Yes. Why spend money explaining the difference?


By Richard Silver


Yesterday a seller called, wanting to know why his photos were not on MLS. I had uploaded them myself to the MLS system the day before. Today, a buyer thrust two listings into my hand and complained that she had found them herself on MLS; they had been sent them to her through the “Prospect Match” the day before.

Am I competing against myself or do I have a shadow competitor called

Across Canada we have established strong MLS systems that are built on agent-to-agent sharing of information, respect and co-operation. We have worked hard to keep this system for members only. The Multiple Listing Service is one of the most important services we provide to consumers.

During the past few years the strength of these MLS systems has been eroded as a result of CREA naming the public access web site It is a wonderful site with a lot of information but it is confusing to the consumer because most think they have access to the Holy Grail of Realtors, the MLS system.

 Don’t get me wrong; I am very proud of our advertising website. The name, though, does a disservice to Realtors because it deliberately leads consumers to believe that they have complete access to MLS.

MLS was a brand that was respected by consumers and Realtors alike. It was a value-added tool that made the Realtor special. NAR and CREA spent millions branding the MLS symbol and we all used the power of MLS as a listing tool.

Recent studies by the Toronto Real Estate Board and the Canadian Real Estate Association verify that consumers are confused by the brand.

There are those who feel the solution is to spend money educating the public, explaining the differences between MLS and This assumes that consumers read the small and big print. Historically, we know that they go right to the listings on

Why spend the money explaining the difference? Why not take MLS out of Why not call this advertising web site something else? Why not call it or a hundred other variables?

 CREA has spent money on a further study, but the Big Question was not asked:

 What are the long-term effects on the MLS system (an agent-to-agent tool) of using MLS in the name of the public access website (

Before we can move ahead in the discussion, we need to have these questions answered. Have we let a Genie out of the bottle that we will not be able to get back in?


Richard Silver is a sales representative with Bosley Real Estate Ltd., and a 25-year member of the Toronto Real Estate Board. He sits as director-at-large on the Board of Directors at TREB.


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