The South Fork of the East End of Long Island is currently in a listing database crisis with no clear end in sight.

Much of the region has adopted the use of the Long Island Board of Realtors MLS listing database, after many years of using archaic, home-grown listing systems that acted as a barrier to entry for the brokerages listings in the area.  But the South Fork, otherwise known as the Hamptons, where most of the highest priced listings exist has not adopted wide use of that MLS system.

You see, not just any real estate agent can bring a buyer to a listing based on “the rules”. Brokers, and their agents, need to have what is called a “co-broke” or co-brokerage agreement with the listing broker in order to be able to have one of their agents “show”, or represent a listing to one of their customers or clients (that’s a whole ‘nuther can of worms)


So, to make a long story even longer…Zillow bought the local listing system HREO/RealNet used by most of the brokers here for nearly 20 years. RealNet charged very expensive entry fees to it’s system, which kept many of the small brokerages out. They also required brokerages to have a physical office on the East End in order to buy in to the system. And brokers that used RealNet only allowed other brokers that used RealNet to show their listings…protecting the Goose and keeping out all those “up-Island” brokers from selling their listings and making commissions.  It’s kind of like an exclusive club.

So, Zillow bought RealNet and after a year, closed it down replacing it with OutEast, which is basically a rebranded Zillow consumer facing website which has little to none of the technology needed to deal with the internal needs of the brokerages to manage their data (search, do cart selections for customers, create competitive market analysis of homes, etc) and the brokers that have not made the transition to LIBOR MLS are in a tizzy because they have lost “control” of their data and their listings. Needless to say, this is quite the topic of conversation among the agent community.

Thing is, a perfectly usable, local MLS system that was customizable and allowed the brokers to set up their own rules around membership, dues, sharing of listings, etc was presented to the brokerages nearly 10 years ago through HANFRA, the Hampton and North Fork Realtors Association, but just because it was called an “MLS” by name, they were untrusting and unable to agree to put it into use.  You see, MLS has been a dirty word here out of fear of losing control of the Golden Goose.

This is all part of the behind-the-scenes rule making that protects the brokerages and their agents…ie: fiduciary, representation, co-brokerage, client vs. customer, etc.  Yes, it’s complicated. But it shouldn’t be.

And here the brokers are…in crisis. With no clear end in sight…in a very soft market.