Questions Regarding Value of National MLS

Mar 3, 2008  |  Michael Wurzer

Over on AgentGenius, Mariana Wagner has a post called A National MLS Will NOT Work And Here Are Three Reasons Why . . .” I commented on Mariana’s post but included only one link for fear of getting caught by Akismet if I included more, and so I’ll also post some additional thoughts and links here to try to expand the conversation.

Further to Mariana’s point that “A National MLS is a HUGE pile of mess to throw under one umbrella with one ringmaster”, check out my post Good Standards Break Monopolies, Not Make Them. To summarize, you don’t need a national MLS to gain the benefits of standards, like RETS, and, in fact, an effective standard will foster competition instead of limit it.

To further Mariana’s point that a national MLS isn’t necessary because her “MLS rocks”, check out my post Are Competitive MLSs Possible or Desireable? To summarize, competition among MLSs can be encouraged by a national repository with right of mutual download, but tricky questions about IDX and other “terms of use” would remain. This is where expanding the conversation as Mariana is doing becomes so valuable. These are not easy issues and yet they are being debated, and that debate can produce effective solutions. If the issues are not debated here in the blogosphere, in the open, then they will be debated in the back rooms at NAR or wherever and the “solutions” very well may be what you don’t want. For example, the NAR clearly is pursuing a “Gateway” and spending REALTOR money to do so. Yet, there remains very little information available regarding the actual plans. Hmmmm.

Finally, to further Mariana’s point that “If Real Estate is Local, why should the MLS be National?”, check out my posts Raging Regionals, Regionals, Part II, and, more recently, Why RETS?. To summarize, real inefficiencies (pain) are being experienced as a result of brokerages growing across multiple MLS service areas. The question is how to solve these problems while preserving competition and the benefits of the local MLS Mariana extols. I believe the solution lies in data standards but there is much more required. Nothing less than the constitution — the very fabric — of MLSs is at stake here.

I’ve suggested before that the future of MLS is now, and so I’m very excited to see these issues being discussed out in the open. We need more participants for broad and intensive debate. Perhaps a track on these issues can be developed for REbarcamp. As I said in Is there or could there be a TED for real estate?

A few or several days of “broad and intensive debate“, with the best minds in the industry, about the interconnectedness of competition and cooperation in real estate, including offers of compensation, data sharing, data quality, data ownership, syndication, consumer engagement, MLS competition, consolidation, lead generation, and so much more. As Chris Anderson says in his video below, what’s exciting for him is how mind-blowing it is to see how interconnected so many issues are. Those interconnections are where learning occurs.

Maybe the interconnections can occur here, on blogs, if we get enough participants in the discussion. To that end, thanks, Mariana, for your post!

5 Responses to “Questions Regarding Value of National MLS”

  1. Matt Cohen says:

    I like the idea of “broad and intensive” debate, but the terms that I think also need to be injected into such a debate are “structured, thorough and rigorous”. Such facilitation is a challenging endeavor.

    Also, while I like the idea of debate structure, I think it would be more interesting if those interested in creating National MLS or other such structures would use the forum as one of planning – funneling the conclusions toward activity, if the need for such was the conclusion of the group.

    I’m looking forward to hearing from NAR/CRT on the subject of the national MLS gateway at the Clareity workshop this week and am looking forward to the conversation that generates.

  2. Matt, I agree, facilitation is very difficult and starts with defining many of the terms commonly. For example, people talk about a “National MLS” but there easily are different meanings for that term. Is it a software system, the local governance structure, both, or something else? You definitely have my interest peaked now about what we may hear at your conference about the “Gateway”. Very interested.

  3. Matt Cohen says:

    Exactly – it was clear in Mariana’s blog that she wasn’t even talking about the same structure of national MLS being talked about by NAR – so what kind of conversation could we really have if we weren’t even talking about the same thing? When I used the term rigor, I was thinking that type of rigor you have in philosophical discussion, where term definition is a clear requisite.

  4. You clearly know more than me if you know what kind of “structure of national MLSs [is] being talked about by NAR”. From hearing Gary Thomas speak, I think Mariana is talking about the same thing Gary alludes to in saying the Gateway “could lead” to a national MLS. That the seeds to that is a repository (or back-end only) is important but the result may be the same.

  5. Thank you for the mention, Michael. There is a lot to consider in this whole idea. And like what was brought up in the Agent Genius post, we do not even know how the internet and technology will change in the near future. For all we know we are talking about something that will be obsolete in the next couple years anyway… Probabaly not, but we cannot know for sure.

    I AM unaware of all the different National MLS options. It will be interesting to see what options will be. And for as much as it would be nice to have consistent standards across the nation, I still disagree with the concept of a national MLS.