Increasingly, multiple listing services — the companies that host the private databases where virtually all of the nation’s real estate listings live — are joining forces amid pressure to do better by their agent and broker customers.
This week, MLSs in Colorado and Florida have announced consolidation efforts they say will make their subscribers’ jobs easier while they explore further ways to collaborate.
In the Front Range region of Colorado, Information and Real Estate Services (IRES) and the Pikes Peak Realtor Services Corp. (RSC) have signed an agreement allowing their respective members to show properties across each other’s territories through the SentriLock lockbox system.
In Florida, the Jacksonville-based Northeast Florida MLS and the Hernando County Association of Realtors MLS have inked a deal to share listing data and Supra lockbox key access.
The four MLSs indicated that there would likely be more cooperation between them in the future.
“RSC and IRES are committed to explore further initiatives in the coming months, including single point of entry with a goal of allowing brokers to enter a listing in either system, and populate data wherever they desire it to appear. While specific solutions and a timeline have not yet been determined, the companies will explore a variety of possible solutions,” the MLSs said in a press release.
There is no formal agreement to collaborate further at this time, IRES CEO Lauren Hansen told Inman via email.
“[B]ut [we] are working cooperatively toward this and other potential solutions with a continued goal of providing the best possible service to real estate professionals our organizations serve,” she said.
Last year, large real estate brokers in the Front Range called for IRES, RSC and the state’s largest MLS, REcolorado, to merge. REcolorado and IRES took up the call, but Colorado Springs-based PPAR declined to participate in merger talks, saying doing so was “not practical.” Merger talks between IRES and REcolorado later fell apart.
In December 2017, IRES and RSC made a deal to share active and sold listings through a free tool called RPR View from National Association of Realtors subsidiary Realtors Property Resource. IRES has about 6,000 agent, broker and appraiser subscribers; and RSC, which is a subsidiary of the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, has about 3,600 MLS subscribers.
Asked whether the “further initiatives” to be explored include the possibility of the merged single database that brokers asked for, Hansen said, “While we are not prepared to discuss details of other possible initiatives at this time, we will continue to take small steps initially and explore additional cooperative measures that benefit the brokers we serve.”
Asked whether “single point of entry” refers to incorporating tools like Upstream or Bridge Interactive, Hansen again declined to elaborate.
For now, in about a month, the agreement between IRES and RSC will allow brokers that use SentriLock that are either IRES or RSC customers to utilize the lockbox system seamlessly without paying additional fees, Hansen said.
“In other words, an IRES-member broker in Fort Collins, for example, can show a SentriLock property listed by a RSC-member broker in Colorado Springs and gain access through the SentriLock system as though the request was taking place through one MLS or the other. Since both RSC and IRES use the SentriLock technology, the commonality and the easy-to-activate reciprocity service offered by SentriLock provided a solution the two MLSs could quickly provide to their customers,” she said.
Because fewer than 50 brokers belong to both IRES and RSC, the deal benefits thousands of brokers throughout the state, she added.
“[T]he SentriLock reciprocity agreement is particularly helpful for college towns, and both IRES and RSC serve that market. For example, if a Colorado Springs buyer is interested in buying a condo for their University of Colorado student – or CSU, UNC and others – this SentriLock agreement makes it that much easier. And it goes both ways, of course, so the Greeley parents of a Colorado College student gain the same benefits,” Hansen said.
“Also important: IRES and RSC are looking for easy-to-implement solutions, like SentriLock, in addition to long-term solutions to meet the needs of our practitioners. Our practitioners need us to work together and we are finding ways to provide solutions, and our organizations want to continue to demonstrate we can in fact work together for their benefit, both short-term and long-term.”
Asked about merger talks with REcolorado, Hansen said, “We received the termination notice from REColorado in August. Since that time, several owners from both organizations are continuing to have conversations, but there are currently no new developments.”
Over in the Sunshine State, the Northeast Florida MLS, operating as RealtyWEB.Net, and the Hernando County Association of Realtors have signed a deal to share their combined 20,000-plus active listings as well as sold data.
“This is a mutually beneficial service provided to our combined membership. The data share is a non-threatening solution as the listing data will appear in our respective MLS systems. While alternate data sharing methods will be used as well, members will be able to view listing and comparable historic data within the applications they use on a daily basis without having to learn a new program,” Ron Stephan, CEO of RealtyWEB.Net MLS, said in a statement.
The MLS is a subsidiary of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR) and has more than 6,000 subscribers.
Both MLSs use FBS’s flexmls as their MLS system, which will mean a “a seamless integration,” they said in a press release.
The deal will mean an expanded geographic footprint for agents and brokers to search for properties for homebuyers and provide more exposure for sellers.
In a statement, NEFAR CEO Glenn East also noted that its MLS will be sharing access to its Supra lock box service with the members of Hernando County Association of Realtors at no additional expense to either association’s membership.
“In 2015, NEFAR opened its Supra lock box key access to all Florida Realtor members, at no additional expense, provided they have a current primary Supra key access within their primary Realtor association. Florida Realtor members utilizing alternate key box systems may purchase individual access to the NEFAR lock box system,” he said.
In a video accompanying the announcement, the MLSs said the deal was a “start” and “not the limit” of what the MLSs could do together.