A Los Angeles-based referral site that’s branded itself as “The International MLS” says it’s opened up membership to U.S. agents, enabling real estate professionals who join the global listing platform to syndicate their listings internationally and earn referral fees by embedding a search widget on their business websites.
Previously, the service offered membership to brokers only. Brokers may join as either regular members — as agents may now do — or as “preferred partners.”
The International MLS offers preferred partners exclusive marketing rights to its brand and logo in certain U.S. counties.
“It’s attractive to (U.S.) brokers and agents … because now they can show properties all over the world,” said Daniel Nussbaum, founder and CEO of The International Realty Inc., a licensed California brokerage that launched The International MLS in 2010.
In February, The International MLS reported that it was syndicating more than 200,000 property listings in 45 countries and more than 300 new-home developments in 25 countries to about 300 international real estate portals, including realtor.com International. In addition, the service displays listings on its own property search site, theinternationalmls.com.
(Although the Canadian Real Estate Association has trademarked the terms “Multiple Listing Service” and “MLS” in Canada, they are considered generic terms in many other countries, including the U.S. In 2008, the National Association of Realtors added a new section to its Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice that allows local Realtor associations to discipline members who use the term MLS in their website address or marketing materials.)
Brokers and agents who join The International MLS may upload their listings for syndication and embed the company’s search widget on their websites. If a consumer visiting a member’s website ends up buying a property that he finds using the widget on that website, the member may receive a referral fee.
The company also has now changed its referral model for referrals that occur between U.S. agents for properties inside the U.S., Nussbaum said.
If a buyer contacts an agent about a property that the buyer found using the widget on the agent’s website that is outside the agent’s market, that agent may directly negotiate a referral fee with the property’s listing agent.
Nussbaum said The International MLS no longer earns a fee for referrals between agents inside the U.S.
But the referral model for all other types of referrals, those between foreign agents and those between U.S. and foreign agents, remains the same: The International MLS earns a referral fee if the referral results in a home sale by taking a 25 percent cut of the buyer’s side of the commission.
The company then pays 25 percent of that amount to the agent whose widget brought the buyer to the sale.