The whole ruckus over the NWMLS no longer sending its member’s listings to realtor.com inspired many unlit pixels of commentary and many more wasted bytes of hard drive space. As I pondered a while ago, the industry appears to have a healthy appetite for technology. However, one of the comments was really insightful….
I still feel that this decision made by the board was wrong. As was the decision last year to disable the client email updates from Locator. We have the technology but are unwilling to use it. I have no love of REALTOR.com but I see no problem with sharing a limited set of data with them and offering our sellers maximum exposure of their listing. In fact, perhaps one of the reasons they discontinued the feed was because as Galen said, “Realtor.com was given the exclusive non-broker feed…” and they were getting pressure from Google and others to get a similar feed. I say give it to them. NWMLS has the ability to provide its members, all of them, with the technology usually reserved only for those with very deep pockets.
The whole thing got me wondering if this just a tactic for the big brokers to keep their upstarts at bay? Because of the MLS system, the big brokers share their listings inventory, with the smaller and independent brokers. However, perhaps the big brokers want the technology out of the MLS, because it harms the smaller upstarts without withholding listings from them?
Maybe there’s a less nefarious motivation. Since the NWMLS board appears to be dominated by members that belong to big brokers, perhaps they don’t want the NWMLS spending its’ limited computing resources (at the end of the day, even the Google’s & Microsoft’s have limited budgets, they just have a few more zeros at the end than most of us do) in areas where a big broker’s IT department or a motivated IDX vendor could do a better job. Regardless of the motivations, it does bring an interesting issue to light.
What should the MLS responsibilities be in terms of listing change notification, statistics/reporting, automated listing distribution, listing access via mobile devices or any number of things that either an MLS or an IDX vendor could provide?
I’m sure the big brokers are less enthusiastic about this type of thing because some have probably already invented these kind of technologies in house years ago (and paid for it out of their own pocket). They probably also see the MLS as competition for viewer eyeballs and would rather the MLS make it easier to combine listings data across their empires instead of being a shared technology provider. MLS regionalization is probably much higher on their MLS IT wish list. After all, the point of an MLS is to share listings data, not share listings technology.
The independent agents and the smaller brokers, probably want the MLS to provide these services, so they don’t have invest any more money in their IDX vendor / IT infrastructure that they don’t have to. I also suspect a lot people in that market segment see technology as an expense and not as an investment. They only want it, if they don’t have to pay for it.
As for me, I’m just an IDX vendor (I don’t have a dog in the fight). From my biased perspective, the less the MLS does, the more valuable my technology becomes, the more useful my services become, and the more opportunities for paying customers I get. I want you to spend money on your IT infrastructure and your IDX vendor! Apparently, the big brokers want you to do the same via their MLS policy direction!