The Walla Walla Association of Realtors® voted to merge its multiple listing service with Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), based in Kirkland. With the addition of Walla Walla and Columbia counties, NWMLS expands its service area to 26 counties across Washington and adds a service center within the Realtor office in downtown Walla Walla.
As a result of the merger, 24 companies with around 150 sales associates are now part of the member-owned Northwest MLS, which facilitates cooperation among member real estate firms. Prior to becoming part of NWMLS, brokers in Walla Walla county shared information via a REALTOR®-association owned multiple listing service. Its members work primarily in Walla Walla, Columbia, and Umatilla (Ore.) counties.
Scooter Johnston, the 2020 president of the Walla Walla Association of REALTORS® and a broker at Coldwell Banker Walla Walla, said a clear majority of members favored the merger, citing several advantages. “In addition to offering sellers much broader exposure of their properties, NWMLS provides an array of innovative products and services, including customizable reports to assist member brokers in serving their clients. We believe our decision will be beneficial to buyers, sellers, and brokers.”
This year’s Walla Walla Association of Realtors president, Phillip Provost, also with Coldwell Banker Walla Walla, said he is particularly impressed with the sophisticated property listing system Northwest MLS provides to brokers, along with the variety of mobile applications. “Its state-of-the-art showing appointment scheduling service, online forms, virtual showing options/settings, and continuously updated COVID-19 resources have been particularly helpful during the coronavirus pandemic,” he remarked.
As part of Northwest MLS, Walla Walla Association of Realtors members will have access to a robust, fully searchable database system, along with the ability to publish multiple virtual tour links and live stream open house options on their listings. The ability to access customer support, technical support, and key/keybox support all seven days a week are other benefits Johnston and Provost noted.
During 2020, the NWMLS Call Center handled nearly 146,000 calls and presented more than 100 individualized training workshops and 569 instructor-led classes for real estate firms. MLS staff also created 13 new user guides and edited 35 existing guides in its library of resources. Members can also access online self-paced classes and webinars.
“By becoming part of the Northwest MLS network, we anticipate increased exposure for our listings and the opportunity for more referrals,” stated Provost, noting they registered more than 9 million logins (an average of 15,469 per day) during 2020. Member brokerages tallied 95,760 closed sales last year valued at more than $56 billion.
The move by Walla Walla County Realtors reflects a trend toward regionalization and consolidation of MLS functions that is occurring nationally, according to Tom Hurdelbrink, president and CEO of Northwest MLS. “Providing real estate professionals with streamlined technology services and standardized forms and data feeds facilitates more exposure for sellers, more options for buyers, and enhanced productivity in a constantly evolving industry.”
The 26 counties now served by NWMLS encompass nearly 84% of the state’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Walla Walla County, located in the southeast part of Washington, comprises 1,270 square miles and serves as home to approximately 61,000 residents. The county shares a border with Umatilla County in Oregon so brokers who are licensed in both states can list properties and conduct business across the boundaries.
Walla Walla County is known as one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the U.S., notably for sweet onions, wine grapes, wheat, and potatoes. According to Walla Walla Valley Wine, a nonprofit wine industry organization, it is home to more than 120 wineries and nearly 3,000 acres of vineyards. Walla Walla Valley was named America’s Best Wine Region in the 2020 USA Today “10 Best” Reader’s Choice awards.