The problem with MLS

The New York Times had an article on Monday that covers the many ways that traditional real estate commissions are under attack. The article starts with a couple of paragraphs about cousins' Christie Miller, 38, and Mary Clare Murphy, 51, who run - a website that takes real estate listings for $150 and makes them available online.

The article notes that the cousins' website draws more traffic than the traditional multiple listing service (MLS) sites controlled by real estate agents. Really? Having recently spent some time on several different MLS-backed sites I can see why. While I don't know the complete justification that folks use to convince themselves, it seems most MLS subscribers are more concerned about trying to acquire customers by trapping them on websites than providing information.

Sucking consumers in like they don't have choices is a very un-web thing to do. I most often want to look at real estate listings late in the evening and want good information. Provide a site with good information and I'll be there. Put hurdles in my path, preventing me from getting to the information I need and I'll go elsewhere until I find somebody who will make the information easy to access - and they'll get my business.