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‘Open MLS’ initiative poorly conceived

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A statewide multiple-listing system that offered information to the public could be a good idea. But an "open MLS" proposal that's surfaced in Maine is chock-full of provisions that should give the state's Realtors plenty of cause to fight it and the state's voters ample reason to reject it. The initiative would ask voters whether they "want the state (1) to recognize the operator of a privately operated directory of homes for sale and rent that is freely viewable by anyone and that accepts listings by real estate agents and homeowners and (2) to require agents to list homes in this directory when clients so request." Voters may wonder why the state should "recognize" one MLS operator when multiple sources of information about for-sale properties are already available or if so, why the state should create a competitive advantage -- the requirement that agents must list homes in this particular directory upon the seller's request -- for the "recognized" operator to the detriment of oth...