Fourteen Realtor associations, representing 10 regional multiple listing service providers and the bulk of residential for-sale listings in the state of Minnesota, have announced the creation of a data-sharing system.

The Data-Sharing MLS Co-op system is a Web-based property-search tool that allows members of the systems to find properties throughout most of the state without the need to join multiple MLSs and pay multiple membership fees, according to an announcement by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

The regions served by the co-op include areas surrounding Duluth, Grand Rapids, Brainerd, Willmar, St. Cloud, Faribault, Mankato, Fairmont, New Ulm, Windom, Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna, Rochester, Winona, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, and Western Wisconsin. The Fergus Falls area will be added next month.

“The data-sharing co-op extends the reach of information about sellers’ properties to interested buyers across the state,” said Todd Shipman, 2006 president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, in a statement. “For buyers, they can work with a Realtor in their own area to get information on properties almost anywhere in the state.”

The co-op allows participating brokers to make offers of cooperation and compensation beyond the traditional boundaries of a single MLS, according to the announcement. Participating Realtors can send printed reports and e-mail messages to clients with details about properties listed for sale within the co-op system.

“This is truly a cooperative effort among several associations that cover an extensive geographic area and, in some ways, are in competition with each other,” Shipman stated. “We share a common goal of serving the best interests of our members and their clients, and that’s what drove the MLS co-op to reality.”

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