Guest Article: MLS Domains Associations Reclaiming MLS On The Internet
Friday, September 24, 2010
by Bob Bemis, President, MLS Domains Association
Right now anyone can claim to be an MLS. Check out these sites: www.MLS.com, www.SuperMLS.com, and www.BostonMLS.com. None of them is operated by a multiple listing service. Third parties and brokers use “MLS” in their web addresses because consumers know and trust the term “MLS.” But what are consumers finding at these sites instead of accurate, real-time listing data? Often, they find inaccurate, outdated listing information.
What if there was a way for consumers to know they can trust the “MLS” websites they visit?
MLS Domains Association will help MLSs reclaim “MLS” on the internet by providing a new internet address – .MLS – as an exclusive address for genuine MLSs to host their sites. This makes possible web addresses like www.Chicago.MLS, www.Atlanta.MLS, and www.YourTown.MLS. The .MLS address will be available only to genuine MLSs. The term “MLS” can once again designate a source of information that consumers and professionals can trust on the internet.
The most common internet names end in .COM, .ORG, and .NET. These are called top-level domains, or TLDs. Almost every possible name to the left of the dot has been used, leaving it difficult for businesses to have relevant domain names. But in 2011, ICANN – the international organization that administers the internet naming system – is expecting the number of TLDs to expand by as many as 400 to 500. It’s likely there will be .LAW, .MED, and many other professional TLDs, like .MLS. This vast number of new TLDs will erode the dominance of .COM.
Recognizing the importance of this event, 15 leading MLSs in the U.S formed and funded MLS Domains Association as a non-profit association. The organization was created to obtain, manage, and promote the orderly use of the .MLS TLD. Only MLS Domains Association members can obtain .MLS addresses; only genuine MLSs can join the Association.
The ICANN expansion program is the largest change to the internet naming system in the last 15 years and it will have a significant impact on how consumers use the internet. Search engines will rank addresses at .MLS highly when consumers are searching for property in a particular area. Additionally, the MLS Domains Association is planning communication and marketing efforts to help ensure that consumers learn to check the TLD – if it’s a .MLS address, they’ll know they are dealing with a genuine MLS, not an imposter.
There are two choices of membership: Members with Founder status will begin claiming their domain names July 15 through August 15. All other members will be able to claim their domain names in September and October.
Even MLSs that do not have a public-facing listing website can still greatly benefit from a .MLS domain. Several of the MLSs that formed the Association do not display listings to consumers on the internet; they plan to use their .MLS addresses to host services for their participants and subscribers, to display open house directories, and to provide links out to broker IDX sites, among other things. Those MLSs want to be hubs of real estate information from which consumers can quickly reach brokers, adding value for their brokers and agents.
The Association needs the help of leading MLSs in the industry now to make the .MLS TLD a reality. To learn about becoming an Association member, which type of membership is right for your group, and what types of names are being selected, go to www.MLSDomains.org. There you’ll find a 10-minute video introducing the Association, suitable for showing to your board of directors. You can click on the “JOIN NOW” button to learn more; and if you would like to stay fully informed, click the “KEEP ME INFORMED” button to receive emails when new information is posted. You can also find out how to claim your .MLS addresses this summer. If you wait, another MLS may be able to claim the address you want.