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What's the MLS Got to Hide?

Many of you know I have a San Francisco real estate newsletter.  In fact, it’s the best San Francisco real estate newsletter ever!  One of the features people love most about this newsletter is the New Listings and Recently Sold reports. 
But, while I was relaxing on vacation in Lake County, I got an email from my sales manager telling me the MLS board had contacted him about The City Update™.  I was told that I needed to take down the New Listings and Recently Sold reports or face fines or even worse, suspension! 
Someone filed a complaint with the MLS.  grrr.
Apparently, sharing this information with the public is against the MLS rules.  Even though you can get information about sold properties all over the internet AND sales prices are public record (anyone can get them by visiting City Hall) – the MLS rules state that REALTORS aren’t allowed to post this information on a public web site. 
This leave me with the question – why the hell is the MLS so afraid of sharing information with the public?
I think that the various REALTOR boards across the country have this erroneous belief that if consumers are armed with information, they won’t need REALTORS.  But I think that’s absolute BS.  One thing I really believe we need more of in this industry is transparency.  In fact, I believe that arming people with knowledge will only help our industry.  The public has a bad enough image of slimy REALTORS (and ok – maybe I’ve even met a few stereotypes in my day) and I believe that hiding information only exacerbates the problem. 
And frankly, just because Joe Public knows what things are selling for doesn’t give Joe the education, experience, negotiating power and expertise that can make the difference between a successful transaction and a nightmare experience.
So, unfortunately, in last week’s newsletter- the links to the reports will get you nowhere.  They’ve been temporarily disabled.  I’ve been working with my tech crew to create a secure way for  readers to view the data on The City Updateâ„¢ while making sure that strangers can’t get it.  We’ve also been working on a way to make sure the information is less “scrapable.”  By this week’s edition, the reports will be back, and will be 100% in compliance with the MLS rules.
And if you’re not getting The City Updateâ„¢, you should be.  Your can get your own free subscribtion here.