We recently received an interesting white paper/article from the CEO of the CTMLS, Cameron Paine, on the rationale for creating a national MLS consumer website. Cameron raises some very interesting ideas in his paper which you can read in its entirety on this post. This article highlights something WAV Group brings up at every strategic planning meeting and every conference we attend…we spend too much time in our industry working against each rather than cooperating. Separate agendas are being pushed at every level from national to state to local. There is an urgent need for our industry to work together to leverage our collective strengths. The proposal presented in Cameron’s paper is a step in this direction.
Here are some of the highlights from the paper:
- Zillow has received funding of around $87 million yet is not profitable. What is their real end game? Is it the MLS subscription business?
- Could Zillow or some other 3rd party become the site where listings originate instead of MLS? Why might large real estate companies consider this?
- Why individual MLS consumer sites can’t win the long term war
- A call for MLSs to come together and leverage their combined strengths with a national MLS consumer site
We Need One MLS Website
By: Cameron M. Paine, CEO, Connecticut MLS
The purpose of this white paper is to raise awareness that the MLS industry needs one national MLS public website to be competitive online. While there has been some debate over the years, the evidence supporting the benefits of MLS public websites has become overwhelming for even the most hardened skeptics. Still, there are flaws in both the idea and the execution by MLSs (including mine) that limit the potential of MLS public websites to truly compete – and win – in the search engines of Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
However, when considering this issue one question kept coming up: “Why would banks continue to invest millions into Zillow when Zillow has yet to turn a profit?” According to Zillow, by August of 2007 they had $87 million in funding. According to CNN Money, in the IPO earlier this year Zillow sold 3.46 million shares – trading today (October 26, 2011) at $25.59. Here comes the interesting part: Again, according to CNN Money, the underwriters of the IPO were Citigroup, Allen & Co., Pacific Crest Securities, ThinkEquity and First Washington Corp. The answer may be that the bank’s interest isn’t just in the public website – it’s the MLS subscription model. Remember, we’re 800+ MLSs, with no real capacity or leadership to mount a coordinated response to a common threat. Yet, with more than 1 million subscribers nationwide paying a monthly/bi-annual/annual fee of