It takes a mixed metaphor to explain the wobbly debut of a new sorta-kinda statewide search function — for homes for sale — on a website owned by the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.
It didn’t exactly fail to launch. It did launch. But it doesn’t seem to have gained much traction, mainly because of the complexities of the numerous separate organizations behind what it means to be a Realtor. Even some Realtors were confused judging from comments on social media.
First, the site: It’s https://oklahoma.realestate/.
It says right there on the home page: “Find Your Home. The Statewide Network of Oklahoma Realtors.” Elsewhere, it says: “Search OK real estate listings for OK homes for sale and other available OK properties.”
Neither of those invitations are inaccurate.
It is a statewide network of Oklahoma Realtors. But it’s not the complete statewide network of Oklahoma Realtors, which seems to be implied.
And, you can search Oklahoma listings for homes for sale and other available properties, including land, mobile-manufactured homes, multifamily, commercial and industrial. But you can’t search all listings in Oklahoma, in all eight of the state’s MLSs (for Multiple Listing Service), which also seems to be implied.
Oklahoma’s two largest MLSs are not participating in a home search engine launched by the Oklahoma Association of Realtors
To the point: Neither MLSOK.com, in Oklahoma City, nor MLSTechnology.com, in Tulsa, the state’s two largest MLSs, are participating in https://oklahoma.realestate/, and only Realtors who are subscribers to one of the participating MLSs have listings on it. You can find Oklahoma Realtors — now — but not necessarily their listings.
Then there are the bugs. A big one was worked out a couple of weeks ago.
The “Find a Realtor” link in the header of the home page didn’t hit all the Realtors in the state, even though all Realtors in the state are members of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors (OAR), the separate but related National Association of Realtors (NAR), and one of 17 local boards of Realtors in Oklahoma.
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The OAR said that a glitch has been fixed to include all OAR members, and it looks like it is. I searched for a few Realtors I know in OKC and found them, plus one in Sallisaw and one in Stillwater who I don’t know but looked for just to check, and there they were.
But it’s still limited, and it will be unless all eight MLSs in Oklahoma decide to participate. It’s also just one of who-knows-how-many home search portals.
But the site still has benefits for home shoppers and Realtors, said Jessica Hickok, CEO of OAR.
“In a nutshell, this portal will give consumers access to all listings of participating brokers and MLSs without the interference of lead generation ads,” she said. “And since the website is owned and operated by OAR, all members can have a say in how it works through the Board of Directors or by choosing to or not to participate. While we are very excited for this next step, the goal is still the same: promote the value of the Realtor to Oklahomans.”
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Why wouldn’t an MLS want to participate? Well, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business, said Adam Majorie, CEO of the nonprofit Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors (OKCMAR) and its for-profit MLSOK.com. He said participation is not part of MLSOK’s business plan and that MLSOK has its own innovations coming soon.
“As a Realtor board, OKCMAR is in full support of OAR’s consumer advocacy efforts and public-facing page,” Majorie said. “We think that this is a great opportunity to promote the Realtor brand since all statewide Realtors are searchable on the site. To be clear, the new site is paid for by state Realtor dues. It is a state member-driven initiative that supports what it means to be a Realtor. OKCMAR applauds OAR’s efforts!”
But Realtor dues paid to a nonprofit board or association of Realtors, and subscription fees paid to a for-profit MLS are different things, and even the differences are different between the local boards and associations.
Here’s why the OAR’s new search portal doesn’t hit on every home listed for sale in the state, even though it looks like it does, and OAR wants it to.
“Depending on the relationship between an MLS and the local Realtor due to structure, MLS subscription services and fees may or may not be included,” Majorie said. “In the case of MLSOK, the subscription fees are completely separate from Realtor dues.
“MLSOK is a for-profit technology corporation with six subscribing local Realtor boards, each with its own local Realtor dues (OKCMAR, Edmond, Norman, Mid-Del-Moore, Shawnee and Altus). Subscribing boards’ members may serve on MLSOK board of directors.”
It’s all a blur to most people. So it’s no wonder the OAR’s new property search portal is so fuzzy.
“Often, OKCMAR and MLSOK may be accidentally conflated even though they are separate boards,” Majorie said. “MLSOK’s governance is driven by all six subscribing boards and is not exclusive to OKCMAR or any other subscribing board’s sole governance. All MLSOK subscribers’ listings, if listed through MLSOK, will not be searchable on Oklahoma. realestate, regardless of which local board they pay local Realtor dues.”
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The bottom line of why MLSOK is not participating in Oklahoma. realestate:
“MLSOK is not the only non-subscribing MLS in Oklahoma. The MLSOK board decided not to provide data to Oklahoma. realestate. The decision was not made by OKCMAR or any other local Realtor board. The new site is not in MLSOK’s strategic plan, and it is not in the best business interests of the company to share the data feed at this time.”
If the leaders of OAR feel rebuffed, they’re not letting on, although Will Gattenby, COO of OAR, acknowledged that MLSOK not participating denies the new search portal “a significant chunk of information.” Individual brokers, though, “own their data and can send it wherever they want, including to OAR as part of the project.”
Many brokers are, he said.
“But we get it. Not everyone is always going to agree all the time,” Gattenby said. “We have 14,000 Realtor members across the state, thousands of brokerages, 17 local associations and 8 MLSs. That’s a lot of opinions to win over. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’ve taken this step today, and tomorrow we ‘ll take another. But the goal is still the same: promote the values of the Realtor to Oklahomans.”
Senior Business Writer Richard Mize has covered housing, construction, commercial real estate and related topics for the newspaper and Oklahoman.com since 1999. Contact him at [email protected]. Sign up for his weekly newsletter, Real Estate with Richard Mize.