A group of prominent multiple listing services, franchisors and brokers have reached their first milestone in a quest to build the first national MLS consumer-facing listing portal.

The initiative, dubbed the “Broker Public Portal,” has raised more than the $250,000 it needed in startup capital in just 10 weeks, the group announced today.

The broker portal will follow display rules that favor listing brokers and put more control of listing data in brokers’ hands without charging them for leads, proponents say.

“This is an effort that is good for the real estate industry today and will benefit brokers and sales associates for many years to come,” said Robert Moline, president and chief operating officer of HomeServices of America, in a statement.

HomeServices, the nation’s second-largest brokerage firm, is one of 24 real estate brokerages that each contributed $5,000 to the effort. Thirty-two MLSs made similar contributions.

Another 18 MLSs and 21 brokers are also processing agreements to contribute, said the project’s facilitator, Victor Lund of real estate consulting firm WAV Group.

Lund said organizers “won’t turn additional contributors away. The wider the industry support is for this initiative, the more likely its success and durability.”

WAV Group has said that contributors will determine the final governance of the site and participate in guiding the budget and design, though they will not receive equity for their contributions.

Contributors so far represent an estimated 300,000 agents and more than 1.5 million listings, Lund said.

“It is a great jump-start, but there are miles to go” given the market reach of other national portals, he said.

The portal is currently slated to launch in 2016. A committee for the project has estimated that it will need $15 million minimum to launch with an estimated cost to MLSs of $1 to $3 per subscriber per month.

The project has some critics. At last month’s Clareity MLS Workshop, some MLS executives wondered aloud about how the broker portal would differentiate itself among consumers — a question that the project’s representatives did not fully answer, perhaps because the project is still in its early stages.

“By the time we have completed our build-out of the Broker Public Portal initiative, the benefits to the brokerage community, the MLSs and the public will be so clear that I believe we will see even broader support from the industry,” Cameron Paine of Connecticut MLS said in a statement today.

The project has appointed an interim executive committee, and its first in-person organizers meeting will be April 22. Next steps for the project include filing its governance documents (currently in draft form) and then determining whether to build or buy technology for the new portal, Lund said.

Organizations that have contributed to the effort so far are:

ARMLS HomeServices of America MRIS
Austin Central Texas RIS HGAR NNREN
Baird and Warner Howard Hanna NNRMLS
Carolina Preferred Hunt Realty NOREIS Toledo
Charleston Trident IRIS NORMLS
Cincinnati Board of Realtors John Greene Realtor Pacific Union
Coldwell Banker Howard Perry & Walston Keller Williams Austin RealComp
Colorado Real Estate Network LeadingRE Realty USA
Columbus Realtors Long Realty RealtySouth
Connecticut MLS Louisville Realtors RealtyWeb
CRIS MLS Lyon Real Estate Regional MLS of Minnesota
Crye-Leike Maine Real Estate Info System Shorewest
Cutler Real Estate MARIS – Mid America Regional Info SIRMLS
Edina Realty MetroMLS Trend MLS
F. C. Tucker Real Estate MIBOR Watson Realty
Gardner REALTORS Michael Saunders William Pitt Sotheby’s
GFLR MLS Listings Windermere
Greater Tulsa AOR MLSPIN WNYREIS
Greenridge MRED

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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