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The wall that separated the public from listing data fell with the rise of consumer demand for more information. A few bricks still stand, but a new mythal is being built. For the unfamiliar, a mythal is a plot element from fantasy novels that prevents certain control from being employed, affects everyone in its bounds and may allow everyone to use its power.

Public access to broker-supplied real estate data is the foundation for this new paradigm. It’s on this premise that a few visionary leaders labored to construct the Broker Public Portal (BPP) with Homesnap. They saw a need and acted, providing brokers and agents an alternative way to promote homes to consumers.

Together they pressed forward, often in the face of criticism from those they respected and admired. BPP did it with the belief that the professional side of the industry could pull together, despite the challenges of getting us rowing in the same direction.

In one of my favorite books growing up, the fantasy novel “Elminster in Myth Drannor,” Ed Greenwood writes, “They were like an old and mighty wall, that stands against such winds of change for year upon year, until even its builders forget that it was built…There will come a day for such a wall when it will topple…It always does…That fall when it comes will be the laying of the mythal. But the stones of the wall being [industry stones], will linger in the air for an astonishingly long while…”

Greenwood’s prose, with some paraphrasing, captures the essence of what brokerages and MLSs experienced when listings moved online. What the BPP founders knew then, and now, is that competition is healthy and necessary. Rivalries are exciting and energizing. They also drive innovation and diversity. The greatest of rivalries survive the passing of time and changing of culture, and they transcend industry segments.

The portal wars and battle for online exposure are approaching a threshold of a great rivalry. From this rivalry, good things have happened. In response to the dramatic increase in cost-per-lead, great advancements in consumer transparency, brokerage services, agent marketing and industry software have resulted, including the success of the BPP.

The need for competition is what inspired MLSs and brokers to create the BPP to rival the portals that dominate online consumer home search. The result has been an alternative that works under the Fair Display Guidelines that are important to the people who create listings, because leads are delivered directly and exclusively to the listing agent, without deflection to paid placement agents who have no connection to the property. Competition is always good for real estate; we’ve learned, adapted and benefited from competition. Broker Public Portal with Homesnap is one of those major benefits.

A word of caution: The few companies that live at the top of a mountain breathe thinner air; simple errors have serious implications, and everyone is watching. I know that mentioning BPP as a major competitor in the online real estate listing game might seem premature to some—but what would mobile technology be today if MCI hadn’t stepped up to compete with the titan AT&T?

If your MLS is still on the fence to join BPP, take a fresh look at this movement. It’s gaining traction and is becoming a more effective voice for industry interests as we’re gaining a greater local and national audience for home search. You have a choice to join and make your voice be heard. Let’s take part in building the new mythal.

Visit www.brokerpublicportal.com/founders.html to see if your brokerage or MLS already supports the movement.

Dain_Tim_60x60Tim Dain is president of MARIS, an MLS that provides business solutions for Missouri and Illinois REALTORS® with 13 associations, 58 counties and over 13,000 members.

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