Does size matter?

Oct 21, 2007  |  Michael Wurzer

Re-reading my post this morning Are Competitive MLSs Possible or Desireable?, I feel like the end of the post lacked some clarity. The real question is whether broad standards can be achieved without creating huge MLSs or one MLS, which is likely to destroy the conversations that make the MLS valuable in the first instance. This is all about preserving the intimacy of the social connections inherent in the MLS while at the same time fostering broad agreements of cooperation on a national basis.

To understand this point, step back and consider the history and future of the MLS through the eyes of Joe and his progeny:

  • A long, long time ago, two real estate guys are sitting in a coffee shop:

“Hey, Joe, I hear the Smith place is up for sale.”
“Yep, know anyone who might be interested?”
“I’ve been trying to get that place sold for awhile. If you bring me a buyer, I’ll split my commission with you.”

  • A week later, back at the coffee shop:

“Joe, this is Mary from our office, she’s got a few listings, too.”
“Great, I brought Ann, who’s been working with lots of buyers lately.”

  • A month later, still at the coffee shop, but a much bigger table:

Mary says, “I couldn’t sleep last night so I wrote down all of our listings on these recipe cards and organized them in this shoe box. Pretty cool, huh?”
“Awesome, can I copy those?”
“Sure, if you I can copy yours.”
“No problem.”

  • A few years later, no longer at the coffee shop, because there isn’t a table big enough for all the people participating:

“Hey, I ran into Peter at the Print Shop the other day, and he saw my shoe box and said he could print them up in a book for us if we want.”
“That sounds great!”

  • And several years later, at a meeting of the Board of REALTORS:

“Joe, have you seen these new computers some of the folks are using?”
“Yeah, those are pretty handy. But man, who’s in charge of that anyway? I hardly know anyone involved in this any more.”

  • Many years later, on a Usenet news group for real estate, Joe’s son types:

“I’m working on a web site to show all the listings in the MLS system.”
“You’re what? Are you sure you can do that? Will the MLS allow it?”
“Hey, I’m doing it. I don’t care about those idiots at the MLS; they’re all old school, just trying to protect their turf!”

  • A decade later, Joe’s grandson, Joe III, posts on his Facebook wall:

“Joe III is sick of the stoopid rules of the national MLS and so has created a Real Estate Sharing Group for like-minded people.”

  • A few weeks later:

“Joe III is holding a meetup at Starbucks for RESG, see you there!”

  • At Starbucks:

“Hey, Joe, I hear the Smith place is for sale . . . “

3 Responses to “Does size matter?”

  1. Troy Rech says:

    What a great way to describe the current state of affairs!! In my pre-Real Estate life (long time ago), I spent months after months working with large corporations to increase profitability by reducing expenditures, fix and streamline processes (no reason to just streamline a bad process, right), and reorganize the workforce around the new work flows. Inevitably, our projects would start off as a centralization/decentralization discussion between the corporate leadership team.

    If the plant/distribution center/support staff/etc. were centralized, the management team wanted to decentralize the function to put everyone closer to the internal customer. If the functions were decentralized, the management team wanted to centralize the functions. This was the solution – it didn’t really matter what the original problem represented. Sound familiar?? This change for the sake of change would occur like clockwork about every 5 years for larger corporations just as the old management team was forgetting why they did what they did in the first place.

    This sure does fit the mold of your discussion above…..

  2. […] This basic distinction — between the open web and proprietary solutions — goes to the heart of what I believe is the purpose of MLSs and REALTOR Associations (local, state and national), namely: creating a cooperative platform on which competitors can compete.  I wrote some time ago that MLS is more than technology. This isn’t new or radical, it’s what MLSs and Associations have been doing since inception. […]

  3. […] should get together locally — you know, meetup.  What a crazy idea!  That made me think of a post I wrote quite awhile ago that seems quite relevant today.  Here’s the part I love the most, my version of the history […]