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Un-Happy People

We got a lot of response to our post about the January 1 shutdown of public access to the SF MLS by the San Francisco Association of Realtors.

As expected (with one lone exception) those most unhappy with us were realtors. And curiously, all the unhappy realtors work at Zephyr! Italics us, bold them, with the most reassuring first:

…Aside from that, there's never been recourse to listing inaccuracies or omissions, deliberate or otherwise... This is a complete farce. Agents are constantly defending suits against them for claims of inaccurate information... A hefty fine structure is in place for brokers and agents who misrepresent information in the MLSReally, the joy. Buy a house and have to sue someone before you can even pick out new drapes. No word on what the hefty structure looks like, or where on the web we can find out who got fined for what. Then totally agreeing with us:The exact same listing information is still available from scores of broker sites. The new policy only changes where one goes to get the informationMore, after the jump. And who gets to approve?

Any broker who displays listings which are not their own is *required* to display all the listings approved for displayAnd:This is not a big impersonal association. This is a bunch of volunteers that are working to try to meet the needs of everyone in a 5000-member organization, from the small, one-person offices, up to the 600-person offices.True, but somewhat disingenuous. Omitting the fact that it's a group that controls access to billions of dollars in real estate annually. A group that has members. And behaves like a private club. Along the lines of "Healthy Forests" the one that made us run screaming from the room:this decision is in everyone's best interest, including the

consumer.In all fairness, we've been spoiled- there's been three years of access to the SF MLS- and they've made the blunder of taking away our toy. The information wil remain roughly the same, but it will be incorporated into brokerage sites. Most non-realtor commentors made analogies to Napster and the RIAA, and the increasing irrelevance of realtors. Or as just plain misguided:...this is a desperate and misguided attempt by the San Francisco Association of Realtors to remain relevant as the market continues to soften. Real estate professionals should understand their relevance will be secured as the providers of expert services in the marketing and execution of transactions, rather than as the guardians of listing data. The Internal Revenue Code is freely available to all, yet the average individual will gladly pay an expert to prepare a tax return.We think not using a realtor to buy a house is dumb. California is an escrow state and things can be complex. You need someone to guide you (non-escrow states have their own issues; the realtor backs away and the attorneys take over as a matter of course.) Let's not forget that all the realtors own is listing information. Their income depends on volume. It's like a big casino, a little bit of the action goes to the House. Except if there's no one sitting at the slots, there's nothing for the House. Sales volume is down. 2007's buffet may be a little heavy on the carrot sticks. So it's all about the action. 2006 will be remembered as the year of that immaculate quote:

It's a good time to sell and a good time to buy · SF MLS to Shut Down Public Internet Access [Curbed SF]