Keys for future MLS survival

In real estate on January 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

NEW YORK – Jan. 17, 2011 – What must multiple listing services do to remain viable for the next five years? That question was at the center of a panel discussion Thursday at Inman’s Real Estate Connect event in New York.

Each of the panelists – which included Houston Association of Realtors® CEO Bob Hale, 7DS Consulting’s Rob Hahn, and WAV Group Partner Marilyn Wilson – offered a slightly different take on the current state of this sector and what every MLS needs to do in order to survive in today’s market.

Many MLSs are facing declining subscribers and accelerating innovation. Here are some of the broad themes that emerged from the discussion.

• Figure out who your customers are. Who does the MLS ultimately serve? Real estate practitioners? Brokers? Consumers? This is more than a rhetorical question; it’s an issue that each MLS needs to give serious consideration. Too many haven’t. “We are not customer-centric enough, period. If we don’t satisfy their needs and help them be successful, then we’re not doing our jobs,” Wilson said.

• Determine what kind of organization the MLS is. Part of this concerns the preceding point, but it’s also related to governance and operational issues, Hahn said. For example, most MLSs today are, in fact, technology companies. Do their organizational structures reflect that? How much control do they have over their own technology? “Is the structure adequate to the challenge MLSs face?” Hahn asked. “Maybe so, but at least be willing to have the conversation.”

• Don’t cede innovation to technology startups. Part of the reason MLSs are in such dire straits today is that in their resistance to adapt to change, they’ve allowed companies like Zillow and Trulia to grab market share. Consumers have a seemingly insatiable appetite for property data, and MLSs should acknowledge and plan around that fact. The competition will always be poised to take advantage if they don’t.

For instance, Hale mentioned a startup that had been discussed in a previous session called homingCloud, a Web site that’s designed to directly connect homebuyers and sellers in a fashion similar to an Internet dating site. “The MLSs have to be great visionaries, or else we’ll wake up one day and find that homingCloud is the new MLS,” Hale said.

Source: Brian Summerfield, Realtor® Magazine

Reprinted by Permission: © 2011 Florida Realtors®


I would venture to add that the MLS should be provided so that they can be used in any number of platforms including Open Architecture, Google-Droid, Windows or Apple.

In addition, standardization should be key. For licensed agents in one state to be restricted to where in the state they can do business only because the different MLS’s “don’t talk to each other” is ludicrous.

What other factors should the MLS consider? Voice your opinion.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: