MLSs are under siege right now. Since they control the most consistent and profitable cash flow source in the industry, they are very attractive targets. They need to continue to innovate to increase their value and relevance since many are chipping away at their positions right now.
It’s clear from the work we’ve done with MLSs. Data quality and comprehensiveness is the core value proposition common to all MLSs. No other organization has figured out a way to deliver the breadth and depth of quality real estate information that MLSs offer today. Even well financed venture-backed start-ups have not figured out a better way to gather, aggregate and report property information than the MLSs currently own and control. It doesn’t mean that many organizations aren’t trying to steal energy, budgets and eyeballs away from MLSs, however. Every time another organization becomes “THE” go to place for real estate information, REALTORS® and the MLS organizations that serve them are weakened at some level.
Research conducted recently by the MLS Domains Association clearly shows that consumers believe that MLSs have the best information available. That’s why consumers prefer to use MLS consumer websites over any other source of online property information available today. Agents and Brokers, of course, also respect MLSs as the go to source of high quality information. That’s why they belong to MLSs and use IDX and VOW feeds on their websites so readily.
I would like to throw out a premise and get your reaction. What if we expanded the definition of the type of data that MLSs delivered? What if, in addition to property listing information MLSs offered other types of credible information highly relevant to consumers? What if the MLSs were also the curators of performance data about real estate agents?
Consumers have told us at WAV Group over and over again that they REALLY want to be able to review feedback from consumers that have bought and sold homes from agents before they engage with them. They want the information to be credible, delivered from a legitimate organization that will do the “right” thing on behalf of consumers. They regularly mention the need for MLSs to provide them with “real”, “verified” information from past clients of real estate professionals.
Why wouldn’t MLSs want to expand the scope of the type of information they offer? Wouldn’t it make sense to not only promote active listings, but also the providers of those listings? After all, the real estate professional is the core audience of the MLS, correct?
Isn’t it appropriate to promote the subscribers to the multiple listing service, not just the properties they represent? Since MLSs have proven to be the most credible with real estate property information, doesn’t it make sense to expand the type of credible information being delivered? If MLSs become the de facto provider of property information AND feedback about agents, doesn’t it make the organizations more valuable than just property information which is everywhere now?
If the MLSs don’t jump on this organization they are going to make their subscribers have to defend their own reputation against third party sources just like they have to defend against AVM’s on their party sites now. Do we really want to Yelp, Angie’s List or Zillow to become the go to source for real estate agent feedback? Doesn’t it make sense for MLSs to take ownership of this important dataset and make sure the needs of subscribers are being best served by credible feedback from “real” clients?