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July 2020

Northwest Multiple Listing Service unveils more options for house hunters to view homes

July 6, 2020

Western Washington home shoppers can now take various types of guided tours of properties, including a new "Live Stream Open House" option. Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) recently unveiled that new feature plus enhanced ways for member-brokers to promote multiple virtual tours on their listings.

The enhancements, developed as part of the industry's response to the statewide coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions on in-person open houses, are being well received and will continue once the pandemic constraints are eased, according to the MLS. Additionally, the group announced it has added vacant land to the "lives stream" option, which initially included single family homes, condominiums, farms & ranches, multi-family properties, manufactured homes, rentals, and timeshares.

With the new "Live Stream Open House" offering, listing brokers set specific times to showcase their listings and provide a link for viewing the live broadcast. The option is used for real-time open houses for both the public and for fellow brokers. Viewers can interact with the agent as they tour.

This week, Northwest MLS introduced the ability for brokers to input up to three virtual tour links on their listings. With this feature, listing agents can advertise various tour options using links and corresponding descriptions. Among choices being used are 3-D tours, recordings of video walk-through tours of a home, and photo reel tours.

Once links are entered, other brokers can search for and view the virtual tours in Matrix (the MLS system). The virtual tour links will appear for consumers in the Matrix Client Portal, and they will be included in the NWMLS data feed that appears on members' public websites.

"With in-person open houses currently prohibited, live streaming further promotes social distancing," said Northwest MLS chairman Robb Wasser. "These enhancements provide sellers and listing agents with new options. It also enables buyers who are sheltering in place to get to know a property and interact with the listing broker in real time, all from the comfort and safety of their homes," added Wasser, branch manager at Windermere Real Estate/East in Bellevue.

Live streamed open houses are easily identified with a searchable field in the Northwest MLS database, as well as on the data feed for members' public websites.

Brokers flagged several hundred listings with the new live stream feature within the first few weeks of the roll-out, according to MLS officials. The option which is popular among out-of-area buyers, is also being well-received by tech-savvy millennials and other local house-hunters who enjoy previewing from their own homes.