The Word Good And Evil. An Optical IllusionMLS systems have had buyer-servicing portals for years. An agent configures a buyers search criteria, and the buyers representative and buyer are notified whenever a listing matches their search criteria. The system is elegant, informative and works perfectly.

But there is a new feature trying to put down roots in this ecosystem that may introduce interesting results an enhanced buyer registration feature of the MLS.

Many agents go to Tour Meetings and Office Meetings where they talk about buyer needs all in hopes of finding an agent with a listing. Curious really, since all of the listings are in the MLS but there is a tribe building effect to attending the meeting, and the meetings have other agenda items. Its cool.

The new twist to buyer servicing portals is the notion that listing agents can search for buyers represented by agents. Reversing the search stream, if you will. Rather than buyer’s agents searching for homes, the seller’s agent is searching for buyers. The sellers representative does not see the buyers contact information, just the profile of what they are looking for and the buyers agent.

I think that this type of service could create a mess, or it could create a solution. I am not sure which will ensue. The results will tell.

The messy part would be that buyers agent could be spammed and telemarketed by sellers representatives. The buyers agent can find the listing just fine in the MLS the noise may not be needed.

The solution part is that sellers representatives could market property more efficiently to other agents than they could with traditional shotgun methods that market to the masses of potential buyers.

From the data side, I think that it would also be interesting to know how many buyers are searching for homes in a particular area or price range relative to the inventory. Good forecasting tool. Arguably, this is possible today except the searchable data is not very cleanly associated with a willing, qulaified buyer.

Another angle on this buyer portal concept is an Offer Service. Buyers agents add their client offers electronically. Each time there is a higher offer; everyone (including the buyer) is notified until the sellers agent accepts an offer. The MLS becomes an electronic auction house of types.

As a consultant, I reserve my judgment on these things until there are results. If you are an MLS or Association considering these new services, be sure to follow the steps carefully before launch. Committee Review, Technology Review, Technology Selection, Interest Survey, Beta Test. After some period of time, Interest Survey Again and send back to Committee Review to see if the goal was reached. If all lights are green, preflight it for the subscribers demos, webinars, instruction sheets, subscriber communications then launch. (Shameless Plug – this is a WAV Group service offering).

Sometimes innovation is nice to have, but not really necessary. The MLS system is not broken today, but I welcome innovation if it makes real estate transaction better. Beware each new feature makes the MLS system more complex to use, so tread carefully and make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks. Is it Good or Evil – what are your thoughts?