I've got a headache

Oct 2, 2007 Michael Wurzer

Seriously.  Long flight, short layover, rushing here and there, all the while thinking about MLS regionalization.   Michael Seguin from Tales from the Techside writes today about the benefits of MLS mergers.  Michael makes some great points and draws an interesting analogy between the issues facing local and regional MLSs and the seemingly ever-present computer science debate between distributed and networked computing.  Regarding MLS regionalization, I completely agree that in dense urban areas like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, etc., mergers may very well make sense and produce excellent economies of scale.

But what about Minnesota?  Do the same reasons exist there on a statewide basis?  How does a statewide system solve the problem when the markets cross state lines?  Once a statewide system is in place, where is the incentive to innovate without competition?  I ask these questions with sincerity.  I can see the short-term benefits of a state-wide system for brokers caught in the middle and having to enter their listings many times.  But isn’t that one of the problems RETS is designed to solve?  Doesn’t a focus on standards allow for competitive solutions to be developed as opposed to anointing one system that will inevitably atrophy from monopolistic malaise?  Isn’t the fact that the NAR is spending money on developing a national gateway relevant to the local regionalization discussions?

Of course, FBS has a vested interest in these questions and we are fully aware that our position is biased.  But that bias is towards competition, because we’re confident we can provide a compelling solution to our customers.  We believe more competition is better than less.  We believe standards enable competition and have the potential to solve broker pain with multiple entry without consolidating on a single system.  Is our position wrong?  Or is my headache for nothing?