While antitrust class action lawsuits involving the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and realtor-affiliated Multiple Listing Service (MLS) platforms continue to drag on, the Trade Organization’s MLS Issues and Policy Committee is examining how MLS can better serve consumers.
“If we don’t have consumers as our guide and what’s in their best interest and not what’s in the best interest of our MLS organizations, then we’re not going in the right direction,” said Nicole Jensen, CEO of realMLS and the chair of the NAR’s Presidential Advisory Group (PAG), told committee members and NAR NXT Conference attendees gathered in the Windermere Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on Saturday morning.
“Our duty is to serve consumers in the best possible way. I understand that some organizations are affected by these recommendations, but we as an industry must ensure that consumers are our guide. »
To achieve this goal of better serving consumers, the committee recommends “full data exchange in local and/or regional native MLS platforms,” including listing data, list data, and historical data. . Although the five recommendations under this umbrella were approved for forwarding to the executive committee, there was quite a bit of debate from the MLS executives and realtors in attendance.
“As an MLS, that puts you at a competitive disadvantage if you’re trying to gain market share, because how would you grow if everyone gets the same data,” Jim Bellville, a Vermont-based real estate agent and member of North East Research and Education Network (NEREN) MLS, says. “Unless you have two very similar MLSs, I don’t see any benefit to either of them doing this, in terms of their growth potential.”
According to Jensen, research by the PAG found that even in small markets, data shares led to increased MLS memberships. Jensen said the data shares add value for members, encouraging more real estate agents to join.
“The whole point of this concept is to arm estate agent members with the same data that consumers get from online sources and PAG believes that if we want to empower our estate agent members, they need to be in able to provide that data to their consumers.and the only way to do that is to share data.Otherwise you force that consumer to go to a third-party site to get the best data, which is not good for them members of the real estate agent, who should be the source of the real estate data.
Another concern raised by real estate agents at the meeting was the impact of data sharing on commission sharing. As it stands, to list a property on a realtor-affiliated MLS, the listing agent must offer a buyer’s broker commission, but if the buyer’s broker is from another MLS in the state, at unless he gets broker-to-broker accord compensation, they usually get no compensation. Real estate agents therefore wondered how data sharing would impact these practices.
“The recommendation made by the PAG was to include the offer of compensation via data sharing,” Jensen offered for clarification.
In addition to data sharing recommendations, the committee also discussed metrics still in the workshop that will be submitted for committee approval at a later date. Some of these included plans to merge the uses and policies of Internet Data Interchange (IDX) and the Virtual Office Website (VOW) into a streamlined “list exchange”, proposals to review and creating new resources related to property access and viewing, and measures to improve Realtor Safety, by adopting “safety fields” in MLS listings.
“It is the sad truth that real estate agents are victims of crime every day in the United States, a stark reminder of the unique risks facing real estate professionals,” said Janet Judd, chair of the advisory board. on the safety of real estate agents. “The following security-related areas have been added to reduce the number of security incidents in the real estate industry.”
Recommended security fields include information about the occupancy status of the home, the amount of interior and exterior lighting, the visibility of the property from the road, and whether or not there is constant cell phone service on the property.
Judd said so far more than 20 MLSs nationwide have expressed interest in adding these fields to listings and five MLSs, including Arkansas MLS Cooperative Realtors (5,200 members), Greater Greenville (Caroline from the south) MLS Realtors Association (3,100 members), and South West (New Mexico) Multiple Listing Service (4,300 members) are committed to setting up security fields.
As NAR and MLS continue to fight antitrust class action lawsuits, committee chairs told real estate agents and senior MLS executives that it’s more important than ever to make sure customers understand the value of the MLS and the services provided by buyer’s brokers.
“We want to make sure people recognize the importance and value of local MLS cohort marketing places and how competitive they are and real estate agents and everything we do for consumers,” said Jason Sanchez, Director of MLS Engagement.
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