Why Can’t Brokers Use “Search the MLS”?

Jan 4, 2008 Michael Wurzer

An MLS in Wisconsin has followed some other MLSs in preventing their members from using the term “search the MLS” on their consumer-facing web site. Jay Thompson asks the right question, “I’d love to hear an explanation of why it’s good to prevent Realtors from using the terms related to “MLS” on their site. Seriously. Help me understand.” I don’t get it either.

I suspect the intent is to try to distinguish the “private” MLS from the IDX searches on broker and agent sites, but the time to try to protect the term MLS was decades ago. Consumers now expect to see MLS search options on web sites, and this is a disservice to members to try to separate these. A much better approach (though equally ineffective, most likely) is to change the term for the MLS to something like broker or listing exchange. The best approach, though, is to recognize and embrace that the private and public sides of the MLS are blurring together and, instead of trying to put the genie back in the bottle, MLSs should be embracing the future.