UPDATE: ZipRealty has contacted me and kindly offered to reinstate my account...
UPDATE #2: ZipRealty has graciously re-instated my account.. the ban is now OVER!
For a long while now I have argued that the multiple listing service (MLS) should be, in effect, nationalized.
I’m generally not big on “big government” but it’s very obvious that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has, among other things seriously detrimental to our economy, culture and society, used their control of the MLS to stifle competition and strong-arm buyers and sellers.
The MLS is not simply a database (actually a collection of regional databases) of current and historical home listing information.
It is, in a sense, also the primary service through which the overwhelming majority of home sale transactions initiate… truly a dominant force for the Realtors.
To put it in perspective a bit, imagine that in order to access any information (availability, pricing, etc.) related to available new or used automobiles you (and every other source, magazine, newspaper etc.) had to either pay for or otherwise get permission to use data sourced only in a database controlled by the National Association of Auto Dealers.
A ridiculous scenario indeed BUT even more ridiculous is the fact that we are not talking about autos… these are our homes.
This data is too important and fundamental to be controlled by a single private trade organization.
So my proposal is as follows…
Simply require all real estate brokerages to file EVERY listing (all data … both residential and commercial) with The Department of Commerce which would host a master property listing service.
I firmly believe that if this data were freely available to anyone (the Commerce Department would supply the data to consumers and to third party services) you would see superb internet applications immediately spring forth and the NAR put in its proper position as a private trade organization of relatively powerless salesmen.
To demonstrate the power that Realtors have with the current MLS arrangement consider my recent experience with ZipRealty, a popular web-based broker and MLS search site.
Last week I received the following UNSOLICETED email from a Realtor associated to ZipRealty who shall (for now) remain nameless:
When you get a minute could you please let me know if you are planning to buy, and or sell, property in the next few months. Since there are a lot more buyers out there looking now(and actually buying!), a sure sign of Spring, I want to be sure to set aside time for you when you're ready. If you could just send me your estimated time line, I will appreciate the info.
Thank you very much,
Licensed in MA
In response to this email I promptly replied:
HA!... Yea... get ready I'm sure this spring will be just fantastic!
Why don't you just get real and admit that nothing is selling out there... be serious... just say "I'm hurting and need a sale... bad!"
Well to that I was very shortly thereafter banned (my account was deactivated) by ZipRealty.
Just consider that for a moment… I received an unsolicited email from a Realtor… I simply replied snarkely and they shut me out of their service permanently.
Frequent users of ZipRealty will know that the primary reason I used that service was that they are one of the only (possibly the only) MLS site that allows you to see the property address as well as all price reductions and the days on the market.
In effect, by banning my access to the data they literally took my right to see essential market details away.
ZipRealty is a very internet savvy service which even sports a popular blog dedicated to real estate market conditions but in this case they are simply the same old thing… Realtors crossing the line.