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The Future of the MLS…

Public MLS Statistics

What if…

Buyers didn’t need the MLS to find homes.

Zillow verified agents.

Agent certifications and class hours were posted to a public blockchain.

Zillow added private fields to each listing to indicate commission splits. You know, like the ones in the MLS.

Those private fields were only visible to verified agents.

Closing software received verification and payment from the closing, with a record posted on a public blockchain.

Closing software paid agent commissions directly.

Every time a transaction happened, a record of whether the commissions were paid was posted to a public blockchain.

A review system (only visible to verified agents) existed to bring transparency to bad actors.

What if the MLS is doomed?

PS: I’d love your comments on what else would have to happen in order to make MLS’ obsolete.

More discussion / reading on the topic: Notorious ROB & Inman Coast to Coast FB group.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Lee Jinks

    What if…. frogs had wings. Then they wouldn’t bump their butts so much.
    Well, if all this could happen, then you may be right, but overcoming all the obstacles make me think the chances are slim. So let’s say, all this did happen. Would the agent’s job really be all that different than it is today? I doubt it.

    • I don’t think an individual agent’s job would be that different either.

  • If you go about changing licensing law and eliminate the need for brokerages in every single state first…..

    Don’t forget the brokers. In our current system, agents can do nothing without them. And brokerages form MLSs. So what would Zillow have to become to pay agents directly…

  • Jim Klinge

    A review system (only visible to verified agents) existed to bring transparency to bad actors.

    Let’s make it public – the consumers deserve to know who the bad actors are. This would cleanse the marketplace in 6-12 months, and everything else would fix itself.

  • Zillow could pre-qualify non-paying agents and show them on each listing’s page under the current pay-to-play agents (Zillow’s cash-cow). Essentially, you’ve just reinvented Google’s search page with PPC listings first, and top-ranked organic listings beneath them. As long as the algorithm for organically ranking agents was fair, I’d argue it was a great new feature.

    • Define “fair” 🙂

      • Mark Lemon

        The simplest way to start would be to use the Zillow star rating already in place. Over time, Zillow progammers could scrape local top-rated agents from Google+, FB and Yelp reviews and build a better ranking algorithm (that you’d write about ;-). By not telling exactly how the algo worked, and tweaking it over time, Zillow would create their own version of Google SERPs for RE agents.

        That’s the easy part. The hard part is marketing it. Zillow could start out by encouraging non-paying agents to create a Zillow free account just for the chance to be shown for free on listings in their area. The top-ranked agents then become a warm list for Zillow marketing reps to call to convert into paying agents. In some cases, an agent’s name would show up twice on a page, both as paid and organic. This is big on Google, why not Zillow too?

        At the same time, Zillow marketing to the public shifts to “You found the perfect home on Zillow, now find the best local agent to work with!” This solves the problem for home buyers who don’t understand how to pick a good agent.

        Of course, all this needs to be tested. In the short term, it will eat into profits as pay-to-play agents get less leads from Zillow. However in the long term it gives Zillow a USP no other national brand except perhaps Google could match.

        • It seems the only consumers that actually interview/evaluate agents are those on the high end. I’m still skeptical that a “better” rating systems would change consumer behavior selecting agents.

          Have a read here –>

          There’s just too much noise/crap to wade through for most people. So they fallback to who they know. Maybe rank agents… but only show consumers agents who are in their “trusted network”.

          • Mark Lemon

            If reviews didn’t work, Amazon wouldn’t use them. Realtors aren’t toasters, but everything else being equal, more positive reviews makes a difference.

  • Mark Lemon

    IMO the problem for consumers isn’t the MLS. That only exists as a problem for start-ups who want a bite out of the commission checks. The problem is that the industry is designed so that bad agents also get commission checks. That IS bad for consumers. Fix it, and you’ve got a winning idea.

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