Technology

Ethan Bailey on how the tools he builds for clients help power the global real estate economy

The CoreLogic senior director of software engineering talks tech problems and favorite bands

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Ethan Bailey is the senior director of software engineering at CoreLogic.

Describe what you do in one sentence. I manage software engineering, quality assurance, and project management for the CoreLogic Real Estate Solutions group; this group designs, develops and delivers MLS and broker management systems for real estate professionals.

Time at current company: Through various acquisitions and spin-offs, this is my 20th year.

Age: 42

Degree, school: MBA, Wake Forest University; BS, High Point University; BA, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Location: While our corporate headquarters is located in Irvine, California, I am based in our Greensboro, North Carolina, office.

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Social media: LinkedIn, Twitter

Ethan Bailey's desk.

Ethan Bailey’s desk.

What do you do?

I manage teams of software architects, engineers, quality and test automation engineers, and project managers working on multiple real estate platforms and services within CoreLogic. My teams develop and refine our MLS (multiple listing servicee) and broker management offerings and ancillary services — to provide value to our clients. We develop and refine the Matrix MLS system, the Realist property information system and AgentAchieve, to name just a few. While technically part of the broader Technology Solutions Group within CoreLogic, our teams are solely focused on the Real Estate Solutions business vertical, led by Chris Bennett.

How’d you end up in real estate tech?

Fresh out of college in 1995, I started my real estate technology career with Offutt Systems (OSI). OSI was primarily a book publisher at the time, but also had client/server and BBS-style (bulletin board system-style) MLS systems. The primary means of client/server communication in those days was direct dial-up via modem. I wore “many hats” and worked in multiple functional areas — primarily technology, but also product development and technical sales support. I learned a great deal about residential real estate and the ever-changing nature of our industry. In the IT group specifically, I spent time as a DBA (database administrator), web developer and project manager before my eventual promotion to Vice President of IT. In 2006, after several years of rapid growth thanks to the success of our first web-based system, OSI was acquired by the First American Corporation. In 2010, First American’s technology resources and services became CoreLogic.

What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?

The CoreLogic mission is to “Empower our clients to make smarter decisions through data-driven insights.” Our team truly exemplifies this mission; we strive to provide our clients with the information and analytics they need to help make the best decisions for their clients, brokerage, and themselves. Our systems provide for this in multiple ways, such as data visualization, thematic maps, statistical analyses and timely reports. We want to provide our clients with the fastest, highest quality tools and analytics — to help power the global real estate economy.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

I enjoy working with real estate practitioners to understand their needs, pain points and their view of ideal solutions. Our industry is filled with thoughtful, experienced and articulate leaders, and it’s a privilege to collaborate with them each day. This collaboration allows us to design and deliver targeted, effective services; in turn, this helps augment the services agents and brokers provide the consumer.

What products have you had a part in developing in the past? 

In my current role, I work closely with our clients and product teams to create new applications and services and continuously evolve our existing lines. For brevity, I will focus on two specific examples. In the late ’90s, I co-created the InnoVia MLS system, which was one of the first browser-based MLS systems. The central design philosophy was to avoid proprietary technology — to develop using Web standards. At that time, the market was dominated by Internet Explorer and Netscape (to a lesser extent), and we wanted to make sure our system would work across both browsers. While not a consideration at the time, our early design choices positioned us for mobile browser compatibility as smartphones became mainstream. In 2010, I led the design and delivery of MLX Wireless, which was a mobile-optimized web application that utilized device detection and RETS to deliver search results in real-time.

What are you working on right now? What are the challenges?

At the moment, we’re working on our 2015 product roadmaps and feature development for all of our platforms, with significant focus on our Matrix MLS system. We’re working to improve the integration of our superior data assets into the platform and significantly enhance the user interface and experience. The main challenge is around ensuring appropriate resource allocation and managing project scope during this period of high demand and rapid change in our industry. We are focused on the advice of our clients and advisory panels, however, and are targeting the areas that will provide them the highest value.

Favorite Twitter account?

@CoreLogicInc, @VendorAlley, @slashdot, @CNET, @InmanNews, @mcohenmn, @TechCrunch

Favorite food?

A singular answer is difficult, as there are very few foods I do not like. I am especially fond of seafood, however.

Favorite video game?

At the moment, Trivia Crack. I was on the Quiz Bowl team in high school and have enjoyed trivia games for as long as I can remember.

Favorite city?

My obscure answer would be Linville Falls, North Carolina — which is a small town in the mountains of North Carolina near the Linville Gorge wilderness area. As far as well-known locales, I’ll go with Nuremburg, Bavaria.

Favorite band or singer?

I am a fan of ’90s alternative, classical and Celtic fiddle music. As far as specific bands are concerned, I’ll constrain my list to the Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, PJ Harvey, Brahms, Mozart, Audioslave, Natalie MacMaster and Liz Carroll.

What do you hate about technology?

Anything proprietary. Unfortunately, though, the question of “official” support for open source technologies can keep one up at night …

What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?

I’d love to see ubiquitous adherence to standards and some creative, market-driven incentives to ensure this occurs rapidly. Standards lower the barrier to entry, improve the competitive landscape and result in a much better experience for real estate practitioners and consumers.

Do you think technology can change the industry?

It already has, and continues to do so. Examples abound, such as the innovation around agent mobility, cloud computing, and APIs. I am especially encouraged by the work of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), and the good work they do to drive the industry toward data and transport standards. As a member of the RESO board of directors, I am keenly aware of — and thankful for — the significant contributions of our industry’s thought leaders. These folks volunteer and dedicate significant time to various working groups that help refine and evolve our standards and move us toward greater interoperability.

In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve

Our education system and its ability to meet the demands and requirements on our future workforce. We simply aren’t creating the kind of utilitarian knowledge and skills our students and industries need — in sufficient numbers. I don’t claim to have answers but am encouraged by the renewed and intensified focus on STEM education and other practical disciplines that will give our students a chance to succeed in an ever-changing and increasingly technical, global economic environment.

What motivates you?

Knowledge and continuous improvement. I consider myself an avid and life-long learner, and have always had a passion to figure out how things work or came to be. I’m rarely satisfied, and work to iteratively improve whatever I do. Helping others succeed and grow in their own knowledge and careers is also especially important to me. I’ve had the honor of working with some great people in this industry, and they truly inspire me.

Are you a real estate hacker who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.