As a busy home-buying season rolls through its peak months, a Capital Region real estate broker association is setting up a new multiple listing system.
The Saratoga Schenectady Schoharie Association of Realtors announced the First Choice MLS on Friday.
A multiple listing service — an online database of houses for sale by member Realtors — is a critical tool for the real estate industry.
The SSSAR plans to adapt the Fulton County Board of Realtors MLS into First Choice, and will partner with the Fulton County Board in the venture, according to Stuart Thomas of SSSAR.
Neither Realtor organization is large by itself, and together they total only about 100 real estate professionals. Both are tiny compared with the over-3,400-member Greater Capital Association of Realtors, which owns and operates the Eastern New York Regional MLS.
A four-year dispute between GCAR and SSSAR over control of the old Capital Region MLS ended last year. The CRMLS was created in 1987 and jointly owned by the two associations. It was dissolved Dec. 30 and GCAR immediately rolled the great bulk of its data into the new Eastern New York Regional MLS.
Thomas said the new First Choice MLS will be based on the concept of cutting out the middleman, giving Realtors the data they need at a lower cost and giving them a cut of the revenue that the MLS will try to bring in by selling the data feed.
“We provide a unique and consistent Realtor experience for our membership,” Thomas said. “We feel that we generally provide a true benefit to our members. We have things that another association doesn’t have.”
He said he doesn’t see First Choice as a competitor to other MLS databases — it’s a different size and will have different features. He acknowledged that SSSAR’s new MLS won’t have as many listings as GCAR’s, but said it will offer other things, such as a local focus and sense of community.
A big part of this will be creation of a public website that is envisioned as a hub for locally focused information — an online community for the geographic community, essentially. This would supplement the MLS by giving homebuyers a taste of what life is like in the neighborhood around the houses listed on the MLS.
GCAR leaders on Friday seemed not to be worried about the competition.
“They’re certainly welcome to follow whatever path makes the most sense for their membership,” said GCAR President Joel Koval. “We offer the best tools for professional Realtors and we cover the widest area and have the most properties in our listing service.”
GCAR Executive Director Laura Burns said the final legal stages in the end of the old MLS are now being completed — attorneys were in court Friday — and GCAR has moved on from the dispute.
The transition from old MLS to new was nearly seamless for GCAR, Kovel added, because 96 percent of the data on the old system rolled over to the new.
The average Realtor didn’t care about the legal battle over the old MLS, he said, just wanted an MLS that worked well and gave them the information they needed.
So that was GCAR’s goal when it rolled out the Eastern New York Regional MLS six months ago.
It seems to be SSSAR’s goal with the new First Choice MLS, as well.