A few years back, I watched MLSNI turn off their consumer facing website because members took the stance that this was reducing broker/agent centric website exposure. Ironically, seemingly overnight, this almost perfectly coincided with the flash flood of Syndication Portals (Trulia, Zillow, GoogleBase, etc).
At first, the industry was very apprehensive to giving their listings away for free. Over time they eased up, and saw how they can leverage these advertising vehicles. In all essence, they are just a more refined online classifieds model (such as the newspapers, but focused). More and more of these advertising sites began to appear, somewhat diluting the benefits, increasing the work for exposure (see Andrews Syndication Article to battle this issue) and calling more attention to what was really going on. These sites were filling a critical void in the consumer marketplace.
Recently, there has been some critiquing about the practices of some of the advertising sites. I (personally) feel that this is just the simmering stage of what is really going on. The question of why hasn’t the MLSs step up to the plate and provided these robust search sites, a proven example being HAR.
In fact, two months back, when I attended the Clareity Conference, I was very pleased to learn that many of the larger MLSs are either revamping their public search sites or being requested to turn them back on and/or developing them from scratch.
So, that lengthy babble was really intended to ask for feedback from the audience regarding if the industry has come full circle to where we were prior to these third party advertising sites, but now with much more of an understanding of what is needed from the consumer point of view? Has keeping up with the Joneses turned into more overhead than the standard agent/broker can handle? Should the MLSs start to fill in for some of this technological needs, very similar to how some of the parent franchises (REMax, Prudential, etc) have begun to provide turn key solutions for their franchisees?
What do you think? Bring it on!