Every year, T3 Sixty conducts customer surveys on behalf of local Realtor associations and MLSs, which provide insights on how these organizations are performing, what users value, where the organizations excel and where they could use work and how their performance changes over time.
For the 2021 edition of the report, T3 Sixty surveyed 10 Realtor associations with a collective membership of 60,000 members and 10 MLSs with 150,000 collective subscribers. Like many companies and organizations in real estate and beyond, 2020 proved an outlier of a year, with the Covid-19 pandemic significantly altering user behavior, needs and expectations, and the results of this year’s survey reflected that.
Overall, respondents rated MLSs lower than they did in 2020’s survey results while local associations saw an improvement (while the year-over-year percent changes were small, they do track with field observations). The unusual nature of 2020 contributed to this trend. As agents, more often working from desktop computers rather than on the run in a non-pandemic market, had more of an opportunity to pore over the MLS, which brought more scrutiny. Heightening the focus on MLS was the record low inventory in many markets, which increased the pressure on any data inaccuracies or slow updates.
Local associations, on the other hand, found themselves in a position of more primacy, as their membership, facing unprecedented business and market disruption from the pandemic, turned to their associations for education and information about how to navigate the period as a real estate professional.
See below for results broken out by Realtor associations and by MLSs.
Local Realtor Associations
In T3 Sixty’s 2021 survey, 11,189 Realtor association members from 10 local Realtor associations responded to questions in five categories about their perceptions about their local association:
- Satisfaction, which covered overall association satisfaction.
- Leadership, which covered volunteer and staff representation and effectiveness.
- Support, which covered the organization’s overall knowledge and responsiveness.
- Communications, which covered communications satisfaction, quality and value.
- Core Services, which covered the association’s education, advocacy and connections services.
Again, these year-over-year differences are small, but they do track with T3 Sixty’s observations in the field.
Two elements of associations’ core services, education and advocacy, saw the biggest year-over-year jump in member approval with a score increase of 0.06 and 0.07, respectively.
The 2021 scoring revealed that an association’s size determined how members viewed it. Those with more than 6,000 members received a communications score 0.01 above those with fewer than that amount.
The smaller associations, on the other hand, scored better in Leadership and Core Services at 0.02 and 0.03 above the larger associations, respectively. These results track with T3 Sixty’s observations in the field; smaller associations, while they sometimes lack the resources of bigger organizations, typically have intimate knowledge of their markets and operate often with a hands-on approach.
In T3 Sixty’s 2021 survey, 25,952 MLS subscribers from 10 MLSs responded to questions in five categories about their feelings about their MLS:
- Performance,which covered respondents’ feelings about overall value MLS provided them.
- Leadership, which covered organizational direction and decision makers’ performance.
- Support & Service, which covered support, services and several specific components, including friendliness, knowledge, responsiveness, training, service and communication.
- Data, which covered four key components of MLS data: accuracy, relevance, timeliness and completeness.
- Technology, which covered the MLS technology system and six key components: portals, search, reports, listing, tax and public records and mobile.
Leadership was the one category at which MLSs scored better in 2021 than 2020 with a 0.31 percent jump.
With many agents spending more time looking up properties in tight-inventory markets, the scrutiny on data accuracy was heightened, which translated into the data category representing the largest year-over-year percentage drop. Data accuracy saw the biggest year-over-year score drop, from 3.37 to 3.30, followed by data satisfaction, which saw a drop of 0.06 from 2020 to 2021 to 3.31.
Technology also saw a year-over-year percentage score drop to 3.22. The lowest scoring technology components were: mobile (2.99), portals (3.12), search (3.17) and listing (3.23).
Breaking MLSs out by type reveals a difference in performance. Regional MLSs – defined as MLSs who provide services to multiple markets or associations — outperformed local association-run MLSs across all five performance categories with data scoring seeing the largest divergence of 3.36 for regional MLSs vs 3.31 local association-run MLSs.
This represents a difference from 2019 when local-run MLSs scored better in all five scoring categories. Given their more resources to provide support and their better infrastructure to support data and technology, this scoring tracks in a year where subscribers relied more on these MLS services than in years’ past.
In addition, 2021 scoring reveals that subscribers, overall, gave larger MLSs higher scores. MLSs over 8,000 subscribers scored much better than those under 8,000 subscribers in all five scoring categories.
Like all real estate organizations, organized real estate leaders face a tall task in adapting to a market greatly shifted by the pandemic. As data and technology needs increase, MLSs need to have the resources and strategies required to meet evolving customer and consumer expectations. Associations have done a laudable job supporting their members, but must continue bolstering their education, advocacy and support services, to continue being valued by members.