A group of four Northern California multiple listing services, which together represent 54,700 real estate professionals in 19 counties, have agreed to a data-sharing plan.

The initiative, announced this week, will allow members of participating MLSs to access the full features of other participating MLSs without paying additional subscription fees.

MLSListings Inc., an MLS formed through the merger of RE InfoLink and Central Valley MLS, joins with members of Quattro — a previously formed MLS data-sharing initiative that includes the San Francisco Association of Realtors, Bay Area Real Estate Information Services Inc., and MetroList Services Inc. (see Inman News article) — in the initiative.

MLSListings was originally planned to be a larger consolidation of a handful of Northern California MLSs, dubbed NCREX for Northern California Real Estate Exchange. Quattro and other collaborative efforts by MLSs such as MLSAlliance (see Inman News article) emerged during the formative stages of this consolidation effort.

Under the new initiative, which is expected to be completed during the third quarter, brokers and agents in the areas served by the MLSs can receive local services from their local MLS or an MLS of their choosing.

The Northern California data-sharing agreement is among several data-sharing efforts in the works throughout the state. The California Association of Realtors has formed a group that is pursuing the creation of a statewide real estate database that could serve as the basis for a statewide MLS system, and several Southern California MLSs are building a single database of property listings, with standardized data definitions and rules, that will allow participants to join a single MLS.

Brokers and agents have complained about the cost and inefficiencies associated with joining several MLSs in some market areas in order to gain access to all of the property information for the region in which they work, and the data-sharing collaborations can eliminate this need to pay for participation in multiple systems.

The Northern California agreement allows participating MLSs to maintain separate, aggregated databases containing property data from all four MLSs.

"Users that prefer to see all of the data in a single location can use either one of the aggregated databases and avoid having to access each participating MLS separately. Another added benefit is that brokers who maintain proprietary software systems for use by their agents are able to download data from the four aggregated databases in a single data stream instead downloading data from each MLS individually," according the MLSs’ announcement.

Jim Harrison, president and CEO of MLSListings Inc., said in a statement that the agreement represents "Brokers and agents throughout the state have been asking for this for a long time. This partnership is an example of how MLS data aggregation can be accomplished through negotiation and the expertise of current MLS service providers."

And Jim Fabris, CEO for the San Francisco Association of Realtors, said in a statement that he expects the alliance of MLSs to grow. "It’s clear that the door is wide open for more collaboration in our industry. Our MLSs share the same philosophy and have the necessary experience. We also know what our broker and agent communities want, so we expect an expanding alliance."

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