The MLS gold rush

Commentary: Industry doesn't know what listings data is worth

In 1848 gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevadas, then a part of Mexico, but soon to become California. From every corner of America, people abandoned livelihoods, hometowns, and even families to become newly minted prospectors and strike it rich by finding the "Mother Lode."

Today, with multiple listing services sitting on top of their own little data "gold mines," companies are practically falling over themselves to help us prospect it. As nice as it is for any company to find money, MLSs face some critical questions that should be answered before trying to cash in.

First, what is MLS data worth? Second, what other markets might be interested in buying MLS data analytics? And finally, do we lose control of the ability to sell MLS data ourselves if we allow middlemen de facto control of the MLS data market?