Brokers moving forward with mysterious ‘big initiative’ to address MLS concerns

First phase of Realty Alliance project won't 'become evident' to public until 2014

Now that The Realty Alliance’s fall meeting is over, many in the real estate industry are eagerly awaiting the juicy details of the group’s “big initiative,” which is expected to have potentially disruptive consequences for multiple listing services and Realtor associations. Prepare to be disappointed.

The Realty Alliance’s board of directors and stockholders did indeed vote “yes” this week to take the next steps to advance the unspecified initiative, but the group has decided to remain mum on the particulars, Craig Cheatham, The Realty Alliance’s president and CEO, told Inman News.

Fortune teller image via Shutterstock.
Fortune teller image via Shutterstock.

“Those involved in the project affirmatively decided not to announce or discuss concepts or details about the initiative over the last couple of years. The Realty Alliance has chosen this week to remain in that mode for now and is hopeful our partners will continue that approach as well,” he said.

When asked when MLSs, agents or consumers would start to notice the first signs of the project, Cheatham said that “an initiative of any size and substance takes a long time and develops in phases,” but he anticipates the first phase will “become evident” in 2014 at the latest, though “what part of 2014 is impossible to predict at this point.”

The Realty Alliance first put the industry on notice about the initiative on Oct. 4, when Cheatham warned those attending the Council of MLSs (CMLS) conference that brokers had lost faith in the way the industry is set up and were prepared to do something about it. He declined to elaborate on that something at the time, except to say that it was a “big initiative” that had something to do with “real estate content” and would be “bigger than listings.”

Today, The Realty Alliance, which represents dozens of large brokerages across the country, noted that it has been working on this particular venture “over the last many months in concert with other networks and brands.”

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Even as the group voted to proceed with its initiative, Cheatham said the group’s member firms are hopeful that vendors, associations and MLSs will begin or continue “constructive dialogue” with brokers “to address — whether through examination of proper roles, adjustments in governance or healthy communication — the issues they have been on the record identifying for years.”

An initiative of any size and substance takes a long time and develops in phases.

These issues are outlined in a list of grievances that includes:

  • “Tying MLS participation with products/services that should be optional and go beyond the founding MLS principles (data, cooperation/compensation).”
  • “Creating and promoting public-facing listings advertising websites that compete with broker websites.”
  • “Forcing brokers to participating in and/or pay for the creation, maintenance and promotion of MLS public-facing websites.”
  • “Operating a public-facing listings website not in compliance with the ‘Fair Display’ guidelines.”
  • “Subsidizing associations by overcharging for MLS services and passing extra revenue to associations.”

“While many brokers of all sizes are feeling resigned to achieving resolution through local and/or national frameworks, our members refuse to stand by idly and accept where the current path leads. One way or another, those who have been working on this project will fight for the best for their agents, benefiting their customers and clients in the process,” Cheatham said.


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