Can you clarify what MRED is doing right now and plans to do in the future? Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) is the premier Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for the Chicagoland area. By definition, an MLS facilitates the buying and selling of real estate by acting as a system through which brokers guarantee each other that they will cooperate with and compensate each other. This component is what separates MLS from the many property databases that exist and it is what has made the MLS an indispensable part of the buying and selling of real estate for nearly 100 years.
The delivery mechanism of the MLS has changed over the years, but the purpose has not. What started as a word of mouth exchange evolved to typed cards, to printed books, to computer systems accessible by old printing terminals, and eventually to the sophisticated systems of today which offer far beyond the basic information about properties for sale or those which recently sold.
I am fortunate to have been part of the evolution of MLSs over the years as we created massive databases including millions of active and off-market listings with multiple photos for each, public records covering states not just counties, mapping systems that were unheard of just a few short years ago and peripheral applications that enable our customers to provide detailed information to their clients about the markets, their homes and their neighborhoods.
MRED plans to be at the forefront of many new innovations as they are integrated into our existing systems which will continue to enhance our customers’ performance. Our focus will be in many areas, including social media and networking, cloud computing and mobile applications.
Now you know why Midwest Real Estate Data was given a name broader in scope than MLS. Today, just being an MLS is not enough. Not only are we the caretakers of the content, which is the core of the real estate industry, but we are also the vehicle which enables our customers to decipher and analyze all of this information and communicate professionally with their clients so that the buying and selling of real estate continues unabated.
A real estate broker from “way back” in the 20th century would not recognize the MLS of the 21st century. The power of today’s MLS allows the practitioner to assimilate and deliver much more accurate and timely information with which to better serve their clients.
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Name three people/businesses that you are watching in 2011.
Facebook – As the leading innovator in social networking, Facebook will continue to dominate its industry with a constant stream of new features and ideas.
Apple – Just as Facebook dominates in its space, Apple does the same when it comes to consumer based technical products – just look at the i-series (pods, phones, pads). In just eight years, Apple has clearly dominated the market by out-innovating its competition and creating products that people not only want but feel they must own.
Google – Just by its sheer size and market dominance, Google sets the trends for other companies. With their continued growth through both acquisitions and ad sales, I anticipate that there will be much innovation and integration under the Google umbrella.
Another reason that these companies will dominate the landscape is because many of the new companies that are forming today are led by alumni from these three technical brain trusts. The future looks good for a continuation of what they have all started.
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What plans do you have for your own business in 2011? When I was based in Southern California, one of my accomplishments was the formation of the California Real Estate Technology Services (CARETS) which enabled nine MLSs (serving over 100,000 agents and brokers) to combine their listing databases to effectively create one MLS in the region. The beauty of the CARETS model is that it did not require that any MLS dissolve nor did they have to change their current systems. I would like to see a similar model here in the state of Illinois. MRED already serves approximately 85 percent of all Realtors in the state, and our database contains approximately 90 percent of all the listing activity. A statewide database is within easy reach and would be a huge benefit to our customers. There is also no reason why the same model could not work throughout the Midwest.
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Where will the real estate opportunities be in 2011? This is always the big question and everyone’s crystal ball is cloudy these days. Obviously a big component is unemployment. If we can see some gains in employment then we will see gains across the board, including real estate. I am happy to see some downward trends in the unemployment numbers, both nationally and locally.
The good thing is that with housing prices down and mortgage rates still low, the affordability index is at its best level in years. A lot of first-time homebuyers will be available to help kick start the housing resurgence once they feel comfortable that the economy is going in the right direction.
I don’t anticipate any improvement in the new-home sector. With the inventories of existing homes being as high as they are and the fact that many of them are distressed, it is unlikely that the new-home market will be making any gains in 2011.
I also anticipate continued interest by real estate investors. Again, with some of the best prices in years, it is a great time for someone with investment capital to get in on the ground floor.
Although not my area of expertise, I feel the commercial space will begin to pick up again. Of course this hinges on the economic factors already mentioned. Assuming Wall Street is feeling confident, then I expect commercial activity will also increase.
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Russ Bergeron is CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED), a real estate data aggregator and distributor that provides the largest multiple listing service in the country (by listing volume) to over 40,000 customers. Bergeron was named one of the nation’s 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate for 2009 and 2010 by Inman NewS, and currently sits on advisory boards of Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Supra and CoreLogic/Realist. He can be reached at [email protected]