I Could have Blogged all night…

by francine Hardaway on August 7, 2007

There’s so much to say today. In the real estate industry, my friend Steve Groves has written a post about the MLS. The MLS is that secret list of homes for sale that your Realtor used to have, and you used to wish you had.

Well, now you can have it. Many online real estate sites offer variants of the MLS listings. And they are not, as Groves points out, interactive or particularly useful. The Multiple Listing Service is the quintessence of one-way conversation. And yet the real estate professionals swear by it and guard it ferociously.

I’m a real estate semi-professional. That means I have been licensed for the better part of the last twenty years, although I really don’t buy or sell stuff except for myself. Every once in a while I will help a friend, but real estate transactions are now so complicated and fraught with liability for everyone in them that I try to keep that to a minimum.

I am, however, a technology professional, a full time geek-to-human translator. As a result, I know what a multiple listing service COULD be. It could be a component of a social network made up of real estate professionals, their title agencies, law firms, lenders, and –at times — clients. Notice I do not say “customers.” We learn in real estate school that because we have a fiduciary responsibility to the buyers and sellers we represent, they are actually clients.

As I commented on Steve’s blog, the MLS, like print journalism, is dead. Only it doesn’t know it yet. On this same day, I read on Tech Crunch that the San Francisco Chronicle laid off more of its business staff. That’s one day after the New York Times physically reduced the size of its paper.

Well, you can’t shrink your way to greatness, as every journalist and corporate executive knows. Newspapers are buying time to bring their online strategies current. And in the same way, Realtors had better bring their online strategies current. Although the Inman News SF Connect Conference last week was well-attended, the sheer numbers of Realtors out there compared to the 800 who attended shows that the attendees were a very small part of the profession.

For me, the future is fun to contemplate, so when I see industries in the middle of disruptive change it becomes fascinating to watch. Disintermediated once by the advent of desktop publishing in the late 80s, I will never be caught napping in the art department again. You haven’t lived until you have two kids in college, own a business, and have a big segment of that business “replaced by a machine.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

joshua strebel August 7, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Hey francine, I blogged on this same topic a few weeks ago after having it out with my realtor over the use of zillow.com


francine hardaway August 7, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Unbelievable that the MLS still exists.

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