Nation’s biggest MLS capable of taking listings from The Realty Alliance’s secretive project

Former Zillow, MLS executive Bob Bemis warns MLSs that they must adapt or die

The nation’s biggest multiple listing service is one of at least three big MLSs that have the technical capability to accept listings from a hush-hush project to build a national listing database that’s backed by The Realty Alliance, a network of some of the biggest names in real estate brokerage.

So says Bob Bemis, who left his position as CEO of the Arizona Regional MLS in 2012 to help Zillow secure listing feeds from MLSs before calling it quits last year after many MLSs proved unwilling to work with portals like Zillow.

Data encryption image via Shutterstock.
Data encryption image via Shutterstock.

Bemis says MLSs face extinction if they don’t overcome roadblocks to consolidation, allow members to choose from multiple front ends and apps, and adopt rules and data standards that would allow better coordination with neighbors and remove roadblocks to consolidation.

And it’s not just Bemis saying that. At a recent industry conference, he says, HomeServices of America President and COO Bob Moline argued for massive MLS consolidation. Just a dozen regional systems nationwide would be a good step to a national MLS, Moline reportedly said, which would help MLSs and Realtor associations update old technology.

Moline sits on the board of directors of The Realty Alliance, a broker network that’s working on a project that’s been dubbed “Upstream” because its goal is to allow brokers to “take control control of the listing creation, management and distribution processes at the point of origination (contract execution by seller and broker) rather than ceding such functions to the local MLS,” Bemis writes.

Bemis writes on his blog, Procuring Cause, that “multiple sources” have confirmed to him that a request for proposal (RFP) for The Realty Alliance technology solution “has been distributed, and that as many as eight to 12 responses have been received and are being reviewed.”

“Expectations are running high that we will know details before this summer,” perhaps as early as the National Association of Realtors’ midyear meeting in May.

The nation’s biggest MLS — California Regional MLS — recently adopted technology that would allow it to receive listings from The Realty Alliance’s project Upstream, Bemis says: a “little known and seldom used portion” of an industry data standard, the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS), called the “RETS update transaction.”

RETS is designed to let MLSs send listing content out to anyone who needs it, including member brokers and vendors, in a standard format and structure. RETS update transaction also allows data to flow the other way, from brokers into the MLS.

California Regional MLS CEO Art Carter has essentially said to The Realty Alliance, “When you’re ready with Upstream, we will be ready to receive your listings,” Bemis writes.

“There’s nothing like getting cooperation from the largest MLS in the country to inspire [The Realty Alliance] to vigorously pursue development of a new way of doing business,” Bemis conludes.

Atlanta-based FMLS and St. Paul, Minn.-based NorthstarMLS have also adopted RETS update transaction, Bemis says.


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