Is there really such a thing as "rental" MLS?

By
Real Estate Sales Representative with Skyline Realty

Almost everyone in the real estate world has heard of Craigslist (www.craigslist.org). Prior to its popularity, many well known an established area brokers were discussing the emergence of a "Rental Multiple Listing Service." During those years, just before Craigslist took over the bulk of real estate advertising, the Massachusetts based MLSPIN, tried to push their "you can list your rentals in MLS as well..." The problem is most brokers are not willing to co-broke with four other agents, so the MLS system is rarely used for rentals, which in my opinion is unfortunate. I wish MLSPIN did a better format for their rental listings allowing agents the ease of entry and sharing of information between offices. I think the future of leasing is co-broke, co-broke, co-broke, and that is a better choice than letting the rental client walk out the door. Why is this so hard for brokers and agents to understand and apply?

Secondly, the MLS system is very difficult to use when entering rental listings - rental agents are used to simpler formats. For the average rental agent who is used to putting in a listing in five or less minutes on Craigslist, the idea of filling out pages upon pages of data sheets and uploading photos to MLSPIN, is but a painful chore.

There are alternative systems like www.bostonapartments.com which offer both a database and an advertising solution - and integrates with craiglist as well. In my opinion, this is the best system Boston has to offer as of now. It crosses between a good Multi Listing Service and a solid online advertising tool, while providing a secure databse (a place to enter all your landlords and tenants). The challenge is Craigslist is also very easy to use and many renters had become accustomed to finding a "good deal" among the thousands of "for rent by owner" listings.

Craigslist has not only changed the real estate landscape, but it also created a chaotic world of disorderly advertising by disorderly people. For example, broker Joe lists a unit on Craigslist that he got from landlord A. Landlord A also called broker Dave and give him the listing as well. Both Dave and Joe ask each of their agents to advertise the unit, and now you have sixteen advertisements that are the same. What can be worse? Landlord A calls Agent B who works for Dave, and asks him to change the listing price from $1400 to $1350. Now Agent B re-advertises the same unit for $1350, while the rest of the agents and brokers are advertising it for $1400. It gets even worse, Landlord A rents the unit and does not tell anyone. Then the flood of inquiries goes to all the rental agents working for Dave and Joe, but the unit is gone. This is Craigslist in a nutshell. You get the idea....

There are some companies in the Greater Boston Area, which offer "managed database" solutions for renters and brokers. The problem with these companies is that they are usually manned by two or three people handling thousands of listings. They are expensive, and often promise agents more than they can deliver.

I am in the midst of researching the ultimate "rental" database solution which functions like the MLS system, but offers landlord, owners, and tenants a centralized place in Massachusetts to find out accurate information on what is available. Until I find that system, I think that www.bostonapartments.com is the official Boston Area rental MLS, aside being far better than Craigslist or MLS combined.

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