My thoughts on the NAR/DOJ settlement

Services for Real Estate Pros with Luxury Real Estate

MLS logo provided by RE/MAX South Shore Realty.I planned on writing this blog entry earlier this week on the proposed settlement between the National Association of REALTORS® and the Department of Justice that would allow multiple listing service members to make private MLS information available to non-members. However, immediately after the story broke, plenty of real-estate bloggers came up with all sorts of reactions, positive, negative and neutral. Now I'm having trouble coming up with something to add to their expert opinions. I hope you'll bear with me.

I'll start by quoting Malcom Forbes (1919-1990), the father of Steve Forbes, current publisher of Forbes Magazine, "It's so much easier to suggest solutions when you don't know too much about the problem." My knowledge of the MLS is certainly not as impressive as those who have already voiced their opinions, but I'll just try to bring my thoughts to the table in an interesting way and you can feel free to correct me if I oversimplify or mistake some details.

It seems to me that this really shouldn't be that big of a deal. I agree with what Geoff Lewis, Senior Counsel for RE/MAX International, said in Glenn Roberts Jr.'s Inman News article entitled "Blogosphere reacts to proposed NAR/DOJ settlement." He basically said that a lot of the information that will be opened up to public use by this decision has already been made public through free online sites.

The majority of home buyers start their search for a new home online and so, if you think about it, they're already finding the homes they're looking for without needing to log on to websites controlled by MLS members. There's a lot of free information already available online. For example, buyers don't have to pay anything to search for luxury properties on, even though they can find more than 55,000 such properties in 100 countries on that site.

It's advantageous for brokers to share information freely with buyers and sellers because then they can allow the right people to find the properties they're seeking more quickly. At least that's what I think.

As Mr. Forbes eloquently pointed out earlier, it's easy to say what I think, but I might not have the whole picture. The MLS, which I understand is not a completely homogenized collection of listings but a variety of different ones in different formats, is not necessarily a public good. It was created by a private organization to give a competitive advantage to specific professionals, and there might be less of an incentive to provide this service if there are few limits to who can access it.

The Internet age is changing the way we think about many things, including marketing and real estate. But perhaps it's still true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyway, that's my contribution to this wonderful exchange of ideas known as the blogosphere.

Comments (4)

John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana

My wife surfs homes for sale all the time on the internet.  Their really isn't much to hide any more from the public that they can't find.

May 30, 2008 07:04 AM
Robert Lockard
Luxury Real Estate - Seattle, WA

Dear John,

Exactly! Thank you very much for your comment. It seems like all of the great information is already available to people, and the law is simply trying to catch up to where the market currently is.

Robert Lockard

May 30, 2008 07:21 AM
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Robert, you read a lot of comments about the settlement being "unfair" because the data "belongs to us".  It seems a lot of agents will be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century on this subject.

I agree it's not the end of the world for agents and brokers.  People want what they cannot have.  Once you give it to them, the lustre tends to wear off.

Jun 03, 2008 06:43 PM
Victoria Murphy
Sotheby's International Realty - Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM


there are several states including mine, NM, which are looking into implementing laws which would require Limited Liability agencies to have a disclosure of what they will and will not provide.  It will allow the sellers to understand that they may not have someone to negotiate for them if an offer comes in and to take care of issues that need to be taken care of prior to a closing. 

It will be interesting to see how this comes along considering the DOJ has issued letters to sponser of such bills.

Mar 18, 2009 09:11 AM