“MLS hasn’t failed, I just think it’s … an organized bureaucracy,” says Carl Langschmidt, the agent behind such MLS sites as MrLoft.ca
. “They’re never going to be on the cutting edge of technology. You’re never going to get that from a board of older Realtors. You’re going to get that from entrepreneurs.”
Langschmidt says agents can’t rely on an age-old organization like CREA to be at the forefront of online technology – “In this day and age… we still have these ultra-low-resolution – 400 by 300 pixels – photographs,” he says. But, in the end, it’s really up to real estate professionals to best represent themselves and their listings online.
“MLS is just a site for collaborating Realtors’ information,” says Langschmidt. “It’s only as good as the listing that the agent puts up. Sites like condos.ca have additional information and years of research that are not present on an MLS site. MLS sites and realtor.ca doesn’t have history of a property or trends, or the exact square footage.”
Smaller listings sites are also able to go above and beyond buyers’ expectations because they’re not governed by real estate boards, like the Canadian Real Estate Association, which controls Realtor.ca. Instead, the same motivated agents who put together and contribute to these kinds of detailed sites are more likely to seek out that extra information.
Indeed, CREA has a much longer list of mandated items to cover, and isn’t likely to build its database and verify what agents list – Langschmidt says some 15 per cent of condo sizes are exaggerated. But that’s a sphere that smaller sites – Condos.ca, or the East Coast-based ViewPoint.ca – can fill.
“MLS isn’t a property database, it’s just listings,” Langschmidt says. “It’s about postings, not properties. Whereas our listings are about properties and offer more than what’s on a typical listing.”
The Canadian Real Estate Association is not likely to lead the industry to a new age of real estate, especially considering its lagging work in the online realm, say young agents who are ready to jump into a technology-led real estate profession.