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Chairman’s Message: Deciphering Data Definitions and Differences

Quincy Virgilio: MLSListings Inc 2015 Chairman

Quincy Virgilio
2017 Chairman, MLSListings

Finding, accessing, and using real estate data may seem like a daunting task, yet it’s the most vital resource we have. Trying to determine what data is relevant for your needs, which sources are the best starting place, and how to make heads or tails of the data can be overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one “go to” source for everything we need? Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in, at least not yet.

Understanding the Data Landscape

Traditionally, MLS data has been tightly controlled by different MLS silos. If this sounds counter to the benefit of the real estate industry and the professionals in it, that’s because it is. MLSListings has been fighting for data sharing for years. Now, thankfully, the data dam is beginning to break. More and more MLSs are entering contractual data share agreements. MLSListings already has several such agreements in place, covering southern California, Bay Area, and East Bay MLSs.

Data Share vs. Data Aggregation

Data share is the contractual agreement between MLSs to move brokers’ property information outside of their MLS. The contract spells out exactly what data can be sent and what it can be used for. For example, if you get a listing in the East Bay, you don’t have to join an MLS there anymore. You can just enter it into MLSListings and it will show up in all the East Bay MLSs. And vice versa. You can easily tell which MLS was the point of origin for a listing by checking out the MLS number.  All our listings start with “ML” whereas a “BE” tells you it originated in the East Bay.

Data aggregation is the process of making listings visible and available from MLSs with which we have reciprocal agreements. It’s an agreement to let other MLSs see our listings if they agree to show us theirs. To see reciprocal listings, you’d have to go out to each respective MLS’ website. By agreement, reciprocal data is viewed within a secondary search tool, not in the MLS’s primary search tool.

MLSListings has data share agreements with 11 counties so far. In addition, we have reciprocal access agreements with another 14 counties.

Finding the Hidden Inventory Inside the MLS

You’re likely already familiar with the Coming Soon section of the Pro portal. This is where listings are pre-marketed before they are officially Active. These listings are only visible to the MLSListings Subscriber Community. They do not go out through data feeds or syndication to public consumer portals.

Another great source for finding more listings is CA Edition. You’ll find it on the left side of the Pro portal. Whereas Matrix allows you to search for listings originating from 11 counties, CA Edition aggregates data from 25 originating counties. CA Edition doesn’t yet have the robust CMA and client report features that Matrix offers (but stay tuned, it’s coming), it does have an excellent basic search and report tool to ensure your clients don’t see listings that you don’t.

Things to Keep in Mind

We know it’s difficult and confusing to understand the differences in the data sets. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Accept and embrace the fact that there is no “one size fits all” solution yet. You will have to put in the effort to find listings in multiple sources.
  • CA Edition is simply one more tool to add to your data toolbox.
  • Expect that your clients have done their homework and compiled their own data. Clients will even test you to see if you are up on the market and data that’s out there.
  • Take advantage of MLSListings training to shortcut the learning process so that you can quickly and efficiently use all the tools available to you. Check out the Training Calendar for all the offered listing and searching classes. If you need help, feel free to email the Professional Development team directly at prodev@mlslistings.com.

Don’t let confusion, intimidation, frustration, or other pain points associated with data research and analysis keep you from tapping these essential resources. MLSListings is here to support you and help you make the most of data so that you can be successful for your clients. The greatest value (and differentiator) you can offer to a client is the depth and breadth of your knowledge about their situation, and your ability to leverage everything at your disposal to create a successful transaction for them.

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