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Would you like some cheese with your whine Greg?

by Greg Robertson on May 24th, 2018

There has been a shift lately. It’s happened over the past couple years and it’s starting to get a little ugly.

I believe the advent of “front end of choice” is amping things up. Here’s what I’m hearing from others in the industry and my own observations. I’ll break it down it to two parts.

Part I: Why should I help you?

As they say everything old is new again. The MLS industry is going through some changes. It reminds me of back when web-based MLS systems were starting to come out. The traditional MLS vendors freaked out as these new systems were installed “in parallel”. Same thing is happening now. But the 3rd party vendors today are a bit more brazen. Here’s an example.

Remine’s wheel of fortune

MLS 2.0? Now, can you see why some current MLS vendors are hesitant to work with these companies?

A common rant is, “Why should I work with these guys when they are openly trying to put me out of business”?

You add that to tactics like employee poaching and product bashing and you can see how this could get out of hand. And full discloser my own company has been guilty of this to some degree.

These new companies are well funded, but NEED to get big fast. They have a certain amount of capital that won’t last long, so they NEED to be aggressive, otherwise they die. That puts a very different dynamic into the mix.


-MLS launches app, email goes out.
-All agents get phone call
-More emails…more phone calls
-Agent downloads an app, agent gets a phone call.
-More emails…more phone calls
-Agent touches a button, agents gets a phone call.

It can be relentless. All powered by state of the art software, auto-dialers and the latest in marketing automation.

Look I’m all for competition. I thrive on it. And many of these companies have really smart and talented people working for them. I also believe many of these same people want to improve the industry. But it’s still important to remember that we all have a symbiotic relation to each other. We all need to work together and play fair. Which brings me to part two.

Part II: Leveling the playing field (not that playing field)

The other shift I’m seeing is MLS providers giving special access to the MLS membership to select vendors. Most data access agreements coming from the MLS provider have language that states the 3rd party vendor cannot use the agent roster for marketing purposes or to create any derivative work form the MLS data. To me the membership roster was always “sanctum sanctorum“. It made sense that the MLS provider wanted to protect their membership and not show favor to any one vendor.

But lately this seems to have changed. It seems that because of special pricing or that the MLS provider now has equity in these new products they have let things slide.

I see a lot of emails (and get a lot of phone calls) that are obviously using the MLS roster. Hell, I just get a few of these calls and I’m afraid to pick up the phone! Sometimes these inquires come in the form of straight up spam (possibly on behalf of the vendor) from agents wanting me to activate my “X” account or crazy claims like fulfilling the promise of “100s of leads now”, or even “beating Zillow”. Here’s just few examples.

This also has existing MLS vendors scratching their heads. Is this special access? Is this type of marketing available for their tools? Or are these vendors going rouge and not ahering to their agreement with the MLS provider? Same questions come from many 3rd party vendors.

This seems to go against showing favor to one or more vendors. If so, how can others get this same level of access?

I’m fully aware that some might take this post as one vendor whining about another vendor. Or “talk about the pot calling the kettle black Robertson!” I get that. Again, I think competition is good thing but have always prided myself on following the rules and being a good “partner” and part of the community. But still, as I’ve stated, my company is far from blameless.

That being said the feeling I’m getting now is that the gloves are off. And sooner than later everyone will be protecting their turf. And that can lead to bigger problems.

As I said, many of these new companies are playing a different game, they NEED to be super aggressive. And that’s the worry. How do we strike this balance? And I think we need to look at the importance the MLS provider’s role in, dare I say, making the market work and vendors need to look at how their behavior can make positive change as well.

From → MLS, Opinion

  1. Robert Drummer permalink

    I understand that most contracts state you can’t use the MLS provided roster for marketing, but what if the contacts are obtained from a mailing list company or another source? There’s no shortage of companies offering Realtor emails, addresses, etc.

    I would also think that most MLSs have a trap email or two embedded in their rosters to catch that type of use. A vendor would be playing with fire to violate their agreement.

  2. Preach, my friend. While competition is good for the industry, the current atmosphere seems to be focused on how fast the new entrants can grow and then take the quick exit.

  3. Roland Estrada permalink

    Some of this problem might be from Robert Drummer’s comment. Back in 2006 when I started using a Mac I got .mac email address. Some time in 2007 I thought I should update my old email address with the AOR’s (NAR, CAR, OCAR). My email address was very pristine up to that point – no spam.

    Within a few days of updating my AORs with the .mac address I was receiving real estate related spam. I was pissed. To test this, I setup an alias on Gmail and updated the AORs with the Gmail address. Sure enough, I was getting real estate spam on my Gmail address within a few days to that specific alias. Oh well…

  4. You are so practical 🙂

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