The massive (and currently ongoing) outage of the Rapattoni MLS due to a ransomware attack has left hundreds of thousands of their users drowning in tears and their worst fears. In light of this, it may be time to get proactive with building a safety net to protect your business if you had to work without data for an undetermined amount of time.
Affected agents have been thrown into chaos for listing management, finding buyer inventory and scrambling to complete simple operational tasks that normally rely on the MLS system.
While everyone is sharing how frustrated they are, I didn’t see many agents sharing their solutions. That got me thinking: If the MLS crashed, what would be the best and fastest plan B to keep agent business on track?
No, I’m not saying let’s go back to old-fashioned MLS books, but if the worst-case scenario happens, your clients will need you to guide them past disaster in a calm and organized fashion.
So what is an agent to do if the MLS rug is pulled out from underneath them? They are going to need to lean into a simple, preventative plan that will keep them informed of the local market and allow them to create alternative resources that are easy to share off the MLS.
Let’s take 15 minutes and get your plan together. The best part of this is that once you build it, as long as you stay on top of it, you will be ready for any digital catastrophe that besets your local MLS.
I’m a big advocate for regular baby steps that make sense and are communication-based. I’m also a massive fan of easy-to-use tech stacks that work instead of making you do endless data entry and uploads. My first order of business would be to ensure I have a solid tech stack to help me organize my current inventory and, potentially, search for alternative inventory.
Back at You Media: This is an oldie but a goodie. It automatically pulls in your listing data, helps you create boosted social media ads, and now designs simple graphics. Don’t spend time or money re-inventing the wheel.
RPR: You are missing out if you have not set up your profile on this powerhouse tool. Not only should you be able to pull alternative data, but there are a crazy number of tutorials and webinars on this site to help you become a prolific agent.
DocuSign: Create a listing information package for buyers’ agents, turn it into a PDF and upload it into Docusign. What’s in the package? Imagine you are representing a buyer, writing an offer, and placing everything you typically research. Bonus points if you actually add in utility, HOA, floor plans, and plat information.
Once this package is ready to go, you can send it (with a read receipt) to buyers’ agents who are calling you for showings and information. You can also save this package in the cloud so you can send the link via email, Google Docs, or text messages. This, of course, includes showing instructions and restrictions.
It’s no secret that the top agents in your market are closing the lion’s share of the business. These folks should not be hard to identify, and if you are new to the business, you can go to your local association and review the previous year’s volume awards winners.
Take a moment and build a database of contact information for the top 35 agents in the area, and make this a specific email group to which you can send communications. Now you will have a fantastic contact list to send updates to if something goes sideways. If you have an open house or a serious price drop, you can also send a quick update to these major players in a matter of moments.
Imagine going into a listing appointment and telling the homeowner that you have a top 35 list that you network with regularly. This is a fire habit, and it’s going to make you a better agent.
Now that you have built your top 35, you need to follow those individuals on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin. Not only will you get the best updates for your clients, but this will also be where all those agents post updates about listings if the MLS goes down. Sure, you won’t capture everything, but you will capture information about the hot listings that are most likely to be the ones your clients want to know about.
Call and text your clients
Let them know you have a plan and that you are prepared to help them. Call or text them as soon as possible. This will let your clients know you are on top of things, so don’t try to hide this information from them.
If you are part of a brokerage or a team, make sure you know what is going on “in-house” and don’t be checked out of your inner circle. Be sure to review what your co-workers are doing at least once a week.
Eat your statistics for breakfast every day. It takes a few simple moments to review the inventory. If you are doing this every day first thing and the MLS goes down, you are still going to be ahead of the agent who only checks the market once a week.
This plan is super easy to pull together. The best part is that by creating it and reviewing it on a regular, weekly basis, you will stay top of mind and stay proactive vs. reactive if things go sideways.
Hacking and tech woes are a growing part of the data landscape, and as in every situation, an ounce of prevention can go a long way. If the recent outage directly impacted you, I would love to know how you and your team provide quality and creative customer service during outages. Please share in the comments or message me directly.
Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram.