The multiple listing service a/k/a MLS used by the local Realtor (r) associations has been a fabulous marketing tool for decades now. My local MLS is the Mid-Florida Regional MLS which covers some 9 counties in Central and West Florida and parts of 2 other counties. These counties are home to some 16 different boards of Realtors (r) each of which is an owner or a member of the MFRMLS. Are you confused yet???
When I first became a Realtor (r) in the early 1990's, each of these 16 Realtor (r) associations had their own separate MLS which they did not share with their neighbors. That was more workable in the pre-internet era. Over the last 15 years or so, these MLS's have been slowly consolidating. After all with the internet, the consumer does not realize that a property in south Orlando is under a different board of Realtors (r) than a property 2 miles away in northern Kissimmee. Why would they? Those boundary lines are pretty much blended together anymore.
But on the same note, counties like Volusia County have 3 boards of Realtors (r) and 3 distinct non-sharing MLS's. If a Realtor (r) wants to do a true MLS search or list a property, anywhere in the county that Realtor (r) has to pay to join 3 different MLS's. That's crazy! The New Smyrna Beach Board of Realtors (r) covers just 3 little cities in the southeastern portion of the county and yet they charge $430 per year to be a member of their MLS. (I paid $302 in 2008 for Mid-Florida MLS access which is light years ahead of the New Smyrna Innovia system and covers 9+ counties.) And nearly every Realtor (r) in New Smyrna is also a member of the Daytona Beach Association and is thus paying dues there because there is such a huge overlap between the territories. In fact to properly service that area, you really need to be a member of Flagler and Mid-Florida MLS too (which means paying 4 sets of dues). That's just plain insane and antiquated.
On top of being that, each MLS has its own rules, its own data forms, and its own search fields which don't necessarily match those in a neighboring county's MLS. Can you say D-U-M-B ?!?! That is kind of like being forced to go through the checkout line at the grocery store a different time for every different aisle that you shopped on in the store.
The solution is consolidation onto a similar platform for a statewide MLS. That is good for both the consumer as well as the Realtor (r). Especially in this modern era of the internet. Our Mid-Florida MLS has been doing a great job at a tremendous cost savings to Realtors (r).
In Connecticut they have combined their entire state (not that Connecticut is big or anything) into one statewide MLS and have declared a so called "MLS Bill of Rights" for their members. I thought these rights were pretty interesting. Below are a few of these:
- The right to do business throughout the state where they are licensed to practice real estate;
- The right for brokers to own their own listing data;
- The right to timely, accurate MLS data;
- The right to expect that the MLS will act in their best interests;
- The right to representation on the governing body of the MLS, and for broker representatives from large, medium and small-sized firms to "share equally in governance";
- The right to advertise and distribute online listings content within the rules and regulations;
- The right to an Internet Data Exchange (IDX), Virtual Office Web site (VOW) and/or broker download feed and/or access.
In my opinion some of these little MLS's that cover just a small area are not looking out for the best interest of the consumer (or for their members) and could possibly be considered in violation of Article 1 of the Realtor (r) Code of Ethics by not promoting the best interests of the consumer. I've actually sat in on an MLS training at one of the smaller Realtor (r) associations and heard the trainer flat out admit that they don't want Realtors (r) from outside their area "to come in and sell off all their listings." (Of course that was a few years ago, and they might have changed their tune by now.) Amazing! Sounds almost like a federal anti-trust violation to me.
Well enough of me ranting. Hopefully some day in the near future I won't need to be members of 6 different MLS's to list all of our properties. But until then, I guess I will just have to bite the bullet.
Rob Arnold - Your full service and investor friendly Realtor ® in Orlando and Central Florida.
ABR, CPL, CRB, CSP, GRI, Managing real estate broker, Notary Public
We provide flat fee MLS listings, For Sale By Owner, and menu-based services in most parts of Central & South Florida, the Space Coast, and the Treasure Coast including Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, Ocoee, Winter Garden, Apopka, Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Longwood, Winter Springs, Oviedo, Lake Mary, Sanford, Deltona, Debary, Deland, Mount Dora, Eustis, Clermont, Kissimmee, Winter Haven, Lakeland, Tampa, Sarasota, Bradenton, Miami-Dade, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Port Saint Lucie, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Gainesville, Volusia, Brevard, and more.
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