Can Agents Live Without the MLS?

by Stephanie Sims

can-you-live-without-the-mlsAccording to CNBC, on average, there are 35,000 agents who advertise on Zillow, and they spend an average of $269 a month. But in Houston, listing with HAR.com and the MLS is the way to go – these listings are updated every 15 minutes and are 100 percent accurate, says Danny Frank, chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR).

“Why put a listing on Zillow, which has less Web traffic than HAR.com does?” Frank asks. “Anywhere else, Zillow might get more traffic, but not in Houston. Zillow might have more listings, but in reality, 99.9 percent of those are double or triple listings. I’ve never paid Zillow or Trulia a dime because the way I market my properties and promote my brand, I can spend the same amount on HAR and Google and get better results.”

According to ComScore.com and Hitwise, HAR “dominates” every city in Texas when it comes to homebuyers searching for homes.

“For 28 years, I’ve operated in this market, which is a fairly sophisticated and progressive environment, and I can’t imagine an agent who doesn’t use the MLS if they expect to make a full-time living,” Cheri Fama, an agent with John Daugherty, Realtors, says.

HAR’s MLS is the most accurate, most searched site for homebuyers. The short answer to the question, “Can agents live without the MLS?” is no – HAR.com is still, by far, the easiest way to get the highest number of homebuyers to look at a listing, and is the most trusted listing site in Houston; agents can make changes to their listings, including remove them or edit the price, and HAR.com will update with changes every 15 minutes. That being said, in Houston, advertising anywhere else – Zillow, Trulia or even signage or print ads – seem to be done only to supplement agents’ marketing efforts on the MLS.

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  • Mark McNitt says:

    We need our local MLS and HAR.com. It feeds the listings to the other sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Homes and Realtor.com just to mention a few so we as Realtors get the best of both. And I can choose to pay a fee to enhance my listings on these sites if I feel it is important to me and my sellers. Smaller markets it might be better to do this, but not in Houston. You forgot to also consider research we do for our clients (buyers or sellers). Don’t think it would be possible on these other sites.

  • Charlotte Leach says:

    It is a necessary tool for any realtor, must have it!

  • Jake says:

    B.S. other comments. This is not such a bad article. If buyers had the ability to do the research they would do it a lot more often, but the Houston association of realtors is like the mafia over real estate. They have effectively kept information away from the public so that they can do all the “research” for them. In this day and age-this info should be available to everyone via the internet-but the har mafia’s job’s depend on it- this is why a seller has to shell out at least 30,000 for a 500 thousand dollar house when selling his own house via a realtor.

  • Eric says:

    Many times the content I find on this topic makes me feel sptiud. Thank you for making your material interesting and easy to understand. I feel smarter and more open-minded just from reading your article.

  • Bonnie says:

    I disagree, HAR is NOT the mafia over real estate. This is a service maintained by Realtors and, as in any other business, a service performed is due compensation. Realtors pay a mandatory, ongoing fee to belong to an MLS system. Realtors do all the data entry input in order to keep the database updated. Furthermore, Realtors are held to a stringent standard during this process and are charged with fines for any infraction that would compromise the accuracy of this database. Other entities depend on this database (i.e. appraisers & lenders). Without Realtors, acting as the workhorse, keeping the database updated &accurate, the housing industry would NOT function the way it does and property values would be in a state of flux

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