If You Can’t Trust the Local MLS Data, Can You Trust a National MLS?

avatarthumbnail.jpgThe refrain was familiar … “if I can’t trust what I’m seeing in the MLS, how am I supposed to find a home?” … except this time, it was coming from a consumer and not a real estate agent.

While the Internet has provided an abundance of real estate information for those looking for homes, that information remains incomplete. The result is akin to looking through several layers of lattice at the same time – no matter how much coverage you have, there always are going to be gaps.

That wasn’t today’s issue, however. The caller was frustrated because of all of the short sale listings she had found showing as “active” actually weren’t. Some of this can be due to the quirks of the various IDX services that make it difficult to tell the difference between an Active listings and one Active with Contingencies (essentially, an offer’s accepted and the seller is soliciting backups.)

MLS rules for short sales have kept open loopholes allowing listing agents to keep their homes in “active” status long after an offer has been submitted to the bank. And as best I can tell, enforcement of those simply flaunting the rules has been slow most likely because of the already existing loophole.

(If both buyer and seller sign a Multiple Counter Offer form, the listing agent can keep the offer as active. If the seller doesn’t sign an offer and just sends it to the bank, technically the listing can be kept active though there are some ethical and other considerations for this course of action, as Arizona Regional MLS advises.)

Following the rules doesn’t always mean serving the public’s best interest. And serving the public’s best interest doesn’t always equate to serving an individual sellers’ best interest.

Which is a long way of driving back to a comment received on an ancient Active Rain post that I wrote about the long-deceased Open MLS initiative.

how would an open mls be with out agents? without middlemen? i think it would turn into something like the stock market. there will be less ambiguity with price because there will be one less piece of friction between buyer and seller.

if an agent is needed. i think it would be enough as a consultant. like a lawyer. As we learned from crowndsourcing, the consumer wants to participate. Handholding is a thing of the past .

this is the future of real estate. Open MLS and a free market

Let us count the potential issues …

1) Who is going to police the data to make sure correct information is entered? Don’t look to the various Realtor associations, not if you’re pushing them to the side. Stock markets have regulatory agencies watching what’s happening. Not so the real estate market.

2) Who is going to set a standard set of rules that provide buyers with the assurance that what they’re seeing is accurate, at least in terms of status? (Buyers already are on their own with respect to MLS data – there are disclaimers everywhere that the data’s deemed reliable but not guaranteed.)

3) Who is going to tell a seller who realizes it’s not in their best interest to accept one short sale offer and no more that they have to change their data or be dropped from the MLS?

4) Who is going to compel individual sellers – those not using agents to enter any data in a national MLS anyway?

Some may call what buyers’ agents do these days handholding. Okayfine. But with the ever-increasing wave of partial data, it’s becoming more and more important to have someone who can help you navigate the waters to determine where the reef really is. In that respect, we’re more like harbor pilots than Captain Steubing.

Except when it comes to short sales. There, the rules are such that we’re about as screwed as everybody else. Even the best harbor pilot can’t avoid a gigantic, sucking vortex of concentrated evil like that.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-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.


  • jim little 8 years ago

    I agree with all of your points california already is having problems with the statewide MLS, and only has 3 smallcounties on it.
    You overlooked another problem. Definition of terms. Is it a duplex or a gemini? What is a patio home?
    Let us not forget each state has laws and commissioner.
    I would ha(e to see this Pandora’s box opened

  • Ralph D Bredahl 8 years ago

    What a nightmare. The bigger it gets the less input we as individual agents will have to say. Which already is about zero

  • Portland Real Estate 8 years ago

    IDX refresh rates have caused a problem for me too. I have had people call very upset that the feed is not 100% verified and up to the minute, and they seem to think that it is I that is making the mistakes. My website just shows the listings, I dont have anything to do with their accuracy.


  • Jonathan Dalton 8 years ago

    Jim – It would be interesting. I also can see the data being watered down in an effort to make it uniform.

    Ralph – we do have a say, if you want to sit on the committees and do the work. Most decline, though.

    Tyler – DS is fairly quick. I’ve had new listings appear under my listings within a couple hours of entry, which isn’t too bad.

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