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RISMEDIA, January 8, 2010—The MLS has historically concentrated on providing information and support to its paid users, brokers and their agents. MLS was created and continues to operate effectively as a B2B (business-to-business) network of competitors who cooperate and share compensation for acts for which a real estate license is required.

Technology has only made assimilation, repackaging and dissemination of MLS and MLS-related data easier. As a necessary point of data entry for licensees, the MLS in today’s age of information flow is able to expand its value proposition to its paid customers, real estate licensees, by distributing the listing property data to destination sites of the brokers’ choosing, and returning to the broker and agent information that may assist in providing better service to prospects—a process often referred to as syndication of listing data.

Proliferation of Listing Content on the Internet: Can Property Information Be Repressed?
The short answer is “no.” One way or another—with or without the permission of a listing broker—property information (listed or not) will find its way to multiple Internet destinations. Because many of these destinations have no rules and do not police the content, they often display duplicate, inaccurate and untimely (property sold a year ago) data.

How does this happen? Often, agents enter data on destination portals without the knowledge and consent of their broker. Brokers sometimes enter listing data on different sites—franchises enter data, re-syndication occurs. Last but not least, consumers themselves, often frustrated with the efforts of their agent, enter property data on websites. Since the destination portals often receive information on the same property from multiple sources, they must decide which source is the most factual, accurate and complete in order to be relevant and compete with other portals.

The less-advanced destinations have duplicate data on the same properties, sometimes conflicting data. To improve their attraction to consumers, these sites must begin to eliminate the inaccurate sources and determine which source, when more than one source is available, will be their “authoritative source.”

Information will follow the path of least resistance. So, making MLS data easier for Web portals to obtain and associating this data with a “brand,” which, over time, would become even more recognizable, seems like a possible course forward-looking MLSs can take to build an even stronger value proposition in a changing Web. Theoretically, the more misappropriation of data, the stronger the need for “MLS certified.”

MLS Certified
What makes MLS data so valuable? MLS data is policed. It is by far the most accurate source, especially in the area of listing status (on and off market). “MLS Certified for Sale” listings would be preferred website content for destination sites and for consumers. This concept could also increase consumer awareness, creating a desire to frequent sites where the property status is “MLS-Certified for Sale.” Data from the MLS may also reduce broker and agent advertising liability—another value and compelling reason for MLS.

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Saul Klein is CEO of InternetCrusade and Point2 Technologies Inc.

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