Realtors cry foul over MLS criticism.

Misinformation and stereotypes are painting an inaccurate picture of real estate agents’ use of the Multiple Listing Service, according to Realtors.

“First of all there is no monopoly on access to the MLS,” said Ed Novack, real estate broker with Caldwell Banker in Toronto. “You don’t need to be a member of CREA to access the system, anyone can view it.”

Novack also took exception to comments that Realtors rely on exclusive use of the MLS to be able to collect from their clients, fees as much as 5 per cent.

“I would like to meet these Realtors who are regularly charging 5 per cent, because the typical fees are somewhere around 3 percent to 3.5 per cent and everything is negotiable,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.

The Realtor community yesterday expressed strong reactions concerning the MLS after MBN posted a story about brokers supporting the opening up of the MLS.

Novak said the public is “being fed misinformation and stereotypical portrayal” of Realtors mostly by business that stand to profit from the loosening of industry control over the MLS.

He pointed out that non-realtors are able to access the MLS and view information on listed properties on the site and their current selling prices.

“The only data that is not open to the public is the seller’s name and address and previous sales history of the property,” said Novack. “Because of privacy regulations and safety precautions we can’t make personal information public. As for other information such as area market prices, people can get this free from a lot other Web sites.”

“I believe data in the MLS should be considered proprietary information,” said David Larock, broker at The Mortgage Group – Integrated Mortgage Planner in Toronto. “The Realtors built the system and gathered the data, so they are within their rights to exercise control over it.”

Larock also disagrees with the assessment of other brokers that Realtors’ fees are heavily dependent on restricting access to the MLS.

“Top-notched Realtors are worth their weight in gold,” he said. “I don’t share the view that opening up the MLS will automatically result in a drop of Realtors’ commissions.”

He said Realtors assist clients with many aspects of a home buying or selling transaction that goes far beyond having a property listed in the MLS.

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