BrokerageMLS & Associations

Real estate industry leaders planning national listing portal

Brokers, MLSs, franchisors eyeing broker-centric alternative to Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com

Executives with leading multiple listing services, franchisors and brokers have been working for months on a plan to launch a new national listing portal to serve as a broker-centric alternative to the big search portals like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, Inman has learned.

According to internal communications among participants, the group is not legally organized and has not secured funding. But several dozen representatives met Dec. 9 in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare hotel.

The group convened at least once previously in Chicago, forming two committees — technology and governance. The group proposed “recommended actions” at the Dec. 9 gathering.

One proposal was that participants each provide seed capital of $5,000 to offset organizational costs, a $10,000 programming fee, and a monthly member fee to fund ongoing operations.

A 15-member board of directors was proposed, with 10 seats going to brokerages, three to MLS representatives and two to “industry professionals.”

The technology committee laid out a plan for data aggregation, unique property identification, licensed professional identification, data security and user experience. CoreLogic is identified as a company that could help provide property record data.

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Measures of success will include leads generated, site traffic and ROI, according to the plan.

The enterprise is expected to cost millions of dollars, according to the report, with marketing the site to attract consumers projected as the biggest expense.

Forty executives RSVP’d for the Dec. 9  meeting including Merle Whitehead, CEO of Realty USA; John Mosey, president of NorthstarMLS; San Francisco broker Mark McLaughlin; Coldwell Banker broker Don Watson; and Erin Koops of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World.

Taking leadership positions in the industry effort are Cameron Paine, CEO of the Connecticut MLS Inc., and real estate consultant Victor Lund, who has helped move the group along.

Other MLS executives who are playing an active role include Tim Dain of Southwestern Illinois Regional MLS, Chris Carrillo of Metro MLS (Wisconsin), and Joseph Cullom, Charleston MLS. Real estate franchise Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has helped push the fledgling idea forward.

Organizers would not comment for this story, but confirmed that the plan was underway.

The group also discussed a name for the portal, a URL, publicity, funding and a plan for reaching out to more franchises.

The working title of the project is “Broker Public Portal.”

Two other strategic questions were discussed regarding leads generated by the new portal.

One question is, if there is no participating MLS or broker in a market, who gets listings in that area?

Another quandary would be if a broker wanted to provide listings, but not every MLS they belonged to participated in the venture. If that was the was case, would the broker still be required to pay the monthly fee for MLSs that do not participate, or would the national portal accept all of their listings knowing they are acting in good faith?

Further details are expected early next year.