RISMEDIA, March 6, 2009-Today, if you want to find out anything about anything, where do you go? There is a high probability that you go to Google. So ingrained in our culture is the power of Google search, that Google has become a verb. On a daily basis, many of us “google” one thing or another. As smartphone applications become more ubiquitous and as wireless hot spots continue to pop up in public places, the power of Google to change the world will grow stronger, and at an accelerated pace. Also consider that the more people search Google, the “smarter” Google becomes.
What does this have to do with MLS and Realtors? Simply put, Google may be the change agent that revolutionizes the real estate industry and could play a role in the reconstruction of MLS technologies and the age old battle of data standards. This does not make Google the enemy…but what Google does, how it does it and how it continues to creep into the daily life of people of all generations must be considered by those who are building MLS 5.0-the MLS of the future.
Searching the Internet today is easy. While there are techniques that can be applied to narrow search results, even the novice searcher is capable of finding just about anything they want on the Internet. In the future, sellers may advertise their home for sale on any number of websites, including maybe their own site or on a “public access” site provided by Internet providers as part of their subscription for connectivity. Properties could be described in a paragraph instead of the grid format many of us are currently used to using and seeing. Or a piece of software could be made available to consumers that allows the homeowner to build their own grid, adding or taking away fields at their discretion.
This has been the “Holy Grail” for years. In the mid-1990s, when NAR (National Association of Realtors) was working on bringing technology to the real estate industry through the Realtors Information Network (RIN), the problem of matching data fields from MLS to MLS to create a searchable national database was tackled and the proposed solution was called DxM (Data Exchange Method). DxM was described as a “data dictionary” and, if implemented, would allow not only for greater access to more listings by Realtors, but more software choice as real estate business solution software had to be customized from one MLS to another, limiting choice and increasing costs. Of course, RIN went the way of the brontosaurus and the standard promoted today in the industry is RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard), which is a great tool and a major improvement.
As Gens X and Y continue to make up larger percentages of the home-buying and -selling population, and as they begin to make up a larger percentage of the Realtor population, born and raised with Google and natural language search, standard fields may become less important and search more important. In addition, the ability to distribute one’s listing information to more destinations on the Internet, allowing “long tail” benefits will be easier, and MLS will become an ecosystem of innovation for software developers who will be able to deliver a greater choice of tools…and at less expense.
Saul Klein is CEO of InternetCrusade and Point2 Technologies Inc.
For more information, visit www.point2agent.com.