Monday, February 20, 2017

The Front Range MLS Fight

by Osman Parvez
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If you've been reading the news, you know that regional MLS systems on the Front Range are in a turf war.  

Here's what you need to know. 

1. There are many MLS systems in Colorado but only three primary systems on Colorado's Front Range: ColoProperty (a.k.a IRES), ReColorado, and PPAR.  

2.  Market penetration varies dramatically by city.  ColoProperty's primary footprint is Broomfield and north. ReColorado is primarily Denver and suburbs. PPAR is mostly centered around the Springs. Here in the Boulder market, the vast majority of listings are placed on ColoProperty.  In some markets, like Westminster, ReColorado has far more penetration. 
A Turf War over Data Sharing

3.  The MLS turf war began years ago with a battle over the extent of data sharing.  It reached a fever when ReColorado made an unsolicited offer to buy IRES. The offer was turned down. ReColorado retaliated by killing data sharing. The future is now up in the air. Data sharing ends in March.
4. Serious real estate professionals already belong to multiple MLS systems. Why? Because data sharing was never a perfect solution.  It was limited. Information was incomplete, duplicitous, and restricted from one MLS system to another.  Important information such as links to disclosure documents was often missing. If you tried to access past sales, data was limited to only 6 months - a critical failure in an inventory starved market.

5. It doesn't really matter how the MLS turf war plays out. Whether you're buying or selling, agents needs access to multiple MLS systems to properly analyze comparable sales and get the full picture. If you're shopping for a real estate agent, ask your real estate agent which MLS systems they have access to.  If they say that belonging to one is good enough, find a better Realtor.  

6. Part time agents and rookies often think they can limp along without access to multiple MLS systems. This lack of access puts their buyers and sellers at a serious disadvantage. To point, as of this writing ColoProperty has 30% more house listings in Boulder. That's WITH data sharing still in place.  If you're marketing a listing on IRES only, all the Denver area agents (and their clients) may not get the information. Whether you're buying or selling, you want to make sure your real estate agent has access to multiple MLS systems and has set up your listing or search alerts correctly.  Sellers should list on all relevant MLS systems.  There is no harm caused by duplicate listings.

7. Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin are beautiful websites but (a) have inaccurate, dirty data and (b) agents sometimes restrict placing listing on these websites.  Remember, if you're not paying for the service, you're what's being sold.  

8. If you're a serious real estate agent, suck it up and get out your wallet. The cost to belong to multiple residential MLS systems is trivial compared to the risk of providing your clients with poor service. You should expect to invest some time too. MLS systems keep their home turf by forcing real estate agents to belong to local associations and invest time in training programs. 

Note: At Realty Unique, our primary market is Boulder County (including Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, Lyons, and Superior). Over the last few years, we've helped clients buy and sell property in other markets including Fort Collins, Loveland, Berthoud, Erie, Salida, and Colorado Springs.  In addition to having access to ReColorado and ColoProperty, I joined PPAR to better serve my clients. This required a training class on their MLS system and a full day of productivity.  It well worth it. 


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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate.  image: Clem Onojeghuo

2 comments:

  1. From a buyer's perspective, redfin's listing data seems closely synced with coloproperty for Boulder shopping. I'm not sure why any customer -- with an agent or without one -- would want to use the inferior UI of these weaker systems.

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  2. The UI experience is better but the data is incomplete. For armchair buying or selling, use whatever you want - it doesn't matter. Enjoy! But, if you want to write a competitive offer without overpaying, or if you want to maximize the sale price of your house, you need the full picture of the market.

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