Four years ago this May, at the first meeting of the Broker Public Portal during the NAR Mid-Year meetings in Washington D.C., a small group of dreamers turned an exciting idea into a movement.
Originally conceived as a national website jointly owned and controlled by both MLSs and brokers, the BPP's success would depend on collaboration and cooperation - two things organized real estate is founded upon, but that no one believed could be achieved on a national scale. After discussing my idea with fellow executives Tim Dain, Joseph Collum, Chris Carrillo, and John Leonardi, we believed strongly that the industry still had a small window of time to try and build what Realtor.com was supposed to have been - an outstanding, nationally competitive website with the most accurate, comprehensive, and timely data available - under the direction and control of brokers and MLS.
With this moral support in hand, I approached Bob Moline, then head of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, to share our thoughts and ideas about a national portal with him. To his everlasting credit, Bob, who had no idea who I was and who had recently made his dissatisfaction with the state of the MLS industry known, not only agreed to have a real discussion about building a national portal, but put his considerable influence on the line by backing it.
Another stand-out performance was turned in by Chris Bennett from Core Logic. We originally approached Chris to both gain a better understanding of the scale of data we would be working with and because Core Logic has more than 50% of the MLSs as customers. Instead of seeing the Broker Public Portal as a threat, Chris readily endorsed the concept and offered both technical and financial support in the very beginning of the effort. He made it clear from the very start that while Core Logic would be honored to win a contract to provide and host the BPP, they would be supportive of the effort regardless of the outcome for Core Logic. Chris's support lent vital credibility to the BPP effort in the beginning and his unwavering support - even once the BPP selected Homesnap - has been outstanding.
To bring this story around to the present, with the selection of four superb new Board members in Kathleen Manchin with Keller Williams, Christina Pappas with the Keyes Company, Bill Miller with Metrolist, and Chelsea Goyer with Redfin, the BPP is both widening its support among brokers and MLSs and gaining valuable experience with the operations of extremely high-functioning websites. The continued success of Homesnap in creating engaging, informational content for consumers and brokers/agents and outreach to collaborate with MLS vendors has, I believe, affirmed our reasons for their selection over truly excellent competition.
I am incredibly proud of co-founding the Broker Public Portal with Bob Moline, but I am even prouder watching it grow more successful with every passing month. The dream that started this is the same: Only through cooperation and collaboration on a national scale will brokers and MLSs be able to bring large enough resources to bear to compete effectively and draw meaningful consumer traffic. The alternative, if the BPP does not succeed, is the legacy of having permanently lost any viable, direct bridge from brokers to consumers online.