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Online real estate success depends on free info

Guest perspective: Broker pleads to nix pay-to-view fee

Imagine my chagrin when I received a phone call while out in the field showing property and my longtime repeat client asks me, "Lee, do you really want me to put my credit card number into your Web site so we can search for a home?" "No I surely don't! Please don't." And that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks that I had lost an element of control over my business that I had enjoyed for a great deal of time. For the last several years, I had been paying monthly for my local multiple listing service, known as the Real Estate Information Network, to provide hosting for my Web site. The big advantage was that a visitor to my site could view the entire MLS from my Web site. Now, after I have established the site and it's been up and working for several years, our local MLS has decided on its own without any input from minority shareholders like myself and many others that it will begin charging a nominal fee of $3.95 for one day or $4.95 for one month to view home listings through my...