The Real Estate Encyclopedia
Follow-up Debate over a National MLS
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Following a recent lead article on, by Stefan Swanepoel titled "MLS: Industry Asset or Public Utility," a debate has arisen on as to whether Trulia can or should become a national MLS. The discussion on this topic was recently fueled by Trulia's announcement that they had, in addition to their agreement with the Keller Williams Group, secured distribution agreements with the three Cendant brands to promote their listings on a national basis; Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and ERA.

Many are starting to ask "How far are we away from a national MLS?" or "How far are we away from the time when large numbers of consumers will list their homes for sale on a national Web site?"

According to Swanepoel, the process of consolidation with about 900 local MLSs will be slow, many of which are still stuck in the old paradigm. He acknowledges that significant change has already occurred but "becoming a national MLS will be very complicated and whoever attempts to carry the mantle will quickly discover that this is by no means an easy or straightforward initiative. There are many sticky issues that will need to be addressed before a national, quasi-public utility ever becomes a reality - items such as data ownership, data security, data standardization, data integration, third party participation, etc."

Jeff Tomlin from Point2 also warns that "an MLS is a lot more than a consumer facing real estate Web site. It's a system that allows for cooperative sharing of information between brokers. Many feel a National MLS must have a public facing component, but any National MLS system needs to be broker centric, or it's just a Web site."

Meanwhile the industry is looking for candidates they believe might step up to the plate. Names often listed as frontrunners include Trulia, Google, Yahoo, Zillow and Point2. Of course this can change at any time and one should never rule out, along with some of the existing large regional MLSs; Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, SoCal MLS, MLS of Northern Illinois, South East Florida Regional MLS and First MLS. It's possible that they could form the foundation of a regional conglomerate or even a national MLS.

"Consolidation is driven by consumer expectation but also practically by broker demand," says Stephen Roney, president of First American Residential Group.

"Technically there is no reason a national MLS would not work," says Jim Sherry, a leading industry consultant. "It's all about getting the egos of out the way first," he says.

To participate in this interesting open discussion visit and post your views today.


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