More than 88,000 agents and brokers belonging to two of California's biggest multiple listing services will soon be able to seamlessly access each other's listing information and offer buyers and sellers listings from across the state on their public websites.
The agreement means California Regional MLS -- the nation's largest MLS with more than 72,000 members -- and Sunnyvale-based MLSListings Inc. will each pull listing data directly from each other's systems.
California image via Shutterstock.
It's an arrangement the two MLSs are calling a "new era in cooperation."
"This new era demands new ideas and approaches to serving the needs of everyone who uses MLSs as their first source for real estate listings data," said Art Carter, CEO of San Dimas-based California Regional MLS, in a statement.
MLSListings President and CEO Jim Harrison told Inman News that "cooperating is important because Realtors want all the listings in one place," and the best place to accomplish that is through the MLS system. With more than 16,000 members, MLSListings is the third-largest MLS in California.
"Right now, [Realtors are] having to go to multiple MLS systems to find data in adjacent markets," he said.
Data sharing would especially help agents assisting buyers moving from Northern California to Southern California or vice versa, and provide more statewide exposure for sellers' listings, Harrison said.
"There's a need for more marketplace collaboration. Hopefully we're creating something that other MLSs will participate in," he said.
Currently, California Regional MLS has about 47,000 active listings in counties throughout California.
MLSListings has about 4,000 in Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in Northern California.
Neither CEO knew what percentage of active listings in the state the two accounted for collectively, but Harrison said, "Between us, it's the lion's share of the listings in California."
After the integration, both MLSs will offer the combined listing data on their respective public-facing MLS websites: homeseekers.com for California Regional MLS and mlslistings.com for MLSListings.
Agents and brokers belonging to the MLSs will also receive the combined data in the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds that power their own public sites.
"Sharing real estate information provides real estate professionals with the information they need to advise their buyers and sellers all over the state," Harrison said.
"This alliance also brings one-stop property information to buyers and sellers in their portal of choice."
Each MLS will maintain their own separate agreement with listing syndicator ListHub, Carter said.
Next best thing to statewide MLS?
Over the years, California Regional MLS has forged a variety of alliances with other MLSs and associations with the goal of forming a statewide MLS. Both California Regional MLS and MLSListings will remain separate independent entities in this particular deal, but Carter said data sharing offers the next best thing short of a statewide MLS.
"We've said for a long time that we want to integrate as many MLSs and associations into [California Regional MLS], but we're going to have entities that want to keep their autonomy and that's fine," Carter said.
In a statement, Harrison said, "Technology enables us to maintain our business independence and identity while providing expanded information access."
He noted that MLSListings doesn't have a statewide MLS initiative as part of its charter, "but we do believe that through collaboration we can improve service to our subscribers by data consolidation."
California Regional MLS and MLSListings have had a reciprocal agreement for two or three years that allows agents from each MLS to log into each other's systems. When the data-share integration is complete in early September, members will be able to access all the listing data from both MLSs in their respective MLS platforms without having to click over to the other system.
"Our subscribers won't see anything any different other than they'll have more data. When they do search for listings, they'll just find they'll have more listings available," Harrison said.
He noted that California Regional MLS and MLSListings are both technologically sophisticated and early adopters of the Real Estate Standards Organization's data standards, making working together easier.
"Our back ends are talking directly with each other -- [there's] nothing in the middle. It's a lot more simplified than what's happening in Northern or Southern California today," he said.
The integrated listings will include all property types and all statuses, including active, pending and sold listings. The two companies have not yet decided how far back to go when it comes to sharing sold data.
Data sharing with other MLSs
The new alliance between California Regional MLS and MLSListings will not affect the other data-sharing deals either has with other MLSs.
For instance, MLSListings has agreements with other MLSs in the San Francisco Bay Area, but will not share their data because it does not have permission to do so, Harrison said. Nonetheless, he hopes the other MLSs will be interested in joining the alliance.
The current data-sharing process with the other MLSs is "not seamless," he said. "The data is in a server outside of the MLS, so it's cumbersome. What we're doing with [California Regional MLS] is less cumbersome. It would be very simple for me to share their data if they decided to allow that."
Citing improved in-house technology, California Regional MLS is set to pull out from a joint venture of California MLSs that aggregates listings into a common database, California Real Estate Technology Services (CARETS), in June.
Before withdrawing, Caliornia Regional MLS hopes to sign separate data-sharing agreements with the other MLSs that participate in CARETS. Tensions over California Regional MLS' efforts to build a statewide MLS have raised doubts about the prospect that the regional MLS will be able to enter into a data-sharing agreement with one of those MLSs, the Combined Los Angeles/Westside MLS (CLAW).
So far, California Regional MLS has not had any luck signing up the other MLSs belonging to CARETS, Carter said.
"I think they're still trying to determine what it is they're going to do with the CARETS entity," he said.