We’ve had some recent banter on previous posts about creating a public/open MLS website.  The idea has come up before – CA renter summed it up yesterday:

Jim and I have discussed this open MLS concept in the past, but it was difficult to come up with something that was so exceptional, everyone would want to use it right away.

When Zillow came out, I was hoping they would move in the direction of an open MLS, with all the relevant public information on the same site, but for some reason, they didn’t really run with the concept when they were fresh and everyone was looking for a new leader.

A new website just for searching properties for sale probably isn’t required – there are plenty of good ones available.  If the new website had bells and whistles not available elsewhere, like tax-roll data or realtor stats and reviews, it might provide enough extras that it could garner an audience. 

SDLookup offers a few bells and whistles, but they exist only because Sandicor has relied on realtors to provide their own MLS access for consumers via IDX (mine is in the top left corner above, called “Search for Homes”). 

If Sandicor or other realtor associations get their act together (new national and state-wide MLS efforts are underway currently) and provide the smoking hot public website for searching properties, they could dominate like realtor.com did when it first came out.

A state or national website would handle the searching component, is there more available?

In previous discussions we determined that the website would have to be available at no charge – because all the other real estate websites are free.  The effort required to create and maintain such a website, just to live off advertising, isn’t that appealing.  Sell it to a big player?  Sure, it sounds good, but they could beat us to the punch, or copy it.

What are other reasons that might make it worth it?

  1. Cut out extra agents/costs/fraud.
  2. Work within clear-cut guidelines, especially on short sales.
  3. Full transparency, including more direct interaction between buyers and sellers.

Whoa – that’s more than just a website, it sounds more like changing the real estate world!

Could a renegade brokerage take over a market, and change everything?  

A few years ago a company called I Pay One tried it, and failed – even though they spent a boatload of money advertising their 1% commission concept.   Their problem?  They didn’t embrace the realtor community.

What if a long-time broker (and part-time blogger) devised a solution, addressing all 3 items above, and was realtor-friendly too?  Is it possible to change the real estate world, as we know it?

The biggest deterrent is changing something that’s already working – it’s a good gig here already.

Let’s put some thought into it, what do you say?

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