“TheMLSonline” vs. the Real MLS

[Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway, or any other entity referenced.]

It’s no mystery who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb, right?

So, it’s obvious who’s behind a website called “TheMLSonline.com” — the local MLS, of course.


It turns out the site belongs to a local broker, who somehow managed to grab the URL, “TheMLSonline.com.”

Tip-off #2 that “TheMLSonline” is both less and more than it appears:  the real MLS is a subscription-only service, available to agents and other professionals (like home inspectors) who pay a quarterly fee.

Consumer Confusion

I leave it to an intellectual property attorney to explain why using “MLS” in a private broker’s URL isn’t copyright infringement (or, for that matter, why the Minnesota Department of Commerce doesn’t regard the practice as deceptive advertising).

But, it creates confusion amongst at least a few consumers, who invariably think they’re accessing the latest, most complete market data.

Unh-unh (again).


At least in my experience, TheMLSonline lags the real MLS when it comes to showing both new listings, and changes in a “For Sale” home’s status.

Also problematic for consumers:  according to TheMLSonline, there are currently over 26,000 “matches” in the Twin Cities metro area right now.

That compares with fewer than 9,000 active listings on MLS.

Here’s guessing that — when visitors to TheMLSonline discover that a home they’re interested in isn’t actually available — its affiliated agents will only be too happy to sell them something else.

P.S.: Trulia and Zillow employ similar tactics.

See also, “Auction Today?” Not Exactly.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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