M.L.S. Info on Web Sites Makes It a Whole New Real Estate World

Seattle–Real estate agents are offering information online for free on sites such as Seattle-based Zillow.com and Trulia.com because of the declining market–and it’s changing the entire home buying and selling process, the New York Times says.The era where sellers had to list their home with a broker in order to reach buyers is over; the U.S. now has about 900 multiple listing services.In the past, Web sites were often not allowed to show M.L.S. listings next to for-sale-by-owner homes, foreclosed properties or homes lacking agent representation. But while sites such as Zillow, ZipRealty and Redfin don’t have all the M.L.S. data, they feature more than ever before–and it’s enough to allow users to consider the sites “one-stop” shopping, according to the Times.“It’s a natural evolution of competition and what consumers want,” C. Robert Hale III, chief executive of the Houston Association of Realtors, told the Times. “The consumer wants to see everything.”However, not all real estate industry members are thrilled about the change. It means more competition in an already competitive market.The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have continuing enforcement actions against some M.L.S. providers that have attempted to withhold their listings from online competitors; some real estate sites, including Trulia.com, are afraid that adding for-sale-by-owner listings to their site will cause brokers to stop listing their properties.