Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Speaking MLS

This is about as “inside baseball” and “wonky” as I get. Hop on, lets go for a ride.

I write about the real estate industry and a lot about the MLS industry. I also run a software company that creates software for the real estate industry. But it can get confusing. Usually due to the catch-all word “MLS”. Here’s what I mean.

“I work for the MLS.”
“Log on to the MLS.”
“It’s on the MLS.”
“The MLS said Yes”

And to make things more confusing, MLS is also an acronym (Multiple Listing Service). I’m sure every industry has new acronyms to learn, but in real estate “MLS” is just weird. And it’s funny when we hire a new person and they get confused about the phrases and acronyms, I tell them not to worry they will be “speaking MLS” in no time.

So, over the years I’ve borrowed and standardized a few words and phrases to make sure readers and workmates understand everything in context. I’ve written about this before but have added a few to my list.

MLS Vendor FBS, CoreLogic, Black Knight, Rapattoni, dynaConnections
MLS System flexMLS, Matrix, Paragon, connectMLS 
MLS Provider/OrganizationNTREIS, CRMLS, NWMLS
3rd Party SoftwareCloud CMA, Cloud Streams, RPR, HomeSpotter, etc.

Some would classify “3rd Party Software” as just another “MLS Vendor”, I believe Inman News does it this way. I have discussions with their editors and the logic is if it’s software that works with the “MLS System” then the company is just another “MLS Vendor”. I classify “3rd party” meaning a company other than the primary MLS Vendor, although I am not sure in the future if there will be such a thing as a “primary” MLS Vendor any longer.

To make things a little more nuanced I use another classification altogether for IDX. Which is “IDX Vendor”, to me the “3rd Party Software” is more a category for tools, not data.

Still with me? ; )

Now, we are starting to see this reemergence of MLS providers giving their members alternative ways of searching MLS data. Back in the day, these would be apps like WyldFyre and to some extent, Lightning. Now you see tools like Cloud MLX or MLS-Touch. During the early 2000s when many MLS providers were switching to web-based MLS platforms (True North Technology being the first web-based MLS vendor) they would have these new MLS systems run in “parallel” with their existing “legacy” MLS systems. “Legacy” means, they were on their way out (which is why current MLS vendors should never refer to themselves as “legacy”).

Today the landscape is a bit different. MLS providers are doing deals with multiple MLS vendors to offer whole MLS systems as a choice (including listing input). But these offerings are driven primarily by consolidation and expansion goals of those MLS providers and to some extent broker concerns. Basically, it takes the objection of “learning a whole new MLS system” off the table when they go into a new market.

I would categorize these services as a “System of Choice“, not really a “Front End of Choice”. I might be splitting hairs, but a genuine “Front End of Choice” should be much easier to get up and running than installing a new MLS system.

And to finish up, here’s a grab bag of other terms I use, and what I mean.

MLS Data Share – When MLS Providers share data on their MLS Systems
MLS System Share – When MLS Provider/Organization allow their member access to each other MLS Systems
3rd Party Data Share – When MLS Providers allow a 3rd Party Software solution to create a software application that accesses more than 1 MLS system.

And if you don’t know, now you know….

  1. Maybe to clarify – wouldn’t a 3rd Party Data Share just be 3rd Party Software that is live in more then one market? Doesn’t seem like there is much difference between the two.

  2. I use “Front End of Choice” as the generic term for both “System of Choice” and “Alternate MLS Module” (The more limited systems you are calling FEoC).

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