October 6, 2008

Wasatch Front Regional MLS to Debut New, Improved Version in ’09

By Rattle, Barbara

The Wasatch Front Regional Multiple Listing Service is in the process of developing a new and improved MLS, which provides services to approximately 15,000 real estate professionals across Utah.

Dubbed Metis - the first spouse of the ancient Greek god Zeus and a personification of wisdom and advice - the new MLS is slated to debut next year. A committee of 13 industry professionals overseeing the MLS redesign has met two times and will continue to meet every other Thursday until the project is complete, said Rebecca Jensen, Wasatch Front Regional MLS president.

"Basically our customers are the ones that are driving all of the features and all of the priorities on this project," she said. "The committee defines what it is the software needs to do and sets priorities, so we're working on the most important things first. Our in-house developers, during that two-week period between meetings, mock it up and do a prototype and present it back to the user group and the user groups either passes off on it and says yes or they say no and add more detail and modify it a little bit. It's in beta version and we have a forum up. They can also e-mail us. We're trying to involve the users as much as we possibly can in this project to make it more successful."

Wasatch Front Regional MLS has hired Sarah Kelly to broaden subscribers' awareness of the Metis project and to encourage their participation in its development.

The original MLS was created in-house approximately eight years ago. While it has been continuously enhanced, Jensen said, subscribers have indicated the underlying database is inadequate. While the MLS currently has a two-page listing input sheet, the firm has received a number of requests for the addition of different fields so that both home-shoppers and real estate agents can look for homes with a number of currently unlisted characteristics such as telecommunications capabilities (DSL, cable, etc.), accessibility for the handicapped and "green" elements such as xeriscaping, LEED certification and EnergyStar-rated appliancees.

In addition, Metis will incorporate a number of Web 2.0 features, Jensen said. Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of Web sites to a full-fledged computing platform serving Web applications to end users. It refers to a second-generation of Internet-based services such as social networking sites, wilds, communication tools and folksonomies that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users.

When Metis is launched will depend entirely on its users, Jensen said.

"Since we developed the last one we're under no license agreement or expiration date so the release will be 100 percent based upon our customers and if we feel they're ready and trained and they're satisfied with the new system," she said. "Then we'll cut over. Right now the system updates the data every 15 minutes; we do not allow people to input data into the new system yet because it's not compatible with the old one. But we will reach a cutoff date when we don't let any new data into the old system, but we don't have that date set."

While the Wasatch Front Regional MLS has not yet completed its 2009 budget, Jensen said she does not foresee fee increases as a result of Metis. Currently, MLS users who pay on a monthly basis are charged $25 per month. Those who prepay for a year pay $21 monthly.

"We're one of the most competitive MLSs on price," Jens said. "A lot of that, again, is because we do a lot in house."

The Wasatch Front Regional MLS is a for-profit corporation established through a corporate agreement between the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, Weber/North Davis Association of Realtors and the Utah County Association of Realtors.

Copyright Enterprise Business Newspaper Inc. Sep 8, 2008

(c) 2008 Enterprise, The; Salt Lake City. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.