Monday, October 30, 2006

National MLS Created One Listing At A Time

The latest buyer survey by the National Association of Realtors® revealed that 80 percent of all buyers now begin their search online for real estate. That's quite a surge in just a few years, when the number of cyber surfers for real estate was at about 7 percent of all buyers when real estate and the Internet met. If any industry benefits the consumer online, it's the real estate industry. Millions of houses advertised online for buyers to peruse, read over, view floor plans, and watch video tours. It's all there, it's free, but we really take for granted what it takes to create such a system.

Today's electronic MLS system began years ago on paper. Realtors across the country would turn in their listings with a picture into the processing manager, who then turned them into the local Realtor association. Associations would then print up a book or cards and then hand deliver them to the offices -- usually one per agent -- either weekly or twice per week. The MLS book was one of the most highly sought after commodities in the Realtor's tool box.

The ultimate purpose of the MLS is to offer a co-op between competitors so they can sell each others properties and get paid for doing so.

The electronic MLS system starts and ends with these licensees. Without the licensees of the state, belonging to brokerages, who gather millions of data and pay billions in fees, programming costs, etc., there would be no Realtor.com, Homesdatabase.com, homes.com, or any other internet-based real estate database for that matter.

While there would be places online for homeowners to "advertise" their homes for sale, there would not be a pure database, whereby, buyers and sellers could come together with secure data that is updated on a daily basis. I can't think of any other databases of homes for sale online that are operated like the MLS.

The fsbo-type websites are NOT databases, but advertising, much like what you would find in a newspaper website. Once the property is sold, the ad for that property, most times, remains online and buyers don't really know if what they're clicking through is still on the market or not. Meanwhile, Realtor-operated MLS's are internally regulated and agents can be fined for registering erroneous information or not updating information soon enough.

In fact, the information is so good, other website operators have taken aim at these online services to steal the information and place them on their own sites to draw homebuyers. NAR's Center for Realtor Technology, has even released two programs to help stop "scraping" of the data by online data predators.

NoScrape is a program that places the data into a rendering, or graphic file, from which data cannot be copied. Computers aimed at scraping data from real estate sites cannot strip the information from this type of web page. A second anti-piracy program is reCaptcha, which "is a way to tell computers and humans apart and is based on CAPTCHA technology. CAPTCHA is short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. It identifies the party trying to access your site as a human or a computer program by generating questions that only a human can answer correctly," according to Realtor.org.

reCaptcha displays a securitized system whereby the user must retype distorted images of a word to gain passage to parts of the web. These type of programs are also used by financial, ticketing and blogging websites to ensure humans are using the site, rather than computers.

When I read articles about how the Realtors have the MLS locked up and should just open it free to all consumers (i.e., private sellers who want access, other web sites who want to draw buyers and sellers, etc.), I'm reminded of the little red hen, who once having gathered the wheat, ground it up into flour, made the cakes, and baked them, asked, "And who would like to eat the cakes?" The Cat, the Dog, and the Duck all said, "I will, I will."

"No, No." said the Little Red Hen. "I will do that." And she did.

Published: September 1, 2006

3 comments:

International Real Estate said...

Hi , I agree with you The electronic MLS system starts , thanks for nice article , thanks

Hawaii Real Estate said...

I think electronic MLS system will make it Easily to find and compare real estate MLS listings. thanks for this great post

Adele Josephs said...

MLS system is really a great help.
Great post! Keep it up!