Our Dual MLS System Explained
By Claudia Lewis
In Colorado, the Multiple Listing Service, the database of homes for sale, is a crucial tool for helping real estate agents bring home buyers and sellers together. Without it, agents and their clients would be reduced to driving around looking for yard signs.
There are TWO MLS Systems
Along the Front Range and the Denver Metro Area, there are TWO major MLS systems, REcolorado and Information and Real Estate Services (IRES). These are both accessed online by subscription only. Many real estate companies only subscribe to one system as a cost-saving measure to avoid the fees associated with belonging to both. Unfortunately for their clients, subscribing to only one system prevents an agent from providing an accurate and comprehensive picture of the local market.
If your broker can’t pull up listings from each of these systems while you are sitting in their office, neither experience, company size or reputation nor eagerness and attitude or good intentions matter. That agent is trying to do business with one hand tied behind their back.
Information and Real Estate Services, LLC (IRES)
In general, IRES covers Boulder County and northeastern Colorado. This area encompasses Boulder, Louisville, Superior, Lafayette, Erie, Longmont, Lyons, and Nederland. It also covers real estate in all the communities in Larimer County to the north, including Ft. Collins, Loveland and Estes Park. Finally, it covers real estate listings to the east of Boulder County, including the communities in Broomfield County and Weld County (e.g., Broomfield, Brighton, Firestone, Frederick, and Greeley). The mountains and plains areas outside these towns are also covered, from the continental divide to the Wyoming border.
Again, in very general terms, REcolorado covers the Denver Metro Area and includes real estate in Boulder County, Adams County, Broomfield County and Jefferson County, including communities such as Golden, Arvada, Westminster, Broomfield, Northglenn and Thornton. In the east and south this includes real estate in Denver County, Arapahoe County, Douglas County, and Elbert County (e.g., Lakewood, Highlands Ranch, and Aurora).
It’s Not About Where the Homes Are, It’s About Where the Agents Are
Having explained the general areas covered by the two MLS systems, it’s important to note that the actual boundaries are dictated more by agents and their coverage areas than by any geographical boundaries. An agent working from an office in Longmont might be tempted to subscribe only to IRES as a cost-saving strategy, but what happens if he is referred to a client in Arvada? If that client is a buyer, they are likely to miss a significant portion of the homes for sale because many of them won’t be listed in IRES. If they are sellers, listing the property in IRES will make it invisible to many Arvada buyers.
Ideally, the agent in this scenario will pay the extra bucks to join the MLS system that covers the Denver Metro Area, but if he’s broke or cheap he may just use the system where he’s already paid his membership fees and hope for the best.
How serious is this problem?
That depends. If you’re just trying to get a general sense of pricing and availability, you don’t need to worry much. But if you and your agent are using the systems to find your dream home, you may miss that home unless you’re running searches in both systems. We have found that statistically, you will be missing approximately 25% of the available listings if you don’t duplicate all your searches on both systems. This is doubly important for the critical sales history your agent must access to determine whether a listing price is in line with other sales in the neighborhood when it comes time to make an offer.
At A4HB, We Subscribe to Both Systems
At Agents for Home Buyers, we believe it’s our duty to provide the best, most comprehensive picture of the real estate market to our home buyers. That is why we subscribe to both Front Range MLS systems and keep our finger on the pulse of the local market, in its entirety, each day as it evolves.