When California MLSs don’t share data with each other, it harms agents, brokers and consumers. Agents can’t get a full picture of what’s on the market in their service areas, pay for multiple MLS subscriptions and must learn different MLS platforms to perform simple tasks — like pulling comps. MLSs that don’t share data with each other are an expensive headache for agents.
Brokers pay dearly to manage multiple data streams from different MLSs, as well as multiple subscription fees which can be in the thousands of dollars. Administrative overhead skyrockets as brokers try to deal with enormous volumes of data to populate their websites and marketing materials. MLSs that don’t share data with each other waste time and money by duplicating administrative and technical overhead. Consumers don’t have any artificial boundaries, and go wherever they want to access real estate listings. They bypass brokers and agents on a daily basis by visiting third party portals, where they can often get more information for free from publicly available sources than agents and brokers can.
Even if you work in a single neighborhood or small city, your clients could come from anywhere — and most likely will. And what if they move? You can’t control where they want to look for a new home. It’s in your interest as a real estate professional to have universal access to every listing in California through a single point of access, your local MLS.
When MLSs don’t share data, you don’t have a complete view of the market in your MLS. If your clients move, you want to be able to help. Accurate data is at the core of the real estate business. Without data sharing, agents and brokers are limited in their ability to search and list property beyond their association or MLS without paying additional fees and learning the rules and regulations of additional MLSs.
There are 55 MLSs and 116 local real estate associations in the state of California. Collectively, these MLSs and associations facilitate the annual sales of more than 400,000 real estate listings in California worth close to $170 billion.
Today, 75 associations and MLSs share data through a variety of data sharing agreements and data feeds. Since not all sharing agreements are created equal, even those that share may not allow those who are not direct subscribers to see a complete listing profile. That means another 41 associations and MLSs do not share data.
There are a host of reasons why an MLS or association may choose not to share their data. For real estate professionals in high-end markets or communities where vacation rentals are prevalent, many fear that data sharing could result in an influx of brokers and agents from outside the area. What this argument doesn’t take into account is that brokers and agents from outside the area can already buy and sell properties on behalf of clients in these areas by joining the local association or MLS.
Another reason why MLSs and associations may decide not to share is fear of consolidation or loss of dues revenue. If agents and brokers only need to join one association or MLS in order to access all the real estate data they need, then some MLSs and associations may no longer be able to sustain operations. In this case it may make sense to consolidate with another association.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for data sharing in California. The process varies from simple and straightforward data sharing agreements to the use of complex multi-million dollar technology products to facilitate it. If you’re curious to learn more about how data is shared, take a look at how CRMLS shares data in California.
For more than 100 years, the Multiple Listing Service has existed to foster cooperation and compensation between real estate professionals. MLSs have become a champion for the highest data integrity possible.. Often described as the lifeblood of the real estate business, real estate professionals rely on the MLS to market listings to other agents and their clients, and to search for available properties for their buyers.
MLSs are governed by an elected or appointed board of directors comprised of industry professionals. Together, these directors create rules and standards that facilitate the sharing of property information between real estate professionals within the MLS system.
MLS dues pay for complete access to the MLS listing database. Often times, annual dues also include access to additional products and services from affiliated vendors at no charge or at a discounted price.
The MLS exists to help agents and brokers become more productive by facilitating compensation and cooperation through access to accurate data. Listing a property on the MLS ensures it’s exposed to a wide pool of thousands of brokers, agents, and buyers. For buyers and buyer’s agents, the MLS provides an up-to-date source of real estate information. What’s more, the MLS enables real estate professionals to understand how much they will be paid for cooperating in the sale of a property and offers the rules and regulations to collect on that commission in the event of a dispute.
The vision for data sharing is that a real estate professional can join one association or MLS and get access to every listing in the state of California. The need for agents and brokers to join only one MLS or association to access statewide data could result in a loss of revenue to local associations and neighboring MLSs. Any decision around consolidation would be up to the leadership of the association and MLS.
There are many ways to get involved with the It’s My Business campaign. One way to get involved is to share your story about how the MLS affects your business with us here. Or use our downloadable talking points at your next leadership meeting.