By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
One-third of the Bahamas Real Estate Association’s (BREA) estimated 500-600 members are actively participating in its Multiple Listing System (MLS), the organisation’s principals yesterday saying this tool and their revamped website would “level the playing field” in a sector where 90 per cent of deals start on-line.
Gino Maycock, a broker with Colonial Realty and BREA’s website director, told Tribune Business that the Association’s revamped website was intended to provide a “one-stop shop” where buyers - both Bahamian and international - could find everything they wanted to know on the profession and how to acquire real estate.
Explaining that BREA had upgraded the website to be “more user friendly and functional”, Mr Maycock said it provided “empowering information” to potential buyers, including details on how realtors/brokers should operate.
“We know the industry, the market has gone electronic, tech savvy,” Mr Maycock said.
“An individual can come to this website, and it’s a one-stop shop for everybody needing information on the housing market, whether they’re interested in leasing or renting property, or wanting to understand what to pay a realtor/broker.
“The international market will gain knowledge on what it takes to buy, own property, how they go about doing this, and finding a licensed realtor. Access to reliable information os the main benefit, and transparency.”
Apart from detailing legislation governing the Bahamian real estate sector and its sales, the revamped BREA website also has information on the Stamp Duty and real property tax structure impacting the sector.
A realtor database is also provided, along with details on sales commissions, Immigration and leasing/renting. There is also a link to BREA’s MLS, the database where Bahamian realtors can market all their listings and available properties to a wider audience.
Mr Maycock, who is also BREA’s MLS chairman, added that realtor/broker participation on the MLS was increasing all the time.
“The statistics are there right now. They say 90 per cent of the transactions start online now. It’s fair to say that’s a general statement,” he told Tribune Business, indicating it applied to the Bahamian real estate market as well.
“That’s technology; it’s the way it’s happening. The MLS’s growth is quite healthy. It’s safe to say we have more and more participation from the local brokers. It’s every day, and activity is really strong with those who are involved with it. It’s high.”
Disclosing that BREA was set to shortly announce further updates to the MLS system, although he declined to reveal them yesterday, Mr Maycock added: “They [realtors] are seeing the benefits of it. They are encouraged by it. We have individuals and persons inquiring how they get involved with it [the MLS].”
Mr Maycock told Tribune Business that 202, or some one-third of BREA’s licensed members, were now actively using the MLS system.
Pointing out that the MLS system gave Bahamian realtors and their listings exposure to the international market, Mr Maycock added: “It levels the playing field and empowers everyone.”
Franon Wilson, BREA’s president, said that by becoming an MLS participant, Bahamian brokers/realtors without their own website could “bypass the upfront cost” in setting one up and still gain Internet exposure for their listings.
“It really does level the playing field for the industry,” he added.