Like all industries, there are phases of development and structure; our nation’s multiple listing service may have entered into a new one. Regionalization was the first big phase of MLS development, which has led to a trend in consolidation. Now we see a new pattern forming: MLSs becoming technology vendors – and WAV Group believes that it will be here for a while.
In a press release today, five MLSs with a combined subscriber count of over 100,000 announced that they have pooled their resources and purchased a real estate technology company called Agent Inbox. As a result of the acquisition, these five MLSs will now have a solution that fits their mutual needs for a messaging-and-showing solution to serve their subscribers. Moreover, these five will be able to make their showing and messaging solutions available to other MLSs as a vendor.
The partners in this acquisition include RMLS of Portland region, MLS Listings of Silicon Valley region, Utah Real Estate, ARMLS of Arizona, and MetroMLS of Milwaukee region. The group operates under a cooperative structure called MLS Aligned. Their first effort together was collaboration on a data distribution engine that makes it easier for brokers and their vendors to access MLS data for their technology solutions. Now they are able to add showing data to their list of services.
WAV Group is aware that many MLSs are seeking a solution that will allow showing services to “talk” to each other. It will be interesting to see if MLS Grid, BrightMLS, and/or California Regional MLS tap MLS Aligned for collaboration opportunities.
The root of the problem is that technology firm acquisitions – like Zillow purchasing ShowingTime – bothers MLSs. Showing data and the corresponding agent, along with consumer records is valuable; MLSs have deep concerns about how Zillow will use that data for more than just providing the service of scheduling showings. MLSs believe that it is their charter to protect the subscriber data and limit vendors from using it to create new products. That is not a bad charter.
There are two key elements to vendor selection by MLSs that go beyond product features. The first is the data licensing agreement that establishes guardrails around permitted use. The goal of these agreements is to limit data use explicitly to the service being purchased. The second element is trust; MLSs need to trust that the vendor will uphold the bargain. The notion that a technology company owned by fellow MLSs provides comfort to other MLSs who may be looking for a vendor.
Who knows what technology firm is next up to be acquired by a group of MLSs.
– Press release follows –
SALT LAKE CITY, May 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — MLS Aligned, LLC, a group of forward-thinking Multiple Listing Services focused on building industry-leading technology for its over 100,000 MLS subscribers, has acquired the technology assets of RE Agent Solutions, LLC, the owner of the Agent Inbox technology.
With this acquisition, MLS Aligned will build upon the Agent Inbox tools to bring messaging and showings together in a straightforward place for agents and brokers. The system will bring tremendous benefits to consumers due to the platform’s speed and enhanced showing system capabilities.
To better facilitate the showing process, MLS Aligned will integrate the showings and messaging systems within the platforms of their members to provide for seamless agent-to-agent and agent-to-client communications.
MLS Aligned is committed to being the leading force for standardizing showing data for the industry. It will utilize the talents of its programming and product staffs to formulate the best practices needed for MLSs around the country. After seeing significant changes in real estate software and the various company acquisitions over the last year, the need to standardize and modernize this data on their own showing platforms became evident.
Brad Bjelke, CEO of UtahRealEstate.com, and one of the founders of MLS Aligned, said, “We wanted to show the MLS industry that MLSs can innovate together and bring the products our members are asking for to life. The Agent Inbox software, combined with our future plans for the product, will revolutionize how showings are handled by brokerages and agents.”
MLS Aligned is owned by and develops products for MLSs. Metro MLS in Wisconsin, ARMLS in Arizona, UtahRealEstate.com in Utah, RMLS in Oregon, and MLSListings in Silicon Valley are partnering to own and operate this new showing service.
“We’re stronger together than apart. Working through MLS Aligned to bring this system to subscribers is one way MLSs can team up to provide elevated experiences and services,” said Matt Consalvo, CEO of ARMLS.
“The purchase and development of a showing service allows us to provide our members with a quality product that we control moving forward. Owning our showing service eliminates future acquisition anxiety and allows us to meet the needs of our members in the best way possible. We are excited to work with our MLS Aligned partners to develop a product that will positively impact our members and the MLS industry,” Metro MLS CEO Chris Carrillo said.
Kurt von Wasmuth, CEO of Regional Multiple Listing Services (RMLS), said, “With Agent Inbox’s ability to seamlessly integrate into our existing MLS, the communication and showing features will provide an enticing enhancement to our current list of features.”
Agent Inbox co-founder and CEO, Tyler Gordon, sees the deal as transformative, “The acquisition of Agent Inbox by MLS Aligned transforms the landscape and future of how independent MLSs serve their members. Leveraging Agent Inbox’s leading platform, MLS Aligned will control and further innovate on the most critical workflows of the real estate transaction.”
MLS Aligned will be making this software available to organizations that are not MLS Aligned members in the near future.
About MLS Aligned
MLS Aligned, LLC, was founded by five forward thinking multiple listing service organizations with the intent to collaborate and solve pain points in the real estate industry. Those organizations include ARMLS (serving Arizona), Metro MLS (serving Wisconsin), MLSListings (serving Silicon Valley and coastal California), Regional MLS (serving Oregon and Southwest Washington), and UtahRealEstate.com (serving Utah and Southern Idaho). MLS Aligned offers an API driven data distribution tool that can distribute large amounts of data without the antiquated process of data replication. The organization also partners with its members on product offerings and services to better serve their more than 100,000 real estate professionals.
About Agent Inbox
Agent Inbox is a showings and messaging system that allows for simple, transparent, and efficient communication and scheduling between agents and brokerages. Built out of a need for better communication between agents and their clients, Agent Inbox modernizes and simplifies the scheduling process for showings to help create a seamless experience for both home sellers and buyers and their agents.
Founded in 1994, UtahRealEstate.com is the leading provider of real estate technology in Utah and one of the largest Multiple Listing Services in the United States. The company provides one of the top-ranked real estate websites in the state and serves over 18,500 real estate professionals (approximately 94% of all REALTORS® in the state of Utah) and over 7 million consumers each year.
Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) is the Northwest’s largest REALTORS®-owned multiple listing service, serving a network of approximately 15,000 REALTORS® from more than 2,900 offices in Oregon and Southern Washington. RMLS exists to provide its subscribers with accurate and timely information on listings, the means to analyze the market, and state-of-the art professional tools.
About Metro MLS®
Multiple Listing Service Inc. (Metro MLS®) is the largest MLS in Wisconsin, serving more than 9,000 members and 10 REALTOR® associations. Established in 1962, Metro MLS delivers efficient and impactful services to its members, offering the most timely and robust real estate information in Wisconsin and the bordering areas. Metro MLS provides accurate real estate data, industry-leading services, and cost-effective resources to enhance fair housing and help REALTORS® succeed in the industry.
MLSListings is where real estate property listings originate, as the authorized trading platform for real estate professionals. Our customers are REALTORS®, brokers and agents throughout northern California. We specialize in the counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz. Approximately 16,000 real estate professionals in over 6,000 firms representing 28,000 square miles conduct business utilizing our MLS platform. Because their listings originate with us, our real estate data is the most up-to-date, refreshes every five minutes, and is the most accurate information available to buyers, sellers and those seeking real estate information.
Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS®) is the largest MLS in Arizona, providing MLS and other core services for MLS subscribers. ARMLS started in 1982 as the first regional MLS in the country. Now nearly 40 years later, ARMLS provides training, support, and technology solutions for 40,000 real estate agents. ARMLS contracts with MLS search vendors and engages other key service providers for mapping, lockbox services, remote MLS access through mobile devices, listing syndication, and statistical data analysis.