The Listing Shell gameWhere are those listings?

RLS – HREO – MLSLI – Trulia …

Why is this worth discussing? Because things are not necessarily as they seem.

This is complicated, folks.  I won’t be surprised if you lose interest in this post before it’s done.

As we recently posted in and REBNY, along with our friends at Sellsius and others, The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), recently chose Trulia to create a public web portal for the REBNY Listing System (RLS).  This new portal will not be bringing MLS to Manhattan. MLS already exists in Manhattan, only many people don’t know it, because most of the major brokerages in the NYC market are not members.

This new REBNY website will be in competition with which is the public portal for all MLS listings nationwide, just like is in competition with in the Hamptons.

If you’ve ever searched, you would see that only about 10% of the listings in Manhattan and the Hamptons are there. Why? Because the major players in the market have resisted MLS from the beginning in both markets.

The reasons that I have heard over the years are as follows:

1-  The listings  are unique and won’t be served by the traditional listings systems.

2- The NAR and Long Island Board of Realtors don’t understand how we do business. They can’t do anything for us.

3- We don’t want to share our listings with “those up-island brokers”. What do they know about our area?

4- If they have our listings, they’ll come and sell them, then we’ll have to share the commission.

5- Those associations have all those rules that don’t make sense here.

For years the public portal for the Hamptons has been Hamptons Real Estate Online (, a privately-held company which brokerages can join to post their listings as a web-based marketing vehicle.  HREO has done a great job bringing all the Hamptons listings together into one place.  While MLS membership has been steadily growing on the East End of Long Island for the past few years, it has primarily taken hold on the North Fork and in the western areas of the Hamptons, namely Hampton Bays and Westhampton. 

Although MLS membership on the South Fork, from Southampton to Montauk, has been growing as well, the larger brokerages have yet to embrace MLS. 

Prudential was the first major brokerage on the East End to bring MLS to the market. While they do use it for most of their listings on the North Fork and west of the canal,  only a percentage of their listings from Southampton to Montauk are on the service. Also interesting is that two of the majors have signed their offices up to MLS that are west of the Shinnecock Canal and on the North Fork.  Why not the rest of their Hampton offices?  Transparency may have something to do with that, both in Manhattan and the Hamptons.  MLS systems provide information to its members such as market share, days on market, and exclusive expiration dates. 

Some existing East End LIBOR and MLS members are up in arms over the fact that the larger firms have “cherry-picked” the markets, or segments of markets, where they have joined MLS.   MLS members get access to all of the listings that are on MLS.  So now those firms have access to all the MLS listings info, but aren’t contributing all of their own listings to it.  Sure, they’ll put their Hampton Bays and North Fork listings on, but not Southampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, etc.   The rules used to be that members were required to have all of their offices and all of their agents as members of the MLS and the board. Has that changed?

Also, being a member of an MLS requires you to be a Realtor, which requires membership to a National Association of Realtors-affiliated state association; here in Eastern Suffolk that means you are either a member of The Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR) or The Hamptons and North Fork Realtors Association (HANFRA).  As a member of one of those associations, we pledge to abide by the Realtor Code of Ethics.

Most of the brokerages on the East End have, in fact, joined a Realtor organization in recent years.  They are members of LIBOR or HANFRA. 

Interestingly enough, the major brokerages in the Hamptons and Manhattan that have offices in other markets are members of MLS in those markets, including sister-market Palm Beach.

I suppose that all of this points to progress, yet there is so much more to accomplish before these markets arrive at “transparency”. Maybe they’ll just hold on long enough to outlive transparency as the “thing to which to aspire”…?

Here are some sites that might provide insight to the topic:

Trulia Press Release

REBNY website

Manhattan Board of Realtors Website (MBOR)