The IMLS: Going Global in a Shrinking World

Posted by: Barbara Pronin

For Dan Forsman, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, it’s the new wave in real estate—a means to attract foreign buyers searching in their native language to local Atlanta listings.

For Mike Pappas, CEO of The Keyes Company, it offers maximum exposure of Florida properties to investors in 60 countries.

For consumers, it’s a nifty way to search international real estate.

And for Dan Nussbaum, a former dentist, licensed real estate broker, and founder of The International Multiple Listing Service (IMLS), the global portal and membership platform is the result of years of planning—an ambitious initiative designed to bridge the needs of agents, brokers, developers and associations, MLSs, and homebuyers and sellers worldwide.

"In the beginning, I was a one-man band," says Nussbaum. "But I had a clearly defined plan. My vision was to bring the world to the U.S. real estate market—but also to take our U.S. market to the world."

With early support from believers like Forsman and Pappas, and input from a host of brokers, industry executives, and information technology gurus, Nussbaum’s vision began to take shape. Now, with more than a million listings in 80 languages (thanks to the wonders of Google Translate), and a growing support base of agents, brokerages, developers and associations, the global portal is well on its way to making the vision a reality.

"I’m thrilled to be getting the support of some of the largest brokers in the U.S. for our global portal initiative," says Nussbaum. "Our agent/broker membership platform offers a suite of products that answer the core ethical concerns of the industry. Members are creating and managing their listings online, or enlisting the aid of IMLS technicians if they need help getting started in the international sales arena."

  • Members get their own IMLS search with more than 1,000,000 listings in 60 countries and can get this on professionally framed Web pages for their own websites, complete with Google Translate so the listings can be viewed instantly in any language. They can capture leads and make referrals, and their listings may be viewed on agent and broker sites around the world.
  • The more listings you post, the more you pay. But lead delivery systems are built into the program at no extra charge, and no advertising by other agents or brokers ever appear on a member’s listing page.
  • There are no For Sale by Owner listings and no pocket listings and, in an effort to protect local MLSs, every listing on IMLS must first be entered into the local MLS.
  • With the newly created Developer/Agent platform, agents are able to have all of the new-home developments that The IMLS attracts on their own websites in a coded delivery format. Agents may also share on Facebook any or all of the developments in order to attract buyer leads.
  • Through a partnership with a real estate technology company, IMLS-coded Web options can be installed on local real estate sites, making all options available for agents who do not have their own websites.

Developers can sign on to offer their new-home developments, with full visibility and connection to agents and brokers worldwide. New development listings are unbranded on agent websites so the agent remains in control. To facilitate the process, The IMLS has relationships in place with all facets of the home-buying process outside the USA, from escrow and title companies to insurance and mortgage providers.

In all, according to Nussbaum, while admittedly still in the early stages of large broker adoption, the IMLS portal and membership platform is poised for accelerated growth.

"With more people from around the world buying and selling property outside of their own countries, it makes sense to provide a total solution," he notes. "We provide that total solution—and at costs any agent can afford."

In addition to charter-member brokers Forsman and Pappas, who encouraged The IMLS initiative from the get-go, the global portal continues to attract major brokerages across the country—Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene REALTORS, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah Properties, and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach REALTORS, to name a few—and Nussbaum is currently in discussions to bring the first MLSs on board.

"I am hosting 90-minute webinars with a number of MLSs who love what we’re doing," he says, "and interested brokers, agents, developers, and consumers are able to browse the site at"

On tap soon, he adds, are mobile applications and a portal for commercial properties.

Nussbaum is also in the process of creating an advisory board made up of brokers, agents, MLS executives, home developers, builder associations, and others connected to real estate.

"This is the culmination of years of strategizing—my legacy, if you will," says Nussbaum, a native New Yorker and former Californian now headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla.

The crux of his strategy is simple.

"My plan is not to be a vendor, per se, but to create an industry cooperative. The goal of the IMLS Global Portal Initiative and its membership platform is to put the power of the entire industry into the hands of real estate professionals where it belongs—protecting the interests of brokers, agents, MLSs and consumers, and making the buying and selling of real estate around the world more fun and more rewarding than ever."
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