Saturday, October 2, 2004

Some Realtors balk at Web site deletion


Group seeks signatures to force vote

By Jeff McKinney
Enquirer staff writer

A group of Realtors said Friday it will fight a decision to erase listings of homes for sale on CincyMLS.com.

About 70 Realtors and sales associates representing small and medium-size brokerages plan to seek a referendum of Realtors to try to overturn a decision by the Greater Cincinnati Multiple Listing Service Board to remove the listings. (They would still be available in their totality to the public through numerous realty companies' sites.)

Realtor Ed Rothenberg, who helped organize a meeting Friday at the offices of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors, said the group needs 10 percent, or 420 signatures, of the group to force a referendum. The MLS is a subsidiary of the Board of Realtors.

For eight years, CincyMLS.com has acted as a clearinghouse for homes listed for sale in Southwest Ohio and a small portion of Southeast Indiana. The MLS board on Thursday said it will change the site effective in January to remove the listings.

Prospective buyers presently can browse the Web site for homes regardless of the brokerage that is the primary listing agent. Under the new plan, home seekers would have to visit one of 58 local real estate brokerages' Web sites.

But Rothenberg said the ability of small brokerages to compete with major agencies will be hurt.

Board of Realtors president Sandra Butler said the board will not try to impede the referendum drive. She said it would take a majority vote to overturn the decision.

Some area residents say they are opposed to the change.

Sharon Hill of Westwood said she likes the MLS because it gives her a chance to view houses at her discretion. "I think it is ridiculous and unfair," she said.

Aaron Schwarber of Cincinnati said the changes would hurt the area's real estate business.

"I used the MLS to find my house and still look at it today to see what prices are in the areas we want to move to in about three years," he said. "The ability to search across a wide area ... without looking at what a particular Realtor is offering is why the CincyMLS is the best real estate search engine for the area."

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E-mail jmckinney@enquirer.com




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