I’m interested in hosting a discussion regarding issues surrounding MLS. By “MLS” I don’t just mean the system for making offers of cooperation and compensation among brokers. Rather, I mean all business services that REALTOR® associations and broker-owned multiple listing services offer to the brokerage community. That includes things like traditional MLS functions, access to public records information, electronic lockboxes, showing scheduling services, template web sites, etc. There are some operational, legal, and income-tax reasons why a REALTOR® association that owns a separate MLS corporation might put some of these services under the MLS corporation and some under the association; but I don’t care where they are operated for purposes of our discussions. (But most, as business services, will trigger the requirement to pay UBIT if a non-profit association provides them.)
I do not intend to include in this discussion “trade association” activities in which associations, but not MLSs, most commonly engage. That includes things like lobbying, education, license law development, dispute resolution, and public relations/promotion of the industry in general. (These are the not-for-profit purposes of many trade associations. Note, though, that all these things have some place in discussions about direct business services.)
So, for purposes of these discussions, MLS=MLS and association.
There are so many things to discuss. With regard to dozens of services, we can ask:
- Should MLS offer Service X? (The core service argument; the argument that MLS levels the playing field; the argument that MLS is usurping broker business opportunities.)
- How should MLS offer Service X? (What are the strategic objectives? How do we measure success of the service in achieving the objectives?)
- What risks are associated with Service X? (What are the operational and legal risks?)
- Should MLS collaborate with other MLSs in offering Service X?
My early posts will have a lot to do with NAR VOW policy under the settlement of NAR’s lawsuit with the Department of Justice. I’ll explain in the first post on that topic why I think it poses important questions. Email me with your own questions and comments on that or other topics.
I welcome the views of anyone who expresses them rationally and politely.