B.C. boards pledge to share data access

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By Kathy Bevan

 

An historic ‘pledge of co-operation’ has been signed by all 12 of B.C.’s real estate boards that commits them each to working toward shared data access throughout the province.

 

“We wanted to create an agreement where every Realtor would be able to access listing information as easily in any part of B.C. as they can at their own boards,” says Wayne Strandlund, president of the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA). “The cornerstone was MLS co-operation, defining such things as jurisdictional listing boundaries, board to board listing privileges and getting the agreement that we would all do these things one way.”

 

Dan Bennett, immediate past president of BCREA, who chaired the committee that spearheaded the co-operation pledge, says, “It just seemed to make sense to have one location where B.C. Realtors could go to get all the information about B.C. listings, just as consumers can go to mls.ca and get that information. Also, the people who are left in this industry are more demanding of boards, and expecting more of us, so we have to find a way to deliver better or higher services at less cost. Shared access is one way to do that.”

 

Agreeing to share data access is only part of the process for the boards; making that access possible, with the variety of hardware and software systems currently used by the boards, will take a while. Bennett is hopeful, however, that shared access will be a reality by the end of 2001.

 

“It doesn’t really matter what system you have right now, if your next step was to make sure everybody in the province of B.C. could access it via the Internet, that’s one step forward,” says Bennett. “Then your next step would be to go browser‑based. Then it doesn't matter what database management system you've got, if the front end is very compatible.”

 

Strandlund says shared access benefits small and large boards equally. “It doesn't disenfranchise or make life difficult for smaller boards like PowellRiver or Northern  Lights.

Those boards obviously can’t support the type of system that Vancouver, FraserValley and Victoria have, for example,” says Strandlund. “We weren’t going for one size fits all,” adds Bennett. “We recognize that every board has addressed different priorities in their own areas….smaller boards exist because they provide specialized services to their members, and they should continue to keep doing what they do well in their own region.”

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