Further Proof Real Estate is a Local Phenomenon

avatarthumbnail.jpgIn many ways, the Phoenix real estate market is a unique place. There are several local branches of the National Association of REALTORS here – one in Phoenix, another in the Southeast Valley, another in the West Valley and yet another in Scottsdale – yet we all co-exist and cooperate together as members of the larger Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Services.

It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, there was a separate board and a separate Multiple Listing Service in Sun City. Agents from the wider Valley who wanted to know what was for sale there essentially were out of luck.

Why did this change? Because it made business sense for both sides. While agents outside of the white walls couldn’t see what was inside, agents inside couldn’t see what was on the outside. More importantly, agents on the inside couldn’t leave their insulated world and sell outside the walls because as non-members of the larger MLS they weren’t guaranteed compensation for bringing buyers to homes.

This may sound like the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but the scenario still is playing itself out elsewhere around the country today. And that what caused the Connecticut Statewide Multiple Listing Service to release its “MLS Bill of Rights” at last week’s Inman Real Estate Connect conference in New York City.

There are some points that nearly are universal:

  • The right for brokers to own their own data
  • The right to expect the MLS will work in their best interests (whether they are or are not working in one’s best interest always seems to depend on whether they happen to agree with the person)
  • The right to advertise and distribute online listings content within the rules and regulations
  • The right to an Internet Data Exchange (IDX), Virtual Office Web site (VOW) and/or broker download feed and/or access

It’s stunning to think there are parts of the country where agents are not permitted to have an IDX feed – the listings searches here on this site and my neighborhood sites such as Westbrook Village Real Estate.com.

(Who is to blame for this remains in doubt. Some agents have indicated that if the larger brokerages felt strongly enough about their agents having and IDX feed, the local rules would be changed. But many still view such things as competition to their own lead-feeding – and referral-charging – business.)

Other “rights” are beautifully local in nature, including the one at the top of today’s Inman News story (no link because it’ll be behind the firewall by tomorrow):

The public has the right to expect that their Realtor can provide every active listing of every MLS participant in the state where they are licensed

Remember, this was being presented by a group in Connecticut. Connecticut, incidentally, covers just over 5,500 square miles.

Phoenix is in Maricopa County, which covers more than 9,200 square miles and is larger than seven states – including Connecticut.

I have no interest in what’s for sale in Flagstaff. I can’t tell you a great deal about the Lakeside/Pinetop area except that it’s at 7,000 feet, it’s cold and there’s no air. And that the folks at Hondah Casino still have my $100 from two years ago.

As for Tucson … yeah, well, okaythen.

If I were to nitpick, I personally would have left out this last “right” as it has no meaning in large portions of the country. I don’t see agents in Miami selling homes in Destin, or those in Texarkana driving to El Paso to show a house. Statewide access is far, far less important than regionalization. And regionalization shouldn’t be based on state borders (a nod to my friends in Virginia near the border.)

[tags]Phoenix real estate, MLS Bill of Rights[/tags]

About Jonathan

Jonathan Dalton is a 30-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.

  • Jonathan, I moderated two of the MLS panels at Inman, one on consolidation versus cooperation and one on consumer facing MLS listing portals. In the MLS listing portal, nearly everyone agreed that the local MLS has an advantage over national portals because they know details about the local market in a way that is very difficult or expensive for national portals to discover everywhere. In contrast, the panelists discussing consolidation and collaboration almost all agreed that bigger (statewide or nationwide) was better for MLSs. These two points are contradictory and the latter seems to be a classic power grab or a solution in search of a problem.

  • Either of the latter work for me as the description. There’s no benefit to the consumer for me to be able to tell them what’s available in Page.

    Page is three hours north of Phoenix and I’ve been there once. If they want information on what’s available in Page, they ought to talk to an agent who’s there.

    I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument for a national MLS based on what the MLS actually is – a database where listings are advertised to other licensed real estate professionals with an attached offer of compensation.

    This isn’t to say that there would not be value in consumers having a one-stop shop for listings, since the would-be contenders – R.com, Zillow and Trulia all fall short (with R.com coming closest). But such a national site wouldn’t be an MLS, at least not in terms of what an MLS actually is.

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