Cameron Paine is CEO of Connecticut Statewide Multiple Listing Service, a broker-controlled MLS with about 13,000 members.
The MLS, which began operating in February 2007, has made news this year with the launch of CTreal.com, a public property-search site that features about 31,000 property listings.
Paine has been at the forefront of current MLS issues, including data consolidation and public-facing Web sites.
He will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008.
Paine answered a set of questions posed by Inman News:
What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2008?
From the MLS perspective, a tough real estate market will continue to add pressure towards consolidation efforts. More and more Realtors will question why they are supporting multiple MLS infrastructures, staffs, etc., through their fees. Current efforts at data sharing are good first steps, but to be truly effective and efficient the massive expenses underpinning MLS data-sharing arrangements will leave them vulnerable to more cost-effective solutions. MLSs that fail to meet the needs of their subscribers will find themselves outperformed by either MLSs that can meet subscriber needs or private industry.
What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?
Get involved at your MLS or your board of Realtors. Be the decision maker on how you put your dollars to work at the local, state and national levels.
What was your first job?
I’ve worked every summer since I was 15, but my first job out of college was as a sales and marketing representative for St. Martin’s Press College Division, NYC.
What made you join your current company?
Because of my experience in New York, I was hired as the director of marketing and professional services at a large board of Realtors in Florida. From there I was asked to head up a smaller neighboring association of Realtors; then when the Connecticut Statewide MLS began looking for someone to start the effort from scratch, it was the perfect fit.
What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?
Without a doubt, the politics involved in the creation of a statewide MLS have been the greatest challenge that I have faced. With the right leadership, staff and board of directors anything can be achieved, but divisive politics plays an absolutely debilitating role in many associations and MLSs. The divisiveness usually springs from protectionism and fear of change.
If you had one thing to do over again in your life, what would it be?
I had trained to try out for the U.S. Olympic bobsled team in the summer of 1997. The same week of the tryouts I got a call to interview for a job that was the chance of a lifetime. I got the job and it was the chance of a lifetime, but I would still like to try out for the Olympic bobsled team!
What style of home do you live in and when did you buy it?
My wife and I own a beautiful Key West-style home in Bonita Springs, Fla., that remains unsold after a year. We are currently renting a small cottage in Wallingford, Conn., and hoping our Realtor in Florida pulls off a sale. We bought our home in September 2005.
What worries keep you awake at night?
That the direction of our country has suffered irreparable damage over the last eight years.
What lesson did you learn in the last year?
Two lessons: patience and calm. Getting an MLS up and running from scratch in less than 60 days — from office space and staffing to billing and vendor selection — required plenty of both.
What would your second career choice be?
What kind of music do you listen to?
I have a deep love for early choral music (classical), but I also enjoy classic rock and jazz.
Who is your hero?
Right now it’s Barack Obama. The fact that such a deeply intelligent, honest man would subject himself to the American political process gives me great hope. Somehow, and despite our best efforts, our country has not yet culled the best and the brightest from our government.
Hear Paine speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. The conference program and registration are available online via the Connect Web site.
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