SW Florida Realtors are in for big changes in October if all goes as announced.  4 MLS systems from Naples, Bonita/Estero, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers and the Beaches will be together under one vendor and one shared MLS database.  It almost didn’t happen though, and when it does, there will be some challenges.

MLS Systems Are Merging – Benefits and Challenges Ahead

For some perspective all 4 boards met last year and decided to merge together but for some reason the Greater Fort Myers and the Beaches Board pulled out and decided to stick with their Vendor Rapattoni even though the others had selected Matrix.  After the other 3 boards made the move in August of this year, it became apparent having one board with one set of data and the separate boards with another set of data was going to be a nightmare.

Fort Myers voted to share the data with the other boards and all could share some data and keep their own vendor, but this was fraught with perils.  For instance, in Fort Myers and Cape Coral we have lots that are waterfront and direct access with no bridges.  This isn’t as much of an issue in Bonita and Naples, so the 3 board’s database doesn’t include this field.  Because the Cape Coral board merged with the other two we have no idea why they didn’t insist on this, but it isn’t there.

Had each board kept their own vendor and done the data share any agent searching for direct access homes or lots would have returned 0 results from the common shared database file because that field doesn’t exist in the shared database even though it does in the Fort Myers board.

Because the 4 boards are now one common database the field still does not exist, but at least now agents won’t be misled by a 0 matching properties result.  The agent just won’t be able to search on that field.

Matrix MLS Map Based Search Results

One advantage is the search results, and even the search itself can be map based, so you can see where the properties are located.  This will be particularly helpful when an agent doesn’t know for sure what Geo Area a property is in but just wants to do a quick search.  Some properties are located in a particular development name even though the legal description matches a particular subdivision name.  Searching under the new system will now be easier using the map, or the community name field.

Matrix MLS Great Fort Myers Association of Realtors

The waterfront description field is just one example of a search that would have been disastrous under a database sharing agreement.  Now things will work much smoother.  Some argued, including us, that the new Matrix system was superior to Rapattoni.  Some argued Rapattoni would be superior once new features kicked in.

The real argument never was which vendor was superior.  The system all 4 boards use jointly working together will be better no matter which vendor was selected. We like the map based search and the mobile solution Matrix uses better and we’re happy the Fort Myers Board changed and went with the new system, but the real advantage begins when all 4 major MLS’s operate together as one.  In my 25+ years in real estate we’ve been fractured and I’m so thankful the boards have gotten together and made this happen.  It’s been a long time coming and agents deserve having the information in one place and not having to check various MLS’s for data.

In the future, if a newer better technology comes along it is our sincere hope all 4 MLS’s will work together.  Now it’s time for Sanibel and Captiva to get on board and work together.  If 4 major MLS’s can do it, you can too.  While we’re at it, a common database up and down the West coast of Florida would be even better.  And one day, why not a joint state regional MLS like other states have done?  Now we’re just talking crazy, so we’ll stop and say thank you to all involved for making this happen.  Agents and consumers won on this one!

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