Recently, real estate brokerage firms representing more than 300,000 Realtors® and 25 leading Multiple Listings Service (MLS) firms with 350,000 agent and broker subscribers announced the formation of a new company that will develop and manage a new consumer website. The name of the new company has yet to be determined. This announcement is the first time that the 50 industry leaders participating in early formation discussions have released information to the public.
“It's time to reach out to our industry for support,” says Cameron Paine, CEO of the Connecticut MLS. Paine, with the urging of his brokers and directors, has been spearheading the effort to engage real estate brokerage firms and MLSs to collaborate and deliver to consumers a better national property search.
“We want to do it right if we expect to deliver a compelling solution to the online consumer,” says Richard Haase, CEO of Latter and Blum REALTORS® in Louisiana.
The group has gathered their interests around the core principles of listing data that is accurate, timely, and comprehensive; and the Fair Display Guidelines (FDG) recently published by The Realty Alliance.
Gregg Larson, founder and CEO of Clareity, says, “We've been watching brokers battle for a fair exchange of value with publishers since the late 90s. There¹s been broad acceptance from the brokers and portals around the new, proposed FDG terms that were recently released for public comment. Clareity hopes the FDG drives fair attribution and links back to the broker site. If not, we ask our clients, why send your listings there at all?”
The governance for the new company has been drafted to provide participating brokers with control over the enterprise. Board representation will include directors from four large brokers, three medium brokers, three small brokers, three MLS executives, and two outside directors. All participating brokers participating will have a vote in the governance and each position will have rotating terms.
“The asset owner of the listing information presented on consumer websites belongs to the listing broker who represents the seller,” says Robert Moline, president and COO of HomeServices of America, the nation¹s second largest real estate brokerage company. “It seems fitting that the legal custodian of the seller's information should govern an enterprise that displays that content to the consumer. Additionally, consumers will be delivered back to the listing agent who has the best information about the seller¹s home for sale.”
“If our MLS customers would like support in publishing their listings to this national website, we stand at the ready to do so,” says John Mosey, CEO of Minnesota-based NorthstarMLS. “Today, MLS systems deliver an estimated 200 million emails a month to consumers requesting listing information from their real estate agent.”
“The quality of the information is accurate, timely, and comprehensive,” continues Mosey. “That is an undeniable competitive advantage to the consumer.”
The seed-funding round for the development of the broker public website is expected to close in Q1 2015. Interested brokers and MLSs are encouraged to contact Victor Lund, founding partner of WAV Group, the interim consultant on the project.