What is billed as the uber-technology Realtors have been waiting on will debut soon, promising to forever change the way agents access residential and commercial property information.
With beta testing under way in 12 markets across the country, the new National Association of Realtor-sponsored database includes information on 140 million existing properties.
Once it’s fully up and running, the database will feature information culled from 900 residential multiple listings service and commercial information exchange providers nationwide.
In the past, Realtors who wanted market information on a specific property, neighborhood school district or tax district had to spend money for what are essentially a la carte research services. And each vendor carved out a different niche. Some delivered public tax record files; others like Zillow.com or Cyberhomes.com contributed property sales history, valuation, demographic and neighborhood information.
The new database, its creators say, will deliver all of those parts and pieces in one place.
Moreover, the cost will now be covered through regular NAR member dues, said Jeff Young, senior vice president of operations of the National Association of Realtors Property Resource, a unit of NAR.
A few brokers already have previewed what’s to come.
Rob Higgins, the executive vice president of the Greater Spokane Association of Realtors, said his market is one of the first in the country to do an RPR test.
“It’s very impressive so far. Brokers won’t have to go to 15 different Web sites anymore to get information,” he said.
Initial positive reviews aside, the concept, which was introduced last year, has also created some ill feelings in the industry.
Some large national real estate franchises with their own proprietary databases, for example, typically promote them as a broker or client benefit.
Young acknowledged some large companies initially resisted NAR’s universal system. But, he said, those with multiple offices in multiple counties, operating across individual MLS boundaries, have started to see the advantage.
“They realized that for the first time that with RPR they would have consistent, high quality property data.
That’s not always the case from MLS to MLS or from county to county,” he said.
As the NAR prepares for a national launch of the database this summer, there will be winners and losers.
The biggest winners will be NAR member brokers. Other beneficiaries will be the buyers and sellers who, according to NAR, can count on more complete data.
The losers probably will be competing data providers such as First American CoreLogic, Zillow and other research companies.
Some local MLS providers, which will not receive compensation from NAR for the data they provide, are also likely to lose out.
Young, not surprisingly, believes local MLS organizations and RPR’s mission are complementary — and hopes that the MLS providers eventually see the advantage to partnering with RPR.
“RPR doesn’t accept direct Realtor listings, for example. Those will be entered into our database based on information exchange with the MLSs. Their local staffs know their own markets, training, downloads and standards. Our system isn’t designed to replace those services,” Young said.