Score one for NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. He said he was going to take a hard look at NAR products, services, and positioning, and this is the first concrete sign that he meant what he said.
In a short and difficult life, AMP (Advanced Multi-List Platform) never quite realized its potential. Originally the brainchild of Timathy Dain (then CEO of the SIR MLS, a small MLS in Illinois), the original brilliant concept that wound up twisted into the AMP product was an incredibly insightful, ambitious undertaking. At its core, the proposal was for multiple small to medium sized MLSs to collaborate on a single back-end product by commonizing fields, rules, etc., in order to be able to negotiate as a group for MLS and other related services. Had this vision become reality, it would have allowed a group of say, ten, 1,000 member MLSs to essentially have the buying power of a 10,000 member MLS - and stay independent, should they choose. Really, it hit the perfect balance between ensuring data collaboration to benefits brokers/agents, while leaving enough room for local ownership, direction, and administration.
What started out as a great idea got "borrowed" wholesale in a bid to provide MLS services to Associations directly. In short, AMP was NAR's move to cut MLS vendors out of the picture and take the revenue slice from the small MLS market for their own. I remember sitting in the original meeting where AMP was proposed and hearing that it was targeted only at MLSs of 500 members or less. They argued that this was an underserved market and that NAR's responsibility was to try and provide an opportunity for these very small MLS markets to provide products and services not financially possible for them because of their small size. Then at the next meeting, AMP was talking about serving MLSs in the 1,000 member range. Then under 10,000.
The beauty of the idea before it became AMP was that it allowed for ownership and control by the local MLSs. What AMP became was a technology product owned and control by NAR. Local MLSs would be trading one vendor for another, which, in the end, is one of the reasons it did not succeed.
There are several morals to this story:
- First and foremost is that this industry has some really smart people doing really smart things. NAR's benign support would be great, but don't try to grab other's progress to make a buck off it. Support it. Nourish it, and hold out the leaders who dare to do something different as models to be emulated.
- Second; give credit where credit is due. The only time I ever saw AMP give credit to Tim Dain for his original idea was when they threw him under the bus in the middle of an MLS executive meeting in an effort to deflect criticism from themselves.
- Lastly, well done Bob Goldberg! This is a great first step, but there are far more expensive, equally unsuccessful targets that could use your attention. - CP