San Francisco Multiple Listing Service
Two months ago, a tipster let us – and our “plugged in” readers – know that the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service (San Francisco Association of Realtors MLS) would be eliminating direct public access to listings “sometime soon.” That time is now four weeks away (January 1, 2007).
And while we might not agree with the primary motive of the SFAR (to establish individual brokerages/agents as a consumers first point of contact), we’re not overly concerned with the action. Innovative brokerages will offer publicly available MLS search tools which far exceed the features, functionality and usability of the current SFAR MLS tools. In fact, they already do. And they’re just going to get better. (More on this soon)
Perhaps our real concern should be for the MLS itself. Without some innovative thinking about how to effectively open it up on the front end (i.e., reducing the cost/restrictions of adding/sharing listings), its years could be numbered. (Cue the growing number of alternative listing and non-MLS based real estate search tools.)
Sorry NAR, But No [SocketSite]
San Francisco Multiple Listing Service []

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Dude

    I believe the DOJ is currently reviewing an anti-trust case against the NAR in their use of the MLS. NAR tried to have it dismissed (unsuccessfully) so the days of the traditional MLS could be numbered in more ways than one.

  2. Posted by eddy

    All this will do is make sites designed to circumvent Realtors even more popular. And no, I’m not talking about the joke that is…. Looking forward to hearing Socket’s review of the alternatives for Local housing competing MLS services.

  3. Posted by tipster

    Oh thank god they will put that site to sleep before the realtors hack away all useful vestiges of information. They took the DOM off a long time ago, and recently the auto-e-mails stopped listing the address so you couldn’t search your e-mail to identify the DOM or price reduction history by searching your e-mail.
    It’s turning into a design by committee. The various realtors just keep hacking away at it to eliminate all but the rosy glow that the realtors want to paint on every home, eliminating the last vestiges of their credibility, and making most of us wonder why we should use someone whose interests are aligned against our own in the first place.
    The realtors would counter that if I don’t buy, they don’t make a dime, but that doesn’t address the fact that what they really want is for me to overpay. It’s problems with the system that keep a lot of people out of the market.
    The public access website, when it used to have actual information, allowed me at least some belief that I had *some* information. Without the various independent web sites, I wouldn’t have any, and in situations like that, I try to stay away from doing any more transactions than I need to.

  4. Posted by Anonymous

    The information that you find on redfin or other sites all derives from the MLS, so if the feed to those sites from the MLS takes out the DOM or other info, you’re STILL not going to get all the information you want on your own. You still need to use a realtor — out of thousands in the state, surely there are a few who will look out for your interests and give you all the information you ever wanted.

  5. Posted by r

    SocketSite…you’ve not mentioned the lengthy negotiations that have been on going for some time to combine many MLS in the region and the ‘rough road’ that has been. In fact I believe several MLS services have pulled out of those negoitations and SF may be one with a wish to not have the ‘public access’ to the info. Can you do some fact searching for us?

  6. Posted by mls should be open

    MLS is a great resource and it should be open. I’m for a more educated buyer since a home/property is a major purchase. I think the realtors are looking to work for their commission and provide better customer service given that the market is softer. On the otherside, I’m not surprise to find the industry may collude together to protect the commission structure.

  7. Posted by garrett

    i had a long talk with the president of the board of the san francisco association of realtors who also happens to be on the MLS committee. he had some compelling arguments as to why the MLS will eliminate the public access. keep in mind, if you have a relationship with somebody that DOES have access, they can set you up on a search so that you can get any and all MLS info.

  8. Posted by wayne

    I will miss the mls public site. I don’t care that I can’t tell how long something has been on the market, as I check it often enough to know what is selling and what doesn’t, as well as what things appear to sell for. What I do care about is having to in the future of going through a realtor website that no doubt will ask for my information to get the so-called free informaiton. I could care less about building a relationship with a realtor just to keep my eye on the market.

  9. Posted by Lori

    I just signed up for It still doesn’t reveal the broker’s comments, which of course are the most telling about a property, but it does tell me how long a property has been on the market, which is more than MLS was currently giving me. I can also see what properties are in escrow. At least I won’t go into withdrawal on January 1.

  10. Posted by Cece Blase

    As an SF Realtor, I’m surprised (and sort of relieved) that there isn’t more sniping from the public over SFAR shutting down public access to the MLS.
    I personally think it’s a little dopey and paranoid for the Association to make this move. But I also appreciate and empathize with those in my profession who feel the public should go through one of the Realtor sites.
    FYI: not all sites that offer public feeds to the MLS are going to require you to reveal personal information. I’m fairly certain that most of the major brokerages offer easy access to information on available properties.
    An additional FYI: CleanOffer does require you to opt-in to working through a particular agent. This is because CleanOffer makes selling prices available to the public. (I know you can get that dope from Zillow or Trulia, but rules are that access to selling price information through the MLS is limited to Realtors and their clients)

  11. Posted by sfboyxxxx

    There is this new brokerage website that has all these – MLS listings, DOM information, property descriptions, pictures, etc. Not one these, but it has lots of school information, housing trends statistics, and open house information. It is also very easy to use and and you can do all these without having to register.
    You can of course go to these traditional brokerage sites, such as or to search for homes, but they are more difficult to use.

  12. Posted by MysteryRealtor

    Let us all not forget that the Multiple Listing Service is not public property. It was created, and is run by and for Realtors, not the general public. It is from my yearly dues which I pay to be a Realtor in good standing which pays for it’s administration.
    Every discount brokerage is trying to “bust open” the MLS. The fact is, it is the private database of a trade organization.

  13. Posted by Rib

    You got that right MR. The less our customers know, the better.

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