Many of you have asked us to add “virtual” live stream open houses to NorthstarMLS. We are happy to announce that the system programming is complete, and you may now add these to your listings.

The Open House scheduling tab in the Add/Edit system has been reactivated with two available Open House Types to choose from: Public Virtual and Broker Virtual. (Scheduling of physical open houses remains suspended.)

Please note, live stream Virtual Open Houses are scheduled live broadcasts. If you have an unbranded recorded tour of the home, you may continue to add it as a Virtual Tour, but not as a live stream Virtual Open House.

As you would expect, Broker live stream Virtual Open Houses are viewable only within NorthstarMLS by other subscribers. So, there are no restrictions.

Live stream Public Virtual Opens are shared within NorthstarMLS, client emails/portals and through the IDX and third-party website feeds. There are no restrictions on what site/tool you may use to host these live stream open houses. Popular choices include Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facebook Live, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, YouTube Live.

However, during the live stream public virtual open house, do not promote yourself, your broker or your services. Particularly if you want to later upload the recording as a Virtual Tour.

Also, there are two new MLS fields available for live stream Virtual Open Houses:

  • Live Stream URL: The web address for your live stream virtual open house.
  • Virtual Open House Additional Info: This is a text field where you can enter other details, for example call-in phone numbers for a live stream open house on Zoom.

Same as with physical open houses, information on live stream virtual open houses is available by clicking the Open House icon below the main photo:  or the Open House tab in the Matrix 360 display (the tab will be active if there is an Open House scheduled). They may be searched through “Open House” under the Matrix Search tab.

Public and Broker Live Stream URLs may not be placed in the Public Remarks field. They are, however, allowed in the Agent Remarks field.

After the Live Stream Open House has ended, you may upload a recording of it to your listing as a Virtual Tour as long as it contains no agent/broker branding or links out to other websites. (For example, a link to your recorded open house on your branded social media site would not be acceptable as a virtual tour.)

Questions? Contact our Help Desk at help@northstarmls.com or 651-251-5456 (1-877-251-5455), M-F 8:00-5:00 (closed at noon on April 10 for Good Friday).

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New ShowingTime Appointment Type Now Available: Virtual Showing

ShowingTime has added a new appointment type, Virtual Showing, for showing agents to use when requesting a showing. By selecting this option, the showing agent is indicating to the listing agent that their client would prefer a virtual showing of the property. The showing agent can also add a note for the listing agent indicating which streaming video technology they prefer to use for the showing (FaceTime, Zoom, etc.).

Reference ShowingTime’s Virtual Showing Guide for help getting started and for more information on virtual showings, check out their resource page.

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Now more than ever, picking up and delivering paper earnest money checks is not desirable. A timely reminder, NorthstarMLS core service TrustFunds (available to all NorthstarMLS subscribers) allows you to make electronic earnest money payments right from the Property Detail page in Matrix.

Just click on the TrustFunds logo below the property photo on the full listing display 

Using electronic earnest money has great benefits:

  • No need to physically collect and deliver a paper check
  • A convenient, sure-fire alternative to US postal service, in the case of mail service disruption
  • Relieves anyone from running to make bank deposits
  • It’s available anytime from anywhere, not requiring anyone to be in a certain place at a certain time
  • Allows both brokers and agents to continue to manage their business and stay productive
  • Mitigates risk and exposure for agents and their buyers

Check out how electronic earnest money works in this 1-minute video.

If your business or preferred title company is not currently participating to receive electronic earnest money, encourage them to register. Brokers and title companies can start their registration by going to www.trustfunds.us.com. Click on the green ‘Get Started’ Button.

Be Safe!

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NorthstarMLS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Page Now Available

To help you to stay up-to-date NorthstarMLS policy changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we've created a central resource page. In addition to being a central location for all related NorthstarMLS news, you will also find links to other important resources for Realtors.

Go to www.NorthstarMLS.com/covid19 — check back frequently for the latest news and announcements during this pandemic.

We want to remind you of some great video resources that are available to you as all of us are spending more time indoors. These videos give you quick walk-throughs on how to use NorthstarMLS core services.

The NorthstarMLS YouTube Channel features over 200 videos – including our latest video on the NAR Clear Cooperation Policy.

Below are links to NorthstarMLS core service videos for remote learning offered from the vendors.  

  1. Thinking of doing virtual tours during the COVID-19 pandemic? ShowingTime has some great tips for you here. Check out the ShowingTime YouTube Channel here.
  2. Homesnap recently released its biggest update ever. Check out the Homesnap University Page  filled with quick how-to videos.
  3. TransactionDesk/Instanet Help Video library sorted and searchable by topic.
  4. Realist Tax and Public records recently released an all-new Flash-free update. Watch an over view/walk-through here. And see you how you search public records right in Matrix.
  5. Down Payment Resource creates opportunity for homebuyers and real estate professionals by connecting people with programs that get them into homes. Click here to browse the DPR YouTube Channel.
  6. Remine helps you target your efforts and messages using many data points and predictive models. Check out the Remine YouTube Channel here.
  7. Watch a pre-recorded MyFloodStatus webinar here and see how you can help your clients with flood determinations.

Note: You may need to be logged into your NorthstarMLS Matrix account in order to access these resources.

Have you been thinking about conducting virtual showings on your listings? ShowingTime has put together a helpful resource on how you can use live streaming services in tandem with ShowingTime.

Click this link for the ShowingTime resource web page that includes instructional videos and a link to download a brief instructional guideline. Below is one of the videos on how to use Zoom with ShowingTime.

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MNR Discusses the Implications of Gov. Walz's Stay-at-Home Order for Realtors®

Today, Minnesota Governor Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home.

Realtors® and their clients may still conduct the activities necessary to facilitate real estate transactions in Minnesota during the time period covered by the order as long as they comply, to the maximum extent possible, with COVID-19 Guidelines including social distancing and hygiene and other requirements in the order. 

OPEN HOUSES Refrain from conducting open houses during this period. It is counterintuitive to be conducting an open house activity during the “Stay at Home” directive.

SHOWINGS Please consult with your seller clients regarding their wishes for showings. If you will be conducting showings, limit your showings until the consumer expresses interest, and prioritize virtual showings and other non-person-to-person activities. Utilize the virtual tours and photos available to prescreen homes you personally visit. 

UNDERSTAND The Governor can pull this essential services tag at any time. If we don’t act within the spirit of the Order, we will be in jeopardy of not being able to service our Minnesota real estate clients and customers. 

PLEASE NOTE You must conduct business within the COVID-19 MDH social distancing guidelines. Minnesotans may leave their homes or residences to engage in the following activities, provided that all persons follow the guidelines set forth and maintained by the Minnesota Department of Health (“MDH Guidelines”), including but not limited to social distancing, to the maximum extent possible. This list of Activities may be clarified, as deemed necessary by the Governor, to ensure the health, safety, and security of all Minnesotans. Clarifications are available here.

Watch Chris Galler discuss the Governor's order and its implications for Realtors® below. 

Overlapping Showing Appointments and Showing Trend Charts

Many of you have already changed the Showings settings on your listings to not allow overlapping appointments. Starting 8:00pm Wednesday March 25, ShowingTime is automatically setting the default to "No Overlapping Showings." Here is their message:

Due to overwhelming agent demand and a desire for the safest possible showings for all concerned, ShowingTime will be updating all current listings and the default for new listings to be “No Overlapping Showings” so that by default two showing agents won’t be scheduled to be in the same property at the same time. Agents and offices can change their defaults later when or if they deem it appropriate, but we want to make sure that the default assumption on any listings in the ShowingTime system is “no overlap” unless specifically designated by the listing agent or listing office. 

Local and National Showing Trends Chart
Do you wonder how the current pandemic situation is affecting showings activity? ShowingTime has created charts showing the Impact of COVID-19 on Real Estate Showings. All charts are updated daily.

Below are several measures we have taken and communicated earlier this week. We have gathered them here together in one posting for your convenience, and as a reminder for those who may have missed the earlier posts.

We hope you are all continuing to be safe and healthy. The spring real estate market is here, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues. NorthstarMLS is operating business as usual to support you and your clients. We urge you to stay informed with how the situation is affecting the local real estate market.  

  1. Open Houses Suspension: Effective now and until further notice, the scheduling of Open Houses in NorthstarMLS has been suspended. Any currently scheduled Open Houses in the NorthstarMLS system have been cancelled and removed from the MLS. This decision was unanimously approved by the NorthstarMLS Executive Committee of its Board of Directors in the interests of public safety during this crisis. Please click here for more information
  2. Coming Soon Status Extension: NorthstarMLS has extended the maximum allowable time in Coming Soon Status from 21 days to 60 days. This is an extraordinary measure during extraordinary times that we hope will not be necessary for long; however, we will consider further extension of the number of days permitted while in Coming Soon as circumstances may dictate. All listings currently in Coming Soon status will retain the current Availability Date you set when you entered the listing. Please click here for more information on this temporary rule change. 
  3. Waiver of Showings Reqirement for Active Status: NorthstarMLS has temporarily waived the requirement to allow showings for Active status listings as long as you disclose it in Public Remarks.

Effective immediately and until further notice, the scheduling of Open Houses in NorthstarMLS has been suspended. Also, any currently scheduled Open Houses in the NorthstarMLS system have been cancelled and removed from the MLS. This action will remove publication of Open House dates from IDX feeds and syndication to public-facing websites, as well.

This decision was unanimously approved by the NorthstarMLS Executive Committee of its Board of Directors in the interests of public safety during the emergency COVID-19 crisis. The health and well-being of the Realtors who rely on NorthstarMLS for the tools and data that enable your businesses is our paramount concern. Your families, colleagues and clients are all vulnerable and at risk during this uncertain time and we strongly support the best practices that state and federal authorities recommend; particularly, those concerned with social contagion.

This pandemic is at a critical phase and it is our responsibility to look after each other by being careful, considerate and by exercising every prudent precaution to protect our Realtor community and the public at large.

We'll keep you informed as new developments unfold. Thank you and stay well.

John Mosey, CEO