A real estate broker who operates in 23 states has filed a complaint with Federal authorities against the local MLS for “restraint of trade” practices, according to Inman News. Ryan Gehris, who is a broker of record for flat-fee real estate company Housepad.com in 10 of those states, alleges that the North Carolina MLS’s requirement to physically attend specific MLS orientation classes discriminates against non-traditional web-based brokerages. I think he has a point.
While I can see an argument for the advantages of attending specific events, I think that the mandatory requirement of attendance takes it too far. I think of it like networking – It makes sense to do it, but if you don’t it’s your business that is likely to suffer and that’s your choice.
In this age of WebEx, Skype or UStream.TV online meetings, it just isn’t necessary to physically go somewhere for most types of training, especially computer training. And the cost and time concerns associated with attending far away events can make it prohibitive, especially for agents that have other obligations and commitments.
The spokesperson for the MLS said the training is “not intended to be a burden to participants and is required because of the substantial changes in technology.” But if people can get a college degree with online training, it’s hard to imagine why basic MLS user training requires someone’s physical presence to be effective.
The real reason may be that the MLS would like to make it hard for non-brick-and-mortar business models because they do not like the competition. I say let their business model succeed or fail on it’s own merits, not because of discriminatory road blocks put in their way.