Needed: A Couch
Three beagles and three children can take their toll on household furniture, particularly reclining sofas. I’ve spent more than a little time over the past few months replacing bolts that either were jolted loose or broken by kids catapulting off of the sofa over an armrest or beagles using the back cushion as a trampoline to help them ambush another member of the yowling pack.
But my patience has started to wear thin and as it has done so, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to buy a new couch. So, being the responsible consumer that I am, I went to the Internet this morning to find the National CLS – the National Couch Listing Service, a databse where the details of every couch for sale in America, whether being sold by a manufacturer or by a hippie trying to eliminate the odor of his hydroponic marijuana, will be listed.
Except such a site doesn’t exist.
Shaking off that disappointment, I decided maybe I ought to start pricing cars in case my soon-to-be 17-year-old finally decides to take us up on our year-long bargain that she can get her drivers’ license as soon as she gets a job and can pay for insurance.
Again, I turned to the Internet so I could find the entire inventory of cars available in America all on one site.
And again, I was stunned to discover such a site doesn’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong – there are a ton of websites available with information on cars or couches for sale, but there’s no single depository of all the possible information that I can visit to aid me in my purchase.
National MLS Based on Flawed Argument
So I can’t visit a single website and find all of the inventory of couches and cars (and countless other items, for that matter) but there seems to be a constant drumbeat from some quarters that just such a database needs to be established for real estate, that the sites provided by local MLS boards and local agents aren’t nearly enough in this day of age.
And my question now, as it always has been, is what makes housing different than any other commodity? It can’t be cost – there are bank owned homes in Phoenix less expensive than an automobile. It can’t be the necessity of buying – the bubble bloggers have been telling people to rent for years.
For the most part, the argument for a single national MLS comes from disgruntled unrepresented sellers who were unsuccessful selling their own home. By their logic: they couldn’t sell their home, they didn’t have access to the MLS, ergo they couldn’t sell their home because they didn’t have MLS access.
It’s clearly a flawed argument.
This morning, a RE/MAX broker from the Bay Area wrote in a letter to Inman News:
Many of the current, standard multiple listing service rules … continue to act as if it was meant for real estate professionals’ use exclusively.
Well, yeah. It is. The MLS and its data belong to the members who pay to subscribe to and maintain the service. It’s not actually public information, though most us do all we can to get that data in front of as many sets of eyes as we possibly can.
I would argue an unrepresented seller can sell their home without use of the MLS simply by using the wide array of web sites and tools currently available, assuming they have the knowledge and the time. But at the end of the day, it’s not the lack of exposure that dooms most unrepresented sellers as much as their own unrealistic pricing and their own inexperience in sales.
They fail to sell because they generally don’t know what they’re doing, not because they don’t have access to a single listings depository.
MLS systems are marketing tools but they’re marketing tools supported and subscribed to by real estate professionals and with that in mind, the systems generally work.
Want access? Cross the incredibly low bar to access to the industry and write the checks for dues and subscriptions and you’re in.
Personally, I think there are bigger fish to fry. There are a lot more people like me who need a new couch than there are people who need to purchase a new home these days. Let’s get us couch shoppers squared away first.