Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American GeniusThe American Genius

Housing News

R.I.P. M.L.S.

mlsHow about making a national deal with Google to have a nationwide MLS with real estate agents who pay extra getting better positioning.  FSBO can place……mmmmm, I think this is the Google plan to begin with.

The listing of property will become a segmented, a la carte proposition over the next few years because of the Googles of the world that will just flatten our back woods MLSs.  Their futures may be worthless.

Google has the infastructure to do it themselves without the use of a 10 year old server with Active-X so that it can only be on Internet Explorer.

They will set the rules, the fees, the upgrades because they own the consumers.

Don’t waste your time complaining to your local MLS.  They will be dead soon.  Maybe you can recruit them to be agents…..second thought, nah!

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Written By

Realty Reality! That describes Fred, a sharp witted and outspoken realist for the mortgage and real estate world who has appeared on CNBC and NPR's Marketplace along with being quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets. Fred is the CEO of U S Spaces, Inc/Arrivva (a real estate brokerage firm in PA, NJ, DE and CA) and U S Loans Mortgage Inc (mortgage brokerage in PA, CA, FL and VA), and serves on the Board of Directors and is the Federal Legislative Director for the UpFront Mortgage Brokers. Fred is also the co-creator of real estate startup, a mathematically driven rental search engine. See everything Fred at



  1. Karen Rice

    February 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Who will police it to make sure each listing is accurate and follows the “rules”? I really fail to see how Google will have the resources to monitor such a thing. Right now we have issues with accuracy and updated information with Zillow and Trulia.

    • Dylan Schleppe

      February 12, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Interesting and timely comments. The boards that want to survive are aware of Google’s leverage. Those that aren’t making plans now to do more than “data” will be short lived IMO.
      Karen – I think the answer is “we” will. As in, consumers.

      I imagine that Zillow and Trulia will be casualties before the boards are though.

    • Al Lorenz

      February 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm

      Karen, how about the open market, that quaint free enterprise?

  2. Nobu Hata

    February 12, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    It’s funny, the timing of this post. I’m doing a bit of research for an NAR/YPN blog post.

    @Karen, like all things user-generated it’s evolving and constantly being refined with the hope that the consumer will police themselves. Just take a look Both MLS-gen and consumer-generated listings are living harmoniously (sometimes simultaneously) in my market. Luckily my company is already supplying GoogleBase leads for maps/real estate making it the number three website referror to our main site and that is a fact that cannot be ignored. Factor in and other non-MLS based IDX coming through the pipeline and know that a lot of companies are preparing for the days with no MLS. What’s your market look like? Are you controlling content with GoogleBase?

  3. Karen Rice

    February 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Who’s going to make sure that old listings are removed after they are sold? Who will make sure that the data posted (sale price, dom, etc.) is accurate?

    I really don’t understand how it can be done without some sort of board in place to keep members in check. The fact that Trulia and Zillow are ridiculously inaccurate in so many ways is testament to that…at least IMHO.

  4. Fred Glick

    February 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Money, Karen. Google will charge for the premier listings and also put the Day of Market and Property marketing Periods, etc in the listing.

    They will also make deals to have the public records exported so that they will sell the sold data and close out any listing that transfers

    Believe me, these are very smart guys that have it (mostly) figured out.

  5. Karen Rice

    February 12, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    First, Al, your sarcasm re: the “quaint” free enterprise is not appreciated. I have nothing against “free enterprise.”

    My concern is that the consumers actually have accurate and up to date information. Not restriction of that “quaint free enterprise.”

    We all know that many real estate agents are neither the sharpest knives in the drawer nor are they the brightest crayons in the box….just look at the MLS NOW…I’m imagining it without any kind of local supervision…and it’s not a pretty sight to me. I am skeptical that without some system to keep things in check, it will be no different than the mess it is now.

    Obviously, my comments are not welcome, since there are smarter guys – also obviously much smarter than me, and they have it all figured out. Good – I’ll watch, and keep my skepticism.


  6. Fred Romano

    February 12, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    This is exactly why we NEED a national MLS system… So that brokers can hold on to some “control” of the data… I think it would be better for everyone to have a central, organized, and consistent method for creating and distributing listing data.

  7. Bruce Dietz

    February 12, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    The MLS system is a fluid enterprise at best. As the industry attempts to determine what system provides the best information for its clients, there will be turbulence. The idea of a national MLS has its advantages. One of which is the ability to search for properties outside of your local MLS service. However, there are significant concerns that also need to be considered. The idea of paying a fee to have your listings moved to the top of the search criteria is disconcerting. If you want to SEO your personal website, fine. But you should not be allowed to manipulate a professional database for your financial advantage.

  8. Andrew Stone

    February 12, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Bruce has the right idea. This is certainly not something that we need to fight about. Change is coming and where it is coming from is yet to be determined in my book.

  9. Dan Connolly

    February 13, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Ludicrous! Brokers across the country are going to decide to surrender their listings to be managed by Google and give up their local MLS? This is like to the millionth power. First of all, half of the broker/owners in the US barely know how to use a computer. You think that they are going to bail out of the system they have used for decades and just hand their business over to Google? This idea is so ridiculous that I don’t know where to begin. Sure Google may develop a system that dwarf’s Trulia and Zillow. But it won’t be accurate or timely. I showed about 10 houses recently in mostly 1-2 year old subdivisions and Google maps couldn’t find 8 of them. Mapquest found all of them.

    To think that we would hand over the control of our industry to Google just to save some money, or to fix it so we can search for listings in other cities (for some unknown reason) is pretty far fetched. In Atlanta we pay 4% of every commission to our MLS and they turn around and give half of it back to the broker/owners. Do you think any of them are going to bail out?

  10. Chris

    February 13, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Actually Google all ready takes imports of broker listings via GoogleBase. It’s optimized for residential MLS fields and though you can submit/publish commercial listings Google doesn’t integrate them with map searches as they do the residential listings (a la Zillow).

    The good thing about it is that the fields are standardized, they require basic info and reasonably flexible for market area differences – plus you can create custom fields (which may muddy some of the standardization though I doubt many users will set these up). Bad thing is no “accuracy” check but typos aside, most brokers would not purposely submit inaccurate information. They do have a mandatory expire field (they say it isn’t but your feed will be rejected without one) so at least old stuff wouldn’t be floating around

    It’s still in beta though – has been for years. Not sure they’ve figured out how to fully monetize it yet, though many of those who submit data (lots of product imports….) use it as an SEO tool (more links out there) or in conjunction with paid search engine advertising. You can also pick up a feed via their API and use it for whatever. So technically, if every commercial broker submitted their listings to GoogleBase, someone somewhere could put them in one place and you’d have an “instant” aggregation of nationwide listings.

  11. Bob Derr

    February 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Karen & Dan… I have to laugh at most of the stuff so called “experts” like Glick come up with! I’m sure it makes for great copy but the RealtyReality is entirely different. WHAT incentive would anyone have to report the correct info especially final sales price under such a scenario?! States have such varied laws regarding this the Goog (as powerful & smart as they are) could never make it work! MLS boards are in big trouble, that’s a given… but Google taking over… highly doubtful. Same with Zillow etc, it’s an amusing toy… but for real world selling & buying… totally useless!!!

  12. Mike Pennington

    February 13, 2010 at 9:08 am

    What’s the difference between an MLS and a Database? From my perspective, the data on listings has already left the barn. Whether Google, craigslist, or has it, if the general public cannot find a home that suits their needs, then aren’t we all better off without that client anyway. Databases that show homes for sale are a dime a dozen. What I need is a database to provide some real analytics. A real compilation of data, not just solds and DOM #fail. Try: for some good stuff.

    The value of an MLS is not the databases, it is the reciprocating agreement between brokers, the system checks to test and police data integrity, the local knowledge in terminology like (living room vs. parlor), and of course it is only real value component of a local association. #fail That needs to change too!

  13. Fred Glick

    February 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    OK, Bobby boy. Want to have a wager?

    I see you couldn’t even bare to put your contact info on the post.

    I am an expert. I am a really smart dude that gets it. I see the future unlike most in this industry. (See above comments, especially to show you what they do in Atlanta).

    Obviously, you are still working on your PC Jr, your netscape browser with your AOL email account with the prefabbed address they gave you in 1993.

  14. Sean

    February 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I cant wait for this to happen. Also cant wait for the real estate industry to evolve completely past what is going on now. Realtors are overratted “professionals” as they feel the suit makes the professional where its really the professional who makes the suit. I would hate to own a large real estate brokerage today. Better put your pennies in the bank as these big guys are gonna hurt big time in the next couple years.

  15. Aaron Charlton

    February 13, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I think that Google is only going to improve and become a much better, more effective tool for home buyers. However, as a real estate salesman, I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to rely on their listings. Without the MLS, I would have to call and verify every single detail before even showing the house.

  16. John Kalinowski

    February 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    @Bruce Dietz – “But you should not be allowed to manipulate a professional database for your financial advantage.” – Isn’t that what does already by selling enhanced placement on their site?

    @Dan Connolly- “Ludicrous! Brokers across the country are going to decide to surrender their listings to be managed by Google and give up their local MLS?” – Many MLS systems across the country are already syndicating their listings to GoogleBase, so this is happening as we speak.

    @Dan Connolly again – “First of all, half of the broker/owners in the US barely know how to use a computer.” Fortunately, those brokers are disappearing, and most won’t be around much longer.

    There’s one piece of the pie missing that is keeping this from happening, and that’s the agreement to pay a co-broke commission that’s the main benefit of every MLS sytem. Right now I pay close to $800/year for access to my local MLS and for my local and national Realtor membership.

    Imagine if Google did develop this national MLS and include the co-broke payment agreement for member agents. They could charge agents as low as $100 per year for the ability to directly enter their listings, and for access to the co-broke payment info on listings. Agents would no longer need their local MLS or their Realtor membership, and both the regional MLS systems and the NAR would disappear. Agents would save as much as $700/year, and with approximately 2 million agents in the US, Google would make $200,000,000 just from the agent fee. Add in the typical Google ad revenue, which would be huge since this would be THE National MLS, and this becomes a huge business.

    There’s too much money at stake for this not to happen, and most likely faster than we might expect. This change is coming folks, whether you like it or not, or whether you think it’s the right thing.

    The question is, what are you doing right now in your business to be ready to adjust if someone like Google were to develop a national system that wipes out your local MLS?

  17. Jonathan Dalton

    February 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    The MLS remains a tool whose purpose to facilitate the sale of real estate between real estate professionals. It’s where I search when looking for properties for my clients. Until the latest flavor of the month can match the comprehensive nature of the MLS, I’ve got next to no use for it except for as part of a marketing campaign directed at the non-agents among us.

    Now, the natural response to my comment is to bring up the red herring of disintermediation; since that conversation hasn’t changed substantially in the last five years, y’all can argue that part among yourselves.

  18. Fred Glick

    February 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    @John K

    Do the word, If you can’t beat, join em come to mind?

    Google will do this and the agents who can’t type or are scared of a computer will get help or leave the business.

    I ask, how many rotary dial phones are left in use?

  19. Bill Lublin

    February 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I hate to make the point that Jonathan Dalton and others have already made, but the MLS is a place where professionals exchange information to facilitate the needs of their clients. It is not just a database, nor is it solely an advertising outlet for properties.

    In addition the regulation of the terms of the offers of cooperation between the members, the operation on a day to day basis is much more complex than listing properties in any database, and your lack of respect for the people that manage that information only shows a lack of understanding what their jobs consist of – its always easy to say that the other guy is lazy or doing a bad job -until you go out to do their job and face the challenges they do.

    Frankly, if you didn’t need the professional exchange of information in the MLS environment, you wouldn’t belong to an MLS – but you do – If you thilnk that’s the same as any of the aggregators, just drop your membership in the MLS, advertise your properties on the advertising sites already mentioned, and try to search those same sites for the information you need to facilitate your buyer.

    John Pennington; The value in your association is far greater than the MLS alone (which are frequently not subsidiaries of the associations, but stand alone companies (in the large metro areas anyway). Think about the Code of Ethic, the legislative efforts on the part of the local , state, and national association that help keep you in business, lobby for things like the tax credit which is helping the industry, and provides invaluable materials (like the “right tools right now” program on ,supports legal issues across the country faced by the member associations, and helps raise the bar of the real estate profession every day. When someone says the association does nothing, it is usually a result of their lack of information about what the association does.

    John kalinkowski : is not a professional database, its an advertising venue Bruce was right – and BTW the offer of cooperation from your MLS is not their main benefit, any offer of compensation could be enforced through the COE – its just that the MLS makes our business work better because it facilitates the cooperation between brokers (see para 1 of the response) – again making the point that the MLS is not just a database, its a prfoessional exchange –

    And finally in terms of your google as an mls thought process – why would we want an advertising venue to run a core component of our business which requires rules, regulations, conformity to the COE etc? That would be like asking newspapers to run the MLS back when that was the main advertising venue – THEY HAVE NO VESTED INTEREST IN THE INDUSTRY – YOUR MLS IS RUN BY INDUSTRY MEMBERS – THEY ARE NOT COMPARABLE AT ALL!
    Whew, Sorry for shouting …but this whole concept of turning the operation of our industry over to the people who want to charge us to advertise was just so silly I lost it for a moment. What makes you think Google would be so benign that they would operate something for anyone’s benefit other than their own commercial interest? Our MLS not only does a great job of facilitating our cooperation and running a great operation, they have not raised costs for years, provide 24/7 operation without fail, and keep working to improve the product to benefit the members, not their own commercial interests because…
    wait for it…
    they don’t have any interests opposed to their members interests.

    Have a nice night folks

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 13, 2010 at 6:26 pm

      I wish your comment was here before I made mine — you made my point much better than I did.

  20. Bruce Lemieux

    February 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Mike, Karen, etc have it right. An MLS is not simply a database of listing information. It’s much more than that – it’s organization that enforces the rules for broker cooperation and enforces the rules for creating and maintaining listings. It defines the rules by which we can all do business in a consistent manner. Google, Zillow etc are technology companies that have neither the ability or desire to replace the essential business organization that we must have to do business in a productive manner. And even if they did, brokers — who own their MLS — would have to pass this control over to them — which they won’t. Why would they?

    Is Google technologically superior to any MLS – of course. Companies like Google will help pull MLS boards forward to do a better job of exposing listing data. But replace MLSs? It’s never going to happen, and they don’t want it to happen. By presenting oceans of syndicated listing information, they can sell advertising. That’s all they care about. They also don’t care if the quality of their syndicated data is crap — which it is. They just want lots of it. Which they have.

    • Michael J. Stefonick

      February 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      I am going to throw my two cents in here.
      The MLS’s will be replaced and it will not take long.
      The agents of today have been sold a bill of goods.
      Remember NAR and Stuart Wolf?
      Kind of like ENRON or Wall Street.
      Happy Sunday. Back to Daytona.

  21. Jonathan Dalton

    February 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Bill, you are thoughtful, logical and clearly there’s no place for you in the new

  22. Fred Glick

    February 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Let me get this correct.

    I go on my MLS to share info on property with other members. Some places you need to be a member of the local REALTOR association.

    The MLS charges me to belong, export via IDX to a website or two or three and at the same time a FSBO buys google ads and gets seen by more people that are searching for a particular home.

    I am competing with big and small agents with the same info by paying google or working up to the top of google to get seen.

    Whatever the number, about 8 to 9 out of 10 start their search on the internet. gets the vast majority of web searches.

    I think, therefore, google CAN and ultimately will control the listings of real estate.

    Yes, people work at the MLSs. I am sure they are very nice people.

    There were nice people making rotary phones for Bell of Pennsylvania in the 60’s.

    The quality control of the information will be something that will be addressed, the money and politics of house listings on the internet will change, the intelligence of the next generation will move more and more towards putting their own listings on the web with buyer brokers qualifying and assisting people to buy homes.

    Sorry, the future is coming. Nothing we can do about it.

    • Bill Lublin

      February 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      Fred: You didn’t get it correct – Let me tell you point by point where you got it wrong ;

      “I go on my MLS to share info on property with other members. Some places you need to be a member of the local REALTOR association”

      No, you join the MLS so you can expose your listings to other real estate professionals who are, in turn sharing their properties with you. You are seeing a different set of information than the information provided to consumers. There are a number of reasons, including the COE and agency laws in most states for that situation. In most cases you do not need to be a member of the local REALTOR association – in fact, I am not aware of any where you HAVE to be a member of the local REALTOR Association (that issue was resolved years ago in most places)

      The MLS charges me to belong, export via IDX to a website or two or three and at the same time a FSBO buys google ads and gets seen by more people that are searching for a particular home.

      I can only speak to our local MLS with authority, though in principal I believe that statements I am making are accurate through most MLSs in the US. The MLS does not charge you to belong, you share a portion of the operating costs of the MLS – a very different proposition and common to member driven organizations. In our case the property then is shared on roughly 1000 IDX feeds, each of which is to a broker who is jockeying for the same position you want(many of whom are paying for premium placement on a number of other websites for their company site)- In addition, the properties are syndicated through another 13-15 sources, where the MLS has been careful to maintain ownership of the intellectual properties for its members. So with each listing replicated well over one thousand times in places where it is indexed by google, it is obvious that the one FSBO google ad is going absolutely nowhere. You just need to understand what is going on here to see that the whole idea of one ad for any property being found amid the massive amounts of property data are minimal.

      I am competing with big and small agents with the same info by paying google or working up to the top of google to get seen.

      Whatever the number, about 8 to 9 out of 10 start their search on the internet. gets the vast majority of web searches.

      I think, therefore, google CAN and ultimately will control the listings of real estate.

      We’re all competing with each other to be seen – and we always have – google is an advertising venue- nothing more or less. And yes people start their search on google , but they are usually looking for real estate companies or agents to help them with their process. And the listing of three unrelated sentences does not make them a logical argument, the third statement is still doesn’t follow. Google certainly cannot control the information on any broker’s listings without the broker’s cooperation -they don’t own the data.

      Yes, people work at the MLSs. I am sure they are very nice people.

      There were nice people making rotary phones for Bell of Pennsylvania in the 60’s.

      That’s a snarky, elitist and silly statement that has no semantic value. If you thought it through you would realize that the people that made rotary phones eventually made touch tone phones, and the successor companies are making the cell phones you use now – progress is often found in the development of existing companies, not in their demolition. (It was just Bell Telephone in the 1960’s, the Bell of Pennsylvania was after the break-up, when the companies stayed around, the names just changed)

      The quality control of the information will be something that will be addressed, the money and politics of house listings on the internet will change, the intelligence of the next generation will move more and more towards putting their own listings on the web with buyer brokers qualifying and assisting people to buy homes.

      Hyperbole doesn’t make an argument either. You can certainly speak to what you and your company bring to the table, and how consumers will react to that offering. I and my company bring substantially more to the table then property information and it is for that reason that we will continue to represent people in the purchase, sale, and rental of real property, making a tough and often stressful situation as easy as possible, helping them to establish and reach their goals.

      Sorry, the future is coming. Nothing we can do about it.

      Of course it is, this is just more hyperbole – and there is something we can do about it. Retain what works, evaluate what we need to change, ignore the “chicken little” approach to futurism and work towards the growth of our businesses

      • Michael J. Stefonick

        February 15, 2010 at 3:57 am

        Hi Bill,

        To join the Beaufort, SC MLS you have to be a member of their Board of Realtors.
        Their board. You cannot belong to some board in western SC that has cheaper fee’s.
        They get away with it.
        This is why the Palmetto State MLS was formed. A private MLS that serves all SC.
        It is slow to take off but in the end will prevail.
        The Hilton Head MLS charges a broker $3,500. to join and $70.00 per month plus annual renewal membership fee’s. Their membership rolls have dropped from 1,600 member high down to around 800. Wonder why. Palmetto, a Rappitoni based MLS charges $35.00 per month and only $35.00 for a broker to join.
        Price does matter.
        Keep an eye on their progress.
        Make it a great day and watch out for the slush:-) in Philly.

        • Bill Lublin

          February 15, 2010 at 8:42 am

          The issue was not if you could belong to a different board, it was whether you had to be a REALTOR to participate in the MLS. For the most part you don’t. If there are small boards where that is a requirement, they are vestigal – as far as the cost of the MLS, you may remember when we had 6 MLS serving 5 counties (one of which was privately owned) Now with one MLS serving 13 counties and 3 states, we have a really efficient low cost way to share information to make agents jobs easier and brokers more profitable – I believe that’s the way of the future, but what the heck – my dogs playing in the snow today and you have to watch out for sunburn 😉

  23. Erica Ramus

    February 13, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    The MLS is like a giant club you have to join in order to play this game. Agents in my area frequently won’t pay co-broke to an out-of-area agent if one brings a buyer in unless they belong to our little local club. I belong to 4 MLS systems and pay dues to 4 groups to make sure my listings are marketed in my area and surrounding counties. That is ludicrous. I would be for a statewide or even national MLS.

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 13, 2010 at 9:50 pm

      Yikes – 4 MLSs. What a nightmare for you. That’s definitely not efficient for brokers, agents or consumers. I’m happy to be part of one large regional MLS.

    • Bill Lublin

      February 15, 2010 at 8:43 am

      We used to have the same thing – now we have one MLS covering three states and 13 counties – of course that’s also the MLS that Fred was grousing about – Me, as a broker and an agent – I like it – lower cost, better technology, and forward thinking BOD and staff IMHO

  24. Ken Montville

    February 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Not to change the topic but where does RPR fit into this whole thing?

  25. Bruce Lemieux

    February 13, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Fred – It’s not about people at the MLS being nice. It’s about the business of how brokers work with one another to transact real estate. You assume this would work effectively without a governing body like an MLS. It wouldn’t.

    You participate in the MLS and benefit from the standard rules of behavior that everyone must follow. This is good for you and you should be happy to pay for the privilege. Isn’t it a good thing that most boards require their members to be part of a professional organization with a code of ethics? You can argue that it’s not as effective as you would like it to be, but it sounds like you would prefer no professional organization, no code of ethics. The barriers to entry to our profession are embarrassingly low already. You would make them lower? If it were up to me, I would make it much harder to be a Realtor, not easier.

    You still miss the point with Google. Google does not want to *manage* the business rules for creating and maintaining listing data. They just want lots of content (regardless of its quality) that will attract web hits from which they sell advertising. Take a look at books. They have an army of people digitizing books. Is this a first step to take over the publishing industry? No. Here’s their core business model: 1. Collect Data. 2. Present Data. 3. Sell Ads Targeting People Who Look at That Data. You argue that they have interest in another step: Create and Manage Data. These guys are pretty clever. They know this is the hard part of the process and they are happy for someone else to do it for them. It’s not in their business interests to replace MLSs, or publishing, or the hotel industry, or whatever.

    The future is coming for our industry (duh), but the end-point won’t have Google, Zillow or one of these *technology* companies at the center of our profession. Smaller MLSs will continue to consolidate, and MLSs will share their data more freely because consumers will require it. Some MLSs will be more progressive, others will be dragged into the future.

    Personally, because of technology companies like Google and others, I think the future will see a rise of more nimble, efficient brokerages that take advantage of technology advances at the expense of the old-school, bloated brokerages with high overhead. And, some of these small/nimble brokerages will become quite large. I think that our business will remain commission-based since our business is fundamentally a sales and service business. I could be wrong, but I don’t think our profession will go the way of the travel agent.

  26. Fred Glick

    February 13, 2010 at 9:59 pm


    What about the agent that is not part of the MLS but has his buddy in another agency put things on MLS after his client complains.

    In the showing instructions, it says to call the first agent.

    This non-MLS agent also is on Boards that make sure the MLS gets funded.

    Funny, when other agents complain about him, the MLS does nothing.

    Also, try and show one of his non-MLS listings and you’ll find it is very hard and they want to know your client’s name.

    Rules? Google will make sure that they have public records to take off sold property and the public will not trust real estate agents that lie.

    C’mon, it’s political, close-vested, expensive, non-reactive and stuck in the late 20th Century.

    Even though I will be in it until the end, the end is near (as I have mentioned before).

  27. Bruce Lemieux

    February 13, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Fred – I don’t completely follow your example. Overall, I can think of times when I would like to see better enforcement of MLS rules and Realtor COE. But having said that, should we throw-out the 98% that works for the 2% that doesn’t? I don’t mean to say that an MLS is 98% perfect, but for most of us, the business of transacting real estate does work very well. It’s something that we can easily take for granted.

    I’m sure I would agree with you on many things, but I don’t think you understand how much you benefit from the standard business rules that comes with being part of your local board and its MLS. And I don’t think you understand Google’s business model.

    You wrote – “Rules? Google will make sure that they have public records to take off sold property and the public will not trust real estate agents that lie.” Huh? This makes no sense. Consumers have tons of data now. Data isn’t the problem. You think that somehow Google’s ownership of listing data will usher in a new morality to agents? Like I said, “Huh?”.

    Perhaps your local board and MLS are completely crappy and ineffective which shapes your hopeless perspective on all MLS. If that’s the case, I can appreciate your frustration. I can tell you, however, this is not the case of all local boards/MLSs.

  28. Fred Glick

    February 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm


    I hear what you are saying.

    What I am saying is that MLSs as they are now, will not respond to what the public wants or in other words, what Google will tell the public it wants because of improvements they make to the system.

    But, as an an example of what they don’t get, my MLS is still using the same 70’s mapping system that they are being sued for using without permission.

    No matter what any of us saw, the MBAs that I play hockey with at Wharton are going to go to Google and develop the 21st Century home listing systems without the current MLSs in mind. That’s the point.

    Have a good night all. It’s almost Valentines Day, so let’s show the love!

    • Bill Lublin

      February 14, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      Fred – You just keep saying more things that are just not true –

      The public has no right to tell the MLS anything – its a professional organization.

      The mapping system being used is not a “70”s system, and the unwarranted lawsuit is not against the MLS but was raised against a member, and is being pursued against a number of people around the country.

      No matter what any of us saw, the MBAs that I play hockey with at Wharton are going to go to Google and develop the 21st Century home listing systems without the current MLSs in mind. That’s the point.

      There’s a big difference between you guys pucking around playing hockey and actually being in the real estate business. No doubt those guys will try to do what so many others have tried in the past, to create business models that attach themselves to the real estate industry to generate income from the work and income generate by the agents and brokers who are representing buyers and sellers every day –

      • Michael J. Stefonick

        February 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm


        Diane was one of my agents and is a very dear friend who fills me in on what is happening. In addition my acounting firm is in Plymouth Meeting. Guess who:-)
        The MLS is paying the bill.
        They are assuming it is against them.

        • Bill Lublin

          February 15, 2010 at 8:47 am

          Mike, They are not assuming anything, the reasons are really much more complex, and way beyond the bandwidth of this forum. The point is that they were not being sued for their “1970s technology” the suit was designed around a business model for the plaintiffs – and is IMHO without merit (but I’m not the judge)

          • Optimix Man

            February 15, 2010 at 9:04 am


            I agree that Trend MLS was a god send for the real estate community.
            I would never say other wise. They do have a future for as long as they can hold it together.
            What Fred and I are suggesting, not mandating, is that change cannot be stopped. Allow me to share two of Tom Peters quotes. He was my mentor when I built RE/MAX in PA and DE.
            A Tom Peters Quote:
            Innovation is about changing course before it’s absolutely necessary. Hence excessive reverence for the past is Public Enemy #1.

            And yet another very important quote:
            The pursuit of the “one best way” of leadership is sheer madness, and a great disservice. … Beware of “universal prescriptions” for anything.
            –Tom Peters
            I knew when NAR wanted to start a credit union the org. was in trouble.
            Would I prefer to see a national program? Yes, however it will take a lot of Salmon swimming up stream before it happens.
            Make it a great day.

  29. Fred Romano

    February 13, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Google will take over the world … Period!

  30. Brad Nix

    February 14, 2010 at 2:29 am

    I heart Bill Lublin.

  31. Joe Loomer

    February 14, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Great, thought-generating post, Fred.

    Google, as stated by many above, doesn’t want or care about being the national MLS unless it is to their benefit financially.

    The same can be broken down to the local level. If smaller boards (I’m a part of one here) cannot get on board with syndication fo their listing property, someone else (the hockey-playing MBA’s of Freds) will come along and – beginning at the local level – start selling MLS-style marketing (including the co-op) and simply take over that local market. Our own firm has a wonderful asset in a young man with more tech skills than I’ve had hot dinners. He’s stated on a number of occassions – “if I can’t get the data from the MLS to work right with what we’re rolling out, I’ll just create my own MLS.” Likely it will be cloud-based.

    The future is bright – free enterprise has always been about survival of the fittest. If the old guard wants to march into their Maginot Line and defend it, so be it when the tanks come rolling in.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  32. HowardArnoff

    February 14, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Fred, you’re a very smart guy who happens to be stuck in a bad MLS. That doesn’t mean Google wants to be your next MLS. Check their financials. They sell little bitty ads for an amazing amount of money. It’s all about content to them. Google can certainly make money with real estate listings but I don’t believe they want to run a National MLS.

  33. Fred Glick

    February 14, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Thanks, Howard for the kind words but I am looking at it globally and so is Google.

    They are much, much, much more than a online ad company.

    I belong to multiple MLSs and also multiple boards for years. I know the politics and the moneys of these and continue to see that the future is not where they are going.

    Talk to people in their 20’s. They don’t sit in front of the TV at certain times to watch programs (R.I.P. Conan). They are online and demanding and don’t like old fashion cheap sales talk. As a matter of fact, they don’t want a salesperson.

    They want information when they want it, where they want it.

    These are your first times buyers (which are usually about 50% of the market).

  34. HowardArnoff

    February 14, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Fred, I’m a big fan of Google and a bigger fan of the real estate consumer public having access to as much information as possible.

    I work with a lot of young first time home buyers that you are referring to. And as you know, buying a home is much more complex than buying an airline ticket.

    A lot of home buyers did it on their own during the housing boom and sadly, some are right back renting after losing their home to foreclosure because they found a less than ethical mortgage lender online and were self represented buyers armed with what they thought was all the information they thought they needed.

  35. Eric Bramlett

    February 14, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I seriously doubt google wants to become the next MLS. 99% of their income is from advertising and there’s no reason to believe they will deviate from this income stream/strategy. They have entered the real estate marketing space (with Google Base,) and I’m sure they can get much more aggressive competing with agents who rely on online marketing (like me.) However, predicting a hostile takeover of local MLS boards is simply fear mongering, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    • Michael J. Stefonick

      February 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      Who would have ever thought Google would build a cell phone.
      Please don’t fall into the trap of ” It cannot happen”.
      Just look at our government.
      A great example is Eminant Domain!
      End of conversation.
      Want more examples?

      • Eric Bramlett

        February 15, 2010 at 9:32 am

        There’s good reason to believe that Google views the Nexus One (and Android OS) as one more advertising medium.

        I didn’t say “it can’t happen.” I said “it’s unlikely to happen.” I think “RIP MLS” is sensational, meant to grab attention, and wrong.

  36. Marvin Jensen

    February 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Google gets ALL of it’s data from our MLS systems, without our data, Google wouldn’t have anything to index! Remember, the MLS is an offering to pay a Buyer’s agent a commission, as well as data about the listing and showing instructions. Google can index this information all it wants, but as far as a professional group compiling this data for distribution, our MLS system is invaluable.

  37. Michael J. Stefonick

    February 14, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    View the business from 50,000 ft and you may find the perspective is not what you now see.
    I built RE/MAX in PA and DE from 78 to 99 and became # 1 due to the competition saying he would never succeeed. We sold 45,000 hourse the last year I owned the company.
    Go figure!
    Now the big dog is KW.
    Not my worry I am retired. However I do coach real estate brokers nationwide. My guys win.

    • Bill Lublin

      February 14, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      Mike – The big dog is not KW in our market its a traditional franchise with a huge market share – and your success in selling franchises doesn’t give you a crystal ball – the future will bring change, but you know what they say – the more things change the more they stay the same

      • Optimix Man

        February 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm

        Hi Bill,
        Thanks for our note. Yes, I know KW is not the big dog in your market.
        I have 4 very successful RE/MAX Brokers as clients in PA. I have even represented Long and Foster in their big case with company X.
        Remember I do coach Brokers nationwide and I see a trend.
        The RE/MAX model is undergoing some very serious challenges. Not because of challenged Brokers but with franchise agreements. The brokers do not like the terms and conditions. Due to the company make up and with so many different Regional Owners there is no real consistency in my opinion. KW is growing very fast due to they’re no cash needed to join the program. Their profit sharing program is only a marketing tool but is working for those who may not know the big picture. Also remember I hired those top agents who are now the very successful KW franchisee’s. Super guys with the best attitudes. Leadership cannot be invented, it’s inbred. Mike and Rudy would be successful in any franchise company as would any of my former franchisee’s.
        No franchise automatically made anyone successful. A franchise is a crutch. Chip, Larry, and Bill never really needed a franchise. They only thought they did. The future is non franchise! I see it everywhere. Just look at Active Rain. What a program.
        Brand it and they have it!

        That is my real crystal ball. Yes, I do have one and it’s based on Hilton Head Island, come visit.

  38. Michael J. Stefonick

    February 14, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Hi Bill,
    I trust you have been well:-)
    I am new to this site so I am not yet schooled as to what e-mails are directed to me.
    The ones I got from you seem to be more directed to other post’s but I will learn.
    Nice hearing from you.

  39. Greg Cooper

    February 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Two thoughts come to my mind.

    1) In the 80’s, it seemed nearly every marketing piece ended with ‘we’re Beatrice.’ Soon Google will be that same beast.

    2) Ultimately what Google truly wants, they’re going to get given their resources.

  40. Fred Glick

    February 14, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    All I’ll say Bill, is the people that get into the Wharton MBA program are the cream of the crop of young business minds in this world.

    I’d be happy to list the achievements and resumes of all my teammates that will blow you away.

    I think they can understand the real estate business where many, many people get licenses that are not exactly the most brilliant bulbs in the socket.

    I’ll take any of them over an average agent (who in fact makes about +/-20k a year) to determine the future of this industry.

  41. Fred Glick

    February 14, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    One other thing, People-Who-Don’t-Think-Google-Will-Do-This-And-Think-Their-MLS-Will-Rule-Forever:

    Eric Schmidt is invited to the Davos Economic Forum each year.

    If you don’t know who that is or what that is, google it.

    I don’t think any NAR President was ever invited.

    Game, set and match.

  42. Dan Connolly

    February 14, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Fred, Saying something over and over doesn’t make it true. Just because some of the brokers load their listings into Google base, doesn’t mean that they all do. The beauty of the local MLS is that they have all of the listings, not most of the listings. The regulation and implemation of the local agents and the state laws is a huge part of what they do in addition to managing the listings. That will never go away despite what your really smart friends think.

    It would take co-operation of the local boards to make something like that work and there is no way Google would get 100% co-operation. I don’t think they would get 50% co-operation. Why would they? What would local boards have to gain giving up their power to Google? Why would an industry like ours decide to turn over the management of our industry to a search engine? Google may develop a great database of a lot of the listings, but it will never replace the local MLS.

  43. Joe Sheehan

    February 14, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    What I am missing here is the why. Why would Google be interested in taking on the role and functionality of the MLS?

    The MLS is more than a repository of real estate listings. The MLS provides the governance, the rules we all agree to abide by, the enforcement of the rules, and is the basis for the agreement to cooperate and compensate with other MLS members.

    Why would Google be interested in providing that functionality? It doesn’t sound like the traditional goods and services that we are accustomed to from Google. Can they provide the governance and management to operate a national MLS and do it at a profit? Can they do it at a price that is reasonable and comparable to what real estate professionals pay now for those services? The combined profit of all the MLSs in the US combined probably amounts to a couple of good days at Google.

    Sure, they want to publish MLS listings so the consuming public can search for them. That’s what people do with Google, they search for stuff. They may even charge us realtors a few extra dollars for a more prominent placement of listings. So what? This is nothing new. Just about every syndicated listing site already does it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am second to none in my admiration for Google; but, why would the CEO of a company that gets invited to Davos Economic Forum wake up one morning and think “I think today we’ll take over the Real Estate MLS industry.”

    That just doesn’t seem very likely to me.

  44. John Kalinowski

    February 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

    @Bill – Our giant MLS in Cleveland, NEOHREX, does require the broker and all their agents to be Realtors to use the system. As a matter of fact, they send out a letter at the end of each year telling the broker that if every agent hasn’t paid their local and national NAR dues by the January deadline, they will cut off MLS access for EVERY agent in the company. How’s that for holding your cojones over the fire? Imagine the stress and extra work it put on me, the broker, to make sure everyone paid on time so we wouldn’t all lose our access?

    I honestly think it’s quite hilarious that we have to have a Code of Ethics that we’re required to abide by that’s enforced by a board, who I’m sure is much more ethical than the rest (yes, that’s a hint of sarcasm!). It doesn’t say much about our membership that we have to put such a system in place. Shouldn’t those things be controlled by the market, and by our system of laws and litigation? I’ve dealt with over a thousand agents in my career, and I’ve yet to see any evidence that our COE bible has done anything to make our group any more ethical than any other industry. Realtors have the same percentage of crooks as any other industry, and it’s quite possible the percentage is even higher, despite our COE.

    Without agreeing either way, I do think there’s enough potential revenue at stake to make someone like Google create a national system. I think it could be a half a BILLION dollar division if you consider a minimal fee to agents plus advertising revenue. With that kind of money at stake, you can be sure it’s in the works somewhere. There’s obviously a market demand for it, or GoogleBase, Zillow, Trulia, and all these other systems wouldn’t be in place right now. The consumer market obviously doesn’t feel it’s getting what it needs from our system of MLSs and Realtors.

    There’s only one special item that keeps this from happening, and that’s the co-broke payment agreement that exists in the MLS. That’s a very easy fix by someone like Google that would involve a small annual membership, even as low as $100, that allows you to log-in and see the co-broke information for each listing. Just that $100 fee approaches $200 million per year in revenue, and would save the agents $700 to $1000 per year. With that sort of money coming in, Google could easily create their own COE and ethics board, if so desired, but I don’t think it’s needed or would make any difference as the market would take care of it on its own. They would also probably do a better job of controlling the data, as far as updating Sold properties, etc., than the overworked, underpaid employees at most MLS systems. Our sytem is currently loaded with properties marked “Pending/Expired” that sold and were never marked as such. Where’s the big benefit of data control that I’m supposed to be receiving for my “share of the expense”?

    As far as data is concerned, look at Wikipedia. That system has grown by leaps and bounds to become the De facto replacement for the encyclopedia, and it’s quite amazing how accurate the data is. Spend some time on Google and read how that data is controlled and kept accurate, and it’s not hard to see something similar for real estate.

    The basic idea for a national system is that it becomes a complete database for EVERY property that exists, with complete sales history numbers and detailed information about the home. It’s not hard to see how this could be kept accurate by a combination of agent and owner updates. I think it could inherently become more accurate and informational than our current MLS systems. Imagine a history of property photos that show how the home has changed over the years. Our current systems delete the photos after a period of time, which is ridiculous.

    Doesn’t it also seem a bit ridiculous that we have hundreds of individual MLS systems throughout the country, all essentially doing the same thing, with no standard way to control the data and charge the agents (or SHARE the costs, whatever you want to call it). Wouldn’t it make much more sense to eliminate all the redundancy and have one giant system with a fraction of the overhead? After reading the comments on this post, I’m amazed, and a bit sickened, by the difference in costs and procedures in place across the country.

    Our local board actually just went through all the expense to host their own data, which included installing their own bank of computer servers in a giant in-house data center. How does that make any sense in today’s world of constantly changing hardware and software standards. How soon will that system be outdated and need to be replaced, at additional cost to the membership? I would say it was outdated before they even started, since we have one of those moronic systems that only runs on Internet Explorer! Wouldn’t the function of computer data be much better served by a company like Google with banks and banks of computer power all over the country, always kept at the latest technology levels?

    Again, no matter what we think is right as agents, the market will force the change and it already seems to be happening. The next two years will definitely be interesting.

    • Fred Romano

      February 15, 2010 at 11:50 am

      I agree 100% with you. Very nice response!

  45. SLCUrban

    February 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Has anyone actually ASKED Google what their plans are or are we all just guessing here? Google provides a cool mapping tool that overlays great information for all of us, but does Google actually want to do all the work and regulating for us? I don’t think so. I think Google just wants to provide a cool mapping tool and it will always be up to us to use it and load our information to it.

    As agents we will have to WANT to stop using the MLS. We will have to personally stop paying for it and bow out of future updates. We will then have to load our listings to whatever site uses the Google API that makes the listing appear on Google Maps (Postlets, for example), to get our listings to appear. If we all stop using the MLS then it will die. It won’t die until that happens.

    I just see Google fragmenting things more. Some listings will be there and others will be on the MLS. We as agents will just have to do more research and more work to see all the homes that are on the market. If we are providing IDX feeds, we will no longer have EVERYTHING at our or our clients disposal. If we are linking to Google feeds we will not have everything either. Is that good for the consumer? I don’t think so. Is it good for us, maybe. We will get more calls and will have to do more research, if we want to appear knowledgeable and a little research and work never hurt anyone.

    • Fred Romano

      February 15, 2010 at 11:48 am

      Maybe Google execs are reading this post and thinking “YES lets take over the MLS system and sell it to agents!” LOL… I bet they are for real! It would be big money for them.

  46. John Kalinowski

    February 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

    @Joe Sheehan – “Why would Google be interested in taking on the role and functionality of the MLS?” That’s an easy one to answer. Read my comment above, and you’ll see:

    $100 x @2,000,00 agents = $200,000,000 per year.

    Add in ad revenue, and you’re approaching a business of nearly $500,000,000 per year. That’s half a BILLION dollars (with my best Dr. Evil impersonation!).

    Money talks, and there’s a huge potential market at stake, even for a giant like Google. They could easily buy Trulia or Zillow if they wanted, to help make it happen. Add in the co-broke agreement and membership, and you have it:

    The Google Multiple Listing Service, or GLS!

  47. Bob Derr

    February 15, 2010 at 9:47 am

    @Glick… do you hear yourself man!? You’re a really smart dude… that’s a real good one!!! If u’re so darn smart… why ya still workin’ big boy!?

    >I am an expert. I am a really smart dude that gets it. I see the future unlike most in this >industry. (See above comments, especially to show you what they do in Atlanta).

    >Obviously, you are still working on your PC Jr, your netscape browser with your AOL email >account with the prefabbed address they gave you in 1993.

    A real genius… keep tellin’ yourself that! Probably read that in some self-help book!

  48. Larry

    February 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    If Google, and this author, are as smart as they indicate… they would realize that a national MLS is small potatoes. What you are proposing earns them a tiny percentage of what is the real estate market. However, if they eliminate the need for realtors, they earn a lions share. After all, the realtors merely broker… they are not the true revenue source. Offering up an exchange directly between buyer and seller, with adequate information and resource, and available legal help at a fraction of what realtors charge would change the dynamics of the whole industry. In the blink of an eye, realtors could find themselves working for Google to assist people in their own transactions.

    Also, consider this… I haven’t seen anyone on this thread offer up “anti-trust”. Look at the problems Microsoft has with positioning itself as a leader in its market. Google would have to endure very similar, and probably more rigid, trials than MS. They would be trying to steal a market that is riddled with state, local, federal laws.

    • Jonathan Benya

      February 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      I think this theory of eliminating realtors dies when you look at legal differences state to state in regards to how property can be bought/sold/marketed. It’s just too big of a gap to try and bridge, even for google.

      National MLS, powered and controlled by google? It all depends on how the MLS systems play their hand. They own the data, not Google, so how does Google convince every Realtor in the country to turn their back on the tightly controlled local MLS?

      The anti-trust issues are the other big hurdle. I suspect Google wouldn’t want the headache that would come from all of the lawsuits this would create regarding distribution of information that is owned (i.e., not public tax knowledge)

    • Fred Romano

      February 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      This is valid point! thanks for bringging that up. I still feel there should be a national mls system, but I think brokers still need to be at the center of this, whether it be full service or flat fee like us.

    • Bob Derr

      February 16, 2010 at 11:55 am

      There will *always* be a need for hard working, knowledgable agents. I’m retired but for the average person to buy a home with info from Zillow etc. is financial suicide. In my career I saw houses in my area sell 5 times or more.. that type of experience is immeasurable. I knew my neighborhoods & inventory forwards & backwards… the MLS or any similar system is just a tool.

  49. Grant in Nashville

    February 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Seems to me tha the local MLS boards will do the same thing that Rupert Murdock is doing by de-indexing all of their online content and making it unspiderable.

    To me, this is just the FSBO model all over again and most sellers and buyer do not trust each other enough in the first place. They need someone there to advise them throughout the process.

  50. Erica Ramus

    February 16, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Citing the “rules” and COE as good reasons for local MLS systems is a joke.

    The COE is a joke. We are required to become members of PAR and NAR to join our local MLS. Do you think that makes anyone more ethical? If anything, our little board has more unethical behavior than I’ve ever witnessed in working with “big city” firms and boards.

    Realtor vs. general “salesperson”–sorry. BEing a dues paying member of NAR or PAR is just that– being a paid member of a club. The required training–a joke. It’s good stuff, but that doesn’t MAKE someone follow the rules or be ethical.

    TREND and the regional MLS are the way of the future. But small regional systems have agents in rural areas held hostage.

  51. Ruthmarie Hicks

    February 17, 2010 at 1:57 am

    The regulatory element of the MLS is not trivial. I doubt Google would ever want to be involved with that.
    Here is a trivial example…
    I have a couple of listings in a large condo complex. There was one listing that was a “mystery.” It was VERY under-priced even for this market. The asking price was an irresistible lure to buyers. It was also making it harder on my listings that are competitive but not ridiculously priced. The trouble was anytime an agent would try to get in, they were told the unit wasn’t being “shown today.” When I found out about it, it had been going on for about 2 weeks. I contacted the MLS and complained. If no one can show it, it shouldn’t be listed and drawing comparisons that are unfavorable for legitimate listings.

    Now – multiply that by over 1 million agents throughout the US – not to mention elsewhere – each with their own trivial issues… It quickly becomes a monster of complexity and way out of the realm that Google would ever want to operate. Something trivial times over 1 million quickly becomes a monster.

  52. John Kalinowski

    February 17, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Hi Ruthmarie! In your example, did the MLS do anything about it? In that situation, was a regulatory board really needed? I think the market would take care of it on its own, since if it’s never available for showings, condo buyers would show the other units that are available and would write an offer on another condo if the value is justified. Or, if the mystery unit was VERY under-priced, wouldn’t someone make an offer contingent on seeing and inspecting the unit? Just like our free-market capitalistic system; if you leave it alone, the market tends to take care of itself.

  53. Erica Ramus

    February 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Ruthmarie–normally I’m 100% on board with you. But not on this one. Here’s an example. Almost 2 months ago sign goes on house, buyer calls us to get info. None on MLS. We call agent on sign–no return call. We call her broker, who says (after several calls, not 1) that she’ll check into it. We keep calling. 1 month goes by nothing in MLS. We call MLS office and are told it’s a problem with the agent/broker to address with them directly. We try. We call broker 2 weeks ago, and are told the sign is there and no listing contract is signed yet. The house is a mess. Seller wants it sold but hasn’t sign LC yet. We call board office again. They say they’ll check into it. They tell us if we have a problem to file an official complaint. Paperwork mumbo jumbo. Meanwhile agent ignores our calls, broker dodges the issue *(you have a SIGN on a property and no listing contract?). That’s illegal in PA. Now who do we call? It feels like we’re the real estate police, not professional agents/brokers. If the BROKERS won’t fix their agents and do what’s right, and the MLS/Board are a bunch of committees who want to push paper and nobody wants to file a complaint (I was told we’d look like petty complainers if we followed thru on such a tiny little problem)…. what is the use of the organization. I want the info out there, I want it to be accurate, but our local MLS is not the only system that would work in this case.

    • Fred Romano

      February 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      Sounds like the agent was trying to “double dip” and avoid other agents showing so they can sell it themselves. Typical scenario.

  54. Dunes

    February 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm


    I’m one of those ignorant non-agents who participates in Trulia Voices where I have seen a few of your comments/answers/advice (appreciated by this ignorant non-agent) which led me to view a clip of a CNC interview you left on this question/thread…

    It led me to read this Blog/Article and other contributions/interviews.

    I just wanted to say to you that there is one non-agent who appreciates your contributions, hearing your take on things (agree or disagree) and your ability to have interesting topics/discussions (like this one) where I can learn some new things.

    I apologize to all for being off-topic but wanted to thank Fred in a place I thought he’d see it….I will be sharing with other non-agents the high regard I have for AgentGenius, the high quality of the Agents/Pros who participate and it’s treasure trove of information and discussions… so thanks to all the contributors here at AgentGenius
    PS… Do I get a Badge for commenting here like a person does at Trulia
    Badges for posting 😉
    (Fortunately contributions of value or quality has nothing to do with Trulia Badges or I wouldn’t have one)

  55. Fred Glick

    February 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks, Dunes! I’m trying!

  56. Ruthmarie Hicks

    February 18, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Hi Guys,
    Didn’t expect action on my comment… yes it was taken care of. I called the MLS on it and got a response within a couple of days. It was probably a case of an agent trying not only to double dip – but scoop up all the buyers in the building – by forcing them to call the listing agent directly. I was told by the concierge that they had been turning down showings for a couple of weeks and that agents were annoyed. That’s why I called it in. My problem was that it made it very difficult to move my listing – which was appropriately priced. I’ve never worked with any other MLS – ours takes things like that seriously.

    My point was that I couldn’t imagine Google wanting to get involved in these sorts of machinations. It’s just not part of their business model. The issue was a trivial one unless you happen to have a buyer or you have a competing listing. Then its not trivial to the client or the agent. The unit in question was significantly lower than any sold comps. Since this is a new complex – with new kitchens, appliances etc…the price differential was not a reflection of condition.

  57. John Kalinowski

    February 18, 2010 at 7:17 am

    @Ruthmarie – curious if any of the condos sold after they were forced to show the cheap one.

  58. Ruthmarie Hicks

    February 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    The unit was withdrawn. But this was just a couple of days ago. I think it will because most buyers were determined to see the “bargain” before making any decisions…when they couldn’t see it – the decision was probably to make no decision.

  59. John Kalinowski

    February 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Good luck with your sale Ruthmarie!

  60. Rick Tipton

    February 20, 2010 at 8:11 am

    With the technological advances at our finger tips the creation of a Natinal MLS seems more prudent that having to deal with these small MLS feifdoms. However, my immediate concern would be price. In the area I live we have four MLS (as you can imagine it would cost a arm and a leg to belong to all four.

    If you do not have competition, then a National MLS would control our fees and possible force Realtors/Brokerages out of business. On the other hand based upon the number of Realtors operating in the United States a National MLS could still clean up if they only charged $10.00 a month. Guess we will have to wait and see.

  61. Mike Kupritz

    February 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Sorry to come late to this discussion. I just came across it, and the comments have been too interesting to pass up.

    Although it is reasonable to be concerned if commercial interests aspire to take over locally controlled multiple listing systems, I don’t think a nationwide (or global) MLS is a bad idea. For the most part, things would be better for Realtors and consumers alike. It’s all in how such a system is implemented, and by whom.

    There is no question that the industry is heading in this direction. Ideally, the National Association of Realtors would implement a nationwide MLS. But if NAR lacks the resources, for-profit companies will fill the void. That being the case, I would much rather see it done by a company like Google, which supports open standards and seems to have a corporate conscience, than by a company like Microsoft, which apparently does not.

    For one thing, data integrity would be better, not worse. Most of these systems are controlled by boards of Realtors, which are trade organizations. A trade organization is not a legal authority and therefore cannot enforce its rules through any other instrument beyond membership agreements. Google could police the data just as effectively, if they chose to. Indeed, I would think many boards are too small to be able to do this as well as Google could, with their resources. For years, NAR has been pushing the RETS XML standard, and rightly so. It has gained considerable traction but is not universal. A company like Google can be expected to embrace open standards such as this one.

    Second, there are economies of scale to be had. The cost of providing MLS services should fall substantially if aggregated at a national level. That was certainly the case when the local systems were combined to form what is now called MRIS, the system in place in the mid-Atlantic area.

    Third, a single system would solve the problem of markets that span geographic areas. Again, that was the case in the Washington DC metropolitan area, which includes suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. It certainly makes more sense for agents and consumers to be able to search for property in one system than in three.

    Fourth, associations of Realtors wouldn’t go away. They would be freed from the need to provide information technology services, which is not their forte, and allowed to concentrate on the other services that are of value to Realtors. As Bill Lublin suggests, there are many. In fact, I believe it is hard for us to see as practitioners, but the overarching trend in our industry over the next ten years will be specialization and a renewed focus on core competencies.

    Fifth, the cooperative agreements among brokers wouldn’t go away. If Google wants brokers to participate in such a system, they have to keep certain incentives in place. The business realities cannot be dispensed with. Google thus far has shown a desire to work with real estate brokers, not against them.

    Sixth, the value Realtors provide is not in the data. In case anyone missed it, let me say it again. The value Realtors provide is not in the data. We provide expertise, which cannot be taken away by any database.

    Bruce Lemieux makes an interesting observation. Google doesn’t want to be be in the business of enforcing our business rules, nor, as Eric Bramlett points out, does Google want to be in the real estate business. But is there any reason Google couldn’t outsource the enforcement function to an organization we trust — the National Association of Realtors?

    The author of this topic did get one thing right: this is the direction our industry is heading. If we’re smart, we’ll get serious about figuring out how we’ll remain relevant when that inevitable future arrives.

  62. John Kalinowski

    February 20, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    @Mike Kupritz – Your response is the most intelligent I’ve seen yet, and pretty much puts a nail in this post’s coffin. You definitely have a grip on what makes sense and where this whole national MLS thing could be gone. Well done!

  63. Lorraine Beato

    February 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Whew! Those are a lot of comments … I will only say this … there are two mls’ that I belong to, one is a flat fee, the other is a percentage of the sales price. Unfortunately, one is difficult to manoever and the other many agents don’t list propeties in because of the cost. I would love to see a national MLS as I have had clients ask me questions about properties in other areas and I cannot answer their questions. So, as what just happened to me, I had to find an agent in the area, refer them out and then my client never got the information she needed and the referral agent blew her off. Anyway, long story short, I too agree with Mike Kupritz … you put it so well.

  64. Bob

    February 22, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    “Google thus far has shown a desire to work with real estate brokers, not against them.”

    No. Google has shown a desire to replace anything it can monetize with its own model.

  65. Misty Lackie

    February 23, 2010 at 2:26 am

    I wrote a post about this a while ago I can see Google offering tools that will blow away what most MLS’ offer. They already have all the technology in place. Google Docs, email, Google Base listings, AdWords, Google place pages, maps, local business listings, Analytics, video, etc. How hard would it be for Google to package up everything they already have and offer it as a real estate specific package? Google Base doesn’t have all the listing data but either does the MLS. Who in the near future will offer Agents/Brokers the best tools/technology for the best price? If Google came out with a real estate system that was affordable and helped Agents sell more listings or land more clients then their MLS, would more Agents/Brokers bail on their MLS and feed/join Google? I suppose time will tell.

    Another thing Google has on their side is they pretty much offer an API for everything. This enables developers to easily connect and create technology and tools using the power of Google without having to jump through a ton of hoops or pay high entry fees.

  66. Dunes

    February 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    “to create business models that attach themselves to the real estate industry to generate income from the work and income generate by the agents and brokers who are representing buyers and sellers every day -”

    Good thing the folks at aren’t doing that

  67. Mark VanBuskirk

    March 4, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Excellent material to contemplate! Yes the MLS will continue to evolve if it wants to compete with all the different venues such as google. The Key for Realtors is to stay on the cutting edge, utilize technology, absorb all you can!

Leave a Reply

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


American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.



The American Genius is a strong news voice in the entrepreneur and tech world, offering meaningful, concise insight into emerging technologies, the digital economy, best practices, and a shifting business culture. We refuse to publish fluff, and our readers rely on us for inspiring action. Copyright © 2005-2022, The American Genius, LLC.