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RISMEDIA, June 30, 2009-While potentially at risk of becoming irrelevant in the next generation, MLS has within its power the assets needed to continue to lead the real estate industry and become an even stronger, more essential player in the future. It is important to note that no other entity or organization in our space has what we in organized real estate have in our local MLSs.

Through the creation and evolution of MLS 5.0, MLS will continue to be the most important tool for real estate practitioners. MLS 5.0 is the instrument that will give Realtors the opportunity to transcend the present and continue their success into the future…but they must be willing to leave behind some ideas and habits in the process.

Building an MLS is not the challenge; the industry has been doing it for years.

Here’s the challenge: building an MLS and property database to serve the needs of Realtors and consumers as technology changes the methods and habits of those wanting access to the information; building an MLS that reinforces a compelling argument for the use by consumers of a real estate professional in the transaction when there is an abundance of information about real estate everywhere on the Web in bits and pieces; and overcoming the political and parochial interests.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that MLS is an offer of compensation. Until buyers are ready to sign commitments to pay brokers and agents for their services-whether the buyer buys or doesn’t buy-the offer of compensation will remain an important piece of the MLS value proposition.

Evolution of MLS – What is MLS 5.0?

MLS has been transforming since its creation. The change from the way it is done today to the way of the future requires acknowledging that major changes have successfully taken place in the past, often over the objections of many well-intentioned individuals and organizations.

First Generation-Cards and then listing sheets and ringed binders with weekly updates and errata, which were used to update the inventory manually, everyday or every other day.

Second Generation-The bound MLS book. This book was printed every two weeks. The San Diego Association MLS printed a book every week. Even in a good real estate market, no one dreamed of anything close to a system where the inventory was updated daily. The idea of real time access (like one can find on websites like Craigslist), would have been discarded as eccentric.

Third Generation-Computer access to MLS data through “dumb terminals” over telephone lines…no monitors, no video display.

Fourth Generation-Web-based MLS (no more banks of phone lines and busy signals), access with a browser-only one type, Internet Explorer-and through a dial-up connection at 14,400 bps.

Fifth Generation-MLS 5.0: let your imagination run a little here. Built in the spirit of Web 2.0, MLS 5.0 is open and collaborative, incorporating all the current and future tools of Web 2.0 (and Web 3.0), from the LAMP stack to the applications, such as blogs, RSS, widgets, APIs, Wikis, taxonomies, social networks, mash-ups and more. RE

Part 4 of this series will delve into more specifics on what MLS 5.0 is.

What’s your opinion? Please write to

Saul Klein is CEO of InternetCrusade and Point2 Technologies Inc.

For more information, please visit