A multiple listing service that hopes to become Louisiana’s first statewide MLS is growing while a rival service has also launched in the Bayou State.
The Northshore Area Board of Realtors (NABOR), a Realtor association in Mandeville, Louisiana, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, has joined broker-owned Greater Southern MLS. NABOR is the second association to join Greater Southern, which went live in July and has been funded and led by brokers representing more than 40 percent of all listings across the state, according to a press release. The first was the Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors (SWLAR), which has more than 700 members and is based in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
NABOR has about 700 members. Greater Southern MLS currently has about 1,500 subscribers. The California Regional MLS (CRMLS) is Greater Southern’s technology and services vendor, and Greater Southern serves as a link between CRMLS’s services and the local Realtor associations. The associations retail the MLS services to their members.
Brokers from around the state who do not belong to the two associations can also join Greater Southern because of the National Association of Realtors’ “MLS of Choice” policy, according to Greater Southern.
NABOR hasn’t had its own MLS for nearly two decades and therefore its members have historically used the Gulf South Real Estate Information Network (GSREIN), which at 7,093 subscribers is the largest MLS in Louisiana and serves the New Orleans metro area. There has been no formal agreement between GSREIN and NABOR and therefore it has been up to NABOR’s individual brokers which MLS to use.
Because a broker’s choice of Realtor association does not obligate a broker to participate in a particular MLS, that will continue to be the case even after NABOR begins offering Greater Southern as its MLS in first quarter 2021. Brokers will be able to take their listing data with them to Greater Southern because of NAR’s “MyDX” policy approved in May that gives brokers the right to get back the data they put into an MLS, according to Greater Southern.
“NABOR is joining Greater Southern MLS because we believe it is the best answer to support our members’ success with a broad range of MLS technologies, live, local training, more support and and a responsive, broker-led organization,” Steve Hayes, president of NABOR, told Inman via email.
“NABOR’s board of directors was impressed with the agility and customer-centricity demonstrated by Greater Southern MLS. The passion demonstrated by the 30+ brokerages that self-funded this initiative on behalf of the nearly 5,000 agents they support, convinced us this was the right way to re-imagine organized real estate in Louisiana and achieve the ultimate dream of a statewide MLS, eliminating the need for brokers to join nine MLSs to get data around the state.”
Greater Southern MLS subscribers will have access to Homesnap Pro and 15 other technologies designed to help build client relationships and generate business opportunities, according to Greater Southern.
“Our members look to us for proactive leadership about the best ways we can support their success with a broad range of MLS technologies. Greater Southern MLS will help us generate national listing exposure and leads,” Hayes said in a statement.
“We will also provide FREE data feeds so that every broker can leverage MLS data fully to fuel innovation and brand differentiation.”
NABOR’s brokers currently have to pay for data feeds from GSREIN.
“For brokers that operate in multiple MLS markets around the state of Louisiana data fees can cost thousands per year. One small sponsoring Greater Southern MLS broker, for example, has only seven agents and yet must belong to four MLSs and pay for 12 data feeds to operate his company,” Webb Jay, president of Greater Southern, told Inman via email.
“Broker margins are getting squeezed from so many directions. That’s why the largest and most proactive brokerages in the state came together to find a more efficient and cost-effective way to work together.”
Although Greater Southern’s press release repeatedly made mention of the MLS’s low cost and desire to reduce operating costs for brokers, Webb declined to specify Greater Southern’s pricing.
“Greater Southern MLS is in partnership with NABOR and SWLAR — wholesaling the service to each of the associations and then they determine price for their subscribers. We cannot share competitive pricing publicly,” Jay said.
GSREIN declined to comment on the data fees and dues it charges, but noted that NABOR is not a shareholder in GSREIN and GSREIN counts 1,060 brokers among its members.
“Since GSREIN is the largest MLS in the state of Louisiana with approximately 7,100 subscribers, it has been able to continue to provide a myriad of services without increasing its fees for many years. As a matter of fact, in 2020 GSREIN provided brokers and members a reduction in fees,” Rosemary Scardina, GSREIN’s MLS director, told Inman via email.
“To maintain its focus on the customer, it continues to roll out new products and services at no additional cost. GSREIN has always provided state of the art products and services at the most economical cost to its participants and subscribers.”
Scardina also noted that GSREIN and two other MLSs in Louisiana with a combined membership of about 11,000, including Louisiana’s second-largest MLS, are in the midst of an “MLS consolidation endeavor.” She declined to comment further.
Greater Southern was formed because “MLSs are not as nimble, agile or customer-centric as they should be,” according to Greater Southern.
“Greater Southern MLS’s governance structure provides the ability for every brokerage, no matter their size, to own only one share, providing every licensed brokerage with an equal voice in decision-making and ownership. There is no way that any one brokerage or region can dominate the conversation,” Jay said.
“Second, the board of directors provides a balanced point of view between large, mid-size and small brokers as well as brokers representing participating associations. Decisions are made quickly when a group of decisive, proactive and no-nonsense brokers get together and make it happen.”
Meanwhile, a competing statewide MLS, LA State MLS, has launched. The service is privately owned by State Listings Inc., a company founded in 2009 as NY State MLS and partially owned by its president and CEO, Dawn Pfaff. LA State MLS is a subset of My State MLS, a nationwide MLS that State Listings debuted in 2015. My State MLS has about 50,000 members, of which about 36,000 are subscribers of NY State MLS.
Since My State MLS rolled out, it has attracted thousands of members in the South and about 2,000 licensed in Louisiana, according to Pfaff.
“LA State MLS is a new website that is a part of the My State MLS network, which will help generate leads for our members and give our members an additional listing tool,” she told Inman via email.
“This site was formed specifically for brokers in Louisiana at the request of some brokers that wanted to be able to work anywhere they were licensed in the state of Louisiana, but also wanted to be a part of a larger nationwide network like My State MLS,” she added.
Both LA State MLS and Greater Southern MLS said neither had anything to do with the other. Still, both MLSs are positioning themselves as better for brokers than incumbent MLSs.
“LA State MLS, NY State MLS and My State MLS are the result of years of frustration working with other MLSs that oftentimes don’t provide easily accessible listing data or the visibility needed. The products were carefully designed to address many of the drawbacks currently present in other MLSs, including the breadth of data and the fairness of some of the rules,” LA State MLS said in a press release.
“We developed and own our software, so we can pivot and update our platform quickly to better serve our members and the way they do business. Our custom technology gives members more control and helps to streamline business operations without any fines to members,” Pfaff said in a statement.
Unlike many MLSs, both LA State MLS and Greater Southern MLS allow agents to list all property types, including residential, commercial, business, land-leased properties, auctions, manufactured homes and mobile homes. Both also syndicate to more than 85 third-party listing sites, including Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com.
While Greater Southern dismissed LA State MLS as “a software company, not a Louisiana-broker sanctioned entity like Greater Southern MLS,” Pfaff told Inman that State Listings is a software company, but LA State MLS is an MLS because it exists for cooperation, compensation and referrals between subscribers.
“There are rules and all members must be licensed and under a participant broker who agrees to the rules. Part of the rules are that data must be kept updated and we do have checks and balances for that purpose,” Pfaff said.
“LA State MLS provides a different service from the local or regional board-owned MLS, as we are a part of a nationwide network and provide many other real estate services and agent tools.”
Asked how LA State MLS keeps its data accurate and timely without fines, Pfaff said, “My State MLS has rules for timing submission of the listings, and they must have a listing contract. They send weekly emails for members to keep the listings updated. Members have to change the status of the listings in a timely manner, per the My State MLS rules. Agents agree to arbitration in the event of a dispute. Accounts can be suspended for those who don’t comply with rules.”