The nation’s largest multiple listing service has inked a deal with a real estate tech firm it partially owns to launch an MLS platform for its subscribers at the beginning of next year.
In December, California Regional MLS, which has more than 110,000 agent and broker subscribers, invested an undisclosed amount in real estate data platform Perchwell through CRMLS’s new venture capital fund, Venture MLS, which is the first such fund created by an MLS. At the time, CRMLS told Inman CRMLS would launch Perchwell’s platform sometime in 2022.
Six months later, the two companies have completed an agreement and announced that they expect Perchwell to go live to CRMLS users by first-quarter 2023. The platform will be a CRMLS member benefit at no extra cost to subscribers, CRMLS CEO Art Carter told Inman via email.
Because of Venture MLS’s equity stake in Perchwell, CRMLS can bring the platform to its subscribers “with an eye toward building a broader partnership,” according to a press release.
“Real estate professionals at every level are demanding improvements to MLS technology,” Carter said in a statement.
“Now that we can work with technology providers through Venture MLS, we are more than just clients. We are giving brokers a seat at the table where stakeholders make decisions about this industry’s future. When we launch the revolutionary Perchwell product, we will have the first proof that Venture MLS investments benefit our users directly.”
Carter told Inman that Venture MLS aims to grow brokers’ options.
“When brokers ask us for a product to fulfill a need, our options now extend beyond licensing something off of the rack,” he said. “This gives brokers a say in what kinds of MLS technology exist in the market.”
Asked why it took six months to complete an agreement with a company CRMLS partially owns, Carter said, “The agreement has been finalized for some time, but we are choosing to announce it now.”
Founded in 2015, Perchwell is both a “back end” (database) MLS product and a “front end” MLS product. “Front end” refers to what agents see when they log on. Perchwell marries listing information to public and private data sets that provide context to those listings and provides workflow and productivity tools such as custom analytics, reports, listing presentations, listing syndication, client collaboration, and contact management.
In the release, the companies touted Perchwell’s ability to integrate with other industry tech products and its “end-to-end” features, which the companies contrasted to “the industry’s legacy offerings.” In particular, the companies highlighted that Perchwell presents listing results on the first screen users see when they log in, which helps them filter searches “without needing to arrange their search criteria to fit fields first.”
“Perchwell reimagines the user experience from the start,” Carter said. “When they log into Perchwell, they see results first and filter second.”
“Perchwell’s user experience is much more dynamic and interactive than legacy MLS systems, enabling users to access the information they need far faster,” Carter said.
“Further, the integration between Perchwell’s mobile and desktop experiences is seamless, consistent, and full-featured across different devices. Currently CRMLS must do separate training for mobile and desktop versions of legacy MLS platforms, whereas we don’t have to do that with Perchwell.”
CRMLS already offers front ends from CoreLogic, Black Knight, FBS and Rapattoni, but Perchwell stood apart, Carter told Inman at the time of CRMLS’s investment.
“[I]ts differentiating features include how it handles data on the back end and how it presents to users on the front end,” Carter said. “Perchwell makes it easy for MLSs like ours to plug in data without having to do too much translation or allocate everything into silos. For users, in plain language, it just looks good and works.
“I don’t think I’m being unfair when I characterize other popular front ends as having dated user interface designs. We’ve seen some great advances in recent years, but we acknowledge that many agents and brokers are dissatisfied with how their MLS platforms look in comparison to other sites they visit.”
So far, Perchwell has only debuted in New York City where the company says it’s the technology platform of choice among top local and national brokerages including Sotheby’s International Realty, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and Serhant.
Perchwell also operates the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)’s Residential Listing Service, the Big Apple’s de facto MLS.
The Multiple Listing Service of Greater Cincinnati, known as CincyMLS, recently signed a deal to replace its Rapattoni MLS system with Perchwell either in the fourth quarter this year or in first-quarter 2023. That timeline for CincyMLS hasn’t changed, according to Brendan Fairbanks, Perchwell’s founder and CEO. Fairbanks told Inman in April that Perchwell will debut in CRMLS before rolling out in CincyMLS.
“We are excited to take such an important step in meeting the significant demand for Perchwell that we’re hearing from agents across the country,” Fairbanks said in a statement.
“Working with CRMLS does more than just grow our reach. It helps us prove how valuable our platform is to like-minded members of the residential real estate industry.”
CRMLS plans to make Perchwell available to all of its participating Realtor associations and how many CRMLS subscribers end up using the platform will depend on whether associations choose to switch to Perchwell entirely or to offer it as an additional front-end option, according to Carter.
“Based on the feedback we’ve received so far, we already know that multiple Associations are eager to get started with Perchwell,” he said.
“We will promote Perchwell to our users through channels like office meetings, webinar trainings, and marketing campaigns,” he added.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from CRMLS and Perchwell.