Helps Democratize the Real Estate Industry by Challenging the MLS Monopoly

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Sissy Lappin, founder of, challenges the real estate industry’s claims of MLS effectiveness on home sales with a new blog on the skewed results of surveys presented by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Lappin says that technology, and customer demand has weakened the NAR’s stronghold on how people sell their homes.

real estate, FSBO, realtors, real estate agents, for sale by owner "Democratizing Real Estate"

When you break out the survey numbers, the number of FSBO listings are actually soaring.

Veteran Houston realtor and for sale by owner (FSBO) proponent Sissy Lappin says that advanced technology has lead to open source platforms and aggregated information that is fast becoming standard fare in the real estate industry, a phenomenon that is weakening the National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) grip on the industry. In a new blog on her website titled, “Democratizing Real Estate,” Lappin says that Realtors® continue to present abridged annual surveys implying that the multiple listing service (MLS) is the most effective listing space for home selling.

According to Lappin, the problem with the Realtor® surveys is that they fail to reflect the number of homes within the MLS system that are being sold through flat fee services, as well as the number of homes being sold directly by homeowners who opt out of the MLS system altogether. By choosing to go it alone and sell without an agent, homeowners retain thousands of dollars—on average, 6 percent of the home’s sale price—that would have paid an agent’s fee if they had sold their home through a realtor.

“When you break out the survey numbers, the number of FSBO listings are actually soaring,” Lappin says. “MLS is bombarded with flat fee listings to which many MLS systems have had to add a separate “owner” category for appointment phone numbers—the evolution of FSBO is now an unstoppable trend, a ‘fairy tale comes true’ moment for home sellers.”

The ongoing argument between realtors and FSBO proponents boils down to the real estate industry’s decades-old proprietary MLS system, which is only accessible to licensed real estate brokers and agents, historically offering homeowners almost no alternative options for selling their homes. Hiring an agent and paying a hefty commission for them to sell one’s home was once the only choice available, giving the NAR and MLS companies a monopoly on the real estate market.

Lappin says that, despite the industry survey findings, the traditional commission model of real estate sales is continuing on a downward trajectory, and she names the three top incentives driving these changes:

1.    Cracking open the AVM (Automated Valuation Model) vault
2.    Zombie Realtors®
3.    Zillow overtaking MLS

The first change, cracking open the AVM (Automated Valuation Model) vault, is driven by the fact that agents have lost their monopoly on automated valuation searches to third-party websites and real estate clearing houses such as Zillow and Trulia—MLS-free listing sites that have capitalized on features and tools that feed buyers’ and sellers’ need to review and fine tune housing data. Since these online clearinghouses hit the real estate market a few years ago, traditional MLS-fueled realtors lost their footing as the universal go-to source for housing information.

“The clearinghouses have become the Pinterest of home listing and marketing,” Lappin says.

Since the AVM vault was breached, agents and brokerages have been losing ground, as buyers and sellers trade brand loyalty and agent-assisted home sales for free and unlimited access to automated valuations. Now, mathematically modeled property valuations combined with real-time comparable property databases can calculate a property’s value at the click of a button on anyone’s home computer, without the aid of an agent.

The second change, which Lappin refers to as “zombie realtors,” is a direct result of the industry’s changing model. Lappin says that when any business moves from offline to online, the middleman is going to be eliminated. This phenomenon is comparable to the decreased need for face time with agency representatives since industries like auto insurance, stockbrokerages and even legal consultants went online.

“They’ve steered themselves into a corner because they’ve adopted the same technology and automation the general public now has access to,” Lappin says. It is no wonder why more than 60 percent of all real estate transactions are automated and more than 80 percent of all homes are on a lock box.

“With agents moving to continuously automate, removing themselves further and further from face-to-face contact, buyers and sellers realize that since the agent’s role is diminishing, why pay a commission to ‘zombie realtors’ when they can handle it themselves?”

The separation between realtors and homeowners is most likely responsible for the decline in agent quality, Lappin says.

“With the average agent having less training than a manicurist, this business model tends to attract those that could not make it anywhere else in the industry.”

The third change Lappin mentions is Zillow’s overtake of MLS. Two-thirds of buyers and sellers admit they have become obsessed with online property searches on real estate platforms—the same cannot be said for MLS.

“Models like Zillow and Trulia give out bells and whistles of the ‘hood’ democratically, and for free,” Lappin says. “Unlike MLS, users of these new models can determine commute time to work, search by specific schools—not just school districts—and so much more.”

Lappin says third-party real estate sites are smarter than the traditional MLS protocol, and they don’t discriminate. FSBO and agent-assisted homes are all welcome, resulting in their fast becoming the primary go-to source for home searches.

“Because they list all homes, it is a huge market that MLS is missing out on,” Lappin says.
The newest phase of the real estate evolution is the birth of full-service FSBO solutions like for homeowners who opt to professionally market, list and sell their homes without an agent., the first online customized platform dedicated to homeowners who choose to sell their homes FSBO-style, takes the best practices of real estate marketing, strips away the commission and the corporate inefficiencies, and offers it all up on an easy-to-navigate DIY (do-it-yourself) platform to price, market, and sell.

According to Lappin, answers the needs of homeowners who are starved for an affordable and effective solution to sell their home.

To learn more about ListingDoor’s approach to the FSBO market visit the ListingDoor website, email media(at)listingdoor(dot)com or call 713-306-9104.


Founded in 2012 by husband and wife realtors Sissy and Mark Lappin, is a website showcasing Lappin’s innovative FSBO strategies and makes them available to the public. earned recognition from Forbes Magazine in Dec. 2014 when it was named a top contender to become “The Next Uber” for real estate sales. aims to set new standards for the real estate industry by providing a smart, cost-effective alternatives to traditional home sale strategies that allow homeowners to decide on the best approach for selling their homes.

About Sissy Lappin:

Veteran real estate broker, author, and “for sale by owner” (FSBO) champion Sissy Lappin introduced her “simple and sold” philosophy of real estate innovation to help homeowners master the art of selling their homes without a realtor. Her groundbreaking FSBO guidebook, “Simple and SOLD,” first published in 2012, achieved #1 best seller status on with more than 15,800 copies downloaded in ebook form. Lappin is the founder of Lappin Properties, one of Houston’s most successful real estate brokerage firms. She earned her claim to national fame with the publication of “Simple and SOLD.”

Although FSBO is not new to the American real estate landscape, Lappin’s “Simple and SOLD” guidebook breathes new life into the strategy that helps individual homeowners save tens of thousands of dollars in commissions and fees by selling their homes and sidestepping realtor commission fees.


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