FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- Real estate agents across Indiana are uniting in an effort to direct house hunters to a regional website that features up-to-date information about listings.
The newly formed Indiana Regional MLS will eventually allow house hunters to view more than 750,000 listings from 13 Realtor associations in Indiana.
The move is an effort to fight competition from online sites such as Yahoo and Zillow, which agents say often contain inaccurate or outdated information.
Patrick Maloblocki, broker/owner with Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber in Fort Wayne, told The Journal Gazette that prices, square footage and other facts can be wrong on national online sites, in part because the data go through various channels before they appear online.
He said the national online websites obtain housing market information from third-party and government sources, and that information isn't always current.
"It won't be that way with the new website, because it deals directly with the (local) real estate companies," Maloblocki said.
The Indiana Regional MLS includes agents from 42 counties. The Upstate Alliance of Realtors in Fort Wayne, Lafayette Regional Association of Realtors and Bloomington Board of Realtors are currently participating.
By the middle of next year, prospective buyers will be able to go to www.reindiana.com to get information from the other 10 housing groups.
Agents say the new site will eliminate the need for them to pay multiple dues and other fees for doing business in markets outside their areas.
For instance, Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber has more than 200 agents. If each one wanted to do business outside of its MLS area, it could easily cost $200,000. Real estate firms participating in the Indiana Regional MLS can avoid those costs.
Carrie Kendall, general manager of the Indiana Regional MLS, said the multiple fees have been a sticking point for agents for years.
"It used to be that if you wanted to list a house in a MLS outside of your area, you had to be a registered agent there," said Kendall, executive officer of the Lafayette Regional Association of Realtors. "This eliminates that cost while streamlining our system. We don't have to operate independently. It is our hope that more Realtor groups will join."
Alliance leaders are working on search-engine optimization software to ensure that when people do online searches using phrases like "Indiana real estate," www.reindiana.com is among the first results to appear. Once at the website, those interested in Indiana home markets can find demographics, taxes, school districts and related information.
"We're working on having virtual tours and other things on the website to be right at a person's fingertips," Kendall said.
The stakes are high. The Indiana Association of Realtors says residential real estate transactions have a more than $34 million economic impact on the state's economy.
Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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