In a market where million-dollar real estate listings often sell in days, a fragmented MLS market and the inefficiency it brings can be frustrating and potentially costly for a real estate agent.

In a market where million-dollar real estate listings often sell in days, a fragmented MLS market and the inefficiency it brings can be frustrating and potentially costly for a real estate agent.

Aiming to alleviate some of that pain, four San Francisco Bay Area multiple listing services are joining forces so that subscribers can stop hopping between various systems to access the data they need.

Starting April 3, the more than 30,000 real estate brokers and agents that belong these MLSs will have “unconstrained access” to one another’s listings through a new agreement, the MLSs announced today:

  • Silicon Valley-based MLSListings,
  • the Contra Costa Association of Realtors (CCAR) MLS,
  • the Bay East Association of Realtors MLS, and
  • East Bay Regional MLS (owned by the Oakland/Berkeley Association of Realtors), aka East Bay Regional Data (EBRDI)

With a single entry on subscribers’ home platform, listings will automatically be shared with the other MLSs and placed in their IDX feeds for public website display.

“The future of real estate is to build bridges and not borders. MLS borders have no meaning to buyers and sellers, and should not exist in our industry,” said Quincy Virgilio, 2016 chairman for MLSListings, in a statement. MLSListings has about 16,000 subscribers.

This arrangement is part of a trend toward more MLS collaboration in the real estate industry with the aim of increasing efficiencies for agents and brokers. It’s not a merger, however, so the MLSs remain separate entities with their own rules, regulations and databases.

‘Destroys an artificial barrier’

Today, a real estate agent must visit two different MLS systems to get aggregated listing data already available to consumers on realtor.com, Bay East Association of Realtors CEO Tricia Thomas told Inman in an interview.

Tricia Thomas

“That will change on Monday,” she said. And agents will get “a much richer data set than consumers get,” she added.

All of the MLSs except MLSListings already share an MLS platform, a Paragon system from Black Knight.

The East Bay MLSs have 1,989 active listings and a total of 1.3 million listings records (including off-market data), while MLSListings has 3,787 active listings and a total of 1.1 million listing records, all of which will be aggregated and available to members of both — nearly doubling the listing data available to agents.

This new deal expands a previous data-share agreement established about a decade ago that allowed members of these four MLSs and four other MLSs to single sign-on into each other’s systems to view and enter listing data. This meant that agents and brokers didn’t necessarily have to belong to the other MLSs, but it’s “not efficient,” Thomas said.

“Although we have had access to these separate portals for quite some time, this system enhancement will cut out the administrative redundancies required to access all of that separate data,” said CCAR President Michele Manzone in a statement today.

“In essence, this advanced MLS system will bridge the virtual geographic divide that once separated more than 30,000 Realtors and their property data. Together, the combined data from each of the parallel systems represents an expanded farm area covering Contra Costa and Alameda counties, Silicon Valley, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and San Mateo counties.”

Agents will no longer have to maintain the same listing in two systems for increased listing exposure — the expanded data share will automatically give agents’ listings more attention by populating into the other MLSs and their IDX listing feeds, Thomas said. Agents will also be able to complete a single comparative market analysis for a given area covered by more than one MLS, Thomas said.

Previously, agents would have had to join both MLSListings and one of the East Bay MLSs to be included in the IDX feed of the other.

“It kind of destroys this artificial boundary that’s existed between” MLSListings and the East Bay MLS platform, Thomas said.

“It’s a huge savings for agents who want to do business and incorporate those MLSs in their market area,” she added.

Why not consolidate?

“There are lots of reasons to” consolidate and there have been many discussions over the years about merging Bay Area MLSs, but they haven’t worked out, according to Thomas.

“That could be for many reasons,” she said, including that some MLSs say their members haven’t asked for consolidation because they don’t work outside their MLS market area.

Still, many agents and brokers want a “one MLS experience” and the MLSs wanted to advance toward that, consolidation or no consolidation, Thomas said.

“Let’s drive toward a one MLS experience that saves members money, increases efficiencies, and provides a better client experience,” she said.

She hopes the next step will be to convince the other Bay Area MLSs they data share with — San Francisco MLS, BAREIS, Metrolist, and Nevada County MLS — to expand the data share like the East Bay MLSs and MLSListings have. The expanded data share could be the “proof of concept” to start conversations with the other MLSs, Thomas said.

“In a perfect world, an agent would be able to go to their home MLS system and do everything they need in one system with data from every MLS in the data share,” she said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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