The role of a member of an MLS Board of Director is multifaceted, but divided in part to areas around voting control, and in part around strategic guidance. A trend emerging at the largest MLSs in the nation is to invite outside directors into the board room.

Last week, MRED of the Chicagoland area renewed Art Carter as a director for a second term. Mr. Carter has led the development of the Nation’s largest MLS, and is on the path to become the first MLS in America to serve a milestone of 100,000 subscribers. When it comes to operating and scaling a large MLS, Carter has unparalleled experience. At the helm of California Regional MLS, Carter has worked to consolidate all sizes of MLSs into CRMLS, innovate on MLS data sharing, and support MLS data standardization.

Carter is a leader in his efforts to shape the future of MLS as a data company, serving as Chairman of the Real Estate Standards Organization. The roll out of the RESO Data Dictionary and the adoption of the RESO WebAPI have been heavy projects for RESO. His leadership was supported by a wide and inclusive range of fellow MLS Executives, MLS Vendors, and Technology providers. It truly is a labor of love and an enormous contribution to set the industry on a path to greater success that will have lasting impact.

We have seen quite a number of MLSs bring in outside directors like Carter, and it is refreshing. Outside perspective is as important as inside perspective when developing strategy and making decisions. Frankly, some strategies that make all of the sense in the world on the surface make absolutely no since when deployed. There is a gap between expectations and results. More often than not, the failure to reach outcomes may have noting to do with executional performance of staff. Sometimes great ideas simply don’t find adoption.

When another MLS executive contributes as a board director, they bring a combination of operational expertise and outsider perspectives. It is a one-two punch of a great director. It combines knowledge and experience that few other directors on MLS boards have to inspire informed voting. I like the spirit of it.

The boards of MLSs that see to operate best, in my opinion are constructed something along these lines.


Outside director to two (like another MLS exec)

1/3 large firm brokers

1/3 medium firm brokers

1/3 small firm brokers

An agent or two – maybe a team

One Association Exec

I think that the broker segments should be weighted evenly. When those fall out of balance, boards start to lose their balance.

I do like agents on the board of the MLS – especially power users with technology experience. MLSs are facing a lot of change to support Teams – which of course are also agents – so it would be nice to have that perspective represented.

Lastly, the Association of REALTORS®  should have a chair. For the most part, AoRs were the founders of today’s modern MLS, but they need to pass the business onto the brokers. Today’s MLS is a data company that is centered around cooperating brokers – not an Associaton service. This is controversial for sure. The opinion is informed by tireless research. Right or wrong, its the way brokers and agents feel about it.