Council of MLS
Request for Comments "Real Estate Workshop"
America's MLSs are Making The Market Work... The Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) provides this paper as input to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and interested industry participants about the critical pro-competitive role of Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) in Making the Market Work.... The approximately 630 MLSs in the United States play a key role in the residential real estate industry. The history of MLS shows that MLSs facilitate adoption of new technologies and content distribution without prompting from regulators. MLSs are essential conduits powering the MLS function. MLSs also increase the availability of listing information to consumers and the brokers who serve them through distribution of data content across listings websites and mobile applications, and third-party websites and applications. This whitepaper addresses the following points: (1) MLSs play a pro-competitive role by facilitating cooperation between competing brokers and distributing listing data. MLSs strive to give recipients of data content-brokerages, appraisers, and those to whom listing brokers direct data content-as many choices as possible to receive as much standardized listing-related data content as possible. Consumers have myriad ways of accessing listing data thanks in large part to MLSs. (2) Listing data content represents valuable intellectual property of brokers and others. Listing data is not a byproduct of brokers' work; it is an integral part of their listing-selling business. State and federal law, including copyright and contract law, governs the listing data. (3) Broker and seller choice regarding distribution serves to protect the data content, listing brokers, and sellers. In addition to letting sellers and brokers control their own risk mitigation, leaving listing-distributions decisions with those parties is pro-competitive. (4) Past government efforts to regulate listing content distribution by MLSs have been limited in scope and effectiveness. While technology and industry changed, those regulations grew stale. The National Association of REALTORS and its affiliated MLSs have a history of embracing standards and expanding data uses, which benefit consumers' access and use of listing data. (5) Forced listing distribution via regulation would not be pro-competitive. It ignores broker and seller interests and risk, creates innovation-stifling bureaucracy, and does not promote market efficiency. Introducing third parties into existing listing data transaction streams often leads to decreased efficiency. (6) New regulation, if any, should center on leveraging the existing pro-competitive nature of MLSs by making public records more accessible, ensuring MLSs have complete listing databases, and understanding the impact of widespread technological regulations on the real estate industry, such as the repeal of net neutrality laws. MLSs are Making the Market Work....