The latest news is that NAR settled with DOJ (http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2008052701?OpenDocument)
NAR claims it a victory. Yes, no money to be paid, no wrongdoing to accept.
A lot of brokers would not consider this a win. We are dreaming of the green pastures of the past. The past where we had the exclusive access to the information. Whether you consider this a victory or loss, this is history. Three years to decide how the information is presented on VOW sites, another 90 days to implement, and then what?
After VOW were dead for 3 years, the settlement would allow to perform CPR to revive what has since lost its luster, if not life. VOW business model by NAR's own admission may not be that popular after all. "The response to VOWs hasn't been great because consumers can find sites throughout the Internet". And in that sense I think NAR did not win much, as 3 years made VOW pretty useless at best. Who would be signing up and providing their info, when you can get the same information without signing?
If anyone is angry with aggregators, they are everywhere. What is www.Realtor.com if not an aggregator? They are not the voice and arm of NAR. They seem to me the same in that sense as Trulia, Zillow and others. If 84% of people are looking for the information on the Internet, there will be (and there are) services that would provide access to that information. The time when Realtors had the control over this information is over. The time that anyone could have the control over the information is over.
Finding the way to operate in the new environment, where you do not have the exclusivity, is the way to the future.
Will we be more of the service industry? People can change oil in their cars, but they do not do it themselves. Because others do it better, faster, and cleaner.
Don't shoot me for the comparison, but it is still pretty similar with real estate. Yes, one can find properties on the Internet, one can find all the services on the Internet, one can close on the Internet, and one can then get a property management company to rent the property on the Internet. This is the reality. But if we can do it better, many people would still be looking for someone to do it for them. Even if they can do it themselves. Because you would do it better, "cleaner", and will save them time and frustration.
If we are ready to provide a superior service, we will be needed.
So, the real question is how to provide superior service? Because customers can do average themselves...