Three MLSs in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday announced the launch of a consolidated property-search database for their members.

The unified database, called Quattro, supplies subscribers with property information covering 15 California counties — the MLSs serve about 42,000 agents and brokers and the region has about 5.6 million residents. The effort to establish the shared database was launched last year.

The area is a hotbed for MLS data-sharing and regionalization efforts, as a separate group of MLSs in Northern California is proceeding with a consolidation plan. The National Association of Realtors had formed a group to consider the future structure of the MLS system, and the California Association of Realtors has pursued discussions on forming a statewide MLS. Brokers in some markets have been aggressively pushing for more consolidation and data-sharing among MLSs, and for more control in the management and operation of MLSs.

The San Francisco Association of Realtors, MetroList Services Inc. and Bay Area Real Estate Information Service Inc. are participants in Quattro. Jim Branscombe, CEO for BAREIS MLS, said that members of the three MLSs now have “open and equal access” to four databases: the three separate MLS databases and the unified Quattro database.

Users of the Quattro database can jump directly to a member MLSs’ database if they wish to view more detailed information for properties, he said.

“The organizations really focused on working together and not on politics,” Branscombe said, which has been a key to Quattro’s success. “We were able to move through this process very fast. We didn’t change the governance of each of the MLS systems.” He noted that each MLS participant has a slightly different ownership structure, “which is proof that entities with different structures can work together. The whole project has been extremely well-received by the membership across the board, and particular those that have been affected by the traditional artificial boundaries.”

MLS software vendor Rapattoni Corp. provided the software and platform for Quattro.

The data-sharing agreements among the MLSs will allow some real estate agents and brokers to subscribe to a single MLS rather than maintaining memberships in multiple MLSs in all of the areas that they serve.

Branscombe said that a next step in the development of the Quattro system is to supply aggregated data feeds to subscribers so they can post property information on their Web sites. This will eliminate the need to process multiple data feeds from the participating MLSs, he said.

The Quattro effort has attracted “a great deal of interest” from MLSs outside the region, he said, and the participants are also open to expanding Quattro to include other MLSs in the area. “We are certainly more than open to have discussions with other MLSs interested in participating in the effort.”

The San Francisco Association of Realtors had earlier participated in the MLS consolidation plan called NCREX, but backed out of that effort. NCREX in January announced the appointment of its board of directors, which is composed entirely of brokers. Jeanne Garde of RE/MAX Today serves as chairwoman of that group. The groups participating in NCREX consolidation discussions include Bay East Association of Realtors, Central Valley MLS, Contra Costa MLS and RE InfoLink.

Bob Moles, chairman of Cupertino, Calif.-based Intero Real Estate and a board member for NCREX, said Thursday, “It’s a long battle. It all happens a little slower than what I’d like to see happen. We continue to make progress,” he said. “Our goal is to reduce the duplication of effort and reduce the different boards and associations and MLSs that brokers and associates have to belong to.”

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