An opening post at a new real estate wiki site borrows heavily from the U.S. Constitution in promoting an open discussion about the future of multiple listing services.
“We the Members of the United Listing Services, in Order to form a more perfect Union, better serve our clients, and promote the sale and efficiency of the real estate markets in which we participate, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United Listing Services,” according to an item at the Future of MLS Wiki site.
“There are some interesting parallels to the drafting and creation of our country to this,” said Michael Wurzer, creator of the wiki site and president and CEO for North Dakota-based FBS Data Systems, an MLS vendor. Wurzer also maintains the FBS blog, which focuses on MLS issues.
When the nation’s forefathers assembled to hash out the content of the Constitution, people of disparate mindsets and different states came together to find common and unifying principles, he noted. Various MLS regionalization efforts and groups that are discussing plans for statewide and even national changes in the structure of the MLS have elevated the urgency of the discussion by industry participants, Wurzer said, adding that he hopes the wiki will bring more stakeholders to the table.
“Let’s make a little bit of the discussion public and more transparent, so other people can weigh in. More voices make more truth, as a general matter,” Wurzer said.
A wiki item states that the purpose of the site “is to create an opportunity for those interested to discuss and collaborate on the core issues facing real estate agents, brokers, MLSs and associations (local, regional and national) … the need for this discussion is acute. The Web presents both the need and opportunity to define the future of real estate.”
Wurzer is an active participant in the effort to establish data standards for the real estate industry to simplify data transfer among a variety of systems — he has served on a governance committee for the Real Estate Transaction Standard, a National Association of Realtors-initiated effort that will soon be governed by a new entity called the Real Estate Standards Organization.
And despite his participation in RETS — which is very relevant to MLSs and MLS regionalization efforts across the country — he said he is largely in the dark about an NAR-created MLS Future presidential advisory group that is studying the feasibility for creating a national real estate data repository, also known as the “gateway.” Such a system could have important repercussions for MLSs, he said.
“There is sort of this elephant in the room with this gateway. I’m on the governance committee for RETS. I think I should know more of what that is about. There is a lack of information or discussion about the gateway, yet there is this potential huge thing coming down the pipe. What is it and how is it going to be structured?” he said. By contrast, the RETS community is “wide-open … all you have to do is show up and speak up,” he said.
Wurzer said he has worked to bring important MLS discussion topics to the forefront through the MLS blog, and he has encouraged more entries about the MLS Future group’s progress and about a California effort to study the potential for a statewide MLS or unified real estate database.
It’s up to the industry to decide which direction to take the MLS, Wurzer said.
“What are the common principles that we believe in? What’s going to work for the consumer here on that broad scale? It’s not about technology. It’s that willingness to agree with each other on some fundamental principles — literally to draft a constitution … that people can agree on.” He’s hoping that the Future of MLS Wiki will be the platform to address such weighty topics.
The wiki site is fairly bare-bones at the moment, and Wurzer said he’s hoping to add more meat to its content and to make the site more user-friendly.
Wurzer makes no secret of his vested interest in the MLS industry. “I’ve never hidden this fact that we’re a for-profit company,” he said. And any discussion about creating a single, unified MLS is a worry, he added. “Moving from 700 MLSs to one — that’s a little bit concerning. We would like to participate in that conversation and our clients would really like us to participate in that conversation.”