It often came as a surprise to those searching for real estate in Costa Rica that there was no MLS system in place. CRGAR is thrilled to announce that this is changing soon! In September 2022, there will be a centralized system of Costa Rican MLS listings in place – a massive benefit for real estate professionals, buyers, and sellers.
Having a nationwide MLS system will encourage higher professional and ethical standards, improving our industry. The OMNI MLS system is a full-fledged, well-developed, and robust Multiple Listing Service that will encourage agent cooperation and collaboration across the country.
CRGAR is pleased to offer the MLS system free of charge to our members for the remainder of the calendar year.
What is MLS?
A Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a centralized real estate listing database. It can only exist and function properly when real estate brokers in a country or region agree en mass to work together and collaborate to share many tiered costs and provide data about properties for sale. With an MLS, brokers can see other listings of properties for sale, helping them to connect homebuyers to sellers. With an MLS system, both selling and listing brokers benefit by sharing information and commissions to expand their reach.
Why Was There No MLS in Costa Rica?
While it may seem odd that Costa Rica did not have an MLS previously in place, the truth is that it takes a lot of work and negotiations to establish a system and framework. For starters, brokers across the country need to agree on what system will be used, let alone all the parameters, details, and database software behind the suggested MLS.
It was no simple feat to get multiple parties – brokerages (independent and franchised), organizations, and associations to agree on a single solution. In fact, it took over 5 years of negotiations and hard work to come to a decision and move forward with OMNI MLS.
Another sticking point was that there is no official real estate licensing in Costa Rica. There was much debate regarding whether an MLS in Costa Rica could be implemented before establishing a licensing system, but we were able to do it. That being said, CRAR is hopeful that soon Costa Rica will have an official, required licensing process for real estate professionals.
With an MLS, there are a few basic requirements that must be adhered to. The most important is that the listings are exclusive. This means that only one real estate agent can represent the seller’s property and only one agent can represent a prospective buyer. In Costa Rica, the real estate industry works differently and traditionally many properties were represented by multiple real estate professionals. As an example, if someone had a property for sale, they could ‘list it’ with 5, 10, or 15 agents that could all try and market it within their network. While that system may sound good in theory, smaller, disconnected networks are not nearly as powerful or effective as a centralized, easily accessible MLS in Costa Rica.
It took a lot of convincing, effort, and education on CRGAR’s end to show that with exclusive listings and an MLS, there could be a better system to benefit all parties involved.
Standardizing the MLS in Costa Rica
To ensure the quality of service and selection with the new MLS, the system will only be accessible to CRGAR members and their real estate clients. CRGAR REALTORS® must undergo an application process, and complete a mandatory 12-month series of professional education, plus they are required to operate under specific ethical and professional standards. This includes that they legally reside and work in Costa Rica, pay due taxes, and contribute in other ways to Costa Rican society.
Because one of the biggest barriers to Costa Rica real estate standards is the lack of mandatory licensing, to guarantee the highest quality of the MLS, only qualified real estate developers, brokers and agents will be able to list their properties on the new MLS.
And as previously mentioned, no open listings are allowed. By only publishing exclusive listings, the MLS can guarantee that the property is active and available to prospective buyers.
If you’re a brokerage or agent interested in taking advantage of the upcoming MLS in Costa Rica, apply to join CRGAR today. Our Association of REALTORS® was founded 18 years ago and has been committed to supporting Costa Rican real estate laws, mandatory licensing, and related efforts ever since. Together, we can transform our industry.