The New York Metro area is revered as the leading real estate force in the world. Doing business here, however, has historically been riddled with inaccurate data and numerous back-end listing systems.
For some background, 20 years ago, Long Island brokers had access to upwards of five MLS systems. In order to stay relevant and competitive, members of the Long Island Board of REALTORS® (LIBOR) had to belong to all of them. At the same time, the Hudson Valley was fractured into numerous real estate associations, each with their own MLS. Talk about an inefficient way to do business that’s not cost-effective.
Three years ago, I attended a meeting with other New York State REALTOR® association leaders and the topic of regionalization came up. I looked at Richard Haggerty, CEO of the Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORS®, Inc. (HGAR), and we seemed to have the same idea: If anyone was going to create a consolidated MLS in New York, it should be our two organizations.
LIBOR and HGAR have collaborated to create the recently launched OneKey™ MLS, the first regionalized MLS in the New York Metro area, which focuses on the territory within commuting distance to Manhattan. The changes we made to regionalize were driven by brokers’ needs. If this is something you’re considering, take the following steps to ensure its success.
Make the Technology Work
The biggest challenge of regionalization is converting existing data to a new system, especially when merging more than one MLS. Stratus Data Systems had the huge undertaking of converting LIBOR’s system for our 29,000 members. Working in concert with HGAR’s provider, CoreLogic Matrix, Stratus had to make extremely significant changes to ensure everything matched up with the new system. At every step, true teamwork was crucial to making this work.
Provide Resources for Your Members
Once the infrastructure is in place, it’s time to prepare your members for the transition. Education and communication are the most important tools in your arsenal. We’ve hosted numerous webinars and created instructional videos on the changes to virtually hold the hands of our members leading up to launch. All involved organizations should remain collaborative throughout the process to ensure the messaging and communication remains consistent and timely.
Open It Up to Consumers
Once your brokers are on board, it’s time to open up the MLS to consumers. While accurate and reliable listings from the source are important, you also need to give them more. OneKey™ MLS features multilingual search and community guides that include important details of every geographic area included on the site. Users can search for properties to buy or rent by county, neighborhood, city/town, zip code or by drawing a custom search on a map.
If you’re questioning whether regionalization is right for your market, there are a few things to consider. Is this something that will benefit brokers in your area? Are there other MLSs that you can merge with to create the most consolidated, farthest-reaching MLS? If so, it may be time to consider moving in this direction. Your members, and their clients, will thank you for it.
Jim Speer is CEO of OneKey™ MLS, New York Metro’s first regional multiple listing service. For more information, visit www.onekeymlsny.com.