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MLS: What’s in store

At Inman this week, there was much discussion focusing on the future of MLS. A heated topic, the panels buzzed with questions and speculation. What is the role of MLS in the future? Can there be a national MLS? Should there be a national MLS?

When asked about his prediction, Craig (Oodle’s CEO) suggested it’s highly likely that there will be one of two outcomes: 1) there will be minor incremental change (which is what’s happening now) or 2) some seismic change will force dramatic change overnight (forcing MLSs to change or die). Over a five year span, I’d bet on the latter. Big things are happening with respect to listings are owned and distributed. Big brokers such as Realogy are now syndicating their listings data directly to online services. Others are likely to follow.

It’s time for consumers to weigh in

It seems a trend is afoot to get consumers to speak up about what they know. From whether or not a realtor is truly a top producer or whether or not dogs bark at night on a high-end street, consumers are being asked to share their knowledge. On one of the Inman panels today, two interesting start-ups unveiled their sites: Street Advisor and Home Thinking (www.streetadvisor.com and www.homethinking.com). Street Advisor, which has launched in 26 countries, wants people to “let the world know what you really think about your street.” It collects information on everything from “streetvibe” aka atmosphere to “street health” aka cleanliness. Homethinking lets consumers write reviews on agents.

We find this trend interesting. If sites like these are successful, consumers will have access to new and valuable information to help inform their purchase decisions. We hope that the industry will embrace these new services as we find them complementary to the MLS, brokerage houses and agents. For example, if a realtor is good, then getting a positive rating from an outside company would help to validate his/her reputation. And, if buyers get the skinny on neighborhoods before they start shopping, they’ll be even more qualified as they tour homes with an agent (or better still the agent could use a site like streetadvisor to learn the ins and outs of every street).

Inman Real Estate Connect Kicks Off

I enjoyed the start of the Inman Real Estate Connect this afternoon. I always look forward to this show. It’s a great crowd — a mix of thought leaders in both the real estate industry and high-tech.

In his opening, Brad Inman cited two big backdrops for the conference: increasingly difficult market conditions & an unprecedented level of technical innovation for the real estate market. He believes tough market conditions will lead the real estate industry into aggressive adoption of new technologies and business practices.

Brad did a nice job with the panels. He got some good lighthearted sparring between Rich Barton (Zillow) and Dale Stinton (National Association of Realtors) then between Pete Flint (Trulia) and Russ Capper (Prudential Real Estate).

More tomorrow…

Blog On, Real Estate Folks

We’ll be blogging live for the next few days about things we find interesting from the Inman Real Estate Connect show. Appropriate perhaps that our first post is on blogging… In real estate, blogging is no longer simply a fun playground for Technorati, it’s an industry. As testament to this, Inman dedicated a section of this year’s San Francisco conference to blogging and blog networking. Last night, two beer bashes hosted by Trulia and Zillow, were packed with hundreds of real estate bloggers. Whereas three years ago, most people did not even what blogging was, yesterday Realtors were proudly boasting information about their respective blogs, quoting numbers about monthly unique visitors and one woman even sported a t-shirt with the URL for her blog proudly plastered across the front. Now that’s marketing!

So, why all the fuss? It’s about the eyeballs. Real estate professionals ranging from realtors to staging folks are leveraging blogs to market their wares. In short, they’re finding that blogs drive qualified leads. As Sheldon Johnston a blogger/Realtor from Edmunton shared, “I had a guy send me a contract saying that he wanted us to represent him. I said- what a sec’- I don’t know much about your property and if we’re the right people. He responded- no that’s cool. I know what you do. I’ve seen your blog.” Here’s some examples of the fun blogs and bloggers, of we met yesterday:

Rain City Guide, Dustin Luther: All things real estate, Seattle, http://www.raincityguide.com/

Get Staged to Sell, Nickie, Staging Company, Los Angeles http://www.getstaged2sell.com/stageblog

Edmunton Real Estate, Sheldom Johnston & Sara MacLennan, http://www.edmontonrealestateblog.com

It’s great to see so much momentum around blogging!

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