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6 Jun 2008
The Sequim MLS and Port Angeles MLS consists of the Olympic Listing Service (OLS) and for some the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). All local brokers and agents are members of the OLS, but not all are members of the NWMLS.
I’ve been meditating on this issue in light of the great conflict that stirs quietly behind the scenes among brokers. Mediation is a good thing. It reduces stress and sometimes gives us answers that seem to drop down out of the heavens.
While I was meditating on the relative merits of these two competing listing services, I had a revelation, and suddenly something hit me on the head pretty good. I thought God’s messenger had miraculously tapped me with wisdom. When I got up, I realized it was just the book on my computer monitor that fell. Fortunately, my head cushioned its fall. Unfortunately, my revelation probably found its roots in terra firma rather than the heavens.
By now, you’re probably thinking, “So, what is the revelation?” Perhaps it’s more of a reflection, rather than a revelation. Okay, here it is. Since us local agents are all members of the OLS but not all members of the NWMLS, that makes the NWMLS pretty much useless. Let me explain.
When an agent does a search of the listing database of all homes and land for sale in Sequim and Port Angeles, he needs a complete database. If the database is incomplete, he cannot expect to pull together a decent set of comps to determine price or make accurate comparisons. Since not all local brokers are members of the NWMLS, that database is incomplete, and any data used to arrive at price comparisons will also be less than complete.
Some brokers or agents like to make the argument that having a listing in both systems gets exposure to Seattle side agents and buyers, but no agent I know in Sequim or Port Angeles has been able to tell me that they have sold a listed property that way. Local agents use the OLS, not the NWMLS to search for local properties and to email clients reports.
I have used both listing services, and there’s no question at all which is better–it is the NWMLS. The NWMLS has much better technology, and it has much better content with the statewide forms. Unfortunately, because many brokers refuse to be part of the NWMLS but all are members of the OLS, that means only the OLS is a complete database. Why don’t all agents and brokers simply agree to be part of the NWMLS?
First, we are not, in fact, picking up any buyers through the NWMLS. That alone ought to be enough. Some of my clients will logically say, “Well, don’t we get more exposure?” Reasonable question, but I never got any calls from Seattle area Realtors during the entire year I was a member of both services here, nor has any Realtor in Clallam County ever sold one of their listings through the NWMLS that I know of, and I have talked with many many agents on this issue. Sure, someone somewhere is going to come up with an exception from years past. But we don’t deal with would of, could of, or maybe. We are trying to sell real estate now to real buyers.
Second, where are our buyers coming from? Mostly from out of state, and I also track Seattle area people hitting my website. Guess what the Seattle buyers are doing (and I just wrote an offer for a Seattle area buyer on a $419,000 house)? They are jumping up on the Internet and going to the search engines. They don’t go to a Seattle area Realtor’s website to log into NWMLS. They are finding my sites directly through the search engines. That’s what people do now. They use search engines. They type in phrases like, “Port Angeles real estate water view” or a similar phrase. When they type that in a search engine, they get real results right here in River City. If they type such a search in the NWMLS, they don’t get much, because the majority of local listings are not there, but they are NOT going to the NWMLS to do this search. They, like everyone else, are using search engines, like Google.
Third, most people don’t realize the NWMLS cost about $960 for me as a broker to sign up, and about $360 per year for me and every one of my agents. If a broker is a member, it is mandatory that all agents be members. Since leads don’t come in from the NWMLS (honestly they do NOT), that would be like throwing money off the bridge.
Fourth, the OLS and the NWMLS are only two databases available on the Internet, and there are about three dozen that people use. Most all of these real estate databases are pulling information from sources other than the NWMLS. These other database services or Internet services are optimized for the search engines. The NWMLS and the OLS are not optimized for search engines.
Until all local brokers agree to be members of the NWMLS, there is not a compelling reason to do so. Why do you think the largest local brokerage, Coldwell Banker Uptown Realty, is not a member?
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