If Realtor.com Can Do It, Can’t I?

Just curious –

If Realtor.com is displaying sold data (data apparently not available in Charlottesville – yet, bolding mine)

With some areas experiencing a 25 to 39 percent decrease in home prices in the third quarter, buyers need to remain competitive in potential bidding wars. Using REALTOR.com®, the #1 homes for sale Web site, buyers can track price changes on homes of interest, monitor actual sales data on nearby homes within 24 hours of a sale, and get the latest photos and video tours of thousands of Southern California properties.

Why can I not display the exact same sold and under contract data. Per my the Charlottesville Area MLS (rules of which I assume are common throughout the country):

Display of expired, withdrawn, contingent, sold, and pending listings is prohibited.

I’m working on finding out more about the rules and regs, but if this holds true, how can Realtor.com not be seen as a competitor of any Realtor aspiring to have a strong web presence? (Like this)

(Visited 60 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Michael Wurzer January 14, 2009 at 08:43

    Jim, there are plenty of MLSs now that allow display of sold information, including NWMLS in the Pacific northwest, RMLS-MN in Minneapolis (I believe), and others. Of course, with the new VOW settlement, solds also must be made available via a VOW feed. An interesting side note to the VOW settlement is whether MLSs who might otherwise have allowed display of solds as part of their IDX program will now use the VOW settlement as the method for displaying solds, when the VOW rules require registration for the consumer.

  2. Jim Duncan January 14, 2009 at 09:28

    Michael –

    Thanks for the quick response. I’m more and more curious about the implications of the VOW settlement, and whether it’s going to make it easier or more difficult for MLS’ and Associations … I’m leaning towards easier for those of us who get it, but harder for the MLS’ and Associations because many still feel that their stranglehold on the data display is one of their core competencies.

    So I’m wondering … exclusive of the VOW, why wouldn’t an MLS just make solds, under contract, etc. display-able via IDX rather than force their *members* to jump through an additional hoop. Isn’t their role to make members’ lives easier and more profitable?

  3. Tony Arko January 14, 2009 at 09:34

    Jim, Frank Llosa has been displaying pending sales for quite some time on franklymls.com And I think he is now showing previous sales data for currently listed homes. FYI

  4. Mitchell Allen January 14, 2009 at 16:06

    Hi Jim,

    First, let me say that I think your interactive map rocks!
    The best I that I could manage was Tarasoft’s Titan/MS Streets and Trips.

    It was good enough for the ONE house I sold before the fees killed me.

    As for the REALTOR.com® advantage, would it be correct to say that it is actually a MLS, just like CAAR? If so, then they can make their own rules.
    I used MRIS (FAAR) but had access to CAAR. They were so different, it confused me.

    Personally, you seem to be doing the right things. Unless you are a relocation specialist, think locally, act locally. Let Caesar have what he is going to have. 🙂



  5. Michael Wurzer January 14, 2009 at 16:18

    So I’m wondering … exclusive of the VOW, why wouldn’t an MLS just make solds, under contract, etc. display-able via IDX rather than force their *members* to jump through an additional hoop. Isn’t their role to make members’ lives easier and more profitable?

    Two things: (1) history — not displaying solds is the status quo and it takes action to change it; and (2) the action necessary to change the status quo requires some assessment of what makes members’ lives easier, which is difficult with a diverse membership. I’m confident that not all the members of your MLS will agree with your assessment that solds should be readily displayable by any agent on a public web site. That doesn’t mean some progressive MLSs/brokers/agents haven’t changed the status quo — they have — but it isn’t the slam dunk perhaps it should be. That’s not to say this is bad. Changing precedent slowly isn’t the worst system design.

  6. Mike Leibel - Calgary REALTOR® January 15, 2009 at 10:50

    Surely the seller is entitled to some privacy about their personal financial transactions. I don’t even give sold prices out over the phone. Usually at the request of my sellers, unless it is for the purpose of determining the selling price during a listing appointment.

  7. Jim Duncan January 15, 2009 at 10:53

    Mike –

    Thank you so much for your comment.

    Sold data is a matter of public record (in Virginia) – why wouldn’t I want my site to be the one the public sees as the best place to go to find out what the market is doing?

  8. Anonymous January 16, 2009 at 01:08

    I may be mistaken, but Richmond MLS for many years has given their members access to contract prices . . . unless that has changed. Certainly the transfer price is a matter of public record once recorded and readily available online in many municipalities and newspapers. C’ville Realtors seem to have a vested interest in protecting high list prices by not sharing any information with clients or other realtors. Agents I have worked with there still do no research and relay little about the listings and sellers they are working for. When asked to give an expert opinion of property value, even a buyer’s agent will insult your intelligence with bubble comparables, “this is a protected area” and “real estate always appreciates so don’t worry about overpaying”. A prospective buyer is put off when the list is 6% above a seller’s already inflated expectations of appreciation or loan payoff. What happened to professionals who honestly appraised the market, were prepared with plat and property details, and talked aggressively worked with sellers to set the right price for the market? What happened to buyer’s agents who were willing to listen to the buyer’s requirements and search for fit and recommend offering price vs. solely making appointments to show and writeup a contract at list. The Realtor is bringing so little to the table in terms of value that the commission has become nothing more than another middleman markup — kind of what got us to into this bubble to begin with. Jim, your blog is the exception and you are adding value to the community.

  9. Paul Erb January 16, 2009 at 09:45

    Jim Duncan is among the few realtors who see into the future: where buyers and sellers have plenty of data channels, the MLS will start to look quaint. In that world, realtors become information bankers and interpreteters–more like specialized librarians with sales power–for those folks who want to aggregate their own interests into one valuable data bundle before buying or selling. The data-hoarding real-estate agent model is the MLS – Maginot Line System – of the market: Impressive–but only to people looking strictly backwards.

  10. Anonymous January 17, 2009 at 14:44

    Mycaar has search terms not available to the general public, and therefore is not really self-serve. It is a sales lead generation tool for the agents. Time is money. No buyer wants to tour prospective homes that can be eliminated by a detailed search engine. Taking Paul’s idea into the future, perhaps property owners will someday ultimately list in a national online database (the government backs the mortgages) and a paid civil servant will broker sales and mortgages for a nominal fee. Why add commissions for brokering a property transfer when the seller and buyer will already be paying exorbitant personal taxes to fund numerous bailouts of the very financial entities who still wish to conduct business as usual.

  11. Jim Duncan January 20, 2009 at 07:12

    Anonymous – by self-serve if you mean by the general public, you’re absolutely correct. The MLS is owned and operated by Realtors. I’ve said many, many times before that my core competency as a Realtor is in providing the best tools to empower my customers and clients and to represent clients in the purchase and sale of their homes – not simply having MLS access.

    Re: the national online database – that’s been and is being discussed, but do you really trust the government more than Realtors? (acknowledging in advance that I’m setting myself up with this question)

  12. anonymous January 20, 2009 at 18:42

    Jim, I very much appreciate your candor and professionalism. My point was that UNLESS the Realtor adds value to the process, he could easily be replaced by clerical assistance to the buyer/seller that would be nominal in cost. Too many Realtors are order takers and rely on personality to sell. They cannot answer simple questions about the the home being visited, seller’s motivation to negotiate, HOA, covenants, property lines, mortgages, etc. Having a 6% middleman in the midst of pricing deflation is only desirable if the agent is a catalyst for a sale that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

    No I don’t trust the government . . . they are still instrumental in serving the special interests that precipitated this economic crisis to begin with.

  13. Jim Duncan January 20, 2009 at 19:59

    Anonymous –

    I’m going to pull your comment and respond as a post early next week; you raise some really good points that deserve a full response.

  14. Jim Lee January 20, 2009 at 22:46

    In my area sold prices are a matter of public record; in fact our local papers prints the property transfers in the newspaper weekly with the buyer and seller’s names along with the sale price.

    Why could you not use that information. I publish an aggregated compilation on that data on my blog pretty often in graph form.

    Just as easy to list specific properties but the graph is a great visual to show what price ranges are getting the most action.

  15. Jim Lee January 20, 2009 at 22:49

    In my area the local newspaper prints a weekly list of homes sold with sales price and names of buyers and sellers.

    If that data is available in your area or if property transfers are public record you could use them as a source and avoid the MLS.

    I publish an aggregated compilation of that data pretty often in my blog. I use a graph because it’s a great visual and shows where the action is in the various price ranges.

  16. Jim Duncan January 21, 2009 at 07:20

    Jim –

    Thanks for the comment. I absolutely agree, but my question is, why should we – the creators and owners of the MLS – have to find ways around the MLS?

  17. Pingback: What Makes Realtor.com Different? | RealCentralVA.com

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *