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Are Housing Databases Overshadowing Agents?

At a California Association of Realtors (CAR) recent panel discussion, real estate agents, brokers, and multiple listing service (MLS) operators expressed their concerns that housing databases are causing agent-run property listing services to become unnecessary.

Real estate agents utilize MLS’s to serve as the source of information about homes for sale, property details, and insider information to consumers. However, according to a recent article by Mercury News, commercial websites such as Zillow, Redfin, and realtor.com are changing the game

“The world of big data doesn’t seem to have come to the MLS in any meaningful way,” David Silver-Westrick, a Partner at San Clemente-based Keller Williams OC Coastal Realty told Mercury News. “We’re missing the boat on lots of big data opportunities. To the extent that consumers have better tools than we do, we just become irrelevant.”

Therefore, CAR is making an effort to create a future for real estate agent run MLS sites, which will help the association meet its 12-year-old goal of forming a single, statewide database in California—the state currently has over 40 MLS’s.

Creating a single database for an entire state comes with its concerns, the article notes that during CAR’s panel discussion, two challenges were brought up. The first is the question: Where’s the data coming from? Without a clear direction of where the information is coming from, MLS problems can include inaccurate and outdated data.

“As someone who lists and sells real estate, I need it to be more efficient,” said Jeanne Radsick, a real estate agent with Century 21 Tobias Real Estate in Bakersfield. “I need to not have to go to multiple sources to find what I’m looking for.”

Another issue, which is attributed in the article as the main issue, is politics. The challenge is figuring out who controls the information—the broker or the MLS? Also, a lot of jobs are at stake under a single MLS system.

“These changes in the environment, particularly on the consumer side, have given the consumer … the ability to have information that is equivalent, if not superior, to what the agents have,” said Joel Singer, CEO of the State Realtor Association. “The question is can this current structure survive? Or perhaps the question is should this current structure survive if it doesn’t alter.”

The statewide MLS effort has so far led to the creation of the Diamond Bar-based California Regional Multiple Listing Service, which currently represents most of Southern California and the Bay Area.

To view the full article, click here.

About Author: Nicole Casperson

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Nicole Casperson is the Associate Editor of DS News and MReport. She graduated from Texas Tech University where she received her M.A. in Mass Communications and her B.A. in Journalism. Casperson previously worked as a graduate teaching instructor at Texas Tech's College of Media and Communications. To contact Casperson, e-mail: [email protected]

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