Tim Maitski of the Atlanta Report predicts that internet powerhouse Zillow might creep into the national scene to become a replacement for the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) operated by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
According to Maitski:
Zillow has the potential to be the standard national MLS system open and free to anyone and everyone. They just introduced a free listing system as a new feature. If they can entice a critical mass of people to put their listings into their system, then it will be a must for everyone who wants to sell a home.
I have a feeling they might have a hard time convincing all the Realtors to put their listings on there but their system is so easy to use that the sellers could very easily do it themselves. So the challenge to Zillow will be to try to become a household name. They seem to be getting a lot of free press lately so it might not be that difficult. In a few years if your home isn’t listed on Zillow it will be the same as someone without email or a cell phone.
I agree with Tim that the company with the best chance of succeeding with a national online MLS is Zillow. Over a year ago, I proposed creating a national online MLS. Since then, states like Maine have taken steps towards breaking down the NAR monopoly over MLSs, but the Zillow news is a breakthorugh.
I noticed earlier today that Zillow was now allowing realtors or homeowners to list their properties for sale. Since I’m currently selling one of my properties, I decided to give it a try and list on Zillow. It was very easy to do. The site is well planned out and the properties for sale addition will certainly raise the stakes for Zillow, but there are quite a few things which make me somewhat nervous. I’ll discuss the most important one, security.
The only security check to determine if you are the actual owner of the property is a dropdown list of names. You have to pick who the real owner of the property is, which takes 3 seconds to find out using public records. I could very easily just list a few homes for sale in my neighborhood on Zillow, theoretically raise the comparable prices for my property, then list my home and trick users into paying a premium. People believe what they see, which makes this “scam” an easy one. Trouble makers could easily game the system in its current form and harm innocent property owners.
At this point, it is still early in the process. Zillow could fix the security issues and other problems and grow to become a true giant – the National MLS. On the other hand, it might just continue to churn along, and sit amongst the crowd of other MLS coulda-beens. I guess we’ll soon find out!