Bob Hale And Others In The Gray Lady Talking About M.L.S.

May 12, 2008 Michael Wurzer

Whoa, check it out, our little niche hit the New York Times today.  They call it M.L.S., which I find funny, but most likely is correct.  Anyway, on to the article.  I wonder if Bob Hale knew they would start the article like this:

The triple threat of a weak market, legal pressure and increasing competition has compelled real estate professionals to offer their information more freely online, putting cracks in a walled garden of data that stood strong while the industry enjoyed its breakaway growth. It also presages an end to the days when sellers must list their homes with a broker so buyers can see them.

I also find this quote interesting:

Tom Hurdlebrink, chief executive of Northwest M.L.S., said his service’s shift [in allowing Redfin and others to display FSBO’s and non-MLS foreclosures intermingled with MLS listings] was meant to “create a balance of giving consumers what they want while promoting the best interest of our broker members.”

Bob Hale concludes:

But Mr. Hale, of Houston’s M.L.S., suspects that resistance will wane. “Their attitude has been, ‘Just because the consumer wants it doesn’t mean we have to give it to them,’ â€ he said. “It’s the sure way to your demise.”

Hmmm, at some levels, this seems like a “dead if you do, dead if you don’t” conundrum, but, at the least, it poses a very good prelude to the discussion we’ll be having at our FBS Summit June 12 regarding public-facing MLS sites. We’re assembling a panel with Brian Larson from Larson/Sobotka and Marilyn Wilson from WAV, who each have written papers recently on the issue of public-facing MLS sites and have somewhat different views.  We’re also in the process of getting at least one MLS executive and one broker with differnt views.  We’ll start with some presentations and a panel moderated by me and we’re going to then follow with a speed Q&A session that I think will be really interesting.

For example, Trulia and are mentioned in the article as well. is against FSBO’s for data quality reasons and Trulia is against them because they offend brokers.  Who has the better model here?  Does it all come back to Google in the end?  Are we in a battle for links and link love?  Because here’s the deal:  Links require public-facing sites.  Does the MLS have a role to play in that battle?  Or not?