What do Spokane, Missoula Montana, and Medford Oregon have in common? They are all part of the first 100 MLS organizations to participate in the RPR (Realtor Property Resource) national database in the Northwest. Sadly missing are the big two MLS's that dominate the marketplace, NWMLS in Washington and RMLS in Oregon.
Why, you might ask?
Politics, Power, and Control. Surprised?
If this were about the best thing for the consumer it would be a no-brainer. The resources and data the RPR will bring to the consumer is obvious. The level of control that the various multiple listing services may loose is what is in question. And that is why the traditional brokerages are digging in their heels and saying NO! NO! NO! in hopes that the consumer will still keep coming back to them because they will still control the information flow, even if it's not detailed or robust.
Don't get me wrong. I still think consumers are WAY BETTER OFF using a seasoned, competent, and well-educated Broker over the newly licensed or discount-volume-focused Broker. But it's no longer about who controls the information and data. Those days are gone and Brokers will need to earn their commissions from now on. It's the Broker's knowledge of local markets, real estate law, and their broad range of knowledge in construction, architectural, zoning laws and regulations, as well as knowledge in other related fields that set them apart and offer value that justifies the fees they charge.
It seems like it would be obvious that the NWMLS would be anxious to offer the valuable RPR data to the public and it's REALTOR member base. After all, the majority of the Broker-owners are REALTORS! But the fear of loosing control of the information flow far outweighs the benefits to members and consumer in their eyes.
It's my hope that the media and pubic will put pressure on the brokerages who control the MLSs to do the right thing and participate in RPR and embrace in the spread of information through technology, rather than cower from it.
UPDATE: RPR has launched as of today (Sept 16, 2010). However they are not allowing access to REALTORS unless their MLS is a participating member, which the NWMLS is not.