Today's Realty Alliance meeting could shed more light on brokers' beef with MLSs

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Real estate industry leaders will be keeping a keen ear out today for news coming out of The Realty Alliance’s fall meeting, on the heels of warnings from the big brokerage network that it’s putting MLSs and Realtor associations on notice.

Although some laughed off a warning by The Realty Alliance CEO Craig Cheatham to MLS executives that “you’ve got 10 days” to address member grievances, real estate technology consultant Gregg Larson warns not to take Cheatham’s “warning of a perfect storm brewing lightly.”

Larson says The Realty Alliance and some other large brokers and franchises “have invested money in R&D on a project that could dramatically affect MLS” and that “technology is not a hurdle.”

Larson has posted a list that of 46 specific things MLSs do that can rankle members, which he says Cheatham distilled from 48 pages of gripes he’s collected from brokers. There’s also a list of some “general attitudes” brokers find troublesome, such as “thinking of the MLS as a service to consumers instead of a business-to-business enterprise.”

Bob Bemis, who used to run one of the biggest MLSs in the country before putting in a stint at Zillow as the company’s point man with MLSs, blogs that the “issues run far deeper than MLS public websites or white-labeled iPad apps. The main issues for (The Realty Alliance) are fundamental disagreements with the way MLSs and Realtor associations are structured, not how they’re managed.”

If The Realty Alliance is planning to pull out of Internet Data Exchange (IDX) — the system that lets brokers publicize each other’s listings on their websites — and build their own “quasi-MLS” — as MLS vendor Greg Robertson says he’s heard, Robertson thinks they’ll be in for a rough ride.

If it goes down that path, Robertson blogs, Realty Alliance’s member brokers will “lose a ton of talented agents,” its “quasi-MLS” will fail,  and it “will have to go back to … local MLS providers with your tail tucked between your legs.”

Brian Boero, another industry consultant who says he’s been an advocate of “MLS activism,” sees it as a good thing that  “tension that has built along the broker/MLS fault line for years” will soon “find its release.”

That’s because if “we wish to see a better, more profitable, more progressive real estate business, something needs to change,” Boero writes on the 1000watt blog. “We can’t have all the same people doing all the same things forever if we are to get to where we proclaim we want to go. So when some industry people get pissed, when other industry people get nervous, I get excited. Because it means we are moving.”