CMLS Member Spotlight: Art Carter, CEO of CRMLS
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
When Art Carter describes the real estate industry, he almost always defines it as a community. And, he says, it is this community — one made up of competing brokers, agents, multiple listing services, and real estate vendors — that really is the envy of the world.
“It’s so important to recognize that you are part of a community. You need to get engaged with this community. You need to start talking to others in your community,” says Carter. “For me it was easy to recognize because people like Peter Shuttleworth and John Mosey were making calls to inspire MLS executives to become industry leaders and better serve their customers at the time.”
Carter didn’t hesitate to accept their calls. As the newly hired CEO of California Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (CRMLS) in 2005, he was eager to share an association perspective with other multiple listing services. The timing was right too. There was a real opportunity to move the industry forward, capitalizing on its ability to come together as it had to adopt the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS) and raise the industry bar for professionalism, customer service, and business operations.
“I had already fallen in love with the MLS industry because it was a marriage of technology and real estate,” said Carter, who had previously served as CEO of Pacific West Association of REALTORS®. “But there also seemed to be a real need to become more professional and customer-centric in our approach to deliver on cooperation and compensation.”
It didn’t take long for Carter to become deeply engaged with the industry. As he did, he was invited to join the leadership teams of organizations like the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), which is the professional trade organization that serves to advance the industry by supporting those who make the market work; and the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), which develops, promotes and maintains voluntary electronic commerce standards for the real estate industry.
“When I first became involved in RESO, it was a volunteer-led organization with a bottom-up mindset,” says Carter. “This was fine, except that kind of model also required a unanimous consensus in order to get anything done so it got very little done. Rebecca Jensen, who was then CEO of UtahRealEstate.com, and I saw that RESO needed a new leadership structure, one that could inform technology and demonstrate the importance of the industry to take it on.”
Working with other RESO board members, they were able to develop and implement a sustainable long-term strategic plan that led to the creation of the first real estate data dictionary, web API standard, and various compliance programs. The concept also served as a precursor to the changes that Carter and others wanted to see made to the CMLS.
“CMLS was a prime portal to help organize real estate professionals by bringing the industry together,” said Carter. “The challenge we were having with CMLS was that we also wanted it to become the national voice of the multiple listing services, but it was difficult to accomplish this while the faces of that voice kept changing. In much the same way we needed consistent leadership at RESO, we needed it at CMLS too.”
While serving as president of CMLS, Carter advanced the need for a professional staff; the development of the first CMLS Best Practices document; and the CMLX certification program under the direction of Merri Jo Cowen, CEO for My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service (MFRMLS). As with any organization, he relied heavily on the expertise and experience of the board to find common ground and point the organization in a new direction.
“It wasn’t always easy and not everyone agreed,” admits Carter. “Any time you encourage conversation and change, there will be some concern and there will be some anger. That was fine with me. I never want to surround myself with people who are all going to say the same thing. Debate and discussion lead to better solutions.”
According to Carter, it was all worth it. He is especially fond, he says, of looking back on the day he and Shelly Specchio, then CEO of the Northern Nevada Regional MLS, made a call from the CMLS strategic planning session in 2014 to Las Vegas. That call was to ask Denee Evans if she would accept the board’s offer to become the first CEO of CMLS.
“It’s so important to recognize that the changes we want to see happen in the industry are very dependent on getting your voice heard,” said Carter. “We see this with many of the outcomes that happened at COVE, at RESO, and now at CMLS. I am confident this will be true in California too as the CRMLS ‘It’s My Business’ campaign continues to open discussion up and down the coast.”
The campaign is an open conversation with brokers, agents and vendors to finally eliminate the political and historical hurdles that prevent more than half of the MLSs in California from sharing data with each other. The initiative could eventually lead to a statewide MLS or the facilitation of consistent data sharing among MLSs so that every broker and agent can see all MLS listing data throughout the state without having to join multiple associations’ MLSs.
“We have to appreciate that we live in a time when consumers don’t have boundaries and don’t care about the boundaries that real estate professionals adhere to,” said Carter. “There is a better way. If we truly care about serving our customer, we need to remove the boundaries so that they are better able to service the relationship they have with the consumer. There is no good reason why one agent shouldn’t be able to serve their client up and down our state.”
It is Carter’s hope that any solution created in California could then serve as a model for other states or regions, further streamlining the market so it adequately serves the needs of MLS customers. It will be especially important as new technologies — data depth and accuracy, mobile platforms, real-time interactions — enhance broker-to-broker relationships, regardless of size or operations model.
“I’m very proud of the contributions I’ve made with other industry leaders that benefit CMLS, RESO, and several other boards and committees,” said Carter. “And I think, especially through CMLS, that it is so important for us to take advantage of this collaborative era and build upon this amazing foundation with the expectation that there are great things ahead of us.”
In November, Carter was named the third recipient of the Peter Shuttleworth MLS Executive Award of Excellence. The Peter Shuttleworth MLS Executive Award of Excellence is an annual award that recognizes leaders who, through a rigorous nomination and review process, are determined to have observed the highest qualities of leadership within their organizations and demonstrated a dedication to excellence by making substantial contributions to the MLS industry. The original news release is available here.