Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Craig Rowe of Inman News says MLS providers should stay in their lane

The 6 tech trends that defined real estate in 2021

“Many of the nation’s multiple listing services are now rebounding with attempts to develop and deliver technology for their members instead of seeking the best possible options in the open market.

Beyond it not being their core competency, building software isn’t easy, cheap or a one-time thing.

There’s simply no way for MLSs to create a system, continually support it and offer training and help to thousands of members (in some cases, tens of thousands) without significantly raising fees, which it will need to do in order to hire more experienced technology professionals, including expensive engineers and developers.”

Inman News

This matches what I hear from a lot of vendors: Remember when all the big franchisors and real estate brokers announced they were “technology companies”, not real estate companies. How’s that working out?

He goes on to cite the vetting process most MLS providers follow.

“How can this not further complicate how due diligence on other products is handled, especially when they provide comparable services? Thus, does it best serve members, or the politics and public image of their organization?

It’s also hypocritical, specifically in any case where an MLS has refused to partner with a vendor for fear of that vendor being acquired.”


He said it, not me. 😇

  1. MLS’s already have to support other vendor’s software, and offer training. Plus they often have to pay high fees to make relatively minor changes to the software to fit their market. So, in some instances, it can make sense for an MLS to build some or all of its own software, or invest in a company that will work more closely with them.

  2. What a real estate brokerage “is” is being redefined. What a real estate technology company “is” is being redefined. Why can’t what an MLS “is” be redefined.

  3. While I agree with the concerns being raised, I have to say that Im glad to see every element of the real estate ecosystem including MLSs pick up their hand and put some serious energy into re-invention.

    I agree that MLSs operating the way they normally operate will not succeed as tech Owners or Venture Capitalists. They must become a lot more nimble and keep the uninformed out of the way. Volunteer board leadership lacking in a depth of technology or financial acumen cannot successfully deliver on what it takes to make these new visions work. If MLSs are going to make an exciting turn like this,(which I love by the way), they are going to have to think fundamentally differently about who drives their organizations and what their value proposition looks like. All great stuff, but its going to take more than just the purchase of a tech company or the announcement of a venture arm to make the dream a reality.

  4. This is simply a POV and not gospel.

    What is obviously omitted in the discussion of “It’s also hypocritical, specifically in any case where an MLS has refused to partner with a vendor for fear of that vendor being acquired.” are the conflicts of interests some of these acquisitions creates. How can an MLS provide services to Participants that it purchases from one of their own competitors?

    I seem to remember a one-time national search portal ending their legacy data feed import process because their source was from a competitor.

  5. The real issue here is antitrust concerns regarding the MLS. MLS’s can’t deny or exclude service providers because of fear of acquisition or because they want to roll their own solution to be a mini monopoly in their market. I have spoken with vendors who have told me MLSs have flat out told them “NO…you cannot offer your product to our members because we are building our own” This is a clear antitrust violation. Moreover, MLS’s who have a financial interest in a vendor and exclude other like vendors as a choice to their members because they have a financial interest in a solution are due for a rude awakening.

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