Inman Connect Reflection: Back to the Future

Jan 15, 2010 Michael Wurzer

Here’s another thought from the Inman Connect conference. This morning, I first heard several people on stage bemoaning the existence of 800 MLSs. Next I heard a guy from Meetup say he thought Realtors should get together locally — you know, meetup. What a crazy idea! That made me think of a post I wrote quite awhile ago that seems quite relevant today. Here’s the part I love the most, my version of the history of MLS:

Step back and consider the history and future of the MLS through the eyes of Joe and his progeny:

A long, long time ago, two real estate guys are sitting in a coffee shop:

“Hey, Joe, I hear the Smith place is up for sale.”

“Yep, know anyone who might be interested?”


“I’ve been trying to get that place sold for awhile. If you bring me a buyer, I’ll split my commission with you.”


A week later, back at the coffee shop:

“Joe, this is Mary from our office, she’s got a few listings, too.”

“Great, I brought Ann, who’s been working with lots of buyers lately.”

A month later, still at the coffee shop, but a much bigger table:

Mary says, “I couldn’t sleep last night so I wrote down all of our listings on these recipe cards and organized them in this shoe box. Pretty cool, huh?”

“Awesome, can I copy those?”

“Sure, if I can copy yours.”

“No problem.”

A few years later, no longer at the coffee shop, because there isn’t a table big enough for all the people participating:

“Hey, I ran into Peter at the Print Shop the other day, and he saw my shoe box and said he could print them up in a book for us if we want.”

“That sounds great!”

And several years later, at a meeting of the Board of REALTORS:

“Joe, have you seen these new computers some of the folks are using?”

“Yeah, those are pretty handy. But man, who’s in charge of that anyway? I hardly know anyone involved in this any more.”

Many years later, on a Usenet news group for real estate, Joe’s son types:

“I’m working on a web site to show all the listings in the MLS system.”

“You’re what? Are you sure you can do that? Will the MLS allow it?”

“Hey, I’m doing it. I don’t care about those idiots at the MLS; they’re all old school, just trying to protect their turf!”

A decade later, Joe’s grandson, Joe III, posts on his Facebook wall:

“Joe III is sick of the stoopid rules of the national MLS and so has created a Real Estate Sharing Group for like-minded people.”

A few weeks later:

“Joe III is holding a meetup at Starbucks for RESG, see you there!”

At Starbucks:

“Hey, Joe, I hear the Smith place is for sale . . . “