On the Twitter vine there has been tweets about the National MLS possibilities, with people from both sides of the fence offering opinions. I have heard the argument for it to replace all the little MLS boards around the country with one National MLS. Although the people who think it is a good idea bring up some good points, I do not agree with them and will not be discussing those points in this post. (You are more than welcome to offer up those points of view in the comment section, but I will not be addressing them here.)
I do not think that a National MLS is a good idea. Nor do I think it will work. These are my 3 reasons why:
Reason #1: If Real Estate is Local, why should the MLS be National?
With the shifting real estate market, the big, loud noise of the moment is the Real Estate is local. I yell it at everyone I yell at. (I even speak it softly to everyone I whisper to.) It is a fact. My Colorado Springs real estate market is different from Ines’ Miami real estate market, different from Maureen’s Birmingham real estate market and even different from Kristal’s Denver real estate market. Each real estate market across the nation, like life, is like a box of chocolates and each chocolate has its own disgusting nougat center and no two disgusting nougat centers are the same. (I cannot tell you HOW they are different because I have no interest in biting into the mystery nougat-y MLS of any other MLS board.)
I am a big proponent of being an area, or niche expert. When I want to find a home for sale in Miami, I do not want to wade through a biased national MLS to find one. I want to wade through Google and find the real Miami Guru. Not whomever the national MLS leader deems as important.
Also, national MLS would lump all the different MLS areas together. The different MLS boards WORK because they are local. You may say that yours doesn’t work, but I guarantee they work better than if me in my high-altitude-no-water city tried telling someone in a beach-town how to structure the MLS input sheet or create guidelines on what should be disclosed in the remarks section, or whatever random “hyper-local” nonsense we each deem as important.
Which brings me to a sub-point of this reason #1 …
Each state has different contract and disclosure laws. How on earth would a National MLS accommodate for each state’s laws?
Example #1: In California you MUST disclose if a property is “known” to be haunted. In Colorado it is ILLEGAL to even hint at the fact that a property may have, at one time, possibly had something that slightly resembled a ghost. How would THAT play out in a National MLS? The MLS would turn into a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
Is this house haunted? If you select “yes” then turn to page 6. If you select “no” then turn to page 11. If you refuse to answer, then turn to page 15. However, turning to page 15 will make you guilty by non-association.
In a National MLS, who would be responsible for making sure that each entry was inputted to state contracts and disclosure standards?
Example #2: Our MLS demands that if you have a listing agreement where you are NOT advertising the property in the MLS (aka “pocket listing”) you must supply the MLS arm of our board with a copy of the listing agreement proving that your seller has agreed to this non-entry. And yes, every HelpAssist2SellURHome4Free company (who is even still around…) complies with this. I don’t even know WHO would be responsible for making sure a protocol like this was enforced in a national MLS.
Way too much room for error. A smaller, local board is the only way to handle such intricate, local, nougat-y things.
Reason #2: Someone will get rich off this lofty idea and since it is not me, I refuse to play along.
(Thank you Teresa Boardman, for this thought.) A National MLS is a HUGE pile of mess to throw under one umbrella with one ringmaster. One person-slash-company will have the grand idea to do a MLS mashup that all agents will have to partake in, make a bunch of money off of their little game of Monopoly. Call me a whiny crybaby, but I guarantee I will not have the option of being the shoe in this game. So screw it.
No really. I mean it. I get to be the shoe or screw it.
Okay, I also mean this: The accountability for a national MLS is undefinable. What does it mean to be truly accountable for an entire nation worth of overpriced listings? I mean, really! Someone will make a whole boatload of money off of the idea and cost us agents a boatload of money.
At least when my board charges me money for whatever it is they charge me money for, I have the ability to walk, no, drive down to their office and actually speak to a human, face-to-face who will answer all of my odd ball questions and remind me not to steal their pen … again.
And why would a potential home buyer CARE if their home search in Shreveport LA also had a link to a home search in Bellingham, WA? It’s like a Blogroll. No one cares except for the people on the Blogroll.
Reason #3: My MLS board rocks!
If we were to do a National MLS mash-up, that would require SOME MLS area standards to rise, while it would cause other MLS area standards to fall, just to come to a happy medium. Kind of like in the classroom when half the class is consistently bored to death because the other half of the class (or one kid in some cases) just does not “get” it. It is not fair to either group.
I refuse to lower my standards to accommodate a National MLS. We have a smokin’ cool MLS and a smokin’ cool support staff and a smokin’ cool board with smokin’ high standards. Nothing gets by our board … Nothing. Well, not at the MLS level, that is. If a National MLS is designed to bring some “standards” to the MLS game, then why would we want to reinvent the wheel when we already are there?
“But my local board is not shiny and cool like Mariana’s!” If there is a problem with your local board, making it national is not the answer. What are you actually doing to make it better, besides complaining about it? Our board is “shiny and cool” because we all are actively involved in keeping it shiny and cool.
(Okay. I am off my soapbox, now.)
Ultimately, a national MLS is not even necessary anyway. The IDX/IDX2 options allow for the whole MLS to be accessed from almost any local real estate agent’s site anyway. I see no good reason to have access to a MLS to an area that I know nothing about. IF I were looking to relocate, I would want to search for a home in that area from an agent who actually was IN THAT AREA.
Anyway, there is already the Point2 NLS thingamagiggy which works for a supplemental umbrella MLS, even though it is still about as clear as mud in many areas.
In my oh-so-never-humble-opinion, the MLS needs to remain LOCAL and run by LOCAL boards to be effective.