The largest multiple listing service in Tennessee has come up with a new way to stay in the good graces of brokers: paying them.
Nashville-based Realtracs has launched what it’s calling a “first-of-its-kind incentive program for real estate brokers,” in which the MLS pays brokers $5 for every closed listing on its platform. In 2019, 96,300 properties were posted for sale on Realtracs and about 60,000 closed, resulting in retroactive payments to brokers totaling $300,000.
Realtracs has more than 15,000 subscribers, of which 1,428 are brokers — all of whom are automatically enrolled in the “Realtracs Rewards” program. The MLS will pay brokers at the beginning of each calendar year for the previous year’s closings, the company said in a press release.
“Realtracs Rewards is a way to celebrate the success of the brokers and thank them for putting their trust in Realtracs,” said Realtracs CEO Stuart White in a statement.
“We are proud of the partnerships we’ve established with Realtors across Tennessee to ensure their MLS data remains highly accurate, and we are demonstrating our appreciation through the new incentive program.”
This year, 1,020 of the brokers will be getting payments, Realtracs told Inman in an email. The median number of listings a Realtracs broker closed last year was 15 and the median amount a broker will get in Realtracs Rewards is $75.
Realtracs’ broker members did not ask for the program, the MLS said. So why is Realtracs making this change?
“It’s important that Realtracs’ participants understand their importance to Realtracs and the entire real estate ecosystem. Offering Realtracs Rewards is one small way we can demonstrate their value and importance to the MLS,” a Realtracs spokesperson told Inman.
“Realtracs Rewards is also designed to increase broker participation in the MLS as well as further increase the accuracy of the data that is input, as rewards are tied to accurate information input in the MLS system,” the spokesperson added.
As a regional MLS owned by seven Realtor associations, Realtracs will implement the National Association of Realtors’ recently approved Clear Cooperation Policy to combat pocket listings.
“While the Realtracs Rewards program wasn’t created to specifically address off-MLS listings or the Clear Cooperation Policy, we trust it will have a positive secondary effect,” the Realtracs spokesperson said.
Asked why Realtracs isn’t using the $300,000 to improve the MLS overall or to lower dues for all subscribers instead, the spokesperson replied, “Realtracs does not depend on a vendor for its MLS product and has a team of top-quality engineers who, along with our Customer Happiness Representatives, gather, examine and prioritize subscriber and user feedback for the purpose of providing the latest tools our customers need — and demand — for their business.
“In the past year alone, a new add/edit system, client portal, login security application, and automatic billing system have been designed and created in-house, each with significant input from user feedback.
“It is the goal of Realtracs to lower fees for all users; however, that goal is not affected by whether or not we offer Realtracs Rewards. The program is not intended to be a financial windfall, in much the same way that your credit card or frequent flyer rewards program is not designed to be. However, as one high-producing broker stated recently, ‘It sure beats a poke in the eye.'”
The four brokerages earning the largest slices of Realtracs Rewards are, in no particular order, Benchmark Realty, Parks Realty, Keller Williams and Village Real Estate, the MLS said. Realtracs declined to comment on how much each of the four received.
“Benchmark Realty has had an outstanding relationship with Realtracs since 2006, and Realtracs Rewards is just another way they are demonstrating care and dedication to their members,” said Benchmark CEO Phillip Cantrell in a statement.
“They have always respected the time and effort that goes into the job of being a broker, and this program is evidence of their commitment to our success.”
Realtracs appears to be the first MLS nationwide offering this type of program. California Regional MLS (CRMLS) and Bright MLS have somewhat similar programs in which they compensate brokers for listings they allow to be syndicated to third-party portals.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from Realtracs and corrected to note that Realtracs is Realtor-owned, not broker-owned, and will be implementing NAR’s Clear Cooperation Policy.