The Consumer is driving change in the MLS
2006 WAV Group MLS Technology Study
Consumers are driving the need for change in the role of the MLS and ultimately the REALTOR® members, according to respondents of the 2006 WAV Group Technology Study. The study, completed by 2600 MLS Executives, brokers and agents probed MLS technology trends and vendor satisfaction as well as the future of the MLS and challenges facing the real estate industry.
MLS executives, brokers and agents all see change occurring in our industry in the coming years. Some are optimistic and expect MLS to evolve but weather the changes. Others are more pessimistic and predict MLS may go away or change drastically from its form today. Some fear that access to MLS data will become so available to consumers that the role of the agent will be greatly diminished. The industry will continue to be challenged to keep up with the needs of the consumer and the most successful MLSs will support the REALTOR® in their effort to stay at the center of the transaction.
According to one respondent, “Change always happens….It will also be consumer-demand driven. Once we opened that door of Internet access to listing data, the voracious public will continue to demand more and more. The challenge is for agents to keep up with public demand for innovation, change, ease of access to data and instant communication. It won’t matter which vendors are supplying service to what MLS as we develop cooperatives, data sharing, etc. to remove the boundaries to communication of information. All vendors will be able to share data. It won’t matter what business model a form employs since the data will be independent of the service firms provide. MLS rules will continue in order to provide MLS participants with an orderly marketplace and an accurate and useful compilation of data. What it looks like is not relevant.”
Some respondents believe the role of the MLS will change fairly dramatically to support REALTORS® in their quest to effectively sell homes and manage the transaction process. One respondent stated “I think the MLS will evolve into a security system that allows for distribution of content to multiple sources at the request of member brokers; a front end system that can be expanded by use of other products that brokers might select; fully integrated with as many aspects of a transaction as possible from uploading of listings from input sheets to the closed transaction on a CD for the new homeowner.”
Others see the role of the MLS changing with brokers taking on a larger decision-making role about whom, and where their data will be distributed according to the individual needs of their client. A respondent offered, “I believe the MLS will evolve into a data repository, with brokers able to decide where they want their data sent, even to the level of which brokers, websites, clients get it. Not sure how this would work with respect to the agent warehouses, where there is no broker responsibility, but I’m sure we could figure out something.”
By providing public access to IDX information, some believe the consumer is going to demand commission reductions. They believe the key value REALTORS® provide is data. “Since we’ve sold out by giving too much information to the general public it is now difficult to regain the upper hand. Flat rate commissions will come into play more with technology doing away with agents. There will be fallout of not being able to make a decent living for part time agents and the numbers will dwindle.”
MLS/association executives and staff were also asked what they believe the biggest challenges facing our industry are. There were many different responses but the top five categories mentioned were:
Ø Data security
Ø Government intervention
Ø Lack of vision
Ø Need for consolidation
Ø Keeping up with technology
Brokers and agents told us they believe the biggest problems facing MLS are:
- Inaccurate data on the MLSs
- Competition from new business models
- Unauthorized access to MLS from non-members
- Need for regionalization and consolidation
Other highlights from the WAV Group 2006 MLS Technology Survey
In terms of MLS technology here are few things we learned this year:
- Most respondents are happy with their MLS systems and vendors. Overall the ratings for our vendors were very good.
- Over 56% of the respondents indicated they have been with their current vendor 4 or more years.
- 25% of the MLS executive respondents indicate they will definitely renew with their current vendor while 45% say they probably will.
- 2 MLSs indicated they will build their next MLS system in-house. 3 other MLSs indicated this is under consideration.
- While ratings were good overall for the MLS vendors, brokers, agents and real estate office staff (the users) rate the vendors lower in almost every category as compared to MLS/association executives and staff.
- In-house technology appears to be rating significantly higher in many categories versus last year.
- MLS functionality identified by users needing the most improvement:
Ø Search listing
· Mapping technology satisfaction appears to have improved over last year.
· Vendors serving small to mid-sized MLSs appear to be more responsive to suggestions for MLS system improvements, on average, than those serving the large MLSs. But, the boutique vendors, serving just one or two large MLSs had the highest rating in this area.
· Wireless service offered to access MLS data took a big jump in 2006. 72% of the respondents indicate they have access to MLS data through wireless devices such as TREOS or Blackberries compared to 46% in 2005.
· Blogging technology has taken a big leap in our industry with 10% reporting they already operate their own blogs with 20% more saying they are planning to create their own blogs in the near future.
· In terms of security there is a substantial difference between MLS executives and Brokers and Agents in terms of perceived need. 79% of MLS/association executives believe their MLS should implement better system security while only 50% of brokers and agents feel this way.
· Use of automated Transaction Management continues to be low with only 19% of agents reporting they use some form of this technology.
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