Once Again, Real Estate Professionals Go To War Against The Web

from the gotta-protect-those-margins dept

Last month, popular real estate site Zillow was enjoined from operating in Arizona because the site didn't have an appraiser's license. The action was a pretty bald-faced move by the state's real estate appraisers to keep a potentially disruptive service from messing with their business. It looks like another similarly disruptive real estate service, Redfin (which allows people to buy and sell houses at a fraction of a broker's typical fees), is under attack in Washington. Real estate brokers are upset about a Redfin-sponsored blog that allows non-brokers to post reviews of properties that appear in the area's Multiple Listing Service, a database that brokers use to get information on properties. Access to the database is limited to registered participants, which Redfin is. But one of the rules is that brokers are given the sole right to manage their marketing campaigns, and the brokers aren't happy that Redfin lets outsiders post housing reviews. The situation is a little different than the Zillow case in that it's the MLS that's threatening to revoke Redfin's access to the service rather than an official state agency. However, because the real estate industry operates as a state-blessed oligopoly, the MLS' threat basically carries the full force of the government. Because Redfin can't afford to lose its access to the database, the site has removed the offending blog. Chalk it up as another victory for professional organizations and their constant efforts to keep disruptive tech services at bay.

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  1. icon
    The Dukeman (profile), 19 May 2007 @ 4:54am

    the issue is...

    The reason the MLS is trying to oust Redfin is the fact that they are undercutting "Real Estate Agents'" commissions. They charge a much lower flat rate instead of the standard 6% agent's fee. In fact they rebate (except when not allowed to do so by local laws) any amount above their standard fee when paid the 3% from the other party's agent. It makes the agents that charge full price look too greedy. Of course they want them out!

    From the consumer's point of view the standard 6% rate hasn't decreased, even though home prices have escalated over the past few years. That's a big pay raise for the agents, with no more services provided. Agents' associations are fervently trying to get Redfin and similar internet based real estate services regulated out of business. Sadly, they may well succeed. It is now up to consumers to make sure their government representatives don't make this happen.

    Go Redfin!

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