Lockbox debate ignites larger feud over role of the MLS

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What started out as a proposed rule change to allow multiple listing services and Realtor associations to charge members for providing lockboxes as a "basic" service -- regardless of whether they used them or not -- has morphed into a broader debate over the role of MLSs. Should MLSs operate public-facing websites that allow not only member brokers and agents, but members of the public, to search for listings? Should MLSs provide services to agents -- like agent websites, comparative market analyses (CMAs) and "paperless" transaction management systems -- that some brokers say they can provide to their agents themselves? And if MLSs decide to provide such services, should they be allowed to require that all of their members pay for them -- even those who choose not to use them, or are opposed to them being provided in the first place? A number of MLSs already provide a range of services that some brokers say go beyond what the National Association of Realtors has defined as...