How MLSs are solving MAJOR industry problems for brokers, agents, vendors and MLSs

Stuart White Headshot 2.jpg

President & CEO, RealTracs, Inc.
Member of MLS RoundTable and Founding Member of MLS Grid

Identifying broker and agent “pain points” with MLSs is fairly easy.

In 2013, Craig Cheatham, President and CEO of The Realty Alliance, issued a scathing indictment of MLSs at the Council of MLSs (CMLS) conference.  Mr. Cheatham delivered a message on behalf of the brokerage community that had never been publicly conveyed directly to MLS organizations:  “MLSs are not serving the broker’s needs.” He elaborated further with a lengthy list of criticisms brokers have with MLSs.

This was like a family intervention.  Most MLSs knew there were problems but wanted to ignore the elephants in the room.  As with all mind-set changes, it took some time for reality to set in and begin a course of corrective action.

Since Cheatham’s infamous speech, some MLSs took an introspective look and decided to jointly address solvable issues.  Consolidation and technical solutions are taking place, but, most importantly, the “reality” that the MLS business WILL change is finally sinking in across the country.

Many of these issues involve politics – lots and lots of politics.  But, there are a lot of broker pain-points that can be solved by cooperation among MLSs through practical and non-political solutions.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World issued a letter in 2014 to the National Association of Realtors® that specifically identified several major broker pain-points with MLSs.  The proposed solutions to these included:

  • Adopt RESO Data Dictionary – standard data content for all MLSs
  • Nationwide IDX Policy
  • Reciprocity Display – including a standard set of listing display rules for all MLSs
  • Access to Historical Data for Internal Purposes
  • Data Security
  • Speedy Data Feed Approval
  •  Co-Mingling of MLS Data across MLSs

Thanks to ongoing and concerted efforts, RESO standards have greatly improved.  However, the business use implementation and adoption of RESO standards falls well short.

Enter the MLS Grid for more information and participation instructions.

In order to address these major broker needs and implement a true RESO-compliant solution, a group of MLSs came together to create The MLS Grid.

Whether you are a broker, MLS, or application vendor The MLS Grid is designed to make your life easier.

Here is how:

Brokers: ONE set of rules and display guidelines.  Reduced expenses working with individual MLSs for data feeds, rules and compliance processes.  Control of listing usage.  Future national IDX option and valuable analytics for evaluating usage and value of vendor products and consumer behaviors.

MLSs: ONE data feed and license to The MLS Grid for IDX, VOW and third-party vendors.  Reduced expenses - sharing licensing and compliance overhead with all MLSs.  Control of approved vendors and listing use.  Quarterly compliance audits.

Vendors: ONE standard license agreement, data feed and compliance enforcement.  Reduced expenses working with one source for data feeds and compliance requirements.

The Grid is RESO in action! Everything related to The MLS Grid is 100% RESO compliant, from the Web API to the Data Dictionary compliant database.

It’s technology, NOT politics!  The MLS Grid solves a massive technical need in the real estate industry by streamlining broker and vendor access to standardized listing data in a tightly controlled, secure system.

Innovation! The MLS Grid cuts through the red tape and barriers, allowing brokers, MLSs and vendors to direct resources toward innovative products.

Lower costs of doing business! Dealing with one entity for MLS-wide data feeds will save your business real dollars.

This cooperation among MLSs is a phenomenal, practical solution to current brokers’ needs.

In addition, creating a consolidated database, beyond just IDX, breaks down major barriers for the future.  Consolidation can take place without data conversion concerns, and a common database facilitates front-end of choice, taking away another barrier to MLS consolidation.

The MLS Grid will launch for IDX, VOW and Third-Party applications in Q1 2018.  The next phase will concentrate on creating the consolidated database, addressing even more broker, agent, MLS and vendor needs – reducing costs, red-tape and enabling technology initiatives.

Throughout the MLS 2020 Agenda report are calls for action:

Tom Phillips:

There are too many MLSs with too many rules, too many processes and too much disjointed decision making.

Helen Hanna Casey:

Distribution – With so many different MLSs competing, brokers are wasting valuable resources in coordination that could otherwise be allocated to meet today’s challenges.

Standards – As an industry, we have to come up with better and more comprehensive standards with respect to what can or can’t be done with the data so that consumers can rest assured that the data from a broker/agent/MLS is the best available anywhere.

Denee Evans:

…the industry itself is too fragmented, too political, and in need of a unified vision.

Gurtej Sodhi:

A mind shift of the MLSs is required so that they can become an active part of the collaboration that is going to shape the future of this industry. This is not collaboration for the sake of the word but truly an alignment between MLSs, agents, brokers, vendors and ultimately the public/consumer.

Mike Schlott:

The consolidation of the MLS industry. Given the state of technology today there are just too many MLSs, too many different business models, too many territorial conflicts and too much regional thinking. Consolidation is absolutely necessary in order for the brokers, agents and consumers to be better served.

There is no consistency of data or in the delivery of that data. There is inconsistency everywhere. It is causing the industry to deliver a substandard experience to the customer and undermines the value of both the MLS and the Realtor®.

The MLS Grid addresses these issues and demonstrates how MLSs can work together to create better solutions for the brokers we serve.  The long-term vision and benefits of The MLS Grid are even more exciting, as the MLS industry undergoes dramatic change.


MLS RoundTable