Seems like just about everyone is commenting on various positions about listing syndication and the future of IDX. I have some thoughts on the subject, which I will begin to share with you now. I will not re-hash what this broker or that MLS are doing, because they have the right to do what they are doing. I respect them for taking a stand and moving to action. Our industry needs more leaders like these. They are preparing for and creating their own future, while others are making predictions. Most of the predictions will likely be wrong.
Stale Listings. So here is what I believe. We are all in this together and we must take action to fix the problems with stale listings being published in mass. Everyone wants complete, accurate and timely data — brokers and agents want it, MLSs, website operators and consumers. The source of the best stuff comes from the MLS. One way or another, this will get fixed in the end. I believe that leading MLSs are preparing to take control of this for all the right reasons. They will define their requirements and terms of engagement and enter into direct agreements with the most productive website operators or publishers.
Direct Relationships. By having a direct relationship, MLS leaders will have more control of the data and where it is sent. They will require certain feedback and tracking information from the publishers in a useable format - of significant value to brokers who will determine if they want to continue sharing listings with each publisher based on the value proposition and ROI. Through direct relationships, MLSs will mitigate potential risks associated with ongoing changes and business models. This is all possible when MLSs have more control through direct relationships.
MLS Sourced. Further, I believe that consumers (and all of us) need a consistent way to recognize that a listing is sourced directly from the MLS and an awareness campaign to educate consumers and everyone else on where the best listings come from. I applaud Point2, Homes.com, CMLS and most recently, MRED for moving to action. The problem is that organized real estate is again fragmenting on this crucial topic. With so much “independence”, organized real estate is good at doing this. Instead, I believe we must unify now if we are ever going to achieve the ultimate goal of giving the consumer the highest quality MLS listing information with a well-known badge or “good housekeeping seal of approval” that means it came directly from the MLS. It would affirm that the publisher has updated the information, within 4 hours or less. All other permutations of the manually entered “orphaned listings” are just unacceptable and the terms of agreement with the MLS will make it so. The MLS sourced listings should trump the others where MLS sourced listings are made available to the publishers.
Russ Bergeron and MRED are doing an excellent job of articulating many of the reasons and the details in his contribution to the recently released Swanepoel TRENDS Report 2012, which I just read. See Page 137 if you have a copy. Russ and MRED call their initiative SOURCEMLS™. The message is easy to understand. Remember the objective is to inform and make consumers aware in mass. The criteria for using the badge are very simple. Maybe the leading MLSs could unify around this one? I like it a lot. From your point of view, what’s missing? What about the Clareity Syndication Bill of Rights? Why not create a model agreement that wraps it all together? Can you see it?
Seeing through the haze. After spending many days and hours following along with hundreds of posts on the topic of listing syndication, it is clear to me that it is time to move to action and clean up the stale listing data. Most MLSs work hard and do a great job with compliance resulting in the highest quality listings available. MLSs should unite around a consistent methodology and tell consumers when they are looking at the “good stuff”, sourced directly from the local MLS. Shouldn’t we all do whatever it takes to clean up this mess?
What do you think about this approach to seeing through the haze and fixing what is broken?
What’s stopping you?
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