Welcome to another edition of “Ask the MLS.” Here, we talk to people running innovative MLSs around the country and ask them questions about their markets, their members, and what keeps them up at night.
Today’s post features Kurt Von Wasmuth, President & CEO of RMLS. RMLS is the Northwest’s largest Realtor owned MLS, serving a network of approximately 14,000 Realtors from more than 2,500 offices in Oregon and Southern Washington. Here’s what Kurt had to say:
How are you and your team working during the pandemic? What tools or processes have you put in place to keep everyone engaged and functioning?
One of the things that we are the most proud of is the fact that we had prepared for this. We had a fully working Disaster Recovery/Business Continuance Plan and, for the most part, we did not miss a step. We never missed a beat when it came to our Help Desk uptime or our other support staff. There are a million things that are different during this time, but one of my favorites is that every other week we group up and play two games of Family Feud over Zoom. It’s not life-changing but it gives us a sense of the fun, playful atmosphere that we used to enjoy before we all started working from home.
What are your members looking to RMLS for during this time? How have their needs changed since March?
Everyone always expects the MLS to be a solid, consistent, and reliable tool and that has not changed. However, it seems as though Realtors are expected to interpret and explain the market to the consumer in a whole new way. “How is COVID affecting my neighborhood?” As such we have been releasing MUCH more timely information such as daily statistical reports and daily lockbox openings to help people speak to their customers with up-to-date information.
Do you expect the Portland market to be permanently altered after we emerge from the pandemic?
I expect EVERY market to be permanently affected after the pandemic, not just Portland. I mean, c’mon! There are a million things that will impact the market long-term, but the first thing that comes to mind is the number of people working from home. That trend accelerated an already observable trend. More people working from home means more houses sold FURTHER away from the inner core because they do not have to commute. It also means smaller footprints for companies that do not have to house as many employees. I could go on and on!
We’d all love to be traveling right now. What is one destination you go to in your mind when you want a little escape?
Oh, I don’t care… ANYWHERE! I watch shows like “Alone” and “Survivor” and “Naked and Afraid” where people are dropped into inhospitable places that were not really meant to support human life and I think “Man, they’re lucky! At least they’re not still in their house!”
What is the first restaurant you’ll frequent once you’re allowed to eat inside again?
Probably Fogo de Chao. I really, really embrace the concept of all-you-can-eat meat. I just don’t want a bunch of COVID zombies sneezing on my food. It’ll be a while before I run that particular gauntlet.