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Can the MLS Become the Consumer Reports for Real Estate?

Jul 19, 2010 Michael Wurzer

A few years ago, I wrote a post called Are Listing Portals Like the New York Times or Consumer Reports? The gist of that post was that listing portals without ads supported by real estate professionals might garner interest than advertising supported portals rife with conflicts of interest posed by the ads.

But here’s a new twist on this same theme. Last week, Apple called a press conference to respond to reports of reception problems for its iPhone4 when held in a certain way. During the press conference, Steve Jobs specifically mentioned a report by Consumer Reports as being important in their decision to call the press conference. Quoting a New York Times article, the Signal versus Noise blog pointed out that:

In large measure, the article in Consumer Reports was devastating precisely because the magazine (and its Web site) are not part of the hot-headed digital press. Although Gizmodo and other techie blogs had reached the same conclusions earlier, Consumer Reports made a noise that was heard beyond the Valley because it has a widely respected protocol of testing and old-world credibility. Mr. Jobs acknowledged as much, saying: “We were stunned and upset and embarrassed by the Consumer Reports stuff, and the reason we didn’t say more is because we didn’t know enough.”

In other words, Consumer Reports has credibility. Importantly, Consumer Reports has a subscription model and is ad-free. They’re thriving with that model because consumers value their content.

As the real estate industry deals with a cornucopia of listing portals publishing out-of-date listing information and yet claiming authority as they do, the model of value and authority demonstrated by Consumer Reports something for all the MLSs, brokers and agents out there to consider.