Are MLSs spooked by AMP?

Mar 12, 2016  |  Michael Wurzer

My friend Greg Robertson from WR Studios is at the AEI conference this weekend and posted this to Twitter:

This immediately brought to my mind the lyrics from the Ghostbusters song:

If you’re spooked by AMP, give me a call and we’ll dig out the old proton packs to dispel your fears.

In all seriousness, what’s become very clear over the last several months is that AMP is one of many competitors in the MLS software market. Nothing more, nothing less. Dale Ross has been clear about that as have other presenters for AMP at the Inman Connect conference in January.

What this means is that AMP isn’t something to be worried about, rather each MLS will be able to consider choosing AMP as their MLS vendor on the same basis it would consider choosing FBS, Black Knight, Corelogic, or any other vendor. That’s an opportunity, not something to fear.

The typical vendor-selection process takes 12 months or more to complete. Since AMP hasn’t gone through this process at all yet with any MLS, the reality is that, for most MLSs, AMP won’t even meet the most basic criteria for consideration for at least 12 months. In fact, most MLSs we’ve worked with over the last thirty years or so wouldn’t even begin to consider a vendor that hasn’t already installed successfully in multiple markets, which likely is going to take years for AMP to achieve. This isn’t a criticism in any way, it’s just a fact: Without any live customers, most MLSs won’t and shouldn’t consider AMP in the competitive mix and so MLSs have nothing to consider or certainly worry about right now.

Once AMP is qualified to be considered by being successfully installed in multiple markets, that’s when the competition begins. Importantly, this isn’t something for MLSs to be worried about, either, rather it’s an opportunity for them to compare the features and functionality of AMP against their current system and others that have been proven in the market.

Given AMP’s primary pitch so far, I think this competition is where things really get interesting. First, AMP advocates an API-driven approach to MLS systems following RESO standards. Given that RESO is an industry-standard all vendors implement, however, it’s hard to understand how this is an advantage for AMP. To my knowledge, all the major MLS vendors support RESO standards and so any front-end that works with AMP would also, by definition, would work with any other RESO-compliant vendor. This is why standards are so important.

To this end, I’m proud to say that FBS is and has been the industry leader in API-driven MLS systems with the Spark API, which is live right now and offers the most comprehensive API available from any vendor, including RESO Data Dictionary support, contacts, saved searches, prospecting feeds, and much more. This isn’t a promise or proposal, this is a live system delivering real value to our customers and partners today.

In addition, the Spark API will help all of our customers comply with the NAR mandate to implement the RESO Web API by this summer (July 2016). What this means is that the Spark API will be fully RESO compatible and so, again, by definition will work with and support any third-party application that AMP ultimately supports. The only way that won’t be true is if, for some reason, AMP itself is not RESO-compliant, which I can’t imagine being the case.

Other than the RESO-compliant API, AMP’s primary promise is the public records data it has licensed from third parties like Black Knight. I guess the idea is that this public records data will be the foundation for the MLS system. The only problem with this is that, to date, very few, if any, MLSs have found that third-party public records data from RPR to be of sufficient quality to replace their existing public records systems. In other words, MLSs already have higher quality data than what is available through RPR and the quality differences are significant enough that “free” from RPR hasn’t been able to overcome the extra cost the MLS is already paying to acquire the higher quality data from others.

In the end, of course, once AMP is installed in a few markets and ready to be considered more broadly by MLSs as an option, each MLS will have to evaluate the RPR data and the AMP RESO-compliant API against their current system and those of the other competitors in the market. Is there a cost advantage? A data advantage? An API advantage? Only time following actual implementations will tell that story. Until then,
don’t be afraid of no ghost.

3 Responses to “Are MLSs spooked by AMP?”

  1. I’ll second Greg and also say that it’s terrific to see you writing again!

  2. Michael, well-said. The opportunity is all there for decision-makers to closely monitor RPR and AMP (and Upstream too) since NAR/RPR is providing continuous, even monthly updates. This is not something to fear. It’s progress. While I understand that a lot of people don’t like NAR being in this space, it’s another bold move on their part toward the(ir) future. So watch and learn.

    RPR will constantly hone their message to support what they learn along the way. There is much room for progress and innovation across the MLS industry and it’s an exciting time for learning and leading right now. Don’t be afraid of no ghost – we can see this one mostly in the open. – Kevin McQueen

  3. Dan Coffey says:

    What is missing from all the conversation is the distinction between an MLS (organizing cooperation, compensation and rules of engagement and depends on rituals to operate) and a data base used by one or more MLSs. What is also not being talked about is the range of approaches to data and services that MLSs take. Instead of talking about the underlying issues and fears, we keep talking about Upstream and AMP.

    The implications of the Data Dictionary have also not had enough conversation. If Upstream only outputs data dictionary words and the MLS has additional required information, then how does Upstream solve anything?

    Dan Coffey