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2008-08-11 22:40:50

MLS 5.0 -- A Vision for Tomorrow

Last week, RealTown released the MLS of the Future Vision Article authored by RealTown's Saul Klein. The article release has created an incredible buzz in the Real Estate industry. If you have not read the entire 28-page paper, you can download it
by visiting In the meantime, we will be releasing a portion of the paper several times a week to allow you to read the specific sections and make online comments that will fuel additional views and opinions on the subject as we move forward.

What will be required to build on the current solid foundation of today’s MLS? This paper attempts to answer this question and create a basis for an industry discussion. Open and frank discussion is essential to creating the tools and organizations that will position REALTORS® to provide services to meet the expectations of future buyers and sellers. This Paper is a vision and not a roadmap. MLS in the broad, generic sense, needs to be redefined in the age of information proliferation and online participatory environments. MLS is more than an offer of compensation and cooperation, but how much more? That decision is up to you.


The real estate industry has the opportunity to "take back its future." For a number of reasons, it has appeared over the last few years that forces, out of our control, were at work to reshape the real estate industry -- from technology, to the Internet, to the United States Department of Justice, to new business models that are the darlings of Wall Street, to the press, to the divergence of the different generations, and to economic conditions. It is now time to fight back, and in doing so, all concerned will be winners, REALTORS® and consumers alike.
It is upon this theme that the concept of MLS 5.0 is introduced, as the MLS of the Future. It is time to look at what MLS seemingly has “always done,” and bring it into the new millennium. This will require bold initiatives. To get the most out of this Paper, you may need to suspend your skepticism and step into the future. Ask yourself: “What is the value a real estate professional brings to consumers when information about everything, including real estate, is so abundant on the Web? MLS 5.0 should provide the tools to enable the real estate professional to deliver value, part of which will be to put the information available into context for the consumer.
Today, MLS is not the only way to gain exposure for listings. Yahoo, Google, Zillow, Trulia, CyberHomes, Craigslist, VAST, Point2Homes, and many more have the potential to expose listings to more potential buyers than ever before, and for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. If you were a consumer selling your home, wouldn’t you want it marketed everywhere? In the age of information, consumers and REALTORS® are becoming more comfortable using these new tools and new databases, and will become even more comfortable as the concepts of Web 2.0 become better appreciated and understood. MLS must reflect the new realities. Many REALTORS® are not acquainted or familiar with some of these realities. It will take more than vision to bring the ideas and concepts of MLS 5.0 into reality. It will take courage and leadership, as old paradigms, territorial rights, politics, potential job loss by MLS executives and staff, and fear will undoubtedly create obstacles to successfully altering the mission of MLS. And that is what we are talking about, altering the mission, and with a new vision for MLS. Objections, real and imaginary, will be heard in abundance. Be prepared to field them.

Question - which has been asked many times over the past 10 years, but never really answered:
“If we were to build an MLS today, with the technology available and for the different generations of REALTORS®, home buyers, and home sellers, what would we include and how would we go about the task?”

  • Parcel Based – Best described as a “Property Wiki”
  • Built upon Web 2.0 Concepts – Using technologies to engage:
    • The Consumer
    • The REALTOR®
    • Vendors
    • Developers
  • Public Side and a Private Side
  • Online communities for REALTORS® (public and private)
  • Online communities for consumers (public and private)
  • Multi lingual
  • Employ Agile Software Development Processes; aligning business goals with technology capabilities
  • Built with an Eye on Generational differences and expectations
  • Agent rating system
  • Referral system at no charge to agents
  • Extensive agent profiles
  • Builds and improves neighborhood information through user input
  • Works to create Federations and implements SSO (Single Sign-On)
  • Continues to have a governance structure and service centers for real estate professionals
  • Enables Innovation
  • Is built with a Vision (“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there,” to paraphrase Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland)
  • Is built with a Specific Mission
Vision Statement of MLS 5.0:
MLS 5.0 is the authoritative and trusted source for all things related to real estate, for REALTORS® and Consumers.
Mission Statement of MLS 5.0:
Keep the REALTOR® in the Center of the real estate Conversation, realizing that that conversation extends from far in advance of a purchase and continues after a purchase of real property. Real estate is a lifetime conversation.
MLS 5.0 will use the resources of:
  • The aggregated listing information, which are assets owned by the brokers that created and financed the businesses to contract those listings, and
  • Information associated with a property even when that property is not for sale. And allow it to be augmented by images, sound, video, and text and include it in a database of all properties, not just those for sale.
  • Sold data accumulated by MLS
  • Public data
  • Consumer-generated content from online communities, groups, blogs, and other Web 2.0 technologies and applications
MLS 5.0 will leverage that information to bring consumers and real estate professionals together on the Web to participate in ongoing conversations with real estate at the center. Much of what affects the lives of individuals centers on their home, their neighborhood, and their community.
MLS 5.0 will have a public facing side for consumers and for consumer to REALTOR® interaction, and a private side for the use of real estate professionals, a business to business network.
This is a far cry from where MLS is today, and this is the challenge. If we do not take up this challenge as an industry, to create the authoritative and trusted source of real property information on the Web, it will happen anyway -- in fact, the battle has already been engaged.
Look for the next part of this series on Wednesday.

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