Marc Davison of 1000 WATT Consulting wrote an article for Inman Real Estate News recently that was in part an answer to a discussion that had been started over at the 3 Oceans Real Estate Blog site, regarding the entry of a New Search firm in the real estate arena called DOT HOMES.
Both posts elaborated on the issue of compliance of IDX data within the search realm. I think this is a good topic to continue because in my humble opinion I think that Marc and Kevin both missed on discussing an important aspect in their respective discussions. While I commend both for bringing up the topic they do not fully detail the problem or the issue at hand here.
Yeah.. Marc does a good job of describing the facts ?that home sellers are not interested in this issue other than they want to sell their house and want the listing data displayed anywhere an every where that will give them a possibility of attracting a buyers attention.?
The problem I have with the context of the issue is that both guys refer to the data as the Brokers Data and that it is a broker issue. That is only partly correct. The larger issue over control of the data that both failed to mention, is the control of the listing data by the local MLS boards. (Multiple Listing Services)
Let me explain for the layman here; Brokers have to pay fees for the IDX (Internet Data Exchange) or RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard)feeds and many of the MLS Boards have draconian limitations on how and where the data can be displayed. Part of the issue also runs into fairness, competitiveness and the rules of fair play, when they (MLS Boards) appear to have different rules for different brokers and vendors based on who is in this month with a particular MLS board.
Take for example the Utah MLS board. They won?t provide an IDX feed unless you pay thousands of dollars a month. Yep you go it right, THOUSANDs. Another one I have personally dealt with in the past was Lake Tahoe-Incline Village MLS who are so overly protective of their data streams, and these are only a few off the top of my head that I can readily recall of the many MLS’s across the U.S. Who are they protecting though? In the current housing market they are killing the careers of the very people they claim to protect.
MLS Compliance is a rule who?s time has come and gone and should be done away with to better the industry as a whole. In it?s current incarnation it is behind the times, out in left field. In fact you could even say that the current policy?s of the MLS boards are effectively holding your homes listing data for ransom, adding to the quagmire of all ready declining home sales.
I think the the MLS boards are going to have to adopt some type of open source protocol on a national platform, so the likes of DOT HOMES can readily disseminate the data to those consumers who are looking to buy.
I really am not one to advocate the Federal Governments intervention in business, but as the U.S. Justice Department continues it?s probe into NAR?s (National Association of Realtors) business practices it might behoove all of us if they take an even closer look at how the individual MLS? are run and controlled and whether or not NAR?s influence has anything to do with the issue.
NAR has been working to formulate the new rules into what is called the Internet Listing Display (ILD) which is suppose to replace the current IDX and RET?s policy?s. Most of this is as a direct result of the FED?s probe. To date the standard has not been completed and the FED?s initial probe completed in November 2007. A court date of July 7, 2008 has been set.
This is what NAR has posted on their site: NAR strongly disagrees with the government’s contentions and is vigorously defending both the MLS as a vehicle for broker-to-broker cooperation as well as the ability of a listing broker to control the use of that brokers listings on the Internet by competitors.
The problem as I see it is; that the MLS? boards have way too much control and are stifling competition by not allowing those with valid business reasons access to the data, with out putting often times unjust qualifications or access fees for the usage of the data.
Either way there needs to be change in the way business has been done in the past to accommodate future technology and the changing way in which consumers conduct research to purchase homes. My research on DOT HOMES also shows that they provide a direct link to the listing agent without having to drill through tons of minutiae. And that is a good thing !