This year marks twenty years that Multi-List Vallarta has been providing MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to the Puerto Vallarta region. We believe that makes it the longest running MLS in Mexico, and also the first. Its gone from being just a photo-copied book (well, actually we still offer that service), to being available online at multiple websites. There’s an member’s only section where Realtors can service their listings and generate reports.
Multi-List Vallarta is different from other MLS services in that it is privately owned, rather than owned and operated by the local real estate association. When we first started (we as in two guys in an extra room in an apartment downtown) we approached AMPI, the local real estate chapter, and asked if we could provide them MLS service for Puerto Vallarta. They turned down the offer, stating that they wanted to do their own. Three years later they approached us about providing exclusive service for them as they hadn’t managed to get a system together for their organization. It meant that we had to then exclude clients that we had that we not AMPI members, but we did it (well, I did it – we were down to one guy in an extra room in an apartment – but now in the marina), believing that a strong real estate association would be good for the industry. It was done on a handshake, as it stands today, and although there’s been a number of ups and downs, the relationship remains a good one. There is no real estate licensing in Mexico so the real estate associations have to take up policing their industry on their own. With a strong MLS, they can threaten expulsion from the MLS service for Realtors that provide bad service to their clients or other Realtors. And they have used that power, although infrequently.
Multi-List Vallarta is the only privately organized MLS in Mexico and I don’t believe there are many in the USA or Canada. Actually, there aren’t many MLS services in Mexico and those that do exist are weak. We’ve been asked numerous times to provide service for regions such as Cancun, Los Cabos and San Miguel de Allende, but preferred to concentrate on the Vallarta market. Actually, that’s not true, we did provide MLS service to the Los Cabos region in the early 90s, but found the distance difficult and handed it back to the board. They actually still are using the logo we designed, which is very similar to Vallarta’s.
Are there benefits to have a private MLS?
I believe there are. For one, it took a lot of time and dedication, especially in the early years, to get it up and running. You need someone who is willing to dedicate that time and profit it a good motive. Unless the real estate association is willing to hire and pay good people, it just won’t happen. It may look like there is money to be made for the association, which otherwise is going elsewhere, but if we didn’t subsidize our MLS service having staff that also produce our print publications and websites, it would not be profitable or worth doing. And there has also been the concern with the members of the service getting into the hands of a president or board who may abuse their access to the information. We don’t sell real estate and aren’t active in the market in anyway. Therefore we can remain impartial and objective.
I guess the best test is just to look at other real estate markets in Mexico and see how efficient their systems are when operated by their real estate association.