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SF MLS, Still Here


[Photo Credit: Tornatore from the Curbed Flickr Photo Pool]

Looks like the San Francisco MLS still permits public access. We've heard various reasons why access has yet to be shut down- the most logical is that the Bay Area "local" multiple listings services are banding together into the NCREX, but they don't have their tech shit together yet. And according to a press release last week, San Francisco hasn't yet joined, despite being a participant in talks. Or that brokerages are not upgrading their systems fast enough to accommodate increased traffic. Or digging their heels in over wireless security issues. Or all of the above. But look to later this year for all content to shift to brokerage sites.

Probably the biggest mistake the real estate industry made is taking the paper MLS and putting it online at all, since the MLS started out as a way of sharing listings and specifying the commission breakdown among local brokerages. No one ever dreamed consumers would start shopping for real estate online, or that real estate agencies might lose their gatekeeper status, walking filters in nice suits and good shoes who controlled where and what you would to permitted to buy. Online MLS searches gave consumers some raw data, possibly reliable, without the filter of an agent or relationship, and from any place on the globe with internet access.

You could do it in your jammies. And seaches could be aspirational bordering on pornography- realtors were appalled at paying for bandwidth and server space for what had become online entertainment.

In the same way, the information age has broken down opportunities for discrimination. It's made people aware of streets named "Persia" and "Delano" and neighborhoods they never knew existed, and conversely allowed people in those neighborhoods- underpriced and neglected- to cash out and move. Or pull some equity out. And others got to say "I'm going to live there."

Now that the door has been blown off this particular barn, realtors are claiming they "own" their listings. The merits of the argument are irrelevant; it's just the only way back to the illusion of gatekeeper status. By "owning" a listing's content, they can control who has access to it. Online companies like Trulia depend on the good will of the various MLS's they cobbled together agreements with. A discount brokerage like Redfin is entirely at their mercy.
· Unhappy People [Curbed SF]
· Northern California Real Estate Exchange [NYCREX]
· What do you think? [Inman Blog]
· Trulia [Trulia]
· Redfin [Redfin]