Dear San Diego Association of Realtors,

To better serve me, you recently gave me a new MLS system. You call it Tempo 5. I am writing to thank you. Although I never asked for my former and, dare I say, functional MLS to be replaced, you seemingly knew exactly what my clients and I needed. Granted, you never solicited my input, but you sensed the latent demand. You somehow knew that I was too busy trying to make a living to conceive of the ways in which my business profitability might be enhanced through a much more stout, content-rich search experience. That was the intent, right?

Our former MLS system was far too susceptible to misuse, this I now understand. In the old days (last Tuesday), only two levels of security were required: a user number and a personal identification number, but some bad apples were sharing their information with unauthorized evildoers. Policing and fining the offenders would have been an insurmountable undertaking, so I get the whole “key fob” thing in providing a third foolproof protection device that displays one of thousands of random numbers contained in its tiny, plastic brain with the push of a button. My new Security Authenticator, as you call it, is really neat. The name on my key fob reads “SAFEMLS,” and safe it is! Now no one except me can input or update my listings, including my partner, my assistant and the other agents on my team. Sometimes I can’t even update my listings, because my Security Authenticator, like my car keys, is not always where I think I left it. But, that is a small price to pay to preserve the exclusivity of my data.

I love how adding a listing now involves 219 distinct input fields. While only 111 of these are mandatory, you can bet I am going to use every one. Thank you! If I had a nickel for every time I have needed to search for a home by type of sub-floor (“slab on grade” or “slab over crawlspace” but NOT “wood over story”), I would be summering in the Hamptons. I particularly like the new input field “URL Link for School District,” the one limited to three characters. Oh, and those mandatory photo captions are cool! The forced drop-down menu includes so many useful choices, including stuff I had never considered like shipping/receiving, loading dock, conference room, sales/service counter, shop/service bay, and showroom. Who needs “bedroom” among these options? (Apparently, we don’t, since it is not included.)

While I was searching yesterday, I found a home that I am just dying to show my client. It has 3,000 bathrooms! Unfortunately, the link I sent to her doesn’t work. Don’t worry — I know it’s her own fault for using a Mac. Everyone knows that PCs are the way to go (but only if you use Internet Explorer as your browser). My husband, Steve, still doesn’t get a scroll bar on his search result pages. I told him he needs to stop searching so much. Nobody needs to see more than one ZIP code at a time. That’s just so silly. At least his new computer — the computer we bought this weekend to replace the 2-year-old system that crashed when he first tried to login to our new MLS — allows him to access the site. He should have known better. You can’t expect to power a rocket on regular unleaded.

Now, I can’t highlight and right-click statistical reports anymore, but that’s OK. Why would I need to share this proprietary data with my clients on my Web site or blog when they can just go to Zillow? It’s our MLS, after all. Let them go find their own IDX feed and figure it out themselves! When I e-mail my PC-proud clients some links to homes, the map they get is a cute little static picture. Only I can interact with the markers, pan and zoom, and aerial photo features, which is as it should be. If they want maps, they can create their own MLS. Or they can go to Trulia.

I admit that I was a little critical in my knee-jerk reaction to Tempo 5 on my own blog this week when I said: “The new software is as intuitive as the Bush administration. For a profession where the barriers to entry include a number two pencil and an opposable thumb, we have a software system seemingly developed by a rabid badger holding a doctorate in quantum physics and a grudge.”

I was just being a whiny baby who didn’t fully grasp the advantages. Yesterday I was able to finish watching the third season of “Arrested Development” on DVD while I waited for my hot sheet to load. Too bad it was canceled — the hot sheet, that is. By the way, if I report the problem to Microsoft will someone really get back to me?

In conclusion, all I ever wanted from my MLS was the ability to share listings and offers of compensation with other agents, to search the database, and to print and save reports. Who knew there was so much more? I understand that many other lucky Realtor associations across the country beat us to the punch with this killer application, but better late than never. And this couldn’t have come at a better time. We are experiencing the worst real estate market most of us have seen during our entire careers. What a welcome distraction this has been!

I would write more, but I have a client who just called to tell me they would like to see a home they found on Redfin. First, though, they want to confirm it is a Tudor/French Normandy and find out if there are any photos of the cafeteria. I told them I would look into it, just as soon as I report the error to Microsoft.

With deepest gratitude,

Kris Berg, Realtor

Kris Berg is a real estate broker associate for Prudential California Realty in San Diego. She also writes a consumer-focused real estate blog, The San Diego Home Blog.

Berg will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. Register today.


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