Clareity Founder and CEO, Gregg Larson, has been named amongst the top leaders in the residential real estate industry. Larson is ranked in the Swanepoel POWER 200 2017 (SP200) list, an annual report that names the 200 most influential corporate executives, experts and thought leaders in residential real estate across the U.S. and Canada.
Larson, who landed at number 147 on the list, has 30 years of experience in real estate information and technology, is the host of Clareity’s 15th Annual MLS Executive Workshop, and co-founder of the non-profit trade association REDPLAN. Larson was an influential driver in the creation of the Model Content License Agreement used by many MLSs with online publishers and the Fair Display Policy for real estate listings used by the Realty Alliance and other large brokerages.
The SP200 categories include Corporate Executives, Power Brokers, Women Leaders, Technology Executives, and Association and MLS Executives. Three other lists, including Outside Powers, Trendsetters and Social Influencers are also published alongside the SP200.
Review the Power 200 List here.
Announcing a brand new Clareity event! Join us for our Developer’s Workshop on April 5. We’ll talk about “what’s next” and how real estate application providers can work together to deliver an improved subscriber experience and still have good security.
Take your business to the next level! With improving integrations, you can increase technology adoption by real estate professionals, which in turn improves profitability in the real estate technology space.
When: Wednesday April 5, 2017 (Welcome Reception will be held on Tuesday evening, April 4, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.)
Where: Scottsdale Plaza Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
Some tentative topics include:
- Using OpenID Connect and OAuth to authenticate API access
- Beyond SSO: How we use SAML and OIDC to deliver a better end user experience
- The Clareity Platform: Maximizing the value of your application on North America’s largest real estate integration platform
- …more to be announced soon!
Sound interesting? Click here to sign up to stay in the know as we release more event details!
Earlier this year, Inman published a Tech Review on our new Broker focused SSO Dashboards. Check out the full Inman article here:
A behind-the-scenes technology company offers brokers a better way to communicate with agents and manage disparate software systems
- Brokers need to consider staying in touch with their agents on a consistent basis as a critical component to improving sales and brand loyalty.
- Central communication dashboards are a much better solution to emails and office drop-ins.
Clareity Security’s back-end, white-label Broker Dashboards are a new brokerage management solution.
Ideal for: Large brokerages
Top selling points
- Single sign-on to all in-house software tools
- Central source for broker-agent communications
- Number of prominent third-party partnerships
- Could cause “tech-fatigue” among agents
- Training/breaking of internal productivity habits
What you should know
Clareity Security was a 2013 Inman Innovator winner.
But you may not have heard of it.
That in no way means it isn’t a significant source of technological productivity for the industry.
Clareity Security’s value can best be defined as, according to Marketing Director Jeff Nieto, “the plumbing.”
I disagree. The company’s new product aimed at real estate brokers is much more glamorous than dank pipes covered in cobwebs.
Long a backer of MLS innovation, Clareity Security’s new product gives brokers a better way to communicate with agents, promote office training events and offer agents a single sign-on for all internal software tools.
Clareity Security’s was a 2013 Inman Innovator Winner— but have you heard of it?
Once logged in, users are presented with a menu of icons for such tools asMailchimp, Skyslope, Homesnap, Google Apps, TourFactory, MS Office 365,BoomTown, Contactually and a host of additional well-regarded real estate marketing and sales tools.
Brokers should be keen on a fresh way to ensure their teams are always up to date on internal happenings, new products being offered and having a central repository for all provided resources.
The broker dashboard offers users a content management tool to manage their customer-facing website and blog content for Placester, for example. It can post videos, images and whatever else an agent’s site needs.
Permission-based log-in credentials determine who sees and accesses what with ultimate control resting in the mouse-clicks of brokers or their assistants.
Notifications can be targeted to specific teams and groups within an office and serve as a good way to unify disparate locations or large teams that often come-and-go by nature of the job.
There is also space for brokerages to offer advertisements from local and preferred vendors.
It’s apparent that the company knows back-end functionality; its track record proves it. Now with a more people-focused product, attention should be given to the user interface and experience.
By entering the brokerage and office information management realm, Clareity Security puts itself in direct competition with the Lone Wolf Technologies of the industry — no easy speed bump to get over.
Yet, the latter doesn’t have the experience of helping more than 175 MLSs and associations composed of more than 700,000 agents. A few brokerages are already onboard with the new Clareity Security product.
Clareity’s vendor network, Discover, is excited to announce FIVE new partners. This now brings Discover’s directory to over 50 real estate products and services! Our newest vendors include BombBomb, CallAction, Contactually, eCommission, and MyRental.com. In addition to these new partners, our long-term partner LockboxCombos has some exciting news: it’s added a new platform for Property Managers!
Here’s a little information about these unique real estate products, all available in the Discover Directory nationwide.
- This revolutionary real estate video product takes email marketing to a totally new level. BombBomb helps you build relationships through your emails, texts and social media platforms. They make it “easy for you to record, track + send video email.”
- CallAction is virtual assistant software for real estate agents, teams and brokerages who are losing leads and sales due to responding slowly to inquiries. Get a text notification of a new lead call before your phone rings, so you know to answer the new lead calls. Inbound calls and emails are instantly captured and saved to a cloud database which can be synced in real-time to most CRMs.
- Send better emails, organize your network, build a sales pipeline — that’s how Contactually helps you take care of the relationships that make your business go. Different from other email systems, Contactually uses “buckets” for contact management. You can set custom Reminder Timers for different Buckets, or attach unique integrations and automated Programs. Bucketing contacts is fast, intuitive, and with our built-in Bucket Game…actually kind of fun.
- Endorsed by Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank, eCommission is “a better way to manage your cash flow.” eCommission is the #1 provider of commission advance services to real estate professionals in the United States. Our service puts you in complete control of your cash flow by advancing your commissions whenever you want them.
- Do you have any rental properties or know someone with rental properties? If so, MyRental from CoreLogic is a self-service tenant screening solution that offers a variety of reports to help identify quality tenants. Purchase single reports or conveniently bundled packages without onsite inspections, set-up fees or monthly minimums.
- LockboxCombos – Check out this video!
- With this easy to use mobile website, property managers can now add property addresses with corresponding combos and invite vetted vendors and tenants to get instant access to the lockbox. This new invite feature has also been added to the Real Estate Agent platform. No more calls, texts or emails to exchange combos to the alpha numeric lockbox!
For more information about Discover or to see how you can become a part of the network, email Allison at allison(at)clareitysecurity.com!
The Discover Module is an opportunity for real estate related vendors to get valuable brand exposure to agents and brokers within their natural workflow. Clareity’s Single Sign-On Dashboards reach over 600,000 agents in some of the largest MLSs in the country and provide a means for the MLS or Association to showcase products and services. Discover is a valuable and convenient resource to find, learn, and inquire about real estate products, services, and offerings.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – October 29, 2015 – Clareity Security just launched a new version of its popular Single Sign-On (SSO) Dashboard and its customers have never been more excited. After a year of design work and user experience testing, this product is considered Version 3.0 in Clareity’s history of dashboards. The first customers to launch Version 3.0 were Dayton Area Board of REALTORS®, Maine Real Estate Information Systems, My Florida Regional MLS, and Ulster County Board of REALTORS®. Other early adopters include Statewide MLS, Intermountain MLS, MARIS, CTMLS, ReColorado, Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS®, and NNRMLS. Many more organizations are scheduled to follow soon.
My Florida Regional MLS launched its Version 3.0 Dashboard last week. Ever since the go-live day, members have been reaching out to MFRMLS staff with praises. One member tweeted the following:
“Clareity’s new dashboard design is modern, mobile responsive and easy to navigate. Launching this new dashboard was a seamless transition for our customers. We’ve received positive feedback,” said Merri Jo Cowen, CEO of MFRMLS.
Clareity brought in design and user experience (UX) experts Iteration Group to ensure the most professional and modern UI and UX. Iteration Group is respected for various clients including Quickbooks, NBC Universal, and Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me – minions!) as well as popular apps Angie’s List and ChowNow. With Iteration Group’s design expertise and Clareity’s knowledge of the real estate industry, the two teams collaborated to create the “dream dashboard” for agents, brokers and other real estate professionals.
Completely redesigned and renovated, Version 3.0 has all the staple benefits of the original SSO Dashboard, but promises many new features. Some of the new features include Discover (a localized directory of top RE products and services), NAR Member Resources (a panel offering benefit programs and offerings from the National Association of REALTORS®), Affiliate/Sponsorship Marketing (a source for non-dues revenue), and “Assumed Identity” privileges for assistants and teams across all applications.
The most popular new feature is the Notifications Module within the dashboard that allows users or groups of users (such as everyone within an office) to receive messages from the MLS and/or the Association. The messages can be in the form of on-screen notifications, badge alerts to specific products within the dashboard, or the more traditional inbox message.
“Clareity has launched a few innovative products, but nothing compares to the excitement generated by this new dashboard. Version 3.0 provides everything an MLS or Association could need or want for the modern delivery of branded member services and communications,” said Gregg Larson, CEO of Clareity Security.
Clareity currently powers over 650,000 individual end-users accessing over 200 MLS and Association Dashboards and counting. Version 3.0 can also be customized and branded for the Brokerage community.
For a breakdown and more information about of the new Clareity SSO Dashboard, schedule an appointment with our team at sales[at]clareitysecurity.com.
Clareity is proud to announce a special event we recently hosted. Working with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, we found five Taylor Swift super-fans and on Tuesday, August 18th, hosted them and their loved ones at a 1989 Tour concert in Glendale, Arizona. The girls’ names were Kira, Esmerelda, McKindree, Ali and Reese, ages 9 to 17.
We were deeply moved and inspired by these five young girls, their families and their stories. This is the second time Clareity has worked with Phoenix Children’s Hospital in this way. A few years ago, Clareity hosted other patients to attend a Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus concert.
The success of this event excites us for future philanthropic possibilities. Please feel free to share this news with others who know Clareity!
We are excited to announce that we have added eight new vendor partners to the Clareity Discover Module in the past month!
Clareity’s Discover Module is a new and exciting feature of Clareity’s Single Sign-On Dashboards. This module will offer a comprehensive directory of the industry’s technology and services, and will provide agents and brokers a convenient way to search for pre-approved products and services.
We would like to welcome to the following vendors to Clareity’s Discover Module:
- Referral Genie
- Fast Forward Stories
- Referral Exchange
- Agent Evolution
- IDX Broker
The Discover Module is an opportunity for real estate related vendors to get valuable brand exposure to agents and brokers within their natural workflow. Our Single Sign-On Dashboards reach over 500,000 agents in some of the largest MLSs in the country and provide a means for the MLS or Association to showcase products and services that have their stamp of approval.
We are looking forward to a successful partnership with our recent vendor additions!
For more information on becoming a vendor partner featured in Discover, please email Allison at Allison.Stakiw@clareitysecurity.com or visit https://clareitysecurity.com/products/discover-module/
In the D.A.N.G.E.R. Report, compiled for NAR by Stefan Swanepoel, a “security breach” is listed as a “high risk” for MLSs, though it is quite clear that the risk is to the industry more generally. According to Stefan, “Cyber criminals could attack the industry, breach the MLS, and cause disruption … as transaction management systems and mortgage systems are added or integrated, this threat becomes more serious.”
Only some leaders in our industry are taking this risk – and their responsibility – seriously. Everyone knows how important installing security updates (“patching” or “upgrading”) is, but between 28% and 46%, depending on industry segment, don’t take even that basic, no-cost step for their web servers, even though their organization’s websites are often a gateway for services for many stakeholders. Following is a chart of different industry segments, showing what percent were running unpatched servers with known vulnerabilities as of January 2015:
We’ve got to do better than that. So, where does the industry need to focus its attention?
Security risk assessment is the first step. Clareity Consulting has been helping clients with security risk assessments for the last thirteen years. Organizational security is not something executives should just be handing off to their technical staff, since many of the most important and foundational areas of security are non-technical. Vetting new staff and training them in how to deal with data securely is critical. Writing good policy and procedure documents makes it clear to employees, including both technical and non-technical employees, what their responsibilities are in securely operating your business. Detailed contracts extend these responsibilities to those who provide you with services, and to independent contractors. Also, physical security is extremely important – everything from making sure access is granted only to authorized people to making sure that sensitive information is handled properly and disposed of both timely and securely. Areas of more technical evaluation include routers and firewalls, wireless devices, virtualization environments, websites and applications, installed software, use of encryption, server and workstation operating systems, mobile device configurations, printers, copiers, and much more.
Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance is also necessary in order for your business to process credit card information. The latest Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) now require compliance from organizations whose websites redirect their e-commerce transaction-processing functions to a third party, even though these organizations are outsourcing their credit card functions to that third party.
Having an in-depth knowledge of how information flows in our industry as well as both the business and technical aspects of electronic transactions enables Clareity Consulting to help organizations with this kind of risk assessment most efficiently.
The D.A.N.G.E.R. Report focuses on login authentication applied to MLSs and integrated systems such as transaction management and document management. Of course, only weak authentication is in place for broker systems that are also integrated with such systems, and for the direct logins to those systems. Only about half the industry has implemented strong authentication for the MLS and integrated products and, in some cases, even those that have implemented strong authentication for the MLS have not required that all licensed and/or integrated software integrate the stronger measures.
Our industry has a complicated authentication problem to solve. Most login security solutions are not designed to work when the users actively wish to share their account. When mobile professionals have unusual computer use patterns and share computers in a “bullpen” situation, it is even more difficult to provide an effective security system. Even when an MLS has extensive fines for account sharing, we have found that subscribers are quite willing to try to share their login account with non-subscribing professionals, consumers, and others. Most MLSs prefer an authentication solution that focuses on stopping long-term account sharing to one that may cause some inconvenience to users but more reliably prevents an unauthorized user from using account information to access an account even once.
Clareity Security, the leading provider of strong authentication to the industry, has an amazing array of technology that can be used to provide more proactive security, including an exciting new biometric method for mobile devices that is patent pending. Even the current technology Clareity Security has in place at MLSs can be configured to be more stringent, but the industry has to have the will to implement it in that way. Hopefully the industry will move in that direction before there is a publicized security breach.
Clareity Security has always recognized the need to balance cost and convenience with security. That is why Clareity Security has built a RISK based scoring system that has been fully customized to real estate use cases, ensuring that when strong authentication is necessary based on risky behavior and/or application sensitivity, it can be implemented.
Clareity Security also leads the industry in the best practice implementation of secure single sign-on (SSO). Using the SAML (Secure Assertion Markup Language) standard, the company has provided a way for hundreds of applications to be SSO integrated while still maintaining good security. I have also seen some very bad implementations of SSO that create tremendous risk for the organization because they have little to no security.
There are new, emerging authentication challenges as well. For example, it is very difficult to protect authentication to APIs, especially those that are designed to be used by mobile applications. This is an issue that I presented at a RESO meeting in 2013 and, to date, only limited protective mechanisms have been developed by some vendors.
Though consumers are providing their agents with information solely for the purpose of marketing their property for sale, it’s very difficult to ensure real estate information is being used for only that legitimate purpose, since our industry sends the content to so many locations online. One of the biggest challenges is “screen scraping”, when someone copies large amounts of data from a web site – manually or with a script or program. There are two kinds of scraping, “legitimate scraping” such as search engine robots that index the web, and “malicious scraping” where someone engages in systematic theft of intellectual property in the form of data accessible on a website. Malicious scraping has been a severe problem in the real estate industry for a decade or more. Bad actors and their software “bots” can grab MLS data and resell it or use it for their own purposes. The very largest sites, such as Realtor.com, have invested millions in anti-scraping solutions, and these solutions have to be constantly updated as scrapers become ever more sophisticated. However, as some sites take steps to protect the content, that pushes the scrapers out to harvest content from other sites that are less well protected. For our industry, Clareity Consulting recommends a company it has worked with (and is currently consulting for), Distil Networks, that provides a robust and scalable technology solution at a cost that even an individual agent can afford for their site. Distil Network’s solution has so far been adopted by one MLS vendor, some IDX vendors, and some individual VOW sites. While some advertising portals have implemented anti-scraping measures as well, the industry has a long way to go to protect its content both in the MLS system and its public facing modules (client collaboration, framed IDX) and many of the other locations to which content has been syndicated.
Information security is not something where one can “set it and forget it”. New challenges emerge regularly. The policies and procedures, contract terms, and even the security audit tools I used even five years ago have changed radically – they are always changing. We’ve got to get both authentication and screen scraping under control. If you’re an executive in this industry, whether of an association, MLS, broker, or software provider, it’s time to move faster and press harder on security. Start with assessment. I can help with that. Then we can figure out the next steps for your organization. Just remember, security isn’t something you achieve: it’s an ongoing practice.
Last year, NAR introduced six Core Standards that REALTOR® Associations must meet, focused on six areas. With exception of the financial solvency standard, Clareity Security’s Single Sign-on (SSO) Dashboard helps Associations meet all of the other Core Standards.
Code of Ethics – The Clareity SSO Dashboard with Association Management Integration links new and existing members to all of the integration courses offered by the association. The Dashboard messaging system can be used by Association staff to alert the member when their Code of Ethics training has not yet been completed. Clareity’s partnership with NAR, and the NAR Resource Module, will give every member one-click access to all NAR Resources, including Code of Ethics.
Advocacy – Through the NAR Resources Module, there is a Realtor Party tile (an interactive Dashboard component) that will link all members to the Realtor Action Center. This is their direct connection to all of the NAR PAC information and happenings. Within the NAR Resources Module, and more specifically, the Realtor Party tile, NAR can initiate a special “Call to Action” communication, which will alert all members dynamically. Communication for Calls to Action can also be communicated through the Messaging Module, which will increase visibility and conversions. Lastly, as necessary, each association can install hyperlinks and or SSO links to their respective State Association RPAC efforts. The Clareity Dashboard comes with a robust Reports Dashboard, which allows the association to view, run, and share reports about Member Engagement.
Consumer Outreach – The Messaging Module inside the Clareity Dashboard is perfect for promoting Consumer Outreach activities. The association could also create custom tiles to add to the Association Services modules on their dashboard as well.
Unification – The Association Resources Module, bundled with the NAR Resources Module, gives the association the ability to communicate, promote, and provide direct connections to activates at their local Association, the State Association, and anything NAR wishes to promote. The Dashboard can display information appropriately, based on the type of user as per association records, so that limited function referral organizations (LFRO) can be invited to participate in political advocacy (i.e. PAF and Calls For Action).
Technology – Every association must have an interactive website, post access to professional standards arbitration filing processes, and create a link to the websites of the other levels of the association for promo;on of member programs, products, and services. The Dashboard, specifically the Association Services Module, features the ability to create static and/or SSO links to various member services, local, state, and NAR site pages. The Clareity Dashboard is the perfect vehicle for member communication … putting the local association into the driver’s seat. With every login to the MLS (or any other of their applications), they will see your association’s messages, campaigns, and individual links.
For more information about how your association can implement the Clareity Security SSO Dashboard, please contact email@example.com.
A Ten Year Journey
In James C. Collins’ bestselling business book, “Good to Great”, he introduces the concept of the flywheel. Outside of business, a flywheel is a heavy wheel that, once momentum is built, can store and provide consistently great power to a machine even when regular power is interrupted. The tricky thing about a heavy flywheel is that it can take great effort to overcome its initial inertia, and sometimes it takes a long time of pushing to get it up to full speed. Collins uses the flywheel as a metaphor for business, describing how, with consistent effort and persistence, a company can achieve great things. Clareity Security has been pushing on some great flywheels for some time, and it is perhaps overdue to describe those efforts to the industry at large.
Flywheel alternator field magnet
(Rankin Kennedy, Electrical Installations, Vol II, 1909)
The flywheel pushing began ten years ago. A client of Clareity Consulting needed to solve the issue they were having with unauthorized system access and theft of data, which had become a national epidemic due – in part – to lax password-only security. Clareity Security was highly successful at solving this problem, and after a few years was protecting logins for half of the industry with the SAFEMLS product. However, there was always some pushback on information security measures as inconvenient. Security in every context is always a bit inconvenient – it would surely be convenient to never have to remember house keys and just leave the door unlocked, but we don’t want someone walking in and taking our possessions. Still, Clareity Security was listening, and started exploring new ways to provide security more conveniently, though the new authentication technology would take some time to develop and deploy.
The push for greater convenience also led the way for something which is now a common term in our industry, “Single Sign-On” (SSO). Clareity Security, with NAR’s support, created an open-source toolkit and reference implementation for secure “SAML” SSO in 2007. Vendors started to deploy more secure single sign-on in more places, making life easier for real estate professionals, while still ensuring best practices for data security and authentication.
While SSO was gaining momentum, starting in 2009 Clareity Security began to deploy a new, “zero footprint authentication” solution – a way to provide security while providing the minimum inconvenience to end-users possible. Using new technologies, security could be provided without carrying around hardware “key fobs” to generate one-time-use passwords and without software installation.
But one of the greatest breakthroughs occurred in 2010, when Clareity Security integrated Miami REALTORS®’ various applications using SSO technology to create a single dashboard for their members. Thus began Clareity Security’s SSO Dashboard initiative, which allows MLSs, Associations, brokers and others to present all the tools they provide to their subscribers (members, etc.) in one convenient location, and provide secure, convenient SSO. In 2012, Clareity Security extended this concept with the Clareity Store, allowing subscribers to purchase additional well-integrated products.
Keep in mind that what you are seeing today is just the first version of the SSO Dashboard and Clareity Store – what is coming in 2015/2016 will make our industry look back and say, “That was a good starting place.” Clareity Security is committed to growing and enhancing the SSO Dashboard and Clareity Store to meet the changing needs of the busy real estate professional.
But, that was a lot of background – let’s look at this history in terms of what industry issues are being addressed with all this technology:
- The Value Proposition Problem. MLSs, Associations, and brokers now have a platform for expressing the value they provide by keeping their whole offering in front of users and giving them convenient access through SSO.
- The 90/10 problem. Traditionally, 90% of users use 10% of the offering. The SSO Dashboard improves significantly adoption of tools by users. In a recent case study, adoption of certain applications rose by an average of 75% within the first month of Dashboard implementation.
- The Robust “Site License” Offering vs. Differentiation problem. There has always been a strain between MLSs wanting to provide everything needed for agents to be professional yet leaving room for brokers and agents to differentiate using tools not in use by others in their market. The SSO Dashboard, combined with the Clareity Store, allows organizations to provide a platform that provides just the right balance.
- The Convenience / Security problem. SSO, by its very nature, creates an increased security risk: more resources – including platforms holding the most sensitive information our industry handles (document & transaction management) are available behind a single login. Because Clareity Security provides a great security solution that can be combined with the SSO Dashboard, this risk can be mitigated.
- Centralized Identity. With the introduction of SSO Dashboard including a SAFEMLS Identity Provider (IdP), everyone benefits from not having to remember and synchronize different user IDs and passwords across multiple platforms.
- The Revenue Assurance problem. When logins are shared, the honest folks pay for the resources being stolen by others. Clareity Security makes sure everyone pays only their fair share by reducing the number of “freeloaders” and reducing unauthorized access.
Clareity Security continues to push hard on the flywheel and innovate. In 2014, we released SAFEMLS+, providing even better security, especially for mobile users – plus an improved interface for customers’ staff. Clareity Security is working with specialist interface designers now on creating an even more amazing experience to be unveiled in 2015. And that’s just the beginning. If we keep pushing and the industry pushes with us, we can expect that widespread SSO Dashboard and Clareity Store deployments should eventually provide a personalized dashboard experience for the individual real estate professional. A tool that combines franchise, broker, MLS, association, and eventually even personal apps is the ultimate in convenience and power for real estate professionals.
It has been an amazing ten years for Clareity Security, growing from just being a security company to an integration company to a convenience and user experience company while retaining the best parts of its past while quickly moving toward its future.
When Clareity Security started on its journey, we had some good things in mind for our industry. But now that Clareity Security has been pushing for ten years, we can see great things ahead. An industry colleague once said, “We’re an industry driven too often by our fears and not enough by our dreams.” Dream with us!