MLS Insight: Thinking About an RMLS™ Without Area Numbers

MLS Insight: Thinking About an RMLS™ Without Area Numbers

This post is part of MLS Insight, a series about how things work at RMLS™.

1992RMLSAreaMapAn MLS without area numbers: this idea might strike terror in your heart….or you might say to yourself, “it’s about time!” In any case, it is not a proposal that is currently on the table, but with the changes in technology and the way people think about location, it is probably not too early to start the conversation.

When RMLS™ opened its doors in 1991, it was to the REALTORS® in the Portland metropolitan area in Oregon. At that time, the major advertising vehicle for homes for sale was the newspaper—The Oregonian, in our case. RMLS™ based its MLS area numbers on the map and classified ad numbers of The Oregonian. The 12 core areas for Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties have remained basically unchanged for 23 years.

When regions were added, local preferences regarding area numbers were retained. Clark County, for example, is divided into more than 30 areas, while Coos County is contained in one area.

The end result is more than 200 area numbers in RMLSweb, without a common reason why each geographical area is an “Area Number.” In some cases, a single area comprises several large but dissimilar communities. In others, areas may have so few listings and sales as a sample size that few, if any, conclusions could be drawn from looking at their data. In fact, there are rural areas that had no new listings and no closed sales in all of 2013.

In the world of today, The Oregonian posts its real estate ads online and there is no search option for area numbers. GPS location services have replaced maps to a large degree. It is a very different world than the world of 1991, when there was a Thomas Brothers map in the car of virtually every REALTOR®.

Here are some things to think about:

What role do area numbers play in the life of an RMLS™ subscriber today?

Has map search replaced searching by area number? Could it?

What could replace area numbers for searching besides map search—counties? zip codes? There should be something to narrow the initial search that pertains to location.

What about Market Action and other statistical reports? (Some counties are already reported in terms of zip codes in Market Action.)

If and when we ever do move away from area numbers, we need to have a good plan to meet the needs of our subscribers. Ideas?

Thanks for voyaging into the future with me. Next month we will talk with the various departments at RMLS™ and their plans for the upcoming year. If you have any questions you would like to have answered about how things work at RMLS™, I encourage you to post a comment to this blog.

UPDATE (November 20, 2014): RMLS™ is not the only MLS engaging in this interesting discussion. Here’s an article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about NWMLS area numbers.

MLS Insight: Thinking About an RMLS™ Without Area Numbers

February Improvements and Upcoming Releases on RMLSweb

New features and enhancements to RMLSweb are implemented regularly, including during our monthly scheduled outages.

Here are some of the changes we implemented in February to improve the site for subscribers…

Map Checked Switched to Bing Maps

RMLS™ is continuing to switch its map systems over to Bing Maps, and this month we’ve integrated Bing with the map checked feature of RMLSweb.

This means that when plotting multiple listings on a map for a client tour, the map will match other mapping features on RMLSweb and their enhanced map performance.

This is the third of a series of five rollovers into Bing. Our final two changes will be to switch the Listing Load mapping module to Bing, followed by switching Map Search. Look for the complete transformation in coming months!

RMLS™ Inventory on Desktop

Perhaps you’ve already noticed this new feature on the left sidebar of the RMLSweb desktop: we’ve added a feature showcasing collective listing data. In a glance, subscribers can see just how many active listings are in RMLSweb, the number of sold listings for the last 12 months, the dollar value those listings represent, and the total number of listings in the system. The numbers are updated daily.

Shorter Session Times

Starting this week, subscribers logging in to RMLSweb will be automatically logged out after 90 minutes of inactivity. This is a shorter session time than the site had previously (four hours), but we’re making the change based on some of the initial findings of our unauthorized access project on RMLSweb.

We’ve also got some exciting developments coming soon in March…

ChatChat with RMLS™

We will be adding a new way to contact RMLS™—chat! Access RMLS™ staff online by clicking the chat button at the top of the right sidebar. A chat window will open, and staff will assist you shortly.

Representatives from Help Desk, Training, Accounting, and Front Desk/Membership will be available during normal RMLS™ business hours. During the times when no staff is available, the pop-up window will allow you to send an email, and a representative will be in touch as soon as possible. Facelift

Our client-facing website,, will have a new look starting March 5th! We think you’ll like what you see. Besides the new look, consumers will now be able to search listings by either an address or MLS number.

As Gail Hare, Executive Vice President, posted last week, the RMLS™ Board of Directors recently made tablet and browser compatibility for RMLSweb the number one priority for our technical team this year. Look to the RMLS Blog and RMLSweb desktop for updates as that major project progresses.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, email Help Desk at or call us at (503) 872-8002, or outside the Portland area at (877) 256-2169.

Can Other Agents Find Your Listings? Double Check the Map Point to Be Sure

With the recent changes to maps in RMLSweb it’s more important than ever that you make sure your listings are mapping correctly so other agents can find them later when running a map search.

Watch this short tutorial to learn more about how to double check and edit your map point if needed.

Need Help with New Mapping Features?
Read: 5 Ways to Use the New Mapping Features in RMLSweb
Watch: Searching with Map Ranges Tutorial
Read: Mapping Tip Sheet
Watch: Create a Prospect Profile or Hotsheet with a map
Watch: Save a custom map and use it later in other searches

If you have questions please feel free to contact our help desk at 503-872-8002 or toll-free at 1-877-256-2169.