Some time ago, I wrote this in a post called Listings, Leads and Losers, Oh My!:
IDX was a great idea. Larry Cragun and Kris Berg have it right, the agents should be delivering the listing information to the consumer. Importantly, this argument should not be confused with those who think agents make a living simply by hording the listing information. I seriously doubt that ever worked as a long term business model, but, if it did, there is no question that such a model won’t survive today. No, what I’m suggesting (and what I think Larry and Kris are suggesting) is that the agent is on the front lines and there should be as little friction as possible between them and their potential clients. Isn’t that what the web revolution is all about, efficiency, knowledge, and power to individuals? That was the promise of IDX and I think it can still be brought to fruition.
Here’s how we can revive IDX. Brokers and agents should be allowed to put all the listing information on their web sites. The IDX data set should be complete (which should get the DOJ off the NAR’s back) and brokers should be assured that someone else isn’t going to sell leads from their data (this is called compromise). Once data standards are established, promising a strong and comprehensive data product from brokers and agents to consumers, NAR should create and heavily promote a branding and logo program for legitimate IDX sites so consumers can have confidence they are seeing everything. (No, I’m not crazy, this is a really good idea, if you pause to think about it. See, the NYSE and NASDAQ for examples.) Consumers should be able to shop till they drop, without being bothered, until they’re ready to engage. But, when they are ready to engage, they should be one click away from the agent who is going to serve them. Getting funneled through lead site after lead site before getting to the agent is not efficient and is not consumer-friendly.
This post was the genesis for my question of whether a public facing MLS site conflicts with IDX programs. Put another way, is branding IDX a better investment for members in an MLS than branding a public facing MLS site? Is there enough budget to do both well? What is the market impact of one versus the other? Which would members prefer? I didn’t put all of these questions to the panel, but I think the responses are valuable on the main point.