A backup system of MLS's and brokerages

Morgan Carey
Posted by Morgan Carey
| Real Estate Webmasters CEO
Updated on

Does your MLS have a backup? 

Imagine a world where your MLS could flip a switch and overnight give you access to an alternative platform that allowed you to continue to run the most critical part of your business. Add, Edit, and Delete Listings and then syndicate them to your website, Zillow, and everywhere else that matters to your consumer.

Oh yeah, and it has all of your existing listings there waiting for you (and you're not locked out). 

Why would your MLS need a backup? 

If you are one of hundreds of thousands of Realtors® impacted by the current (and ongoing) Rapatonni MLS ransomware saga then you would not be asking this question. There are MLS's all across the country right now that cannot even access their own listings and do not have any way to support their members. 

  • No updating existing listings
  • No adding new listings to your website or IDX feed
  • No syndication to Zillow, Realtor.com or any partner sites 

They have NO backup plan! (and neither do you). 

I was speaking to one of our customers yesterday who told me that his MLS is currently using a google sheet in order for the Realtors® to be able to provide updates to each other on listings. A google sheet, can you imagine? 

The MLS members have to go in and update all of their listings every day and there is no public value or feed value for doing this. The google sheet is just for the members to inform each other. There is no public access and it's not a feed. 

Oh and if you don't update your listings within 24 hours, you still get a fine! 

Can your new global MLS help? 

This was the question the customer asked me. And the answer was... well... yeah! 

I hadn't really thought about it. Being a backup for a brokerage in case the MLS goes down? But it's a logical question. 

We already have our brokerage's listings if they are syndicating to Listingsbylocation.com (our global MLS) AND our database is completely separate from any IDX feed. We already support add/edit /delete (and show hide) of those listings by that brokerage at a per brokerage level and we already can feed our own IDX feeds directly to a Real Estate Webmasters website. 

So why not? 

And then he asked me a POWERFUL question. 

If you can do this for my brokerage then could you also do this for my MLS so that we aren't having to use a Google sheet? 

 Follow-up questions were things like:

  • Could you also feed Zillow (since they only accept IDX feeds now) or Realtor.com
  • Can you feed other portals and member sites like Luxuryrealestate.com and leadingre.com? 
  • Can you send leads to the listing agents (not just the brokerage) 

Well yes. Yes, we can. I mean that's not what we built it for, but we absolutely can do that. 

A new use case:
MLS Backup Services

I honestly never really considered our application as a backup service for the MLS. I mean why would they need that? They have their own right?

As it turns out, other than the very large MLSs that have large tech budgets and teams, most MLSs do not have a viable backup solution ready to go. And no real plan. 

There also aren't any services out there that are commercially available either. And that makes sense (kind of). 

The market is quite small (around 400 MLS's), and historically the technology has been reliable enough that there has never been a need. It would also be at tough sell to an industry not known for spending money on technology. 

I spoke to my long-time friend Tim Dain, CEO of NorthStarMLS about this and he told me that “NorthstarMLS has a robust disaster recovery plan with backups and multiple front-end systems that are not likely to all be impacted at the same time.” Essentially, they are a large MLS that has backups and a recovery plan, no surprise there. 

And if you got hacked like Rapatonni? "We'd cut off that limb" (makes sense) he's a smart dude and no doubt well-prepared. 

But what if your whole system (body and all the limbs) got hacked? Worse, what if a rogue employee who knew how to take down the whole thing decided to try to take you down?

We started going down the scenarios. He thought about it for a second. “Yeah, you know what? Even though we feel we are prepared and I'm confident in our disaster recovery plan, adding an external third party that we trust is actually a really smart idea.

Why would we not do that? Ensuring that our subscribers can conduct business during a crisis is paramount."

NorthstarMLS is the first to give us the “Let’s Go!” for our new MLSbackup™ service! Now that's leadership!

Wouldn't you want a backup that has nothing to do with your own systems? I mean, every other industry under the sun (my own company included) has a backup system in place for catastrophic failure. 

But the real estate industry?  Nope! 

So we're going to build an MLS backup

In fact we already have the tech (that's what we've been doing at our global MLS). 

Right now "today" - we already support the ingestion of listings from our Real Estate Webmasters customers websites (and certain other platforms such as IRE). Those customers can not only access those ingested listings (including the ability to augment them with a lot more data) but they can also add new listings as well. 

We're kind of already there. (We can do it today)

The only difference in being a backup for an MLS (as a service) is going one level higher. It will take us a few weeks to code that, but it's actually somewhat of a trivial matter given how advanced the tech is. 

So that's what we're doing. I don't have a price for it (though it's completely free for Real Estate Webmasters brokerage customers to backup their listings on the global MLS) and we'll need to talk to some of the portals (I'm already speaking to Zillow) 

If you're a brokerage customer in any of our MLS service areas, send me a LinkedIn Request or an email and I'm happy to ingest your listings for you into our MLS backup. 

If you're an MLS and you are interested in having a backup solution for your listings.

Let's talk. 

I honestly think this is a necessary member service, it won't cost much at all (we just need to cover the cost of the coding and storage + a small profit) and it's a lot better than a Google sheet. 

Here is my LinkedIn (send me a request or message) or email me at morgan at (replace with@) rew.com 


MLS Backup Service FAQ

How quickly can you backup our brokerage listings?

If you are on one of Real Estate Webmasters 200+ supported MLS's and a broker, we can back up your listings immediately.

We are an MLS with REW can you back us up too?

Yes, absolutely we can back up your MLS data immediately.

Will there be a cost for MLS backup

Yes. There will be a small cost (it takes labor to map a feed, ingest, maintain, and also host the data. Hopefully, that's reasonable. Actual cost of the backup will depend on the size of your MLS (how many members and listings).

Can you feed portals like Zillow and Realtor®

Yes, we do support outbound feeds. We're currently working to connect with all the major portals and several partner websites. Your syndication will be "your choice" and you can decide who to send your listings feeds to.

How can I get more information on this backup service?

Send an email to our CEO Morgan Carey, or use his LinkedIn profile above.

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