MLS Executives want to better understand Flat Fee MLS Brokers | Columbus Flat Fee MLS Listing Self List in the Realtors Multiple Listing Service

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Columbus Flat Fee MLS Listing Self List in the Realtors Multiple Listing Service

Highest Rated Flat Fee MLS Listing Service in Central Ohio
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MLS Executives want to better understand Flat Fee MLS Brokers

Recently I was at a national meeting in Washington, DC of the Executives of Multiple Listing Services. There were hundreds of people at this meeting, and the topic ended up being flat fee MLS listings. I guess it should be no surprise that these MLS leaders, who ranged from the smallest one county MLSs to the largest MLSs in the country (that cover whole states and can have well over 30,000 members) had lots of questions about how flat fee listings work, and the role of flat fee brokers in the MLS.
First of all, I should give some background: There are an estimated 900 different MLS systems within the United States. Most of them are created, owned, and operated by their local Association of Realtors. In the past decade, most of the larger MLSs have become their own organizations that are either wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Realtor Association or have a handful of Realtor Associations as their shareholders. A few of them have large traditional brokers who also have ownership of the MLS. The MLSs usually have a certain territory where they have all or nearly all the listings for that area. In some cases, there is overlap or competition between two different MLSs but luckily that is fairly unusual--overlap or competition makes it is challenging for real estate broker (especially flat fee brokers) because it usually requires membership (read: lots of expenses) in two or more MLSs to list sellers in that area.
The lead attorney and General Counsel of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) spoke about the importance of the MLSs providing a fair competitive playing field. She also stressed the clear and present danger of any MLS that has rules that disadvantage one kind of listing or broker over another, and talked about how active the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and US Department of Justice (DOJ) have been in investigating any rules that disadvantage flat fee MLS.
Overall, I was happy to hear what was presented. MLSs now clearly know that they need make sure their members compete fairly or they will face significant punishment. I was also pleased at the tone of the questions. MLS Executives want to better understand flat fee MLS brokers so they better manage their MLSs for the betterment of all brokers, whether they are traditional or flat fee brokers (and everything in between).
In the big picture it makes sense that these MLS Executives have questions: the type and role of the broker hasn't really changed since the very beginning of the Multiple Listing Service. So we are talking about a 50-60 year period of time where the role of the broker and how they interact didn't really change. And in the last decade flat fee brokers have brought innovation that changed that relationship. Change isn't easy for anyone, especially if you have to change something you have been doing the same way for decades and decades. It reminded me of the time I saw my first real estate broker, who I worked for way back in the late 1980s. I had just started working as a flat fee broker and was explaining to him how it works and he was shocked--he could hardly believe it. In fairness, this was the very beginnings of flat fee brokerage (probably 1998 or so) and it would change the way this broker had interacted with listing agents for 30 some years. It wasn't revolutionary change or turning his world upside down, but it was change to something that had not changed.
I''m glad the real estate industry has been through the changes that have occurred over the last decade. It is a very rare and uninvolved agent that is not familiar with flat fee MLS listings here in 2006. I no longer regularly have conversations with brokers and agents explaining that I give them my permission to talk directly to the seller. They understand it, which makes things smoother for me and my flat fee sellers.

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