Inman Chairman Brad Inman chats with MRED President and CEO Rebecca Jensen before a conversation held as part of the Illinois REALTORS® MLS Forum held on Tuesday in Chicago.

Inman Chairman Brad Inman discusses the state of the MLS industry at a forum hosted by Illinois REALTORS®.

Inman Chairman Brad Inman told Illinois REALTORS® that Multiple Listing Services can continue to be relevant if they make sure they never lose sight of their customer-focused roots, and the organizations which run them do must so with transparency and a commitment to re-investment.

Inman, speaking at an Illinois REALTORS® MLS Forum at the Gleacher Center in Chicago on Tuesday, said when MLSs were created they served a meaningful purpose in providing a platform for brokers to work collaboratively to sell property.

Over time, a lack of re-investment has threatened the traditional MLS. Other companies are building marketing platforms that could pose future challenges for what has been an industry standard extending back to the late 1800s.

Inman Chairman Brad Inman and Illinois REALTORS® President-elect Dan Wagner at an MLS forum held in Chicago.

“At one time the MLS was the platform,” Inman said. “It was an amazing platform. It was formidable and it created a marketplace like nowhere else in the world.”

“Fundamentally, I believe in the MLS,” Inman said in a response to a question from conversation moderator Rebecca Jensen, president and CEO of Midwest Data LLC. “Because of the infighting and power grabbing, we have all of these complicated fiefdoms that have taken advantage of this incredible asset.”

He suggested REALTORS® look at the value MLSs provide, but with a focus on making the services relevant rather than important, a term which he says indicates “hubris and arrogance.”

Inman said for MLSs to be relevant in a fast-evolving market, there has to be a focus on reinvestment to maintain the service’s value. He noted other companies are quickly developing their own platforms, which could pose a threat to the traditional MLS.

Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO)  Executive Director Jeremy Crawford presents on data standardization at an MLS Forum hosted by Illinois REALTORS® on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Chicago.

The MLS Forum was the first of what is expected to be an annual event hosted by Illinois REALTORS®. As association President Matt Difanis noted an introduction, member surveys show that MLS access is one of the benefits of membership that members most value.

Inman was introduced by Illinois REALTORS® President-elect Dan Wagner, who reminded the audience that Inman was an Illinois native. Inman grew up in Carlinville, and has since grown Inman into a business with a widely followed news service and which stages conferences with real estate leaders.

The forum also featured Jeremy Crawford, executive director of the Real Estate Standards Organization which works for creating a level playing field for the nations MLSs. By standardizing the data, he explained all MLSs can benefit.

NAR’s Rodney Gansho, director of association and MLS governance, also spoke about resources the national association provides to its members.

The forum ended with a reception hosted by MRED.