Our Market Has Two MLS Systems
By Claudia Lewis
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a crucial tool that helps real estate agents bring home buyers and sellers together. In the Denver Metro area, our market has two MLS systems. As you may know, the MLS is the database where seller's agents list their client's homes for sale. Buyer's agents look to the MLS to help buyers find homes to buy. Without it, agents and their buyer clients would be reduced to driving around looking for yard signs.
There are TWO MLS Systems Here
Along the Front Range and the Denver Metro Area, there are TWO major MLS systems. Information and Real Estate Services (IRES) and REcolorado serve our area. Real estate agents and related service providers access them online for a monthly fee. Many real estate agents and brokerages only subscribe to one system as a cost-saving measure. Unfortunately for their clients, this strategy prevents an agent from providing an accurate and comprehensive picture of the entire local market.
If your broker can't pull up listings from both of these systems, nothing else matters. Neither experience, company size or reputation, nor attitude and good intentions will overcome the disadvantages of belonging to only one. That agent is trying to do business with virtually 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. IRES also covers all of the communities in Larimer County to the north, including Ft. Collins, Loveland and Estes Park. Finally, it includes other areas outside of Boulder County, including Broomfield County and Weld County (e.g., Broomfield, Brighton, Firestone, Frederick, and Greeley). If you are looking for property in the mountains or plains areas outside these towns, IRES covers those too, from the continental divide to the Wyoming border.
REcolorado covers the Denver Metro Area and includes listings in Boulder County, Adams County, Broomfield County and Jefferson County. Generally, REcolorado encompasses 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
In reality, the actual boundaries of the two MLS systems are dictated more by agents and their coverage areas than by geographical area. An agent working in Longmont might subscribe only to IRES as a cost-saving strategy, but what happens if he takes a client in Arvada? If that client is a buyer, they will miss a significant portion of the homes for sale because they 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 money to join the other MLS system. However, 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, one system may be enough. But if you are trying to find your dream home, you may miss it unless you’re searching in both systems. Statistically, we have found that you will miss about 25% of the available listings if you don’t look in both systems. This is doubly important for gathering the critical sales history your agent uses to determine a fair price. Recent sales indicate whether a listing price is fair 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 give you the most comprehensive picture of the real estate market. For that reason, and because our market has two MLS systems, we subscribe to both. That way, we can keep our finger on the pulse of the local market, in its entirety, each day as it evolves.