Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES LLC, poses for a photo at her Loveland-based office in December. Joel Blocker / For BizWest

Hansen has a passion for MLS databases

LOVELAND — When Lauren Hansen of Niwot gives new real estate brokers orientations of the IRES database she helped create, she compares her presentation to the quick barking of a Pomeranian.

“It’s a lot to cover,” Hansen said. “I’m a motor mouth at everything we offer. I want them to be excited about everything available to them and what the subscription covers.”

Hansen is chief executive officer of IRES LLC, the regional Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, headquartered in Loveland, and CEO of RealGo Inc., the tech development company owned by IRES. RealGo manages the MLS database and inputs any changes or updates to IRES, acting as “our MLS system wizards” and “the programmers that make the magic happen,” she said.

Brokers and appraisers pay for a subscription to access IRES, which covers Northern Colorado, Estes Valley, Broomfield and Weld, Morgan and Logan counties, plus the Denver metro area. The database is one of 600 MLS systems nationwide.

IRES provides property information, lists what’s on the market and for how long, and allows users to conduct comparative market analyses and to do mapping of desired areas. The database has a 20-year archive of historical information, is linked to two national databases for moves into and out of state, and includes non-MLS listings such as vacation rentals.

“It has a wealth of tools, information and features,” Hansen said. “From day one, the vision was to provide an integrated platform to streamline processes while leveraging data. The fact that we own our own development company means that we can be responsive to customer needs and technology evolution.”

The public has access to a more limited profile of real estate listings through the coloproperty.com website. The company’s informational website is ires-net.com.

Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES LLC, left, goes over a “life of a listing” flow chart while employees Julie Dahl, middle, and Melanie Neal look on during a recent impromptu meeting at Hansen’s Loveland-based office. Joel Blocker / For BizWest

“It’s our public face of the MLS … intended for the public and consumers to shop for available properties and look at what’s going on in the market,” Hansen said.

David Powell, managing broker and Realtor for Re/Max in Loveland and a member of the IRES board for nine years, appreciates how Hansen is willing to listen to those using the database and will quickly adapt it to their needs.

“She has a true vision of what MLS does. It’s not just a simple system, or software, people use,” Powell said, adding that with the board, which consists of members who also sell real estate, “she comes in with great ideas, but she doesn’t try to micromanage us. … She does a very good job of continuing to evolve, evolving the company, evolving herself, evolving the board. … She always puts what is best for the company above herself.”

Hansen helped create IRES after gathering some experience in other real estate positions, and she worked with several MLS services to expand their local offerings. She started in 1981 as an executive officer for the Estes Park Board of Realtors. She’d earned her bachelor of fine arts in 1977 from Colorado State University, followed by the CMLX 1 and CMLX 2 designations in 2015 and the CMLX 3 designation in 2016 — she is one of about 50 in the United States to have attained the CMLX 3 designation.

“We had one computer, and I designed their MLS system from off-the-shelf database software,” Hansen said. “That’s when my love affair with databases began. … If you do design it well, the kind of information you can gather at more than face value is astounding.”

In 1992, Hansen became the executive director of the regional MLS for Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland called Tri-City Services Inc. Then in 1996, the MLS merged with the Longmont and Boulder MLS organizations to form IRES and she has been its CEO since — all five associations have equal ownership in IRES. Today, there are seven Realtor associations listed on IRES’s website that include Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland/Berthoud, Longmont, Boulder, Logan County and Estes Valley.

Hansen also became CEO of RealGo in 1998, when IRES acquired it. She started off by using an MLS database through a national vendor, but when IRES formed, the company initially also used a national provider and then RealGo developed a custom system launched in 2001. Hansen and the IRES leadership at first researched existing systems but did not find what they envisioned, she said.

“We created it in our own vision and continue to do so,” Hansen said. “We can be very responsive and nimble because it is our own developed system rather than going through a huge corporation that serves hundreds of thousands of customers.”

Chris Hardy, a Realtor and broker-owner of Elevations Real Estate Inc., in Fort Collins and a member of the IRES board for the past 12 years, appreciates that responsiveness, remembering when listings were printed in books and distributed to subscribers every other week.   

“Her ability to lead IRES by embracing technology and dizzying change, she rose in the national ranks as a vital resource in the MLS world in spite of being from a comparatively small market,” Hardy said. “Lauren knows everybody, and everybody knows Lauren.  This national reputation culminated in her being elected chair of the national organization of MLSs called Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS).  Oh, and did I mention that Lauren’s ascendancy in this arena bucked the gender-specific tradition of a male-dominated industry? … Lauren has made extraordinary strides given the corporate and social cultures stacked against her.”

MLSs across the country face a challenging environment from “the mobility of consumers, the ubiquitous reach of the internet, alternative brokerage models, national marketing data portals and America’s love of houses,” Hardy said. 

“Lauren has prepared IRES well for meeting these challenges.” Hardy said.

IRES addresses these challenges, too, by being willing to partner with other MLS systems. The company had sought a merger with RE Colorado, the metro Denver MLS, and entered into discussions in 2012 that were terminated by RE Colorado in March 2017.

“We had merger discussions that got pretty far along, and those fell apart, and we had another round of two years of negotiations with an unsolicited offer to purchase IRES,” Hansen said. “We are certainly open to collaboration and hope to build bridges in the future. … It’s a matter of finding a deal that works that benefits the customers and the brokers along the Front Range.”

IRES has other partnerships with MLS organizations and includes listings from several areas throughout the state including Vail, Grand Junction and CREN, the Colorado Real Estate Network in southwest Colorado. 

“We wanted to collaborate with each of them to help market properties in other areas at no charge to them,” Hansen said.

IRES is in discussion with the Pikes Peak Association in Colorado Springs to include its listings on the public site — the listings went on the MLS subscription system as of April 2019.

Through the various discussions, Hansen also makes sure she listens to IRES’s customers while also paying attention to what is trending in the industry and with technology, she said. IRES responds to customer needs by doing things like adding a field or a metro tax district, which has gotten lots of attention of late, and any changes that are made keep mobile devices in mind, she said.

“It’s a continual matter of asking questions and listening, making sure we understand what’s happening with customers and brokers,” Hansen said. “We arm them with as many tools as they need to be able to give their customers reliable and accurate information in turn.”

Hansen serves on several national advisory boards, including realtor.com, zillow.com and Realtor Property Resource, a national database of properties.

LOVELAND — When Lauren Hansen of Niwot gives new real estate brokers orientations of the IRES database she helped create, she compares her presentation to the quick barking of a Pomeranian.

“It’s a lot to cover,” Hansen said. “I’m a motor mouth at everything we offer. I want them to be excited about everything available to them and what the subscription covers.”

Hansen is chief executive officer of IRES LLC, the regional Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, headquartered in Loveland, and CEO of RealGo Inc., the tech development company owned by IRES. RealGo manages the MLS database and inputs any changes or updates to IRES, acting as “our MLS system wizards” and “the programmers that make the magic happen,” she said.

Brokers and appraisers pay for a subscription to access IRES, which covers Northern Colorado, Estes Valley, Broomfield and Weld, Morgan and Logan counties, plus the Denver metro area. The database is one of 600 MLS systems nationwide.

IRES provides property information, lists what’s on the market and for how long, and allows users to conduct comparative market analyses and to do mapping of desired areas. The database has a 20-year archive of historical information, is linked to two national databases for moves into and out of state, and includes non-MLS listings such as vacation rentals.

“It has a wealth of tools, information and features,” Hansen said. “From day one, the vision was to provide an integrated platform to streamline processes while…