The MLS is merely a guide

With every day of innovation and aggregation by competitors, the MLS is becoming fast becoming a guide toward property offerings and valuations rather than “the” or even “a” definitive source.

There are at least two reasons for this change –
1) The innovation of data aggregation competitors with whom many are familiar – Zillow, Homegain, Trulia, Yahoo, AOL, Google, the list seems to grow every week.  – whose goals are to gain their own market share and disintermediate agents.

2) Realtors seem to have taken the MLS for granted as something that has always been and will always “be there.” The time/opportunity may have passed for Realtors to regain control of what is currently the single-greatest data source for property information out there.

The MLS is in the process of devolving/evolving into just another data source. The root cause is the lack of accuracy of the data input by the agents. To be the best data source, one has to input the best raw data. That simply has not been the case for some time, due partially to the strength of the real estate market for the past six years, but also to simply laziness and lack of accountability. How can one maintain a market lead when the data lack integrity?

One aspect that differentiates the MLS from its competitors is the offer of cooperation between Brokers and the fact that at this moment, the vast majority of properties are marketed through the MLS. The MLS remains the single largest aggregation of property data out there. For now.

The solution: just what it has always been when faced with the competition. Be better then they are.

My prediction: the MLS as we know it will be almost unrecognizable in less than three years.

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  1. Todd Tarson August 8, 2006 at 16:40

    Well said.

    I say to my Association Members something along the lines of this all the time. I say it at new member orientation, I say it at MLS meetings, and have said it to the regional steering committee that is putting together a new regional data exchange in my humble corner of Arizona.

    If the data that goes into the MLS is garbage, then the MLS is garbage. Right now as of this moment, my local MLS is garbage. Us agents do take the MLS for granted there is no doubt.

    I am just becoming aware of the world outside of the MLS, or the more traditional means of doing business as a realtor. The thing that bothers me so much is the level of apathy shown by the Members.

    Yeah, it was great writing our own paychecks in 2004 and 2005. The only thing that is going to save us in 2006 and beyond is the data we share with each other. If it’s not the best, and I mean the very best… it will be over for us in a very short period of time.

    You say three years to see a significant change… fine. I say we better get the ball rolling right now and pave the way to a better data source today… TODAY!!

  2. Jim Duncan August 10, 2006 at 09:22

    Todd –

    By not realizing the importance of our data we are opening ourselves up to those who seek to place themselves between us and the buyers.

    The world outside of the MLS is seeking to develop better and more comprehensive data sources than we currently have. Why did Zillow get their Brokers’ licenses? Just to have them or might they be up to something else?

    By underestimating the competitive threat of disintermediating companies and business models, we are not doing ourselves any favors.

    Change has to start at the agent level.

  3. Todd Tarson August 10, 2006 at 16:28

    Why did zillow get a brokers license??

    Because there is money to be made representing buyers and sellers in the transaction of real property.

    Will their computer codes ever be as good for buyers and sellers as a GOOD RE agent?? I hope that answer is no for a very long time. For at least as long as I wish to remain better at this business than they are.

    But I (and many other representatives that I’ve met recently on the internet) can’t do it on my own. We each have to take a look in the mirror and decide if this is the biz we want to do, AND be the ultimate source for the services buyers and sellers are in search of.

    I can’t say for sure as to where that all starts… but a GREAT place would be the data we all use in order to cooperate in our efforts to transact on the behalf of clients.

    I’ll be at a local brokers coucil meeting today as a representative of the local Board of Directors. They are going to get an earful.

  4. Jim Duncan August 10, 2006 at 16:34

    I’ll be at a local brokers coucil meeting today as a representative of the local Board of Directors. They are going to get an earful.

    Have at it and good luck. Those of us who intend to remain in this business have to be the ones who advance the professionalism and the services.