MLS & AssociationsTechnology

Michigan brokers and agents get closer to ‘MLS of choice’

Realcomp joins Great Lakes Repository data-sharing venture
  • The largest MLS in Michigan, Realcomp, has joined the Great Lakes Repository. This will bring the total percentage of Realtors that are sharing listings in the state up to 67 percent.
  • Agents and brokers who belong to multiple MLSs in the GLR can drop their subscription to all but one and have access to all of the listings in the database. This will potentially allow them to expand their market footprint.
  • The GLR comes with offers of cooperation and compensation, which could help reduce commission disputes; and combined IDX data feeds, which provide home buyers with a bigger selection and sellers with more exposure.

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The largest multiple listing service in Michigan has joined a data-sharing venture whose goal is to create a statewide MLS database — but not a statewide MLS.

Farmington Hills-based Realcomp II Ltd. is the 12th MLS to join the Great Lakes Repository, which launched in 2008 and now includes 18 Realtor associations and one broker-owned MLS (MiRealSource).

The GLR addresses certain broker and agent pain points around listing data as well as many of the criticisms of data sharing in comparison to MLS consolidation.

Dave DeRees

Dave DeRees

“The debate about pros and cons of one statewide MLS can be had on another day,” GLR President Dave DeRees told Inman in an email. DeRees is also CEO of MiRealSource.

“If someone thought that the perfect solution was to not share data and hold out for one statewide MLS, would it be right to make the perfect the enemy of the good?

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“In this case I feel the comprehensive form of data sharing the GLR provides the agents of our 19 organizations is very good.”

There are various forms of MLS data-sharing. Some MLSs merely share passwords to each other’s systems.

The GLR is different: MLSs pull each other’s listing data into their own systems; no separate login is required. The data includes all data fields, all statuses and five years of historical data. Brokers cannot opt out of the GLR.

The GLR also includes offers of cooperation and compensation; combined IDX (Internet data exchange) data feeds; shared data on public-facing MLS websites and apps (which are subject to opt-outs); and provides for third-party use of data, such as for comparative market analysis (CMA) software, the GLR said.

Those elements speak to some of the criticisms lobbed against data-sharing in a white paper from MRIS and TREND, two MLSs that have announced their intent to merge. The GLR does not get rid of another criticism, however: the redundancy of systems and MLS departments that remain with multiple MLSs.

But for the GLR, this may be a feature, not a bug. Participants continue to run their own MLSs, enforce their own set of rules, manage their own membership, control their own MLS products and software, handle their own syndication and charge their own fees, the GLR said.

Meanwhile, brokers and agents get “MLS of choice,” according to a press release.

Karen Kage

Karen Kage

“Realcomp Realtors will be able to access more data without having to join another MLS,” Realcomp CEO Karen Kage told Inman in an email.

“If they currently subscribe to another MLS in our area, they will no longer need to do so to access this additional data. It will all be available to them through Realcomp’s MLS system.”

This means brokers and agents don’t have to pay for or enter their listings into multiple MLS systems. They also don’t have to keep track of different rules across MLS systems. And because cooperation and compensation is included, the GLR says commission disputes have gone down.

For consumers, this means more shared data on IDX and MLS websites, which also gives sellers more exposure across the state. Agents can also set up searches for their buyers within their MLS that cover listings across all the MLSs in the GLR. This means that clients no longer get the same listing in their inbox multiple times.

“You don’t want to get the same listing three times, especially if you’re not interested in it,” said Ben Latocki, broker at Production Commercial Realty, in a 2013 video about broker benefits of the GLR.

The GLR also allows agents to expand their marketplace, according to Kage.

“[R]eal estate is spreading out! Buyers have access to a lot more information through the Internet so the agents need to have the same type of access, only better!” she said.

“The additional search results for outlying areas will be valuable to many of our customers. It expands the options they can offer their clients.”

The GLR has some ways to go to reach its goal of becoming a statewide database — there are more than 30 MLSs in Michigan. But with the addition of Realcomp’s 13,100-plus members, the GLR will grow to about 17,200 agents, or 67 percent of the Realtors in the state.

Map of current GLR coverage (sans Realcomp listings)

Map of current GLR coverage (sans Realcomp listings)

Realcomp will add more than 30,000 active listings and more than 200,000 sold listings to the GLR database, bringing the total number of active listings in the database to over 55,000 when Realcomp data goes live on March 1, 2016.

That means the GLR will have about 66 percent of all active and historical listings in the state.

The GLR is powered by MRIS subsidiary CURE Solutions Group. This allows the GLR to overcome the technical barriers associated with sharing MLS content through multiple geographic areas, the release said.

MLSs do not pay fees to participate in the GLR. Rather, each MLS enters their own individual agreement directly with CURE to pay for the space their data occupies on the repository server CURE provides, DeRees said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.