If you believe that Distribution Trumps Destination at this stage of the evolution of real estate on the WWW, that the distribution of listing information to many consumer accessible and trafficked web sites is far more important than listing information appearing on any single web site, then it is difficult to question the value of a well run public facing MLS web site.
Seekers of real estate information will emulate water, taking the path of least resistance to find what they are looking for. The easier it is to find, the greater chance that it will be found. Listing data will also emulate water, finding its way to many destinations on the web, through a number of different sources. It is already happening and will continue to happen. Can MLSs facilitate this phenomenon while building a valuable asset for the MLS, its Subscribers and Participants, as well as a valuable service for buyers and sellers? While the jury is still out, indications are that the answer is yes…absolutely.
It is in a broker’s best interest that their listings can easily be found on the web. The best way to insure that they will easily be found is to put them in as many places as possible. A public Facing MLS web site is one more place, with many obvious benefits, not the least of which is information control and consistency.
It is in the home buyer’s best interest that listing information be easily and conveniently found on the web.
And, it is in the seller’s best interest that their home be found by as many potential buyers as possible.
With the above points in mind, why not add one more place for listing information to be found on the Web, an MLS Public Facing Web Site?
Now the questions (and feel free to submit answers):
Why not also publish that information on a web site controlled by the MLS?
What is the downside?
What is the upside?
Does it truly provide brokers a competitive advantage to display their listings only on their web sites?
Some brokers insist that a Public Facing MLS Web Site competes directly with broker sites. Bob Hale, CEO of the Houston Association of REALTORS® will argue emphatically, with statistics to back up his position, that brokers and agents benefit when an MLS has a strong Public Facing Web Site, with leads being generated and provided directly to the listing agent with no intermediary. MRIS, another major MLS with a newly launched public facing web site seems to agree. As a matter of fact, at least 400 of the MLSs in the U.S. have created a public web site with listing displays for consumers. While the debate may not soon subside, the trend of MLS public facings sites will likely accelerate forward as more MLSs seek new ways to drive value to their members.
(Saul Klein is a REALTOR® and nationally recognized speaker and consultant who, over the last 16 years, has spent more than 15,000 hours in front of real estate professionals, consumers, association staffs and volunteers. Over the past 15 years he has traveled over 1,500,000 miles delivering a message on technology and its role in the future of the real estate industry. Saul was selected by the National Association Of REALTORS® as one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Real Estate Industry” in 2003 and one of the “100 Most Influential Real Estate People” by Inman News in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.)