Chatting About the Early Days of RMLS™ with Dave Koch


Dave Koch

This year marks the 25th anniversary of RMLS™. Throughout the year, RMLS™ Executive Assistant Angel Johnstone will be writing about people who have been vital to the 25 year history of RMLS™. This month, she explores the early days with one of the RMLS™ founders, Dave Koch.

After over a year of research, planning and organization, RMLS opened its doors for service May 1, 1991. Seasoned REALTOR® Dave Koch had been managing an office with Coldwell Banker in Oregon City when he took a six month leave of absence to focus specifically on the budding organization. At the request of other local brokers, he became the first board chairman for RMLS.

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of RMLS service throughout 2016, it is a great time to reflect upon the challenges and success RMLS™ has met over the years. Where better to begin this retrospect than at the beginning?

In 1990, Portland area REALTORS® found space and opportunity in the MLS market to create an MLS fashioned by the REALTOR®, for the REALTOR®. The project to create this new MLS was spearheaded by Dave Koch, who I had the opportunity to sit down and visit recently.

I had some questions about how and why RMLS was formed. Dave told me that “in the early 90s there was a lot of merging of REALTOR® organizations” and that the time was ripe for a new type of MLS in the Portland neighborhood. Dave lead the undertaking of the new MLS assembly with support from the existing four area association boards; James F. Sherry and Associates, Inc., a hired consulting firm; and invaluable legal counsel from Steve Russell. (Fortunately for RMLS™, Steve Russell continues to be our legal counsel to this day.)

The initial objectives of the new system were to 1) make it better, 2) make it more cost effective and 3) make it ours (REALTOR®-owned). Dave explained the vision, saying “we defined the plan, the organization, that it would have a board of directors made up by brokers and sales people, and so the policies directly developed by the organization would be from brokers and salespeople, predominately brokers.” This sentiment is established in the RMLSfounding mission which states in part, “this MLS must be sensitive to the needs and desires of the membership and must be made operational with a minimum of disruption of service. The MLS must conduct its business affairs in such a way that the MLS remains a viable contracting entity, capable of effectively representing its membership…”

Dave remembered, “it was very competitive for awhile and basically towns won’t support two multiple listing services so we knew we had to get to the majority or we would fail. So I was out making calls to the different brokers, big brokers and small brokers, and doing presentations around all four of the boards.” He said the new MLS was well received and there was wide support early on reaching about 50% of the subscribership in the first few months. It didn’t take long for RMLS to gain footing in the local market as it was molded and crafted to specifically answer the needs of its subscribers.

Following his year of service as board chairman, Dave has continued subscribership with RMLS to this day. He is currently a Principal Broker out of RE/MAX in Canby, sometimes even greeting clients in the front office, in order to stay involved and in tune with all aspects of the process. He remains quite active within the profession having served the real estate industry since 1976!

Stay tuned as we explore the evolution of RMLSover the last 25 years—from books to electronic listings, area expansion and growth—keeping in mind the core mission of functionality and affordability for its valued subscribers.

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2 Responses to “Chatting About the Early Days of RMLS™ with Dave Koch”

  1. Jeff Kreinbring April 7, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    The idea of Realtors owning the MLS sounds great on the surface, but it almost by definition cuts out competition and stifles improvements. Since the RMLS has been in place for 25 years, most Realtor subscribers, unless they have worked in other states, have no idea how much better some other MLS systems are. When Realtor organizations are free to hire and fire MLS services without worrying about whose pockets are going to be impacted, and with a contract provision that the departing service must “data dump” into the incoming service, they usually get much better and more innovative services. Competition always improves the breed!

  2. Dave Sutton April 12, 2016 at 9:31 am #

    I disagree with Mr. Kreinbring. I was licensed in Northern California (Contra Costa County Assoc. Of Realtors) before coming to Portland in 2010. RMLS is superior to that MLS on several fronts and continues to improve.

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