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

Updated 02/20/2023.

What is RMLS?

I refer to RMLS often on this blog because it is an important tool in real estate transactions. The acronym RMLS stands for Regional Multiple Listing Service. Every geographic region across the US has a MLS (there are over 600 MLS systems in the United States), but RMLS is specific to Oregon and Southern Washington. The RMLS has existed since 1991, first serving only the Portland metro area and later merging with other counties in Oregon and then southern Washington. Other 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 2023, 17,000 Realtors have access to the RMLS. In the past, the public could search the RMLS directly, just like agents, but with a few features removed (in particular the public couldn’t see the amount of commission offered to the buyer’s agent or “private remarks”: notes for agents from other agents concerning a particular 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 for sale and compensate each other for help in making sales on those properties. The MLS is where real estate agents and other companies listing homes for sale share the data locally. These MLS systems consolidate the real estate market and level the playing field for Brokers and home buyers. In the past, MLS systems were huge phone book-sized volumes. Brokers and home buyers would have to manually flip through them, page by page. Now in the digital age, access to MLS real estate information is easier than ever before. National portals, like Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com, take in IDX (feeds from hundreds of local MLS systems that display home for sale information across the country). IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange, and simply put, it is the data from the MLS that is shared directly to a variety of sites that display homes for sale. In short, IDX is the mechanism that provides all of the information for homes listed on the market.

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. But recently RMLS went back to providing native data itself via a membership for Realtors and now uses RMLSCentral.com as its landing page for real estate information. Homesnap is an IDX provider, much like Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin.com, Trulia.com, Homes.com and likely any other home search site an interested buyer might be familiar with. An IDX provider does not have the direct MLS information, but instead an interpretation of the information from a feed of data coming from the MLS. Most of the sites a home buyer may search online use IDX in order to pull information from local MLS systems to display homes for sale. 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 or Zillow often miss.

Despite this change, RMLS still exists. While the raw data is not public facing, it is essential in the home selling and buying process. When listing, it is the responsibility of the agent and the home seller to ensure that the data in the RMLS is correct. This is important because all of the data in the RMLS is transmitted out to the various IDX websites. Even though the public can no longer search their database, they can access the RMLS blog on RMLSCentral.com, which provides a wealth of knowledge about the rules of real estate and an in-depth analysis of the current real estate market. Accessing the actual RMLS site requires a paid membership, expensive enough to typically only be purchased by real estate agents, appraisers, and government officials. However, the blog remains a free resource.

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

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 a thing. But unlike a lot of IDX programs, PortlandHomesforSale.com was built specifically with RMLS in mind. National IDX portals often have to water 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, essentially creating a custom fit. PortlandHomesforSale.com combines the functionality of a typical real estate search engine with the high end functionality of the RMLS, allowing users to search for their ideal home without sacrificing any of their search criteria. As I mentioned above, many sites miss some of the IDX data. PortlandHomesforSale.com provides access to all of the specific features you would want to search for. It accomplishes this by combing the MLS and ensuring that every data point is included in its intuitive search engine. This makes PortlandHomesforSale.com not only a great resource for home buyers, but also a powerful tool for real estate agents. It allows a home buyer to search for potential new homes without sacrificing any of the available data instead of relying on the generic search results of traditional home search engines like Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc. As an added benefit, it also prevents the identifying information of home buyers from being sourced out to multiple agents, which is common on typical property search websites when saving a search or favoriting a home.

Always List your Home on Multiple MLSs

It would certainly make things easier if there was one MLS system to cover the entire U.S., but the reality is that there are hundreds of MLS listing systems – often several to a state and at times overlapping neighboring states. Each MLS system requires a membership before a Realtor can list a home in its database, and listing on several MLS systems ensures the home will be seen by the widest possible audience, benefitting the seller.

What are the benefits to listing a client’s home in more than one MLS? There are two primary reasons. First, if the home is listed in the MLS the buyer’s agent is using, there is an offer of commission there that is guaranteed, or secured, by mutual MLS memberships (the sellers agent has to be an MLS member to list in the system). Second, the MLS will give showing instructions specific to that home and provide the interested buyers agent with the seller’s agent and Brokerage’s contact information to ask any questions. Ultimately this means that more motivated Realtors will promote this listing with their clients.

Looking to buy or sell a home in Oregon or Washington?

Our top 1% buyers team would love to talk with you about your needs. Whatever part of Oregon or Washington you’re searching in, we are members of multiple MLS systems. We have access to coming soon listings only available to MLS members, that we can share with you. Get in touch with us at 503-773-0000 today!

Our top 1% sellers team lists every client’s home in multiple MLS systems. This is in addition to paying for professional photography, 3D, design consultation, and more. Read more about what our seller’s agents can do for you, or simply give us a call today at 503-714-1111.

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.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.5% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.