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The “MLS 5.0” Manifesto: Everyone working in hi-tech real estate must oppose this vicious plan with every fiber in your being

“Oh that the Roman people had but one neck, that I might cut it off at a blow!” –Caligula

Here is the naked essence of Saul Klein’s so-called “MLS 5.0” proposal:

The MLS of the future will bring a marketing service and benefit to the industry by being the single point of entry for listing data and then, based upon the election of the broker, distribute that information to web portals, newspapers, even radio and television, handheld devices and applications.

The emphasis was in the original, which is a nice illustration of how much Klein trusts you not to see what he’s up to.

What does that sentence actually say?

It says that Klein’s idealized “MLS of the Future” will be a national monopoly system controlled by real estate brokers and the NAR — to the immediate and permanent detriment of independent MLS systems and vendors, Web 2.0 listings aggregators and — most especially — individual real estate agents.

What Klein is proposing, ignoring the presumed benefits to accrue to his own ventures, is to give the real estate industry one chokepoint, one bottleneck, so that the NAR can put a choke-chain around it.

Who will control that “single point of entry for listing data”? The NAR.

Who will control who can and cannot have access to listing data? The NAR.

Who will have the entire real estate industry in a chokehold? The NAR.

This is so diabolical, it makes me wonder if the fix is already in — if this evil plan is going to be rammed down our collective throats in November in Orlando.

Let’s assume it is not. Klein’s proposal is an undiluted evil, and it is incumbent upon everyone working in hi-tech real estate to oppose this vicious plan with every fiber in your being.

To say more is to gild the lily. I think Klein’s actual objective is to pull off another Realtor.com heist, to get the NAR to sell him a national MLS monopoly. But the benefit to the NAR is obvious: With a national monopoly MLS system, brokers will once again have the power to bring their agents to heel. If you understand what it means to be Unchained, you understand exactly what Klein and the NAR are attempting to do to you.

The “MLS 5.0” idea is naked evil. If you value your independence, make yourself heard.

 
Elsewhere: The Real Estate Bloggers, Jim Duncan.

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22 comments

22 Comments so far

  1. Chuck Marunde August 12th, 2008 8:49 pm

    Three of the most powerful forces driving people throughout history are: 1.) the desire for power, 2.) greed (or money), and 3.) lust. Every organization that I can think of in history, no matter how holy its original purpose was, evolves into a massive machine controlled by people who are driven by such forces. We’ve seen plenty of lust revealed, even in the Oral Office of the White House. The NAR is subject to leaders who seek to meet their needs for money and power. The fight over control of the MLS is merely the chess pieces on the surface of a much bigger game. That’s why I think your right Greg. The NAR is a very large and powerful organization with many tentacles, but what has the NAR actually done lately to help any of us actually close a transaction and cash that commission check? Web 5.0 is just another play in a larger game for control, and that is evil.

  2. Chuck Marunde August 12th, 2008 8:52 pm

    That should be MLS 5.0, not Web 5.0. Whoops.

  3. Joshua August 12th, 2008 9:11 pm

    Maybe this is a dumb question from a newbie (I’m not a real estate agent or a broker) but…

    Is the is MLS patented?

  4. Greg Swann August 12th, 2008 9:23 pm

    > Is the is MLS patented?

    Not that I know of.

  5. Gary Frimann August 12th, 2008 9:56 pm

    The MLS is not patented. The comments by the Realtors and the pictures are copyrighted, however.
    The beauty of the the MLS is that once I place my listing in there, I unleash 8,000 sales people in my MLS to sell it for me.
    I , personally, think the MLS is fair, and works in the best interest of our clients, the sellers. I don’t see what the argument is against NAR. The info in there is my listing, hence, my personal property, and all rights to that as I see fit. I don’t want other agents touching it, mismanaging it, retouchinhg it, using it on other mediums, ertc. It’s my property, and you can use it for reference, but leave it alone. I don’t want to be sued because some idiot hijacked my listing and put it on another forum and changed the information therefore making it misinformation, and leaving me with the possibility of being exposed to a lawsuit.
    There are reckless agents out there that will steal and use listing information without permission. they may even change facts, such as square footage or list price–all to make their listing look better.
    Having a listing is personal property, and anything else is truly interference with a contractual relationship, a tort. Why does BHB want to see, or presume the NAR, is out to get us Realtors.
    I just don’t get the argument. Having sat on a MLS rules and regs committee at one time in my life, I can see how letting the information, some of that info being actionable in a lawsuit, get out of hand and ruin listings. Others subscribe to the MLS as well, such as appraisers. If banks knew that the MLS was curruptible, would they be so willing to lend? DOM and sales price, for instance, should be true and accurate.
    Square footage should be somewhat accurate. Does sales price reflect a free three month lease back? How about showing hours? How about a tenant who is trying to move, and her boyfriend just got out of jail for beating the crap out of her, and they used to live together, and not he has the combo lockbox info because the dumbace Realtor did not put it in the confidential field. All kinds of weird stuff can happen. Unless there is a system in place to fine or suspend privileges, it would become the wild west. Not to mention holding our clients vicariously liable in a lawsuit for our stupid input mistakes.
    That’s all the MLS is is an offer for compensation to another broker for bringing a buyer. It is not an advertising medium.
    Thank Goodness a lot of Realtors are leaving the business because they made so much money!!! Isn’t that the reason? They get to retire early?!?

  6. Greg Cremia August 13th, 2008 6:10 am

    Gary wrote,
    “That’s all the MLS is is an offer for compensation to another broker for bringing a buyer. It is not an advertising medium.”

    I say,

    Exactly. So what benefits are there to having a national MLS? I do not see any benefit for me or my clients so the only benefit must be for the owner of the national MLS.

    Real estate is and always will be local. The local MLS are the way to go.

  7. Todd August 13th, 2008 6:43 am

    Funny I remember the travel industry doing the exact same thing in the late 90s, when there were still a handful of airlines that had not yet opened up their flight data and booking databases to the public…Custer’s last stand, indeed.

    Mr. Swann, I would be very interested in hearing what your contacts at Zillow have to say about “MLS 5.0”.

  8. […] then you start to think about it. Well, this time I did not have to think about it, Greg did a damn good job of framing the counter […]

  9. Greg Swann August 13th, 2008 7:53 am

    > I , personally, think the MLS is fair, and works in the best interest of our clients, the sellers.

    I don’t normally respond to NAR cheerleaders, but I did want to thank you for pointing out that the MLS idea, as presently constituted, is a betrayal, in se, of the interests of buyers. As soon as a single judge figures this out, the entire NAR cartel will be reduced to rubble.

  10. Greg Swann August 13th, 2008 8:01 am

    > Mr. Swann, I would be very interested in hearing what your contacts at Zillow have to say about “MLS 5.0″.

    You raise an interesting point. I’ve seen this as an attempt to throttle the Realty.bots, but they may see it another way.

    Of the VOWs, Redfin.com is amazingly impressive — just by taking the same feed any other broker can get and parsing it more rigorously. This is a prefect example of the benefit to the consumer of distributed systems.

  11. Steve Belt August 13th, 2008 11:07 am

    Greg,

    If you were president of NAR (something you should be trying to do, so you can change whatever it is you think is broken), would this be a bad idea? I don’t think it’s a bad idea. In fact, I think it’s a nugget of a good idea.

    From my read on your comments, you don’t dislike the idea, so much as the organization with the idea. Which means you should be trying to change the organization, not blasting what appears to me to be a good idea.

    FWIW, I can’t stand the number of times I re-enter a listing. Sure, the fact that I do separates me from the majority that don’t, but still, it’s a pathetic waste of what should otherwise be valuable time.

  12. MLS 5.0 - TRNT.com/LIFE at TRNT.com/LIFE August 13th, 2008 11:08 am

    […] now it’s been summed up for me by Tom and Greg from The Real Estate Bloggers and the Bloodhound Blog, respectively, and now I’ve got […]

  13. Michael Rahmn August 13th, 2008 2:37 pm

    Of the VOWs, Redfin.com is amazingly impressive — just by taking the same feed any other broker can get and parsing it more rigorously. This is a prefect example of the benefit to the consumer of distributed systems.

    It’s worth noting Redfin (and for that matter, Windermere, John L Scott, Estately, HouseValues and Zillow) started in one of the more progressive, broker (not Association) owned MLS systems (NWMLS), where IDX was “invented” and the first MLS to allow brokers to publish sold data.

    Anyone who today feeds from the fruit of IDX/VOW should be thankful the NWMLS was free to innovate independent from NAR.

  14. Greg Swann August 13th, 2008 4:23 pm

    > would this be a bad idea?

    A monopoly is always a bad idea.

    > I can’t stand the number of times I re-enter a listing

    Slavery is always sold as a matter of convenience.

    Don’t worry, though. Be happy. If you read the language I quoted above, you will see that when you are a happy, happy slave laboring under a national monopoly MLS system, you will no longer have any control over your listings anyway. You will be the robotic minion of your broker that the NAR has always intended you should be.

  15. Greg Swann August 13th, 2008 4:27 pm

    > Anyone who today feeds from the fruit of IDX/VOW should be thankful the NWMLS was free to innovate independent from NAR.

    Very good point. Thank you.

  16. […] Greg and Tom have more. […]

  17. […] Duncan, Greg Swann and Tom Royce have all commented recently on Saul Klein’s writings on an MLS of the […]

  18. James Boyer Summit NJ August 14th, 2008 11:59 am

    Most anything NAR wants to do these days is a bad idea. Makes one wonder how these clowns gained control in the first place.

  19. Robert L King August 20th, 2008 11:46 am

    Dissemination of information is not always in the best interest of ANYBODY!!!! There are two parts to the “consumer” equation property owners/buyers. The MLS was originally designed to accommodate one side of that equation Property Owners. Sellers, by allowing listing agents to submit property information over a CLOSED CIRCUIT forum (The MLS) offering compensation to cooperating brokers for BUYERS. The MLS was a closed circuit advertising tool for owners only! What we now have is MLS information being disseminated over the Worldwide Web! So who needs a Realtor? The intent of the Internet IDX is to promote Lead Generation, Referral Networking and Exposure. All of which has diluted the original intent of the Local MLS system. Where would the likes of the Information Goons be today if it were not for IDX? If we are going to take it to the next level -Nation MLS- why not just take the licensing law to the next Level -National Licensing Law-? Instead of being state licensed, we all become Nationally Licensed! And to get the educators in the deal Licensing will require a 4 year degree. One size fits all just like the Internet and our Global Economy! Wouldn’t that make it easier to sell from state to state? Kind of gives you a new perspective on States Rights? Just put it all under one big roof! Just like Walmart, Homedepot, GE, Proctor & Gamble etc etc etc. Just like a good ole Federal Reserve system to bank roll all of it. We could call is Center-ific Eco-nomicz.

  20. […] interesting phenomenon is that the responses — almost all of which are negative, some even downright hostile — do not take issue with the basic concept itself. The negativity is almost entirely about […]

  21. […] interesting phenomenon is that the responses — almost all of which are negative, some even downright hostile — do not take issue with the basic concept itself. The negativity is almost entirely about […]

  22. Tony Sena October 24th, 2008 10:35 am

    It would be a very bad idea to give NAR control of a national MLS system. NARs power is already out of control and giving them control of all the data could be bad for realtors! With no competition, they could charge an arm and a leg for access the data for use on our websites.