Last week, I opined if the REALTOR Brand was becoming obsolete. Since that writing, I have had some interesting conversations with people. As I said in the previous article, NAR provides some very vital services for the real estate industry, but is it fighting for the industry as a whole or for the REALTORS that pay the dues to support that fight? Is it possible for NAR to be a true advocate for its members when it is in bed with a for-profit company as its primary public portal? My friends, it is time for a real estate revolution.
It is time to overthrow the REALTOR.com for-profit portal that hides behind the NAR brand. It is time to overthrow the local and state MLS boards. It is time to overthrow the very brand that has created a monopoly on real estate through sheer numbers. It is time to form a new organization that will truly advocate for the members while creating a national portal that can challenge the for-profit aggregators such as REALTOR.com, Trulia, and Zillow.
It Is Time For A National MLS
Imagine a truly not-for-profit MLS system that is run by real estate agents, for real estate agents. A system where your listings really are your listings, and inquiries (AKA leads) are not sold off to other agents. Imagine a system where your hard work is not utilized for the benefit of a for-profit entity. Imagine a national portal where you are rewarded for your hard work. Imagine a system that works for you. It is possible, and it is time for it to become reality.
In today’s technological times, the fact that our local, state, and national associations are so far behind the times is staggering. Most local and state associations don’t have an attractive public-facing portal, with a few exceptions. Each local MLS system uses a different platform, making integration with IDX providers difficult. Each local MLS system has different rules about what can and cannot be displayed and what information can and cannot be public. (I use MLS system and local REALTOR association board interchangeably here since most MLS systems are in fact run by the local boards.) Some local MLS associations give access to IDX feeds only to the broker. This division of rules has less to do with state laws than it does with the opinions of a few people on the MLS committee that have been there long enough to remain in control and have built success using the current system and will resist change at all costs. I know, because I have seen it first hand.
Real Estate Economies of Scale
A truly national MLS portal makes perfect sense. A single MLS system can fight and negotiation for the benefits of its members much easier than a local organization can. Imagine over 1400 local organizations with an average membership of about 700 agents negotiating for web design, services, products, and advertising. Now imagine a single organization with 1 million members doing the same thing. Having so many local organizations to me seems more like micromanagement as opposed to advocation. When you look at the fragmentation of associations, you see that the amount of money you have to pay increases significantly. Local offices, local technologies, and local agreements all cost additional money. Looking at my own personal invoices, NAR dues are only $120 a year, but once you add on local, state, and MLS membership fees, that number balloons to over $1,000 a year. An economy of scale could potentially reduce the costs while increasing the services provided.
There is a reason that Facebook has become a staple for many real estate agents. This one simple platform has allowed agents, brokers, and vendors from all over the United States and abroad to come together to share ideas, thoughts, suggestions, and best practices that benefits everyone involved. A national MLS will allow for the same benefits on a much grander scale, allowing a wealth of ideas to be shared by members from across the nation. New ideas, new innovation, and a new frame of mind that has not been seen in the real estate industry in quite some time.
Agents are tired of having their hard work abused by for-profit companies. Agents are tired of having to buy back leads from national syndication sites. Agents are tired of being duped by an organization that purports to support us. Agents are tired of being fed upon. We are an organization 1 million strong, not another wallet to be preyed upon. A National MLS system would shake up the world of real estate as we know it, and that is exactly what our industry is in need of. It is time for a real estate revolution.