How about that Sequim MLS? Sequim and Port Angeles are currently stuck with two multiple listing services (MLS). The Olympic Listing Service (OLS) has 100% of all local MLS listings in it, which is to say that all Sequim and Port Angeles agents are members of the OLS.
UPDATED JANUARY 2021: You can read this 2017 article for some history on this subject, but I recommend you also read the most recent article at: NWMLS v OLS.
Sequim MLS System
The second MLS is the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), and it has been the primary MLS for King and Pierce Counties and many other counties for years. As shown in the graph, a smaller percentage of local agents are also members of the NWMLS.
Searching the Sequim MLS?
When buyers are searching the Sequim MLS or the OLS, which system do they use? That depends on the site they are using to search the MLS. If they are using a site with the NWMLS IDX data feed, they are not seeing all of the listings for sale here. If they are using a site with the OLS IDX data feed, they are seeing 100% of the listings. But buyers may not know this as they are doing their search. Online MLS searches that rely upon the NWMLS always have this logo by each listing.
Buyers should make sure they are using an MLS search that includes 100% of the local listings, not just the estimated 67% of local listings in the NWMLS. [There’s much more technical analysis involved in comparing the two systems, because they use different fields and compile their data in different search and reporting methods.]
I am a member of both services, although not long ago I felt that being a member of the NWMLS made no sense. Why be a member of a second MLS, pay additional monthly dues (not to mention a $500 sign-up fee for a broker), and have to input all my listings twice, when only the OLS has all of the listings in it? When I do a comparable market analysis (CMA) to arrive at fair market value, it must be done only in the OLS, because it would be incomplete in the NWMLS. Market reports using only the NWMLS would be incomplete for this market.
I finally decided to be a member of both so I could give my clients the greatest possible exposure for their listings, and so I could reach as many possible buyers on the Internet as I could. In addition, it seems clear to me that the future of the Sequim MLS is the NWMLS. I will be glad when we are all on one MLS system.
As a practical matter, even though the NWMLS does not include all the local listings, the NWMLS is far superior to the OLS as software and much more powerful. It has much greater usefulness to agents and much more back office support, including a full time attorney.
For clients who want to search 100% of the listings available, I suggest using my Sequim MLS search (it is also the Port Angeles MLS), which does include 100% of all available homes for sale listed by all agents in Sequim and Port Angeles. Search the entire Sequim MLS and Port Angeles MLS.
[For-Sale-By-Owners (FSBOs) are in neither MLS, and the majority of potential buyers are not searching the private FSBO sites, which means FSBOs are left out of the loop almost entirely for buyers. FSBOs are completely left out of the massive number of searches that are done through these MLS data feeds on hundreds of websites that host the IDS data feeds. These data feeds are not only on almost every agent’s website, they are also pulled into all the major real estate classified services and real estate portals, such as Realtor.com and Trulia.com. Sellers do not generally understand all of the back office technical and Internet marketing issues involved. There is much more to getting a home effectively marketed on the Internet than most people realize. Even real estate agents are not necessarily adept at explaining these issues to FSBOs.]
Search the Sequim MLS and the Port Angeles MLS directly from this real estate blog.
UPDATE: There’s a brand new article that updates this discussion of the NWMLS v OLS well worth reading.
Last Updated on August 18, 2009 by Chuck Marunde
I agree. Being the member of two listings doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I see where you are coming from. You want to do the best to serve your clients and to show them you are doing everything you can to help get their property sold.
Chuck, I disagree. The REALTOR(R) members of the Olympic Peninsula are the ones who know the real estate market here, and who know all of the County/City regulations. NWMLS members have access to our keyboxes–and, without membership in OLS, it is good that they have to call one of us to get all the information, before showing. The great majority of sales on the Peninsula are by Peninsula agents–whether OLS members or dual members. Do you really want us to open up our listed homes to the thousands of out of area real estate agents who know little or nothing about our zoning, critical areas, pending sewer assessments, etcetera?
Marguerite, It sounds to me like we don’t disagree. I agree with your comment that, “The REALTOR(R) members of the Olympic Peninsula are the ones who know the real estate market here, and who know all of the County/City regulations.”
And I agree with your comment that, “NWMLS members have access to our keyboxes–and, without membership in OLS, it is good that they have to call one of us to get all the information, before showing.”
And I agree with your comment that, “The great majority of sales on the Peninsula are by Peninsula agents–whether OLS members or dual members.”
You asked, “Do you really want us to open up our listed homes to the thousands of out of area real estate agents who know little or nothing about our zoning, critical areas, pending sewer assessments, etcetera?” My answer is the same as yours, “No.”
My points are that we currently have two MLS’s, that the OLS is the only one with all our listings, and that the NWMLS is superior from a technological perspective. I make the point that since the OLS is the only one with 100% of our local listings, it is the only one we can use for comps or other research, and the only one where buyers will find all the listings.
Whether we should ultimately go with the OLS or the NWMLS is the issue that I think you are focusing on, and I didn’t really answer that. It’s a complicated issue. I could argue back and forth on that issue. The NWMLS is a better system from a purely technological perspective, but not all local brokers and agents are members, so the OLS is better for now from a practical perspective. Do we want out of county agents to have to call us, or to have full information to show and sell the listings? It would be good if they are forced to call the listing agent, one of us, first, but I don’t know that that is going to be more beneficial or less beneficial to our clients.
One of the main reasons I felt compelled to also join the NWMLS is so that my clients’ listings can get the greatest possible exposure, and very specifically I wanted to be sure that my listings were showing up on all local Realtor’s website MLS sites, because some local franchise brokers only use an IDX feed from the NWMLS. I can speculate why they are using the NWMLS data feed, which does not include all local listings, instead of the OLS IDX feed, but the point is that if I’m not a member of the NWMLS, my clients’ listings won’t show up on some local broker/agent MLS search pages. Not good. My client’s listings must be ubiquitous for the most effective marketing. My strategy has successfully placed my clients’ listings on every agent’s MLS site. I like that.
I like to think about issues from a client-centered perspective. What will help a client sell his/her house faster and for the highest price? What will help buyers most efficiently find their dream home here? You know as I write this and am forced to articulate these thoughts, it does seem to me that maybe, just maybe (I’m not adamant on this by any means), it is more beneficial to our clients to get the listings the greatest possible exposure period. If that is true, then the NWMLS has greater exposure through it’s massively larger membership and all it’s IDX feeds to the largest national real estate services around the country. If I’m right about that, perhaps we should all go with the NWMLS and finally drop the OLS. If Sequim and Port Angeles brokers cannot all agree to do that, we should all stay with the OLS and drop the NWMLS. Right now we have a bifurcated or disjointed system. Consumers would benefit most if we had one MLS here.
Of course, I could be wrong (as Dennis Miller likes to say).
Thanks so much for discussing this issue. As a Realtor and a Certified Residential Appraiser I have been beating this drum for the last couple of years hoping for some change.
The fact that we have 2 MLS systems running in Sequim is absolutely ridiculous to me, as it is a huge disservice to buyers and sellers, and is negatively impacting property values. I’ve been very vocal about laying out the facts and my concerns in my blog: sequim-living.com if you care to read through it.
Also, I totally disagree with Marguerite when she raises the question about ‘opening up our listings’ to out of the area agents. I can assure you that my sellers would be very happy to have ANY AGENT sell their home to a qualified buyer, no matter where they are from.
And it’s OUR JOB as listing agents to PROVIDE any and all information needed to another agent, whether they are local or not, to assist them in selling our listings.
I do, however, disagree with your statement that 100% of all the listings are in OLS, as that is no longer the case. There are many NWMLS only listings from outside Clallam County, and agents/offices that only use OLS are not aware of these other NWMLS only listings.
Again, I deal with this situation on a daily basis as an appraiser, and it only makes sense to me that we should have 1 very good MLS, which is NWMLS, as the sole data service provider in this area. It costs less, has a much greater reach and is a much better tool. Sorry, but OLS/Paragon is an outdated archaic tool compared with NWMLS/Matrix, and I appreciate you pointing that out so well in your post.
I believe that OLS only agents/offices are not really providing the best possible service to their clients by not being part of NWMLS.
I totally agree with you that consumers would benefit most by having only 1 MLS system, and it should be NWMLS.
Marti, you make excellent points. And you are right that there are now some listings in the NWMLS that are not in the OLS. But those are listings that are listed by agents outside the area who are not members of the OLS, or they are FSBOs that have listed in the NWMLS and paid thier fee. I believe all local Sequim and Port Angeles agents are members of the OLS as a requirement of membership, and it is mandatory that all our listings go in the OLS. The OLS system called “Paragon” has had some upgrades lately, and some are excitedly talking about the Paragon improvements. I still find Paragon woefully inadequate compared to the NWMLS. Just my opinion. I could be wrong.
I am representative of the perspective home buyer described here. My wife and I plan to relocate to the Olympic Peninsula after over 35 years in the Western Washington Cascade foothills. We have been searching for a home for over a year. I must admit that it was a bit disheartening to find out recently that there is in fact a second MLS system. Like many these days, we have been doing our searching on line for a home; and then making contact with the local agent. There are two reasons for doing things this way: first, the on line MLS technology you speak of is excellent; secondly (sadly), most of the real estate agents we have come in contact with are not particularly ambitious, much less aggressive, about finding us a suitable home. I will add here that we are not a ‘contingency buyer’ and do not have to sell first in order to purchase. I would think we are the best of the best when it comes to perspective clientele.
I agree with you, Chuck, when you say that it would be best to have as many resources as possible available to serve your clients. I would further agree that the NWMLS technology seems to be superior when it comes to presenting homes for sale. I would strongly disagree with your real estate associate who is trying to keep the business within the confines of the Olympic Peninsula when many from outside the area are looking to relocate there. This attitude seems mostly self-serving in a service industry; and at one time would be referred to as ‘drinking your own bath water’. If I could offer any comfort at it, it would be to say that most King County agents we have met have little desire to sell in the Olympic Peninsula market leaving us to find our own way about through the listings.
Fortunately, we have found an agent willing to travel and look out for our interests; and who is old school enough to make contact with the local agent prior to a showing. Better, we now also have knowledge of the OLS resource. Thank you, Chuck, for this very useful article; and your willingness to go above and beyond, if not against the tide, in a seemingly self-serving ‘service’ industry.
Chuck, thanks for these articles and your willingness to go above and beyond, if not against the tide.
As an Olympic Peninsula Realtor and NWMLS member, I think that OLS members are not always having their clients best interests in mind. I have seen several listings in the Forks/West End area that were listed by agents who were only part of the OLS. These listings are not readily available to the agents of Forks (who are 100% NWMLS), and do not give the seller the best potential for selling their home.
I’ve had conversations with some of these sellers and I have never had one of them tell me that their OLS agent made it clear to them that the listing would only be seen by other OLS members and that their local real estate agents were not part of that system.
If anyone could say how this is helping to protect their clients or helping them to have the most exposure possible for their sale, I would like to hear.
Answer from Chuck Marunde: Erin, well said. I too talked to a person recently who had listed with an agent who did not reveal to her that the agent was only a member of the OLS and not the NWMLS. This client was quite upset when she found at after six months and felt the agent had misrepresented the marketing and syndication her home would get on the Internet. I think the reason non-NWMLS brokers do not tell their clients is because their clients would probably would not list with them and would list with a broker who is a member of the NWMLS, especially if they really know how both MLSs work.
Chuck, have the tables turned since you wrote this article in 2009? You seem to say in the article the OLS is the more complete service, (and thus to be preferred) but the comment above, and my experience in searching is that the NWMLS comes up with more search results now than OLS does. Search stickbuilt houses in Sequim between 163k and 165k to see what I mean. Thanks, Michael Smith. I get more results using NWMLS, but if your article was still true, it should have been the other way around, right?
Michael, great question. Yes the Olympic Listing Service is still the only complete MLS in Clallam County. The Northwest MLS only has 55% of the Clallam County listings, which means it is woefully incomplete. By the way, the 55% figure comes directly from the staff at the NWMLS. I would affirm that from my own analysis. The NWMLS is the superior service from a technical perspective and the NWMLS has a much bigger presence in Washington and in the Northwest than the OLS. I solved this dilemma for anyone searching real estate in Sequim and Port Angeles by having a public MLS site programmed to pick up all the listings from both MLSs. Go to http://www.SearchSequimMls.com
Update: Here we are in January of 2016, and this is still a hot issue among Sequim and Port Angeles Realtors. We still have two MLSs, and it appears that only 55% of local Realtors are members of the NWMLS. I’m hearing of conversations among local Realtors that are heated and full of emotions.
In my opinion if we ask one question, “What is in the best interests of our clients?,” we must conclude that all local Realtors should be members of the NWMLS. All other arguments focus on what is in the Realtor’s best interest, not the clients. While concerns about competition from Seattle Realtors is a legitimate topic, I don’t think those concerns are a legitimate reason to compromise the needs of our clients. Buyers need to be able to see 100% of all local listings, and right now that means their eyes need to see the listings in both MLSs, and sellers definitely need their listings in both MLSs or they won’t get exposed to over 25,000 Seattle Realtors in the NWMLS.
Local Realtors often point to their disdain for Seattle Realtors coming over here to sell their listings. I believe that concern is misplaced. Why would we not want one of our local listings sold? Isn’t that what we promise our sellers we will do–get their homes sold because we market their homes effectively? I talked to a homeowner who listed with a broker who was not a member of the NWMLS, but in the listing presentation the broker never told them. Many months later when the homeowner discovered this, they were very angry. They thought their listing was reaching over 25,000 Seattle Realtors, and then they found out it was only in the local Olympic Listing Service. They were not happy with that Realtor, and they decided to list with a Realtor who is a member of both MLSs. Now that is what consumers want.
Concerns about competition from Seattle Realtors needs to be addressed in other ways, like adapting one’s business model or changing one’s marketing techniques. While some brokers have said that their business has suffered because of Seattle Realtors, mine has not and continues to grow every year. My cooperation with Seattle Realtors is based on helping buyers and sellers achieve their goals no matter who sells the listing. I’m getting more buyers and more sellers, and I’m a member of both the OLS and NWMLS, and Seattle Realtors send me business.
I think some of my colleagues, whom I enjoy working with and appreciate very much, “doth protest too much” about the NWMLS. There is way too much emotion out there on this subject and not enough focus on objective client needs.
I can appreciate staying in a local MLS and using a local Realtor, but I cannot even find out how to join the Olympic Listing Service as a new agent. Their web page has no contact info. It is certain to die a slow death if they don’t infuse some new blood into it. I will just use the NWMLS because they seem to have plenty of listings in the area I but would rather join a local board if one truly exists. Do you have contact info?
New Agent, in Sequim you have to become a member of the local Sequim Association of Realtors to be able to become a member of the Olympic Listing Service. Then you have access to the subscription side of the OLS in Clallam County. To join it cost me $1,500 up front plus annual fees. One advantage of the NWMLS is that you do not have to join any association, and the sign up fee is small. I recommend using a site that will pull up listings from both the OLS and the NWMLS in the Sequim and Port Angeles area, and that site is SequimForSale.com. You’ll even see a drop down menu to choose the MLS. I created that site. Frankly, I’m proud of its functionality and power, too. A lot of Seattle area Realtors use this site because you can find any property no matter where it is listed in Sequim and Port Angeles.
I am prospective buyer in the Sequim area. My first take is the OLS is very cagey and self serving. I use Zillow for much of my search. They provide as much data as is possible, which is helpful to buyers and sellers. I am able to observe how Zillow is unable to list past taxes and valuations, and the county website link will not work for the data that is at hand. Past tax valuations are the only meteric one has to gauge whether or not a price is inline or out of line. Just because a new fool comes to town and pays up, doesn’t mean a property is worth what it recieved, that is only in the buyers eyes.
I do not want to have to email an agent for the past taxes on every parcel I wish to see, as I look at many.
Wake up OLS agents and realize more information means more sales.
Another issue that the OLS agents do poorly on is photography, it is low quality and very ’80 ish. Good pictures will spurr a buyer on.
Get with it agents this is the age of the internet!!
John, I will say you make some valid points, but I think you also have made a couple of mistakes. I’m not sure how you define self-serving when you refer to the Olympic Listing Service (OLS). The OLS lists 100% of the local listings, including all data, photos, and listing details so agents can show the property. That’s what an MLS is supposed to do. That’s a pretty objective MLS service, so the service itself cannot be cagey. That would be like saying mathematics is cagey. Now maybe you meant to suggest that some agents you have dealt with are cagey, but that’s not quite how you phrased it.
I understand you like Zillow, but apparently you don’t know that Zillow has scrapping software that pulls data off the Internet from multiple public and private sites, and the data is often grotesquely incorrect. Zestimates are often off by 50% or more, homes are sometimes shown as available when they were sold long ago, and specific data is not reliable.
On the other hand the OLS data is coming directly from the local listing agents, and it is accurate so long as the listing agent entered it correctly.
The OLS also includes annual taxes, so I think you missed that entirely John. That appeared to be your primary complaint, but taxes are always shown in the OLS. So your argument that local agents hide information (or maybe that’s what you meant by cagey), is clearly not correct.
The OLS actually has more accurate and reliable information than Zillow on local properties.
I will say you are quite right about poor photos in the OLS. My goodness, I can’t believe how bad some photos are in local listings.
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I don’t monetize my blogs, because I want my clients and readers to enjoy the articles and research tools here without annoying advertisements. I’ve never allowed ads and I’ve never allowed guest writers who want to promote themselves, too. Not even for money.
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Editor Chuck Marunde: Thanks for sharing, but what’s not to like? The new articles include room for much larger videos (840 pixels wide compared to the old 425 pixel wide column). The new blog includes less clutter, less talking about me, and easy-to-navigate links to our powerful buyer resources that thousands of buyers have loved for a decade. We still have over 2,200 articles in our archives, just like we did with the old blog theme, but these articles are easier to search than they used to be with several search options. The new blog is lightning fast compared to the old blog. You won’t have to wait for more than a second or two for any search or the loading of articles or videos. The new menu system is far superior to the old menu and much easier for buyers to use and find what they are looking for. We’ve gone back and edited many hundreds of our archives to update them for the beauty of the new theme. And there have been many more improvements I won’t get into here. As I said in the beginning, what’s not to like? Everything about the upgrade is an improvement for buyers.
We have a whole new update to the Sequim Real Estate Blog now as of August of 2022. A new look, new power, new features, new convenience. I think everyone will love it.