What is listing in the real estate business

"Multiple Listing System": American conditions

Around eight million inhabitants, around 100,000 residential property transactions annually: Austria and the Canadian province of Ontario are very similar here. But why are there four times as many brokers in Ontario as in Austria, namely 43,000?

"More business for everyone"

The answer is: Brokers are involved in almost every transaction in Ontario, not just every second like in Austria. And in North America there are usually even two brokers: one represents the buyer, one the seller. This goes so far that "there are areas in the USA where there is even a requirement that two brokers must be involved," explained Michael Polzler, European head of the Remax broker network, recently at the Roland Schmid Group's industry meeting imabis connect.

Polzler travels a lot preaching the virtues of the North American system. He always brings with him one argument that is difficult to dismiss using the numbers: "You all do more business when you work together."

Board sets rules

The platform Multiple Listing System, or MLS for short, forms the basis of the real estate business in Ontario. This is where the surrender brokers put their properties and the broker searching for them can retrieve them. It takes an average of 28 days to find a buyer, says Polzler. In Austria, properties are often on the market for months because the seller's asking price is too high, but real estate agents still signal that they can find a buyer.

In Canada, only the buyer's broker is usually present for viewings, because he gets the necessary information about the property from the MLS. "Everything is there, except of course, an object is listed for the first time." The linchpin of the MLS system is a board, i.e. an association that draws up the rules and issues the licenses. A broker who wants access to the MLS must have a license. If he violates the rules, for example by not working with other brokers, he can lose his license.

The number of supporters is growing

In Austria, the number of MLS fans among brokers is still manageable, but it is growing. Christian Hrdliczka, who sits for the social democratic trade association in the WKÖ trade association and, as Remax Austria manager, knows the MLS system very well, is one who has long wanted to advance. "Let's finally tackle this," he says of the standard. He believes that great progress can be made in terms of the quality of brokerage services.

In particular, the essential change that a system change would bring is viewed critically by many: the one-sided representation instead of the dual brokerage that is common in this country. The members of the Association of the Real Estate Industry (ÖVI) are currently still in favor of retaining them, says managing director Anton Holzapfel - "with an emphasis on 'still'". With reference to Germany (see article on the left), however, it is clear to him that the pressure will increase.

MLS implementation takes time

It is also clear that it would be a longer process to introduce an MLS in Austria. In Canada, it started "on a very local basis," said Polzler in the 1950s. "Some brokers realized that it would be better to work together." Initially, they coordinated by phone, later, when more and more brokers were involved, printed thick catalogs with the available objects.

It is questionable whether this "revolution" will ever come in Austria as well. But it is not impossible. "Everyone would win, most of all the customers", Polzler is at least quite sure. (Martin Putschögl, April 16, 2016)