By now almost anyone searching for a new home has used the MLS or heard the term “search the Minneapolis MLS”, but are you really looking at the real Minneapolis MLS? A quick Google reference with the term “search the Minnesota MLS” will reveal hundreds of pages that say things like MLS listings and so forth.
According to the Northstar Regional MLS, agent members cannot make this claim. Realtors are not allowed to say “search the Minneapolis MLS”. The MLS rule in place uses some of the following verbiage:
VIOLATION OF USE OF TERM “MLS” IN MEMBER FIRM NAME & WEB ADDRESS If a violation of Section 13 – For example, an agent buys and uses the URL MLS4U.com, a site that primarily promotes the agent’s business.
(By the way I did a Google search on the example the board gave above “mls4u.com” and it’s taken already and being used plus mls4u.org is also taken by a realtor in Oklahoma — they must not have the same rules?)
Technically, real estate web sites don’t allow you to search directly from the Minneapolis MLS; most real estate web sites use what is known as an IDX feed or Internet Data Exchange which pulls data from the Northstar Regional MLS.
So what’s the difference between Realtor web sites using an IDX search and the real MLS agent’s use? Mainly, the real MLS which requires you to be a licensed realtor (who pays dues to belong to the system) shows much more data and offers more home search parameters then the typical consumer oriented real estate website.
So What Does This Mean To The Home Buyer?
The main concern for the consumer is being able to search homes for sale in the area of their choice. Home buyers can still do that despite the MLS rules in place for brokers and agents. Most properties are listed on Realtor sites using an IDX feed although there could be a small number you cannot see. Your Realtor will be able to provide you with additional details such as days on market, recent sales of the subject property and other properties sold or active in the same area.
I Still See Web Sites That Say Search The MLS — What Gives?
The rule changes about the use of the term “MLS” funny enough did not include everybody. The Regional MLS board of governors has allowed exemptions for many real estate companies who are still allowed to use the term. Many of these real estate firms are large out of state companies whom now have been allowed a huge competitive advantage although they may not even be tax payers or members of a Minnesota Realtor Association at all. As an agent who loves using the internet to market my properties and help our clients, I have invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours building web sites for the consumer, I even own the domain name “Search The Minnesota MLS” .com which I owned prior to the rule change. I still pay a monthly fee to own the domain name but I am told I cannot use it. Although if I sold the domain name a company from another state could use it. I guess that makes sense right?
These changes were put in place in order to protect the consumer (?)…at least this was the basis of the claim. I believe most consumers out there are educated enough to know that the agent web sites are not going to carry the exact same access as a licensed Realtor is privy to.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Board of Realtors do an overall great job protecting both their members and consumers but in my opinion, the way they structured this MLS search rule left something to be desired. I wish someone could explain how giving out-of-state national companies and their own Realtor.com different rules than the every day Realtors who belong to the board and pay dues is protecting the consumer.
As a side note, when you go to www.DerrickMonroe.com you can search homes for sale using an IDX that pulls data from the MLS but we are “not the MLS” nor do we claim to be. We are simply licensed real estate agents in the Minneapolis area trying to help our clients and provide the best information we can without having “MLS” in our web URL.
If you need any help buying, selling or just have questions about real estate in any area of the Twin Cities feel free to contact The Derrick Monroe Group with Lakes Area Realty at 612-282-7653 anytime.