The listing that your client fell in love with online may only be five miles away from you. But if you can’t see it because it’s on a different MLS that you don’t subscribe to, forget it. You’ll look at it on Zillow, Realtor.com, or Homes.com, just like your clients.
In a world of over-sharing, more than half of California’s MLSs don’t share data with each other. Some MLSs share only partial feeds. Or they use different platforms that are hard to use and don’t present the listings in a consistent manner, making it difficult for agents like you to do your job.
The truth is, the reason you may have to belong to multiple associations and MLSs is largely due to politics, fear, history and money.
It has nothing to do with technology. It’s completely possible technically for every MLS to share data with each other, and for the associations that are shareholders in California’s MLSs to authorize them to do just that.
In California, artificial barriers are everywhere, because some brokers and agents within the real estate ecosystem fear that sharing listing data would be bad for their businesses.
For example, a local association’s leaders might fret that agents from outside their area would encroach on their turf if they authorized their MLS to share data with other MLSs from across the state becoming a threat.
So-called carpetbagger agents could displace their local association members in the sales process, and consumers would be harmed. Such agents wouldn’t “know” the market
The fractured nature of California’s real estate data can mean that “out of your territory” is literally five miles away, particularly in congested areas like Los Angeles, Orange County or the Bay Area.
Who is to judge what “outside of your territory” means anyway? Only you get to decide where you work, and no association or MLS should put limits on your ability to service your clients, wherever they are.
Keep in mind, as licensed California real estate agent, you have a right to sell property anywhere in the state. You don’t have to be a member of every real estate association or MLS to sell a property, even if you can’t access the listing’s MLS data.
Consumers can freely search from Crescent City to San Diego on third party portal sites. They don’t really care or know that the data on these sites is not always accurate or complete.
Buyers and sellers’ have the freedom to shop for a house wherever they want. The data that consumers find on the portals is just enough to be useful to them when they’re trying to decide where to live, or when to sell.
Since you can’t control where your clients browse for data, or the geographic areas where they want to live, or when they want to sell, this puts you at a disadvantage. Your professional edge relies on you having better information than consumers can get for themselves.
When your client asks you about a listing they’ve fallen in love with online (wherever it happens to be) — well, you’ll only be able to offer your expertise if you happen to have access to that particular MLS’s data.
You’ll either need to be a member of that particular MLS, or hope that your MLS has a data sharing agreement that enables you to see it in your own MLS. Otherwise, you’re condemned to looking up that listing on Zillow, just as your client did. This neither enhances your professional reputation or improves your edge.
Years ago, multiple listing services were formed by real estate associations owned by brokers. They were highly local organizations. Since there was no Internet, MLSs were designed to facilitate transactions locally between cooperating brokers in a discrete service area.
Yet as California grew and the Internet established itself, the real estate market unified such that consumers could browse third party portals with ease on the web. Real estate listing data from local MLSs was syndicated to these portal sites with the permission of individual brokers. And brokers themselves began to work in ever-larger territories, forcing them to aggregate and pay for multiple data feeds from various MLSs.
Nonetheless, many MLSs in California remained highly local operations, with listing data confined to their traditional service areas.
Here’s why: Even though many brokers would authorize their MLS to send their listing data to third party sites via syndication, they didn’t want their MLS to share data with the MLS next door.
That’s because doing so would make it easier for “out of area” agents to sell in their home markets. And since brokers are members of the local real estate associations that typically own the MLS, sharing agreements between MLSs could be few and far between.
Brokers were reluctant to authorize MLSs to share data because it might threaten their competitiveness in their local markets.
In essence, the artificial barriers that now stand in the way of your business are the result of years of flawed strategy that has allowed major companies like Zillow Group and Realtor.com to dominate the online real estate world with our own data.
The basic MLS infrastructure hasn’t changed. But the world has. Today, more than ever, data needs to be shared in order to address the needs of consumers who live in an interactive, tech-saturated world.. Listing data is everywhere. Shouldn’t YOU be able to see it?