By: Cindy Miller
At the recent National Association of REALTORS meetings in Orlando, an interesting debate arose in the the MLS Policy Committee meeting centered around defining of “basic” services for an MLS. The proposal being brought forth was to add Lockbox services as a basic service, which ultimately was sent back for further study and a possible review of how NAR defines “core”, “basic” and “optional” services of an MLS.
“Core” services reflect the defining purpose of an MLS – providing current listing information and a means to communicate compensation to potential cooperating brokers. These services date back to the original Multiple Listing Service before it was defined as such – Broker A sharing information about property he knew was for sale with Broker B who might have a purchaser for that property.
NAR defines “basic” services that an MLS may provide on a discretionary basis as things such as sold and comparable information and tax information, mortgage information, amortization schedules and statistical information. These services may be provided on a blanket basis for all users.
Additionally, an MLS may offer “optional” services that may be made available to users, but a user cannot be required to participate in or pay for, such as Lockboxes and advertising.
While the central debate was over reclassifying of LockBox services, the point was made that perhaps we need to redefine all of these categories. Is sold and comparable information now a “core” service that every MLS provides or should provide? Currently, even though NAR policy requires an MLS to provide Internet Display (IDX) to all Participants, it is not defined in this policy as even a “basic” service. With advances in electronic delivery of information and the demand from consumers for information, is Internet Display (IDX) now a “core” service?
As staff of a Regional MLS, I would caution that we be careful about blurring the distinction of some services; for example, in our region, Lockboxes and Electronic forms are delivered as Association services, though the MLS provides deep linking to facilitate the use of these services – if redefined as an MLS core service, does that delivery shift?
What do you think? The MLS Policy Committee will be pondering these issues over the next few months and it will be interesting to see how much feedback they get and what possible changes may be proposed.