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MLSs Need Listing Compliance Software:
We Examined Checkmate from VestaPlus

Beverly Hills, CA, April 25, 2024 - The primary differences between MLS listings and advertising websites are the accuracy, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of properties. The rules and data structure in the MLS ensure listing integrity. Unfortunately, sometimes the property information keyed into the MLS by participants have typos or violate policy.

There are only three methods deployed by MLSs to maintain listing integrity through compliance: community policing, staff review, and software review.

Community Policing

When agents working in the MLS encounter an offending photo, a typo, or inappropriate text, they can report the violation to their MLS. Every MLS has opportunities for community policing.

Press Release

Community policing is expensive and time consuming. An MLS with 30 violations a month spends about eight hours a month managing violations manually. It involves taking phone calls and processing emails, manually verifying the complaint, collecting evidence, outreach to the offender, billing, and collections.

The key weakness of community policing is that it misses many errors. It makes some people uneasy to report a fellow agent, or they simply do not want to put in the time to make the report. Lastly, MLS staff dislike having confrontational conversations with subscribers about their errors.

Gaps in listing integrity create compounding inaccuracies as the data is unleashed to the internet and, ultimately, consumers.

Staff Review

The effort to manually review every new listing and listing edit can also be challenging for an MLS. Staff review time grows in direct proportion to the number of daily listings and edits.

The Central Wisconsin Board of Realtors recently deployed listing integrity software from Checkmate by VestaPlus, through which agents can anonymously report violations. Before Checkmate, staff reviewed listings and listing edits manually alongside community policing. Lisa Marshall, CEO of Central Wisconsin, commented that the biggest relief was removing the friction caused by arguing with subscribers when a violation needed resolution. Staff had manual processes for compliance that included notification and follow-up. It was a huge time allocation that was further complicated by manually billing and collecting fines.

Software Review

Although staff will often review infractions to validate them before notifying an agent, software review is far more efficient and cost effective than staff review.

For the 600-subscriber Central Wisconsin Board of Realtors, moving from a staff process to a software-assisted review process was a welcome relief. They save eight hours of staff time for every 30 violations. Using this formula, other MLSs can calculate the hours of labor saved by implementing a compliance tool like Checkmate.

According to Marshall, "Checkmate reduced combative conversations with subscribers, returned valuable staff time, and the software pays for itself."

The recent explosion of AI-made photo compliance is the next opportunity for increased efficiencies. Checkmate rolled out advanced image checking automation earlier in 2024.

Vendor Selection

Marshall identified a number of key reasons why the Central Wisconsin Board of Realtors selected Checkmate as a partner for improving data quality and integrity.

  1. Checkmate appends screenshots and the rule that was violated to the notifications with one-click payment or appeal options.
  2. Checkmate has a user-friendly dashboard that allows staff to quickly review and approve notifications and fines.
  3. Integrated invoicing - There is no need for a separate billing system to manage invoices. Checkmate provides e-commerce for payments or integrates into the existing e-commerce tool of the MLS.
  4. Easy configuration of local business rules – The system is customized to match each MLS's enforcement policy, warnings, timelines and fines.

Both public record data and MLS data should be available in a quality MLS mobile app, as well as map searching, and the ability to quickly see listings near your current location. The latter is a feature sorely missed in the now-defunct Homesnap app. Any app that includes that feature has a leg-up on the competition.

If you're considering a mobile platform for your MLS, the VestaPlus Pro mobile app is highly rated in the App Store and pushes out new functionality at least once per month, ensuring the app stays ahead of the rest.

What's Next?

We reached out to Kelly (Pantis) Robinson, VP of Sales and Marketing at VestaPlus, which provides services to MLSs of all sizes, to get a preview of what is coming next.

"Our MLS clients are telling us they want compliance checks at the time of listing entry. Our team is working on an Add/Edit API that will check for compliance rules before the listing is submitted, resulting in fewer violations to manage down the road. This is the future of compliance."

The process of managing rules compliance to drive accuracy, timeliness, and completeness of property listings is among the most challenging operational efforts of any MLS. However, research from WAV Group reveals that compliance management is a key driver of satisfaction with MLS services.

Discover how compliance management can save time and drive subscriber satisfaction. Learn more about Checkmate from VestaPlus here.