So for those that know me, know my last 10 years have been spent working in real estate technology, so I thought I’d spend time talking about how homes get on the internet in the first place and some common frustrations I’ve seen (from agents and home sellers) over the years.
First things first, the MLS. Now, I’m going to REALLY simplify this: MLS’ are a system of co-operation for people who practice real estate in some area. Those “people”, are typically registered real estate professionals (in Ontario this is 100% true) and the area is geographic region that usually makes sense (and in Ontario this is generally accurate). So without getting into all the history, (if you’re reading this I’m going to assume you can Google things like “history of the multiple listing service in north america”) and for the purposes of this post, just consider the MLS to be the “source of truth” or the starting point for homes (a.k.a. listings).
Fantastic you say, there’s a system in place for the co-operation of the people selling homes in my geographic area, that should make it much easier for people to find homes. BUT like most people you’ve got some portion who are resistant to change so along comes the internet and you’ve got some people going “great, let’s publish all this data!” and others going “oh no! not the data! we need to protect that at all costs”.
Now this is where the “Canada version” of this title comes into play. Sometime, say 15+ years ago, the MLS’ in the U.S. started allowing the data to be shared more freely through what is called “Internet Data eXchange” (IDX). Now this same thing started happening in Canada (somewhat forced by consumers but I like to think common sense played a role) about 5 years ago.. some software providers just started doing it to some degree and eventually the Toronto Real Estate Board did it properly on their end and other boards / MLS’ followed until now we have it being pretty common place.
However, from a consumers point of view, does anyone care?
Legit question I want to know, do you care? I’m guessing not because the industry as a whole kept pointing consumers to realtor.ca to search for homes because it was the one system that had all the data!
Now in true Canadian fashion we sort of leap-frog forward in our technology (we moved on to “tap to pay” before the U.S. finally mandated chip and pin..) and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) now offers a national data feed that brokers and sales representatives can tap into, provided their brokerage opts into the data pool.
What that means for home buyers is that you’re not strictly limited to realtor.ca to ensure you’re getting access to a large majority of the homes for sale and as a seller the exposure for your property is broadened significantly. This is a good thing for all parties.
I think it’ll take the appropriate amount of lag time before we really start seeing brokerage and agent websites as the primary destination for new home searches in Canada but I’m confident we’ll get there. I personally much prefer the experience on a local website over a national alternative (and not just for real estate), and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I focus mostly on allowing customers to perform their own home searches, but in reality there’s still a lot of value in having an qualified professional (*COUGH* me *cough*) assist with the search – the timeliness of data being the key factor there, especially in a crazy market. I started out by saying the MLS’ was the “source of truth” or point of origination for listings (homes) and so those systems all typically come with a tool that your sales representative or broker can set up to have homes emailed to you as soon as they’re entered / approved.
However you conduct your home search I just hope that at some point you’ll ensure you enlist the services of a qualified professional.. the largest single transaction of your life shouldn’t be entered into lightly. So give me a call today and let’s chat or send me a text or email and we can get together to discuss your specific needs.
Gordon J. Wallace, Sales Representative
RE/MAX Real Estate Centre Inc., Brokerage