Calls for MLS Change
More agents reacting to the current MLS situation, which is bleak:
Is the Realtor-run property listing service in California obsolete?
Several brokers, agents and “multiple listing service” operators expressed concern during a panel discussion Wednesday that commercial websites like Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com have overtaken the patchwork of industry databases agents use to find homes for clients.
“The world of big data doesn’t seem to have come to the MLS in any meaningful way,” said David Silver-Westrick, a partner at San Clemente-based Keller Williams OC Coastal Realty. “We’re missing the boat on lots of big data opportunities. To the extent that consumers have better tools than we do, we just become irrelevant.”
The California Association of Realtors sponsored Wednesday’s event, held at CAR headquarters in Los Angeles, to plot the future of broker-run MLS sites and to find ways to meet the association’s 12-year-old goal of forming a single, statewide database in California. There currently are more than 40 MLS’s in California.
Agents use the MLS to disseminate information about homes for sale, providing property details as well as insider information about showings and compensation.
The statewide MLS effort so far has led to the formation of the Diamond Bar-based California Regional Multiple Listing Service, which currently represents most of Southern California and the Bay Area. CRMLS includes more than 92,000 agents and 37 local Realtor associations. But that’s still less than half the local associations in the state and doesn’t include San Francisco, Ventura County and most of Santa Barbara County, according to the MLS’s website.
“I think that there is an opportunity that is fast fading,” said CRMLS CEO Art Carter. “If we do not do it shortly, then we will forever be chasing others that will most likely take the handles and move forward.”
Other panelists lamented MLS problems include inaccurate and outdated data as well as the lack of consolidation.
“As someone who lists and sells real estate, I need it to be more efficient,” said Jeanne Radsick, an agent with Century 21 Tobias Real Estate in Bakersfield. “I need to not have to go to multiple sources to find what I’m looking for.”
Technology isn’t an issue, panelists said. Carter said a statewide MLS could be established in three months once the paperwork is in place.
The main obstacle is politics. Concerns among agents and brokers include the question of who controls broker information — the MLS or the brokers themselves. MLS employees also worry about losing their jobs under a consolidated system. And smaller MLS sites fear larger, out-of-area brokerages will take away their business if the outsiders have access to property data in their areas.
“The politics (is) on the local level with (small) MLS’s. You can’t even get Arrowhead and Big Bear to talk, and they’re right next door to each other,” said Sandra Deering, a broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Irvine. “The reality is those people are still protective of their jobs. … They don’t have the bandwidth, I don’t think, to see beyond their day-to-day operation. I don’t know how to overcome that.”
Deering has to join 25 MLS sites for her business, “and just managing the licensing, the payment process is a full-time staff person,” she said.
“These changes in the environment, particularly on the consumer side, have given the consumer … the ability to have information that is equivalent, if not superior, to what the agents have,” said Joel Singer, CEO of the state Realtor association. “The question is can this current structure survive? Or perhaps the question is should this current structure survive if it doesn’t alter.”