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The Future of the Multiple Listing Services

Richard Montgomery on

Dear Monty: Will all the changes in the real estate industry affect the multiple listing service in the future?

Monty's Answer: What will happen to the MLSs is the day's question. The answers of seasoned industry followers, such as mainstream media, real estate agents, columnists, technologists and others, vary widely. The best way to respond to the question is to provide background information on the MLS model and share various opinions; the changes are recent, and many conflicting opinions are being touted.

MLSs (plural) is the correct terminology because there is not one national MLS but 565 regional MLSs. Many of these organizations, but not all, are owned by individual boards of realtors. Independent real estate companies operate private companies, and there are boards of realtors that do not participate in any MLS. While the National Association of Realtors is recognized as the go-to authority, it is not an independent consumer-driven government agency like the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice. NAR is a trade association with significant resources it uses to promote and protect its customers -- the dues-paying real estate agents. Several government agencies involved in the litigation see a substantial conflict of interest. Others who see these conflicts of interest are the consumers litigating for fairness in class action and other types of litigation. They view the playing field as being tilted for the brokers and agents.

-- The NAR has created a committee and developed what they see as the solution. They want to modernize the industry to bring it up to date. The committee's name is the MLS Round Table. The facilitator of the MLSRT, Stefan Swanepoel, says that "MLSs can remain relevant if they innovate and lead the transformation of the multiple listing services offered to real estate professionals."

-- The Consumer Federation of America is a Washington, D.C., watchdog and consumer advocate. In February, they commented on one MLS litigation and the proposed settlement.

-- Many tech companies have been involved in real estate for many years. They are called PropTech companies. Examples are Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com (not owned by NAR -- a private company).Glenn Orgin wrote an article for Forbes Magazine reporting on where the industry is going. Another tech company, CoStar, has entered the residential market with the goal of taking market share from the incumbents listed above and commented on recent MLS lawsuits in September 2023.


-- Hacker News is an online publication you've never heard of, with over 100,000 subscribers and roughly 2.6 million views daily. These are the technical engineers who build the platforms you visit every day. They shared stories and opinions of 300-plus community members responding to the announcement of Sitzer/Burnett in April 2019.

Trial observers felt that the plaintiff's expert witness did an excellent job convincing the jury that the buyer-broker rule violates many laws of the land. He also convinced the jury that eliminating the buyer-broker rule would save home buyers billions. While all the parties involved want their viewpoint to prevail, there will be appeals on the way. Only time will tell.

Richard Montgomery is a syndicated columnist, published author, retired real estate executive, serial entrepreneur, and the founder of DearMonty.com and PropBox, Inc. He provides consumers with options to real estate issues. Follow him on Twitter (X) @dearmonty or DearMonty.com.


Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




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