Why Trulia and Zillow Cannot Be the MLS

By
Real Estate Agent with BHG Real Estate - Kansas City Homes SP00229578 2007027091

How Does the MLS Work? MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. There are hundreds of them across the country (and in many other countries as well). Every seller knows that they need to get their house listed on this to sell it; every home-buyer knows that if they can see what's on MLS, they will find their dream home.

Heartland MLS, the MLS of the Greater Metropolitan Kansas City Area, started in 1993 after a couple of local brokers saw an MLS back east at a conference. Prior to the formation and implementation of this system, buyers had to go to multiple brokers to find out which homes were for sale and any details about the homes had to be obtained from the listing agent. Does anyone remember life before cell phones and computers?

In order to create our current MLS, every broker in and around Kansas City had to agree to cooperate and participate in the enterprise. Getting everyone to agree to work on this together was huge! But they did and it made life better for home sellers and home buyers in Kansas City. It was not easy and it was not cheap. Keeping the MLS running now takes a team of computer experts and support personnel along with every active real estate agent, broker and realtor in KC. 

MLS KCRAR

The physical location of Heartland MLS is out State Line Rd, by the Blue Hills Country Club. The Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors also has their offices here. One of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Kansas City's offices is in the building. 

When an agent accepts a listing, they enter it into the MLS. We can either fill out a form and have the designated assistant at our office input the information or, what many of us do, enter the information ourselves from any computer with internet access.

Modern computers have made the process so much easier than the old "books" which were published and distributed monthly. We can enter listings 24/7. We can change the status from "Active" to "Pending" or "Back Up" or "Sold" at any time of day or night.

Here's the catch: everyone has to do it. That's why it works. It is my privilege and my responsibility to enter any and all new listings into the system within 3 business days from the time the Listing Agreement is signed. If I fail to comply with any of the Rules & Regulations, I can be fined or my privileges may be suspended or revoked.

Why does it work? To successfully conduct real estate transactions, every agent must pay their dues and follow the rules. That is the only way to keep the information up to date. We have to keep up with the inventory in order to work. The information has to be accurate in order to be useful. So everybody participates because we all need the information.

Last week, Trulia sent me an email telling me that if I want to post my listings on their site in the future, I will need to pay them. Today, Zillow left me a voice mail informing me of "an exciting opportunity." "Exciting opportunity" means they want money for something; I don't yet know what that something is but I can guess. I've read the articles, blogs and rants from people who want to make the MLS publicly available to all and join all of the MLS's together into one giant MLS covering the nation. While that sounds good in theory, who do they think is going to pay for, and maintain, this giant public MLS?

Agents, brokers and realtors have a vested interest in maintaining our local MLS's. If you don't pay, you don't work, you don't get paid, you don't eat. If you don't enter the required information within the timelines, you lose your access, you don't work. John Q. Public has no reason to support the service except when they are buying or selling a house.

Trulia and Zillow are interesting sites; I visit them both regularly and even participate in some discussions. There are several other "national MLS" sites (aka aggregator site) on our world wide web; guess where they get their information? From all of the local MLS's maintained by real estate agents, brokers, and realtors. Without the local agents entering and updating the information, these other sites would not have current information to offer - and their info is not exactly current. Drawing from that many feeds takes time so there are lags and inexplicable inaccuracies.

Keep in mind that each state has their own real estate laws. Each MLS has their own rules and regulations. So, while the idea of a giant, public MLS may be romantically appealing, it is thoroughly impractical at the present time. It is cool to look online at homes for sale in Maui and Oregon but if I wanted to actually buy a house there, I would pick up the phone and call a realtor in that location.

The MLS is a tool; one of the tools that real estate agents use to conduct their business. The agents are responsible for keeping their tools in proper working order. Agents and brokers allow limited access to their MLS, through their licenses, to clients so that they can search for homes. This is a shopping convenience for clients. If all of the states had the same real estate laws and all of the MLS's could come to an agreement regarding rules and regulations, then maybe the computer whizzes could write a program that would cover the entire Untied States but someone would still have to pay for it and maintain it. Since real estate is local, I just don't see the giant MLS happening anytime soon, do you?

Posted by

Maria Morton,Realtor© Call 816-560-3758.  Google Maria

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Maria Morton of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate is a licensed Real Estate Agent in KS & MO. 816-560-3758 Mobile 816-410-5499 Office 816-410-6302 eFax 435 Nichols Road Ste. 300 Kansas City, MO 64112   Maria Morton Copyright © 2008-2014 

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Cheryl Ritchie 06/02/2013 05:26 PM
Topic:
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Location:
Missouri Jackson County Kansas City
Groups:
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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
221,701
Eric Egeland
RE/MAX SUBURBAN - Libertyville, IL
SFR, e-PRO, CDPE

Thanks for the great post Maria.

Really good take on it.

May 18, 2010 10:50 PM #77
Anonymous
Anonymous
Jason McCampbell
As a consumer and software engineer this post is really disheartening as it shows very dated thinking along the lines of traditional newspapers and other industries that 'don't get it'. The amount of mls data for the whole US is small by web standards. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft provide free services with vastly more data to store. Currently having regional or local MLSs is hugely inefficient as it takes only slightly more resources to serve data for one region or the whole US. Agent fees could be slashed and better access provided to external sites so we (consumers) could use better tools rather than the archaic sites run by the official MLS companies (at least the three i have used).
Mar 10, 2011 10:58 AM #78
Rainmaker
106,297
Scott Pierce
Listings-to-Leads - San Francisco, CA
Founder & Chief Evangelist at Listings-to-Leads

Hi Maria, saw your thoughts on Zillow and Trulia and totally agree.  We help agents and offices market and when they tell me they are syndicating listings i sometime ask them why, so that competitors can scoop the MLS and present them?  

We have developed a way to divert traffic from Zillow and Trulia, with our Virtual Tours.  The key is we have links that drive from the VT to your site, with titles like "Kansas City Homes for Sale".  You can embed the VT for free on both sites, you don't need an upgraded subscription with them.  The stats are blowing up.

http://listingstoleadsblog.com/how-to-attach-your-l2l-virtual-tour-to-your-listing-in-trulia/

Good luck with your marketing efforts!

We can help

Vincent

Sep 02, 2011 05:41 PM #79
Rainmaker
978,894
Edward & Celia Maddox
Solutions Real Estate - Queen Creek, AZ
EXPERIENCE & INTEGRITY - WE TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

You are right on.  Zillow ends up giving us and clients very misleading information.

May 14, 2013 07:55 AM #80
Rainer
343,182
Brad MacKenzie
Success! Real Estate - Duxbury, MA
Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore

I don't know what Zillow, Trulia, or some other company may be able to do with the technology as this decade evolves, but I don't really see them "being" "The" MLS in each market. Perhaps they will buy MLS's, but to re-invent the wheel on listings and make it worthwhile for every brokerage to enlist? 

May 14, 2013 08:07 AM #81
Ambassador
1,010,412
Harry F. D'Elia
Precision Real Estate Inc. - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, CSSN, Radio Coach, REOs, ABR

There are great quick fixes for the public when they need to look up proerties. However, always hire Realtor to be accurate.

May 30, 2013 02:22 PM #82
Ambassador
825,427
Fred Griffin
Frederick Griffin, Licensed Real Estate Broker - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Real Estate Broker

"'Exciting opportunity' means they want money for something..."  

           Isn't that the Truth!

May 30, 2013 08:17 PM #83
Rainmaker
267,766
BethAnn Long
RE/MAX Inland Empire - Spokane, WA
Realtor, CRS, e-PRO, Spokane Wa Real Estate

I have seen a considerable amount of mis-information (old listings, wrong information) on these sites. The public really needs to rely on REALTOR'S for REAL TIME UP TO DATE INFORMATION!!! Thanks for the great post!

May 30, 2013 08:27 PM #84
Rainmaker
917,793
Joyce Kelley
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

That is partly why Realtor.com has not become the MLS as well. Maybe one day it will work out

May 30, 2013 09:54 PM #85
Rainmaker
1,270,039
Richie Alan Naggar Author PEARLS SERIES of books
People first then business! Ran Right Realty Riverside, Ca - Riverside, CA
on LIFE and LOVE plus Real Estate too!

Good post and discussion worthy here...Everyone wants in on the "money" aspect of it all....I am for back to basics and consistent service.

May 31, 2013 07:01 AM #87
Rainmaker
367,165
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive Realty/Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Area Realtor

A wonderfully thought out post, Maria. And we as agents need to keep educating our clients as to why they are better off depending on us and our MLS to provide them with information instead of the big search engines.

Jun 01, 2013 08:02 AM #88
Rainmaker
1,393,386
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

I wondered why all the comments on such an old post?  Was the post updated or just reposted?

Jun 01, 2013 09:09 AM #89
Ambassador
1,228,108
Tammie White
Benchmark Realty, LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.TWRealtyGroup.net - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN, South of Nashville

I sure hope not because it will be one huge mess. Maybe if Zillow and Trulia starting charging agents to post listings, it will be their demise. Isn't that how Realtor.com started? If I remember correctly, not every agent put their listings there.

Jun 01, 2013 12:10 PM #90
Ambassador
1,476,513
Renée Burrows
Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - www.urLVhome.com

Oh they need the goodies for free!  Maybe agents are not buying the leads anymore from our listings :-/

Jun 01, 2013 12:32 PM #91
Rainmaker
1,167,601
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
I have given this a lot of thought lately. It still gets back to we pay to get leads from our own listings on the sites.
Jun 02, 2013 05:23 PM #92
Rainmaker
111,471
Chris Lengquist
Keller Williams Realty - Olathe, KS

I agree with just about everything you said but the public wants information...even if it's not completely accurate.  That is where we can step in.  Our NAR is no better than Zillow or Trulia in that WE PAY THEM to set up Realtor.com and then they charge us to "move up the ladder" there, too. 

Not sure where technology will take us in the future.  But I'm more convinced that the Trulias and Zillows will lead the way.  Not our NAR.  They/we tend to want status quo.

Jul 18, 2013 04:16 PM #93
Rainmaker
528,690
Maria Morton
BHG Real Estate - Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Jason, since each MLS is governed by different laws, procedures & regulations, it would be most difficutl to create a massive MLS for the entire United States. I believe we probably have the technology for the amount of information but I don't see each state, county, and city across the nation agreeing on the same laws, procedures, and regulations. 

Jul 18, 2013 06:16 PM #94
Rainmaker
528,690
Maria Morton
BHG Real Estate - Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Maureen, not sure about that. I've had some trouble with updating posts over the last couple of months. Sometimes when I go back and update, Active Rain goes goofy and the post disappears for a few hours or days. Then it reappears unexpectedly sometime in the future. 

Jul 18, 2013 06:20 PM #95
Rainmaker
528,690
Maria Morton
BHG Real Estate - Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Chris, yes, the public does want information and Zillow's format is pretty cool. The way you can look at houses on the map is great! I've asked if our MLS could do something like that but they think the way the MLS map search is now is okay. Our MLS just updated our website and it is quite robust. Of course, it's for professionals so the public probably doesn't appreciate it until they're in my office or I'm in their home showing them something on my iPad. 

Jul 18, 2013 06:25 PM #96
Rainmaker
1,382,983
Andrew Mooers
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

The state,local MLS needs to pull the reins from the Gate Keepers who want you to feed them for free, and then repackage and charge you for the bells and whisles to be positioned ahead of the pack. The state, local MLS should be making any money from the exploitation. But just enough so the members keep some of the profit to make it all worthwhile. The Internet when you google, bing, yahoo or whatever an area, state shines brightly for local information to feed on. You can not beat the local agent that in additon to the properties in his/her area adds the blog posts, videos, imagery and community flavor of what surrounds the property listings. Saves buyers time and gas.

Feb 06, 2014 02:58 PM #98
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
528,690

Maria Morton

Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758
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