modules: the National Shared Module, the Private DDF module and a Third Party Module. In passing this proposal it is now agreed that all boards across this country will contribute to a National shared pool (module 1) of data to be housed in the Data Distribution Facility. Although participation of this national shared pool is required, participation in the Private DDF (module 2) and the Third Party Module (module 3) is at the Broker and sales person option.
What does this mean to me as a REALTOR®?
What this means is that we now have the ability to provide data feeds on my listings directly from CREA to my franchise website, my personal website, my company website, and any number of third party websites such as Zoocasa and Kijiji.
Why is this so important?
Associates across Canada are sending MLS information to numerous websites in order to respond to customer preference in promoting their listings and themselves. This data is often done without concern for contracts to protect the listing content, accuracy and industry trademarks. As a result, there is large amount of data that is inaccurate and sometimes outdated. In the past I think all of us have been guilty of posting a property to a third party site like Kijiji, then forgetting about it when it sells; however, under the new model if this property sells or expired, it will automatically be removed from this site and the information will continue to be protected by CREA. I have not yet seen any versions of the dashboard that we will be using for controlling the functions. After meeting many of the IT staff that CREA has employed, however, I am feeling pretty good that it will be a very well designed. I know that is probably hard for you to read coming from someone as critical as I am, but I really do think they have put a tonne of thought and resources into this initiative.
The second component that I really like about this proposal is that CREA will be using its legal council to review the terms for our syndication partners. Why does this matter? Well, for starters, agreements will be made on our terms not the company’s terms: agreements surrounding the use of solds, expired, trademarks, and protection around the fees charged to associates for their data. This really allows me to effectively manage my online business by deciding who I am going to use in my marketing mix and receive analytics to support that choice. The goal for all effective REALTORS® is to provide maximum exposure for their clients’ properties, find a buyer for these properties, and work with them to complete a smooth "win-win" transaction. Now, for some of us whom technology is a passion, online marketing comes naturally; however, CREA has also identified that there are also large numbers of amazing sales associates that are not passionate technology people and this data distribution facility is like the staples easy button for them. It provides clean, accurate data online without consuming the portion of the day that they should be out selling!
I really see this data distribution motion as a win-win transaction for the industry, consumers, and a large step toward enhancing the professionalism of the industry online. I am very fortunate that, in the past two years being president of our small real estate board, I have participated in both the competition file and now the data distribution facility. I am sure that when I look back on my career 30 years from now, these two topics will still resonate as turning points for the betterment of organized real estate in Canada.