Can MLS Public Portals Compete?

by | Mar 1, 2021 | MLS and NAR | 0 comments

In an article on, Carolyn Schwaar asked a question that is drawing a lot of attention these days. – “Can local MLSs launch public-facing listing portals that compete with the major home sites?”

Walt Baczkowski, CEO of the San Francisco Association of REALTORS®, which operates its own multiple listing service said: “I feel there’s a need for a site that isn’t going to charge or gouge members. We’ll never charge members to put their listing up, and we won’t accept advertising from REALTORS®, franchisers, or brokers.” Baczkowski believes the multibillion-dollar megasites are serving neither the consumer nor the agent. “If you search on Zillow or Trulia and find a listing that matches a consumer’s exact requirements, paid listings come up first. I don’t believe that’s right for the consumer. I don’t believe it’s right for the agent when another agent’s picture pops up next to his listing.”

As more companies profit from business models built around agent listing data, agent resentment grows, says Saul Klein. “I feel the discontent around the diverting of leads growing,” he says. “I think the industry is starting to wake up to that. I think brokers are starting to wake up.”

“To beat the aggregators in your own market, you’ve got to be better,” says Bob Hale, CEO of the Houston Association of REALTORS®. It’s a difficult task in most markets, but Houston’s robust listing site,, attracts more unique visitors per month than Zillow, Trulia, and®, Hale says. The key to its No. 1 ranking, Hale notes, “is ensuring that brokerages work with the MLS to build the best product.”

The full article makes for a good read —



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