Written by Tal Ariel who was previously HomeGainâ€™s AIMS (Advanced Internet Marketing Solution) Product Manager.
Many of the agents subscribing to the AIMS program have enjoyed success, some closing as many as five contracts in their first six months.
Some of those who were less successful initially and decided to cancel actually came back after enough time was given for their leads to pan out.
As with any product or idea, there are bound to be obstacles and problems, both for the customer and the provider.
Interestingly, the biggest obstacles thus far with our AIMS product have nothing to do with features, functionality, guarantee fulfillment or customer service.
Rather it has been the MLS boardsâ€™ rules and regulations around IDX that often prevent an interested and willing agent from signing up.
Usually this is due to several possible issues:
- Brokers-only boards â€“ there are the MLS boards that do not allow their agent members to get their own IDX feed from a 3rd party IDX provider. Instead they are forced to either frame the brokers IDX solution or use the generic IDX solution offered by the MLS itself. In other words, if an agent belonging to a brokers-only board wants an excellent IDX solution with superior features, it would be impossible at this time.
Currently, of the 154 MLS boards included in the AIMS program, 34 are brokers-only.
- Paperwork â€“ Assuming the MLS board allows agents to get their own 3rd party IDX solution, they are often required to fill out an IDX agreement. This agreement tends to be confusing with unclear language, and usually requires the brokerâ€™s signed authorization, which easily leads to delays and ultimately frustration for the agent. In some cases, the paperwork requirements are so difficult to understand that it requires multiparty conference calls between the MLS board, agent, broker, and IDX provider.
- Fees â€“ If the agent managed to overcome all the previous hurdles, there is still the possibility that the MLS board charges its paying members additional fees for obtaining their own IDX feeds. One of the more egregious cases is Houston Realtors Information Service, that charges the broker a fee of $850/year (+tax) PER BROKER for access to the feed.
Needless to say, these issues seriously frustrate not only the agents who are eager to increase their business by taking advantage of excellent products (and pay for it out of their own pockets!), but also those of us who work hard in developing these products and bringing them to market.
It seems unfair to place all these obstacles in the way of your own membersâ€™ path to success, rather than actually making it an objective to help them keep up with the best technological advances in order to further their businesses.
In this regard I hope that the industry will move towards a different direction in coming years.