A group of real estate brokers trying to establish a statewide multiple listing service of homes for sale has signed up the Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors as a partner in the Lake Charles area.
The Lake Charles board announced this week it will offer the Greater Southern MLS service to its more than 700 members.
Greater Southern, with founders positioned around Louisiana, expects to launch its service later this year, and says it currently represents nearly one-third of all Louisiana Realtors.
Webb Jay, president and one of the founders of Greater Southern MLS, said the goal is to create a service that better meets client needs through exposure in a statewide network of home listings. Having a centralized statewide network also would reduce the marketing costs that come with listing houses on separate multiple listing services operated by Realtor boards across the various metropolitan regions around the state.
For example, Jay, who operates a small real estate agency in Destrehan, said he has joined the individual MLS services in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Houma-Thibodaux. MLS has the newest and most detailed information about homes for sale and recent transactions, but access to the data can get expensive. Along with paying monthly subscription fees that can run between $35 and $85 a month, it can cost upwards of $5,000 a month to share sales information.
“We want this technology to be at the fingertips of everybody,” Jay said. “Going statewide will better represent the full and complete data set.”
While Jay runs a seven-person office, brokers operating agencies affiliated with some of the largest national and regional real estate firms in the state have been involved in setting up Greater Southern MLS, including Latter & Blum and broker affiliates with Keller Williams, Century 21, Re/Max and Coldwell Banker. These companies are involved in nearly half of the real estate transactions that happen in Louisiana, Jay said.
Jay said the Lake Charles MLS' decision to sign on to the statewide service shows the organization is "forward thinking" and hopes it leads to more real estate boards participating in the network.
But officials with the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors and the Realtor Association of Acadiana, all of whom handle the MLS services in their markets, said they don't have any interest in joining Greater Southern MLS. "We're perfectly happy with everything," said Jim Keaty, president of the Acadiana Realtors' organization.
Chelsea Meng, president of the Baton Rouge Realtors' association, said there has been some discussion about forming an association-owned organization to share home sale data statewide. She said Greater Southern MLS is broker-owned. "We feel it's more important to have ownership of our data," she said.
Debbie Link, president of the Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors said, “Partnering with Greater Southern MLS positions us well for a future of providing easy-to-use and relevant technologies, training and support to help our members succeed. Our goal is to provide the most valuable and relevant services we can at the most affordable price possible. Greater Southern MLS allows us to achieve that goal.”
Greater Southern is providing its MLS services and technology in partnership with California Regional MLS, which it said is the nation’s largest MLS.
In addition to Jay, Greater Southern's website shows as founding members Dawna Bledsoe, NextHome Connect in Shreveport; Janice Bolton, Bolton Enterprises LLC in Natchitoches; Paul Burns, Burns & Co. Inc. in Baton Rouge; Lacey Conway, Latter & Blum in New Orleans; Lucy D’Angelo, Keller Williams in Metairie; Tara Demarie, Century 21 Bessette Realty in Lake Charles; Beau Flavin, Flavin Realty Inc. in Lake Charles; Glenn Gardner, Gardner Realtors in Metairie; Thomas Giroir, Re/Max Real Estate Partners in Metairie; Nancy Marcotte, Keller Williams Realty Acadiana in Lafayette; Tim Tullos, Keller Williams Realty in Prairieville; Kathy Venable, eXp Realty LLC in Lake Charles; Michele Champagne, Keller Williams CENLA Partners in Alexandria; Mike and Lisa Bono, Century 21 Bono in Lake Charles; Steve Floyd, Coldwell Banker Ingle Safari in Lake Charles; Dana Hayes, Keller Williams Realty NWLA in Shreveport; and Ingrid Fonseca, Axis Realty Group in Metairie.