Real Estate: Are Multiple Listing Services Ready to Compete for Consumers?
With the rise of consumer-facing real estate sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia, it seems only natural that Multiple Listing Services would break out from behind the Realtor and brokerage firewalls, and provide truly local, for-profit real estate sites, complete with advertising and features.
Houston Area Realtors has been perhaps the most prominent MLS to do this. Another is MRIS, the mega-MLS covering the entire Washington, D.C., metro area. Another large MLS that has had a consumer=facing site is Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, New York, which has been active on the consumer side for more than seven years.
MLSLI has a friendly site, complete with standard features such as neighborhood and school information. But now, the 20,000 agent-strong MLS, which is owned by the Long Island Board of Realtors and serves Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, says it is ready to overhaul its site for the social and mobile generation. Working with Local Matters, which has been focusing on the MLS market, MLSLI says that its new, locally customized site will be up in 90 days — in time for spring, which is the peak house buying season.
Jim Speer, MLSLI vice president of operations, tells us the site will help spur his members to work more effectively with social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Many Realtors have been effectively using social media, but there is a still huge chunk who don’t. It will also include Zillow-like automated valuation models for homes.
In addition, the site will be more agent-centric. “On our Web site, users will click on a listing and get direct access to agents and their office listing,” he says. “It is really a straight path to our agents and brokers members.”
Speer, however, believes the site will only be enhancing the role of the agents and brokers. It will probably never be a big revenue maker, he says. “Maybe it will offset some of our dues. But we don’t sell anything to our members,” he said. “There won’t be featured listings or advertising.”
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