Her name is Susie Anybody. She lives somewhere in the US. And she's looking for a house to buy in the town where she and her family will be moving to.
After a quick search, she's got 4-5 houses lined up to see next weekend with an agent she found online.
Sounds typical right? Except that it isn't. Because in this situation, Susie Anybody will buy a house she has found online, probably from the big Z. And it will never be listed in the MLS because there won't be an MLS.
And right now you are saying, "WAIT...what? No MLS? How can this be?"
Maybe you are shaking your head right now and you're saying, "It will never happen. It can't happen."
Perhaps you are thinking, "Hmmm. Interesting...perhaps?"
And others are with me. Because you see it. And you know it's coming.
Yep, it's the death of the MLS. And it's coming. Soon.
Why is this going to happen?
1. First, because the Z people are disruption people. We live in a disruption society. Ever used Uber? You're part of a disruption cycle. My wife and I Ubered all around Seattle one weekend and loved the service. We walked right by taxi's and never thought a second about the poor guy sitting there hoping to take us somewhere. How ironic that we were disrupting in the very city where our disruption is taking place. Disagree? Think I'm all wet? I'm not and here's why. The Z folks aren't up to anything sinister. They're just building a better mousetrap. It's what smart companies do to build their brand, make a living and continue the growth and change of society. It is normal, natural and expected. And in this case, they beat us at our own game. Shame on us. Shame on NAR.
2. This is going to happen also because we don't need the MLS any longer. Think about it. What do you have to do to put a property into the MLS? You have to pay money. You have to follow rules. You can't say certain words and phrases because of regulations and rules. Pictures have to follow a certain format and once you upload them, they're not yours any longer. Now they belong to your broker and to the world because your pics are now online EVERYWHERE. In the MLS, you have certain time frames you have to follow to get a house pending or sold or removed if it goes off the market. And you can be fined for not following the rules.
I was thinking about this last week and specifically about my frustrations with the MLS (like how long it takes to get info into the MLS because we do not have add/edit rights). With the big Z, uploaded info is instantaneous. And easily fixable. A couple of weeks ago, I listed a property into the MLS which then fed to Z and the other portals. I noticed that Z still had the previous listing info so I sent them an email about it. Within minutes the old listing was gone and the new one was sitting there nicely in it's place with my pics.
And where is a buyer going to find that listing? Yep, on the Z. What if it wasn't in the MLS and only on the Z? It's still going to be found. And found easily. In short, I could only put properties on the big Z and still sell houses. This is going to happen because it already is. Think about it. How many FSBO's do you show your buyers? Lots right? And where did they find them? Not in your MLS. They found them on the Z site.
But what about accurate data for listing prices? I'm not sure how that will work out, but I do know this. Z doesn't care. At least not much. That's why their estimates are off. Because it doesn't matter. It's a conversation starter. So when Joe Homeowner wants to sell his house he already has an idea of pricing. Maybe someone will make a website that has closed pricing data. Maybe the industry changes and buyers and sellers just get to where they change the contract price once the appraisal is in. Or maybe the appraisal happens first and then contract. It really doesn't matter how it develops because this part will work itself out.
Last year one of our discount brokerages quit putting properties on the MLS and only put them on Zillow. It's coming folks. And it's too late to stop it.
Still don't agree? You might want to check out this little article from Inman that was posted today.
So what does this mean for our industry?
- It means change.
The days of listing agents is going away. Soon, there won't be any listing agents because there just won't be a need for us any longer. Consumers will upload their info online, post pics and buyers will choose properties to view. You and I will get to show those properties based on getting selected by the buyer...or not and based on if we are an option agent on the property or not.
- It means a national listing site is being born and it isn't the MLS.
It's going to be the big Z or some other online portal. You and I won't have to pay MLS dues or fines or any of that stuff any longer. But we will still have to pay. Just like we do now. We will have to pay to get to be visible to buyers. And we may have to pay dearly. Being not licensed and unregulated, the Z folks can set their own fee structure. And they have no rules they have to follow...
- It also means you will do more work for less pay.
We will soon be agents for both buyers and sellers. And you are saying right now, "Well I do that sometimes already." And I say to you, "Yes," but not for only 2-3%...or possibly 1%!" Be not fooled. This is what is coming. We will work for both sides at less commission. It is coming.
Can it be stopped?
That's really the question isn't it? My short answer is no I don't think so...unless...
Unless we can change the definition of how property is sold to include anyone who is involved in the marketing and connecting together of buyers, sellers and agents. If we could change the definition (which means changing the law) we might have a fighting chance.
Because Z could just decide to get their Broker's license. And if that were to happen I would still have to say...
Get ready. It's coming. Change is coming.