Annual Survey Results Are In

We recently completed our 10th annual Service Quality Index Survey of NorthstarMLS subscribers. I look at the Survey results as NorthstarMLS’s most valuable management tool for helping us be a better provider of support for your businesses.

We not only look at the ratings in terms of trending (good and not as good as we want), but we read all of the comments that so many of you take the time to write, and use these to add context and texture to the actual numbers. Combined, these insights direct our activities so that we can increase our value to our customers by doing things that matter to you.

This is my opportunity to thank all of those who responded to the survey and to say we’re a better MLS because of you.

Please take a couple minutes to watch the video recap of the results. You can let us know your thoughts and suggestions any time of year by messaging us at

John Mosey

President & CEO, NorthstarMLS

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Service Quality Index Survey Results

“We’re building what they call a ‘reservoir of good will’ with our customers. They trust us to do the right thing,” – John Mosey

NorthstarMLS recently conducted its ninth annual Service Quality Index Survey. The survey collected overall subscriber feedback. Recipients were selected on a completely random basis. The results we received this year, and in the past, are invaluable to us and keep us in line with what is working, what needs to be adjusted and what subscribers want to see in the future.

This year we broke down, evaluated and summarized the 2014 SQI Survey results in an interactive online magazine for your viewing pleasure — it looks really nice on smart phones and tablets, too! Take a look at how your colleagues rated the NorthstarMLS system and core services. There’s also a a brief message from incoming 2015 RMLS Board Chair, Peter Sparr. Take a look at our 2014 SQI Survey magazine now!

Click the magazine cover (above) to view the SQI Survey Magazine
(Also is viewable on tablets and smart phones)

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SQI Survey Results: Public Records/Tax

Beginning with our first Service Quality survey in 2006, we asked the question: “How important is Public Records Tax data to your business?” When 98% of respondents said that tax data was either “extremely” or “very important,” we were both surprised and pleased.

“For a long time prior to incorporating this question in the survey, we had been aware of weaknesses in our tax product,” said NorthstarMLS President & CEO, John Mosey. “In 2004, we bought our tax provider and took on the responsibility for improving the quality and usefulness of the data as a core function of the company. The 2006 survey certainly validated our reasons for having bought PLAT System Services, but also told us that we had a ways to go before it ‘measured up.’ On a positive note, each year since we began measuring customer satisfaction ratings of accuracy, completeness and functionality of tax information, it has been better than the year before.”

Early last year, NorthstarMLS launched the Realist system, a public records database that integrates with NorthstarMLS Matrix listings data to provide in-depth property and ownership data, market information, maps with detailed property information layers, as well as market trends. These vastly superior features and capabilities that Realist delivers can help agents become more effective and more valuable to their clients.

This year’s survey results revealed that 65% of respondents rated the tax data function — in terms of accuracy, completeness and functionality — between a 4 or 5 rating of “very good” to “excellent.” Tax ratings have improved each year since our first survey. Factor in the “Satisfactory” or 3-Rating, and 86% of respondents say our tax data is meeting their business needs. We hope that this is a sign that our customers are more and more confident and comfortable in using our tax information to help their businesses and that our investments in this area are paying dividends where they count.

New Updates for 2013

Annual tax updates came later than usual in 2012 because of a Realist system change. We expect updates to be back on track for 2013.

“Realist went through some growing pains last year that were exacerbated by changes they made to their technology architecture during 2012. They tell me that the worst of their conversion trauma is behind them and that they will be back performing at the level that has made them the premier provider of property data in the country, as 2013 unfolds, said Mosey. “That means that you will have updated tax data at a much improved pace this year. It is my hope that their improved performance on the data collection and updating from the counties, combined with all of the other features and capabilities Realist delivers will result in a continuation of our trajectory of improved Service Quality survey results when we ask, ‘How are we doing on tax?’”

42% of Survey Respondents Add Written Comments
The SQI Survey allowed recipients to submit written comments. Here are a few that relate to MLS public records and tax information:

• “I am pleased with the improvement – I use Realist daily.”
• “I really appreciate the new features of Realist — extremely helpful.”
• “I love this (Realist) feature!”

For help using Realist, we offer these resources:
• Click the “Help” tab at the top left of the Realist screen
• Watch brief tutorials on the Realist YouTube Channel
• Check out our Realist FAQ document
• Our announcement about tax year vs assessment year

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SQI Survey Results: Data Accuracy

Data accuracy and listings quality is important across the online real estate space, prompting many written comments from our SQI Survey respondents. Ensuring the most accurate and clean data for our customers can be challenging and is an ongoing process.

“If I were to put my finger on the one thing that exasperates our customers most, it would be the submission of incomplete and inaccurate listing content that is also not updated properly,” said John Mosey, NorthstarMLS CEO and President. “Our service is intended to foster cooperation that leads to listings getting sold and commissions getting paid.”

We have come a long way in optimizing our MLS listing and tax data. For example, the elimination of misspellings and abbreviations with standard pick lists for cities and lake names. No more searching through 30-40 different spellings of “Minneapolis” or “Lake Minnetonka.”

“We’re all about data integrity and making sure that when people search, they have the best information possible,” said NorthstarMLS Director of IT, Ed Newman. “We developed an application to look at listings daily, find problems, and report them for us to follow up on. That’s been extended with ‘Report a problem with this listing’ feature” [a link below the main photo of every listing that users can click to ANONYMOUSLY report wrong data on a listing].

You can help! List your property accurately and completely. If you see a listing that has wrong information, report the listing to the NorthstarMLS Rules Department. You’ll be helping yourself, your seller/buyer and everyone else using the NorthstarMLS system by ensuring each listing is as accurate, complete and up-to-date as possible.

“Careless or lazy agents undermine the value of the MLS. They waste other agent’s time. They cause consumers to question our competence and professionalism. And, particularly foolish, they submit info to the service that is useless for appraisal purposes. Try to get financing on your sale without an appraisal,” said Mosey.

42% of Survey Respondents Add Written Comments
The SQI Survey allowed recipients to submit written comments. Here are a few that relate to MLS data accuracy:

• “It would be nice to have more policing of incorrect data and listings.”
• “Accuracy has more to do with agent submissions than with the actual program.”
• “It’s only as accurate as the listing agent.”

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Survey Results: System Functionality/Change

It was Jim Rohn (Entrepreneur & author) who uttered, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” In our recent Service Quality Index (SQI) survey, the most common written comments, both positive and critical, were regarding MLS system changes. Change can be positive, but also disruptive. We’re never going to change anything that isn’t intended to ultimately improve the lives of our customers. Even though sometimes, the MLS system changes can feel unnecessary, or too much, too often.

“There are new agents entering this business every day that want and need the tools of today and tomorrow – to look after the buyers and sellers of today and tomorrow,” said NorthstarMLS President and CEO, John Mosey, in a recent interview. “We can’t be comfortable with status quo that was designed for yesterday.”

Changes in the coming months include additional functionality in Instanet Lite to make it easier to create quick start groups (forms templates) and improvements to the NorthstarMLS mobile app, including access to the latest Realist tax data.

42% of Survey Respondents Add Written Comments
The SQI Survey allowed recipients to submit written comments. Here are a few that relate to MLS system change.

Positive Comments:
• “I find NorthstarMLS very easy to use, even after the upgrades occur.”
• “Always impressed how the MLS continues to be ‘new and improved’.”
• “I use the NorthstarMLS service more often than the other MLS system(s) I subscribe to. …seems easier than the other systems. I recommend the Northstar system to everyone.”

Critical Comments:
• “There have been a lot of changes this year. Can be a bit of a challenge to keep up.”
• “Too many changes in format. Nothing stays the same. As in all other aspects of life.”
• “Very rapid changes frustrate me often! Would prefer changes be aimed, if can, towards fall/winter time and not in my Spring/Summer market.”

We will be breaking down survey results throughout the course of the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

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NorthstarMLS recently conducted its seventh annual Service Quality Index Survey. The survey garnered overall subscriber feedback. Recipients were selected on a completely random basis. The results we received this year, and in the past, are invaluable to us. They help us understand what we can do better to serve you and remain one of the most well respected MLS’s in the country. We will be breaking down survey results throughout the course of the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

This Infographic visually summarizes the 2012 NorthstarMLS SQI Survey Results. Click on the image below for a larger view.

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