There has been a lot of controversy over the years about the MLS® and if it should be an open database to the public. It was created for Realtors® and paid for through their dues so it belongs to them. But I understand most of the arguments saying that Realtors® have a monopoly over the information. In the past, this may have been true to some extent, but with the speed of technology and information, that argument, in my opinion, is dead.
First of all, most buyers and sellers today have just as much information as Realtors® do. The only thing they don’t have access to are changes to the data on MLS®. Everyone knows what a home is listing for, and with very little effort, the general public can find out what homes have sold for. The issue is that everyone wants everything yesterday and are not willing do the research, so calling a Realtor® and asking them to look online is fast and easy. I am completely fine with that.
I do not agree with letting anyone that is not a licensed Realtor® have access to the back end of the MLS®. If anyone could post properties online then the MLS® simply becomes another database with no accountability. You could theoretically put anything online and people would believe it to be true.
Let’s use an example. John sells his home for $400,000. His home should have sold for much more, but he has financial issues and had to unload it before the bank got the keys. John is well known and part of many local committees so instead of posting the true sale price, he ads $80,000 and posts a sale price of $480,000 instead of $400,000 just to save face. Just that lie compromises the integrity of the MLS®. Banks, governments, insurance companies, appraisers, other Realtors®, buyers, and sellers rely on accurate information every minute of every day. John is not accountable and really doesn’t care. Realtors® face heavy fines and the possibility of losing their licenses if they did something like this.
The MLS® is for the general public and is a great tool, only because Realtors® enter accurate information in the back end for everyone to use in the front end.