MLS Grid, a company formed by several multiple listings services (MLSs) that aims to help brokers and brokerages by unifying and further standardizing property information that they get from the MLSs, has launched its shared data platform in the Chicagoland area to start.

On Thursday, Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), the Realtor-owned company that provides the MLS for the Chicago metropolitan area, announced that it was launching the platform for Chicago data with plans to add more cities in the near future.

“Today brokers or technology vendors have to go MLS-by-MLS and then merge it into their database,” Rebecca Jensen, MRED president and CEO, told Inman. “Instead of that, we’re doing all the hard work for them. They just have to go to one spot and it’s already combined.”

Founded in 2016, the MLS Grid seeks to offer a single license agreement for brokerages who want to pull property data from MLSs in different markets. Presently, that often requires signing different agreements from each MLS and dealing with data in slightly different formats. For brokers who want to focus on servicing clients or publishing listings on their brokerage websites, this can make life more onerous, which is where MLS Grid wants to help simplify things and reduce time spent dealing with paperwork.

MLS Grid graphic

Credit: MLS Grid

While agents will have to be members of a particular area’s MLS to access its data, the platform will provide a single, standardized data feed of IDX and VOW information. MLS Grid will incorporate standards from the Real Estate Standard Organization (RESO) and have a single licensing agreement and one-point payment system for those who join.

The RESO bit comes at an especially opportune time, given that NAR recently sent letters warning MLSs that aren’t in compliance with new RESO data standards that they could lose NAR liability insurance coverage.

When asked how the data platform would benefit agents and consumers, Jensen referenced the Parker Principles, which included freeing up property feeds from unnecessary barriers, published during the Inman Disconnect conference last month in Palm Springs. Even though the current feed only has data from the Chicago MLS, Jensen said that the goal of helping agents obtain data across multiple cities in one platform will soon be reached as more and more MLSs join.

“Chicago’s really going to test it,” said Jensen, adding that MLS Grid will function more as a vendor of different data access than as a national MLS. “Anytime something is really new, there will be some growing pains.”

Right now, other MLS Grid members include MARIS (St. Louis), Heartland MLS (Kansas City), Austin MLS (Texas), Northstar MLS (Minnesota), Northwest MLS (Seattle), Carolina MLS (North and South Carolina), MIBOR (Indianapolis), MRED (Chicagoland), MyFloridaRegional MLS (Northern Florida), and Realtracs (Tennessee).

According to Jensen, all will be debuting the platform in the coming future, with Tennessee and North and South Carolina likely to follow Chicago.

“We hope that MLSs across the country will put their data into the grid and so the goal of it would be to have one point of access for multiple markets,” Jensen said.

MLS Grid also acknowledges and seeks to compliment other consolidation efforts in the industry, specifically calling out Upstream–the NAR-funded project to provide a single origin point for property data–on its website: “Whereas Upstream is focusing on a single source of data going INTO MLSs, the MLS Grid is focusing on a single source of data coming OUT of MLSs.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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