Originally Published: August 18, 2011 10 p.m.
After years of discussion, the Arizona Association of Realtors is making a significant step toward the creation of a statewide Multiple Listing Service.
The association announced this past week that its board of directors voted to acquire the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service.
Duane Fouts, president of the statewide association, said the $4.75 million acquisition bolsters the association as it competes against the growing number of ways people do their home shopping, including online competition from residential database sites like Trulia and Zillow.
"This is a real milestone in providing all Arizona Realtors with a statewide listing system," he said in a news release.
The new system is still a work in progress, and its creation will ripple through state associations, such as the Prescott Area Association of Realtors.
Betty Arthur, real estate agent and president of the local association, said it's premature to comment one way or another on the possibility of participating in the statewide effort.
"All we can do is look and listen and participate and see where we go from here," she said.
Arthur said everything at this point is simply a proposal, and she has no idea when the local association would decide which way to go.
"There's too many what-ifs. Until we get answers to those what-ifs, we don't know anything, really."
Ed Pattermann, designated broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate in Prescott, member of the board of directors for the Prescott Area Association of Realtors, chairman of the Prescott Area Multiple Listing Service and a member of the board of directors of the Arizona Association of Realtors, said the positives outweigh the negatives in the creation of a statewide service.
"I think it's a good thing for the state association because in my view the MLS is an integral part of what a Realtor uses on a daily basis," he said. "The state association already provides a lot of tools for Realtors, and so I think it's good that they get control of probably the most important tool - the MLS - so the state association can guide its future and protect its members."
Pete Weaver, a PAAR board member who spoke as a real estate agent, has some concerns about moving to a statewide service.
"Personally, I think the cons outweigh the pros," he said. "To me, it creates many, many problems."
Weaver believes that 75 percent of the roughly 1,000 local real estate agents oppose the move because it could severely diminish the smaller associations and exponentially increase the number of real estate agents with access to all listed properties.
"What the statewide MLS system does now is it opens up the whole state to any agent," he said. "An agent from Tucson can come up here to sell a home without knowing the local market."
That's an ethical breach, according to Weaver, who said local real estate agents are mandated to stay within their areas of expertise and give prospective buyers referrals to agents outside their markets.
"I just think it's a bad idea because it encourages unethical behavior and creates a one-size-fits-all system for the state," he said. "To me, it's not tailored like it should be for here, Flagstaff or other small communities."
But Pattermann sees the move to a statewide service as the next logical step that benefits real estate agents, brokers, and the statewide association.
"It's important to be competitive with that tool. In this world we live in today, to be competitive with the MLS, you have to have leverage," he said. "This move will make the Arizona MLS pretty close to the largest in the country, which benefits AAR members with more capabilities and lower costs."
If the Prescott association ultimately buys into it, Pattermann and his team of realtors would make only one payment to the state association for service access, while they currently pay for access to that data in three other community associations.
On the issue of hurting local associations, Pattermann acknowledged that is a hurdle.
"It's not for the associations because they're losing revenue and that's one of the challenges in this," he said. "Associations kind of have to go back to their business plans to offset this."
Pattermann said sellers understand that when they list their property, it opens it up to a licensed real estate agent, and exposing properties to more agents is a huge benefit.
"The end result is that you're probably going to get more showings from licensed professionals, and that's a good thing, and I think that is just something that we have to accept," he said.
Regarding Weaver's concern about agents coming from outlying communities to sell properties, Pattermann said that's not a service issue.
"That's something I think has to be dealt at the broker level, not at the MLS level," he said. "Will this increase (agents selling homes outside the markets they're from)? It might."
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