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MLS Matters by David Charron

RISMEDIA, August 20, 2008-“The king is dead! Long live the king!” This proclamation dates back to 1272, when Henry III died while his son, Edward I, was fighting in the Crusades. The phrase has gotten a great deal of use ever since by all sorts of folks during all types of changes, but it’s usually used to assure citizens of an orderly transition of power.

In the case of our business (OK, work with me here), some have tied the rise of the Internet and consumer empowerment with the fall of the MLS. But I’m not hearing any chants that even remotely sound like, “The MLS is dead! Long live the MLS!” The self-proclaimed successors to the MLS invariably look a lot like the people predicting its demise to begin with.

In any case, the MLS is forced to defend-or at least explain-its continued relevance.

It’s our own fault.

We have allowed others to define us. We have allowed others to become the architects of a conventional wisdom that interprets any attempt to explain our position as sour grapes. And often we are in fact defensive, sometimes overly so. Most of us have failed to effectively communicate who we are, what we stand for and why we matter.

But it’s tough to remain above the fray when you are the prey. And so it’s our turn in the barrel.

But wait a minute. We have technology. We have structured, local markets that rely on this technology. And we have the “Holy Grail” that feeds the beast-all the listings, each in pristine condition. We have bright, capable people that run these local market NASDAQs with enormous passion and pride.

We have power-and lots of it. Enlightened MLSs have eliminated boundaries, established common rules, policies and technology standards, developed regional consumer entry portals that direct leads unfettered to brokers, license and monitor the use of the content, assemble and distribute public record information and more.

Maybe the market really does like us! (I’m having a Sally Field moment). Getting out of our frame of reference, particularly as others have defined it, is a heck of a lot easier when we have hard facts to back it up.

Some of us-including MRIS-have chosen to break free from convention and take positive steps to communicate a story of our own. A story of strength, innovation and commitment.

So rather than be defensive or promise more of the same, I say, “Bring it on.” Or I guess we could just turn the MLS power off for a few days and see what happens.

David Charron is CEO of MRIS, the nation’s largest MLS.

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