Austin Board of Realtors Shamefully Incompetent Rollout of New Austin MLS System

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on December 26, 2007 · 17 comments

As I have started to run the stats for November to post on my blog as I do each month, I shuddered to think what I might encounter trying to pull stats from our lousy new MLS system. My fears were confirmed. The new Austin MLS system does not properly compute the data. This is one of the reasons I run my own stats, as I don’t trust auto-calculated figures put out by the system reports.

As someone with a UT degree in Management Information System, I remember at least a little bit about project management and rolling out software systems. In laymen’s terms, you check and double check to make sure everything is working right before you turn 11,000 Realtors loose with a new MLS software, and you do NOT take down the old system until you are completely sure the new one performs at the required standard.

This rollout of our new Austin MLS system, if it were to be properly documented, could serve as a case study on how to do it wrong. Austin Realtors are in an uproar, and for good reason. The new system, called MLXchange, is littered with fancy new feature enhancements, many of which are indeed nice, but the meat and potatoes functionality that we all earn a living with are defective, starting with, at times, not even being able to reliably log in to the system. The prettiest garnish won’t hide the foul taste of rotten meat. Our new MLS system stinks and our Board of Realtors dropped the ball. There is no other way to put it.

At present, I can’t run a CMA report that includes Expired listings, or the number of Sales listings computes incorrectly. The CMA Report that we commonly use to determine market activity and sales values in an area does not properly calculate the average sold price per square foot. I was unable to log into the system at all for about an hour today as it would freeze up Internet Exporer and eventually forced a reboot of my computer. These are not trivial “I don’t like change” grumblings, this is major failure of a critical system relied upon by Austin Realtors and our clients.

An apology was issued to all Austin Realtors by MLXchange on December 18th, assuring us that the problems are being addressed. Not good enough. It’s too little, too late. Accountability needs to happen. People need to be fired, demoted, retrained and maybe even sued.

Every half assed startup from here to China can create an awesome real estate web search system (Zillow.com, Trulia.com to name just two, but there are many lessor sites that pop up overnight it seems), with great mapping and searching functionality, lightening speed, clear simple user interfaces, etc. – yet us Realtors, who bust our butts obtaining the very listings that drive the traffic to those third party sites, including Realtor.com, are left with the Worst of Breed, most poorly designed MLS software systems out there. And to add insult to injury, we pay through the nose for it through our dues and membership requirements. It’s enough to make me want to spit.

If you’re one of our clients set up on a gateway, you’ve noticed all sorts of screwy problems as well. We’re sorry, and we can’t do anything about it. Our new MLS System sucks, and we know it and are powerless to get it fixed anytime soon.

Well, I just needed to get that off my chest.

I’m sure things will work out, and all the problems that could have been discovered with a competent QA process, a proper parallel rollout, and a well organized test/focus group of actual producing agents, will be fixed in 2 or 3 years, right before they switch us onto the next greatest system to be sold to a Board of Realtors not qualified or equipped to be making such technology purchases.

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