What I would have said at MLS Connection 2009: Zillow is not the bogeyman

Apr 16, 2009 Michael Wurzer

I’m writing this from MLS Connection 2009, where Joel Singer just spoke.  Joel is with the California Association of REALTORS and the driving force behind calREDD, a new MLS system being offered by CAR.  Joel made a basic argument to justify calREDD:

We need one MLS (as opposed to many) to compete with Zillow.

I had my hand up to address this argument, but the next topic was up and so I didn’t get a chance during the sessions.  Instead, I’ll just post what I would have said here.

This argument is wrong on many counts.  First, Zillow is not and never will be an MLS.  Second, the MLS is more than technology.  Third, the idea that a monopolistic bureaucracy can innovate over the long term is fundamentally flawed.

This fear argument from CAR is passe.  Zillow’s a good company, doing some exciting things.  That doesn’t mean they are an MLS or that MLSs aren’t innovating, too.  The innovation ecosystem around MLSs is huge.  We deliver data every day, all day on behalf of MLSs to all kinds of developers and others doing interesting, innovative things.  This is what competition and markets do, they innovate.  The fear being pushed by CAR to reduce competition and create a monopoly is exactly the opposite of what this industry needs.