Where did RMLS.com Go? What is a Real Estate MLS Good for?

What is RMLS?

On this blog, I refer to RMLS a lot. RMLS stands for Regional Multiple Listing Service. Every region across the US has one (there are over 600 MLS systems in the U.S.), but RMLS is specific to Oregon and Southern Washington. While RMLS has existed since 1991, first serving only the Portland metro area and later merging with other counties in Oregon and into southern Washington, real estate MLS systems have been around for much longer.

RMLS archives over 1.9 million listings, around 15,000 of which are active. Now, in 2021, 17,000 REALTORs have access to the RMLS. In the past, the public could search RMLS directly, just like agents, with a few features removed (in particular the public couldn’t see the amount of commission offered to the buyers agent or see what is called private remarks, notes for agents to agents about the listing).

What is an MLS in Real Estate?

The first Multiple Listing Service (MLS) was created in the 1800s as a way for real estate brokers to share information about properties and compensate each other for help making sales. The MLS is where real estate agents and other companies listing homes for sale puts the data locally. MLS systems consolidates the real estate market and levels the playing field for Brokers and home buyers. MLS systems used to be giant phone book sized novels. Now, in the digital age, access to MLS real estate information is easier than ever before. National portals, like Zillow and Realtor.com, take in IDX feeds from hundreds of local MLS systems to display home for sale information across the country.

Where did RMLS.com go?

In 2019, RMLS switched things up and hired the national IDX company, Homesnap.com, to be their public, front facing search portal. Homesnap is an IDX provider, meaning it is not the direct MLS information, but an interpretation from a feed of data from the MLS. Most every site a home buyer searches online uses what is called IDX in order to pull information from local MLS systems to show homes for sale. This is true for Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin.com, Trulia.com, Homes.com and likely whatever other site a home buyer might be familiar with. So now, only Agents (and other paid MLS subscribers) can access the original RMLS data. In my opinion, this is a shame as every MLS system has unique data points about their properties for sale that national IDX programs like Homesnap.com often miss.

Despite this change, RMLS is still around. Even though the public can no longer access their site, they can access the RMLS blog. Accessing the actual RMLS site requires a paid membership, expensive enough to typically only be purchased by real estate agents, appraisers, and government officials.

What’s the next best thing to RMLS.com?

I’d like to suggest that a locally developed IDX program, PortlandHomesforSale.com, is the closest representation to RMLS data I’ve found. Like most IDX programs the site is updated every few minutes, so you won’t miss anything. Unlikely a lot of IDX programs, PortlandHomesforSale.com was built with RMLS specifically in mind. National IDX portals often have to dumb down specific local MLS information in order to have a consistent user interface across the country for their national platform, whereas a local IDX site built for a local MLS can reflect the data as specifically as possible, creating a custom fit.

Looking to buy a home in Oregon or Washington?

Our top 1% buyers team would love to talk with you today. Whatever part of Oregon or Washington you’re searching in, we know the local MLS and which site is the best representation of their data. We’ll also start looking for you direct. Contact us today.

November 5, 2021

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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