Some real estate brokerages are asking multiple listing services for financial relief amid the coronavirus outbreak and Georgia MLS is listening.
The Tucker, Georgia-based company is cutting second-quarter dues for its broker and appraiser subscribers. Georgia MLS, which has 41,639 subscribers total, typically charges $100 per month in broker office dues and $20 per month per licensee within the office. In April, May and June, the MLS will not charge the $100 per month brokerage fee; the $20 monthly licensee fee will stand, Georgia MLS CMO John Ryan told Inman.
Georgia MLS has also reduced the monthly fee for appraisers by half, from $44 a month to $22 a month, during the second quarter.
The move comes as shelter-in-place orders curtail new listing activity and prevent agents from showing homes in person in markets across the country.
“This decision is designed to ease any financial uncertainty relating to MLS fees, and to help maintain an active real estate marketplace,” Ryan told Inman via email.
“The majority of these real estate broker members are independent small business owners and this relief will make a difference in keeping their operations going,” he added.
Ryan noted that the Council of MLSs (CMLS) held a webinar last week in which brokers asked for financial relief from MLSs. Real estate consulting firm WAV Group published a list of suggestions from that webinar brought by Craig Cheatham of brokerage network The Realty Alliance, Bill Fowler of Compass and Caitlin McCrory of Redfin.
At the top of the list was “Waive, reduce, delay as many dues, fees and penalties as possible for as long as possible, knowing cash flow and liquidity are the top issues brokers and agents are facing.” Both Compass and Redfin have laid off staff to cut costs during the pandemic and Redfin has also furloughed 41 percent of its agents.
Georgia MLS is offering its subscribers tools to work remotely while maintaining social distancing requirements, such as online transaction management forms, e-signatures and online training highlighting virtual tour functionalities. But Georgia MLS considers the fee suspension its “most significant COVID-19 adjustment.” The MLS will not collect the suspended fees once the three months is up and estimates the decision will cost them a little more than $1 million, Ryan said.
Georgia MLS’s announcement follows a similar move by the Houston Association of Realtors, which has nearly 40,000 subscribers. Last month, HAR announced it would be waiving third-quarter MLS fees for all subscribers current with their second-quarter fees. At $35 per month per subscriber, HAR will waive more than $4 million total, according to Chairman John Nugent.
The decision is HAR’s effort “to ease the financial burden on its subscribers during this challenging time,” the association said.