Insider’s Perspective: Real Estate Tech Insights from Paris header image

Insider’s Perspective: Real Estate Tech Insights from Paris

By Bill Fowler | December 13, 2023

Every real estate conference I’ve ever been to has been valuable. The real estate tech space is relatively small, so no matter the host or venue, every gathering offers opportunities. The money spent on flights, hotels, and time away from the office is simply the cost of maintaining relationships – the thing that drives our industry more than anything else.


But while all conferences are valuable, not all are important. Important conferences take place when the right people meet at the right time, around a set of issues with deep meaning to everyone in attendance.


This is what took place in Paris last week. Our CEO, Andrew Coca, and I attended the International MLS Forum and it was evident to everyone there that what we were doing was not only valuable but also important.


The Forum was founded on a growing movement in Europe that traditional models of sharing data among brokerages and executing transactions are in need of an upgrade. Loose standards around agency and a patchwork of data sources have caused some of our European neighbors to openly wonder if adopting a more centralized and regulated model (e.g. MLS) might be necessary to foster a more efficient, nimble, and collaborative marketplace.


It’s not that these European marketplaces are broken, necessarily, nor is the suggestion that we North Americans have all the answers (we clearly do not). The Forum’s goal was simply to bring these two groups together, get to know each other, share notes and discuss how we might learn from one another. Maybe even collaborate and form stronger partnerships to benefit our brokers and their clients.


The stage at the host venue, Pullman Montparnasse Hotel, saw panel after panel of some of the brightest minds in the industry repeating the same exciting talking points. How establishing a “single source of truth” and how RESO, through a codified set of data standards, triggered an ongoing wave of innovation and technical efficiencies in the US and Canada.


Details of these talks, panels, and live conversations will emerge over the coming weeks and months. The big takeaways from the meetings are this: yes, there’s an obvious opportunity to join the “established-but-evolving” MLS model in North America and the “healthy-but-lagging” European model. Everyone in the room walked away smiling that we’ve clearly stepped into something that has the potential to be something very big and meaningful.


In his panel, Andrew made a point about the front-end of choice model that is taking hold in the US as being a more natural starting point in Europe. An independent database that is agnostic to a front-end provider might empower the public portals in Europe so that they view the MLS as a partner instead of a competitor. Of course, their adoption would be paramount to MLSs gaining a foothold with consumers.


I offer another huge congratulations to those who conceived and executed this meeting. Like the first conference, this one was a proof of concept. Mission accomplished there. The next conference, in late 2024 I would presume, will likely be much larger and just as important in strengthening the bonds between these two markets.

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