CREA signals its long-closed MLS system may have to be opened up following concerns voiced by Competition Bureau

(Source: The Globe and Mail)

The real estate industry has managed to keep the MLS system closed to non-agents ever since the Internet made it possible for anyone with a dial-up connection to post listings online.

But the president of CREA has signalled the system will soon need to be thrown open to competitors to satisfy Canada’s Competition Bureau – giving consumers more choices on how to buy and sell homes and lowering costs as discount real estate brokers emerge and cut agents out of the process.

It’s a story that has already played out in the United States, as that country’s MLS offering has lost ground to online sites such as Yahoo Real Estate, Redfin [see below] and Zillow that take MLS listings and then beef them up with data on crime rates, school zones and video tours.

Read Steve Ladurantaye’s full article “Real estate industry weighs outsider listings access” in the Globe and Mail (November 2, 2009).

Time Magazine says the following about Redfin:

“Disintermediation — another SAT word whizzing around the Web — means removing the middleman, and that’s the strategy of real estate site Redfin, which aims to do to Realtors what travel sites have done to travel agents: eradicate them. Redfin provides the same information that real estate agents have in their computers, like price history, pictures and comparables. After you narrow your choice, the site provides a cut-rate real estate agent to help you close the deal. Sellers can use Redfin too. The loser in the deal is the traditional Realtor, who has been — all together now — disintermediated.”

Further Reading:

Redfin Turns Profitable, Real Estate Industry Shudders

The dominant multiple listing service

REDFIN.COM one of Time magazines 50 best sites for 2009

Competition Bureau acts to cut MLS fees

The Online Real Estate Information War — MLS v. The Public

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