Real estate service stayed ahead of technology, even before the days of high-speed computers
Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island is celebrating 40 years serving the real estate industry on Hilton Head Island and surrounding areas. Always at the forefront of changing technologies designed to help its members be more effective, the island MLS was chartered in May 1976 and now facilitates $3 billion in real estate transactions annually.
Hilton Head’s MLS is primarily a data resource that provides its members with real-time statistics, inventory information and trends. An independent MLS, it is not affiliated with any association and thus has a larger responsibility than 80 percent of the listing services around the U.S. that are organized under a Realtor association. HHIMLS conducts member recruiting, provides training for members, and oversees a fully web-based core database, as well as a variety of other services agents need to be successful.
"Throughout the decades, HHIMLS has utilized the latest technologies to help its members be competitive, and that forward-looking approach continues through today," said Yvette Acuff, HHIMLS chief executive officer. "We first went online in 1979 when computers in the workplace were relatively new. MLS installed an IBM Series I with phone lines to connect to TI 745 terminals in brokerage offices to search the MLS database. From that date on, we've worked to provide our members with the latest technologies."
After being recruited to test a laser disk listing system that was cutting-edge in the mid-1980s, HHIMLS was able to offer its members the capability to display color pictures of home interiors on a TV screen, allowing prospective buyers to get a feel for each home without having to travel to Hilton Head Island. With the arrival of the internet, HHIMLS was at the forefront of providing that new tool to its members.
Today, HHIMLS’ advanced systems match homebuyers and sellers with agents, show buyers available properties, calculate the value of homes, and provide information about the area all on www.hiltonheadmls.com. Members have access to a web-based lock box system that includes e-keys for smartphones, a "Virtual Tour Creator" for agents to put up video tours of homes on the MLS site, and the latest marketing features like a social media dashboard. HHIMLS agents can connect with other listing services, learn how to use the latest real estate technology effectively, and have access to the most popular listing sites.
The very latest technology for consumers includes a new app that allows a potential buyer to take a picture of his surroundings. The app will respond with what is for sale or rent, or where there is an open house nearby.
In addition to Acuff, who has been with the MLS since it began, Colette Stevenson serves as chief operating officer, managing more than 20 real estate data services that are provided to real estate agents. Stevenson also oversees all HHIMLS departments, including customer support and sales, compliance, rules and regulations, data services, software engineering information technology, security and project and product management.
During her tenure with HHIMLS, Stevenson has streamlined operations and reduced annual recurring expenses. She has also successfully launched new initiatives, including GPS-based mobile solutions, mobile property access, data standardization, statistics upgrades, security authentication software, a paperless administration and transaction system, and a virtual product store.
Throughout its first four decades, HHIMLS has also utilized its position as a leader in local business to reach out beyond the housing market and help its community. The organization is involved with Operation Christmas Child; Adopt-a-Family; March of Dimes; Hilton Head Heroes, which brings terminally ill children and their families to Hilton Head for a vacation; and The Deep Well Project, an organization that helps those in need on Hilton Head.
The Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a symposium. MLS Real Estate Tech Talks is set for November 16 and 17 at the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa. MLS members, mortgage companies, banks, insurance companies, appraisers, inspectors and others in the real estate field are invited to learn how technology is changing the industry, hear from real estate leaders from around the country, and network with more than 1,000 agents. They'll also hear from JJ Birden, former NFL wide receiver and author of When Opportunity Knocks 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage. There will be exhibits, product introductions, and training classes. The two-day event culminates with a closing reception Thursday evening. Attendees, interested exhibitors, and sponsors can register at hiltonheadmls.com.