Don’t let your Lake/Waterfront listings get missed in NorthstarMLS and consumer searches!

If you have any Active listings with a Lake/Waterfront Name, please take a moment to check them.  If the Lake/Waterfront Name is missing or incorrect, go to the Add/Edit system and make the correction.  You will find that the Lake/Waterfront Name is now a drop-down list containing all the Lake/Waterfront Names for the County you’ve selected.

We apologize for any inconvenience during this transition, however in the long run, using standard lake/waterfront names across all listings will improve search accuracy.

If you have any trouble, contact our Help Desk at or call 651-251-5456 (or toll free at 1-877-251-5455) during business hours M-F, 8:00-5:00.

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The new fields announced last week (see March 12 News item in the News box), are now available on NorthstarMLS Matrix and Add/Edit.

Here are the highlights you need to know.

  • If you have any Active listings where you have entered a Lake/Waterfront Name, please take a moment to check them.  If the Lake/Waterfront Name is missing or incorrect, go to the Add/Edit system and make the correction.  You will find that the Lake/Waterfront Name is now a drop-down list containing all the Lake/Waterfront Names for the County you’ve selected. We are in the process of doing an automatic conversion. We are close to complete on all Active listings. Off market listings will be completed over the next few weeks.  However, we still recommend you check your Active listings as it is impossible to convert with 100% reliability from the old free-form text field.
  • If you have any saved searches or auto-emails that use Lake/Waterfront Name as a search criterion, you need to revise them with the new Lake/Waterfront Name field.  Please see our separate Matrix News announcement with instructions.
  • Although the new Lake/Waterfront fields are now all available for search in Matrix, please keep in mind that they are new and they are optional, and therefore will be sparsely populated for some time.  If you search on them, you will likely miss out on a lot of listings. We recommend that you refer to them simply as extra information on displays/reports for listings where they are filled in.
  • The NorthstarMLS Listing Input forms in Instanet and WEBForms will contain the new fields later in the day Thursday.
  • Agent and Customer Displays contain the new data fields.  PDF Reports do not but will be updated soon.

If you have questions or need help, please contact our Help Desk at 651-251-5456 (or toll free at 1-877-251-5455) during business hours M-F, 8:00-5:00.

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Starting Thursday, March 15, there will be new data fields added to all property types.  Most of these are to accommodate our April 1 expansion into central Minnesota with the Greater Lakes Association members joining NorthstarMLS.

Yearly/Seasonal:  Indicate whether the property can be used year-round or whether it can only be used partial year seasonally. When creating a new listing, this field will automatically default to “Yearly.”

For Rent MLS Number:  If you have a for sale listing that is also available for rent, enter the MLS number of the for rent listing.  It will appear as a link on the for sale listing so that you can easily click back and forth between the two.

Lake/Waterfront Fields

As we expand our presence in greater Minnesota, more detailed information about lake/waterfront properties is becoming increasingly important.

Lake/Waterfront Name:  This is currently a free-form text entry field.  We are changing this to a standard pick list.  When entering a new listing, after selecting County, you will be able to select from a list of all bodies of water in that county that are recognized by the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  This will also improve searches as all lake names will now have standard spellings.  No more wildcard searches trying to account for all the different spellings, misspellings and abbreviations!

All of the following new fields are optional:

Waterfront Footage:  The length of waterfront frontage (in feet) included with the property.

DNR Lake ID#:  NorthstarMLS will auto-fill this field based on the Lake Name you select.  This number will be useful for you to have for getting more information about a lake on the DNR Website.

Lake Acres:  The total number of acres of the Lake.  NorthstarMLS will auto-fill this field from the DNR database for the Lake Name you select.

Lake Depth:  The maximum depth of the lake (in feet).  NorthstarMLS will auto-fill this field from the DNR database for the Lake Name you select.

Lake Chain Name:  This is currently available for the Greater Lakes area only.  Additional lake chains around the state will be added later.  We define a lake chain as a group of two or more lakes that are connected by navigable waterway(s).

Lake Chain Acreage: The total combined acreage of all lakes in the chain.

Road Between the Waterfront and Home?  If a road runs between the waterfront and the home, select Yes, otherwise No.

Elevation Highpoint to Waterfront Slope:  The description of the slope from the highest point of land to the waterfront.  Options are gradual, level and steep.

Elevation Highpoint to Waterfront Feet:  The amount of vertical feet from the highest point of land to the waterfront.  Options are 0-4, 4-10, 10-15, 15-26, 26-40 and 40+.

Lake Bottom:  Describe the lake bottom.  Options are gravel, hard, rocky, sand, soft, undeveloped, weeds/reeds and wetland.  If applicable, you can select more than one option.

Waterfront View:  Describe the view from the property.  Options are bay, city lights, golf course, harbor, lake, panoramic, river, north, south, east, west and see remarks.  You can select more than one option.

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The NorthstarMLS REsearch system will be shut down effective March 30.  REsearch has served as a back-up MLS system when Matrix is unavailable as well as a source for more detailed public records data and GIS/Plat Maps.  REsearch has been replaced by the Realist system from CoreLogic (available by clicking the Realist Tax tab in Matrix).

WEBForms will be discontinued, but not until November.  This allows ample time for everyone to make the transition to the new Instanet forms application.

For help using Realist and Instanet, we offer these resources:

90-minute recorded Webinar
FAQ Document
Click the Help tab within the Realist application for short video tutorials and the User Guide.

67-minute recorded webinar
67-minute recorded webinar (for Google Chrome, Safari for Mac and iPad users)
Instanet You Tube Channel (short instructional videos for specific tasks)

For both systems, our Help Desk is available to answer your questions. Contact us at 651-251-5456 (or toll free at 1-877-251-5455) or  Business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Since the Contingencies field was added to NorthstarMLS, single line displays have included a lowercase letter “c” in the Status column so that you can see at a glance which listings are still Active and accepting showing appointments, but have an offer accepted based on a contingency.

This feature has been enhanced so that the lowercase letter now identifies specifically which contingency.  If you are not sure which contingency a specific letter represents, move your cursor over the letter to reveal a pop-up window.  Here is an example:

Moving your cursor over “A,t” reveals that an offer has been accepted contingent on third party approval.  This saves you the time of having to open the detail display on every listing to see the contingency type.  Here are the other codes:

i = Inspection
s = Sale of Another Property
t = Third Party Approval
r = Subject to Statutory Rescission (Association documents review)
a = Application Received (Rentals)
o = Other

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Starting Wednesday night, February 29, there will be new options in several MLS data fields:

Contingency:  There will be a new selection for “Subject to Statutory Rescission.”  This refers to the right of a person to have a set amount of time to review Association documents before they are committed to purchasing a unit.

Air Conditioning:  New option for Geothermal.

Heating:  New options for Geothermal, Boiler, Dual Fuel/Off Peak, Fireplace, Wood Stove, Outdoor Furnace and None.

Bath Description:  Replacing “Upper Level Bath” with Upper Level Full Bath, Upper Level 3/4 Bath and Upper Level 1/2 Bath. New option for Jack & Jill.

Fencing:  New option for Invisible.

Lake/Waterfront:  New options for Association Access and Shared.  Changing Creek to Creek/Stream.

Existing Financing, Terms Seller Will Accept and Financing Terms of Sale:  New option for Rural Development.

Restrictions/Covenants:  New option for Rental Restrictions May Apply.

Although you can start using these options on your listings after February 29, please note that these changes will not be reflected on the Listing Input forms in Instanet or WEBForms until March 15.  On that date we will also add additional new fields to be announced soon.

These changes are the result of both agent feedback through our AAC and Help Desk, and the upcoming addition of Greater Lakes Association listings.

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We are pleased to announce that the Board of Directors of the Greater Lakes Association of REALTORS® (GLAR) voted to contract with NorthstarMLS as their Association’s MLS provider. The Greater Lakes Association primarily covers an area in central Minnesota centered in Brainerd and including Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Mille Lacs, Morrison, and Todd counties. Click here to see a map of theses counties and the surrounding area.

All Greater Lakes Association’s listings, both Active and off market, will be on NorthstarMLS starting April 1st.  This will result in many benefits for real estate professionals and their clients in both the Greater Lakes Association and NorthstarMLS service areas which going forward will be, effectively, the same.

All NorthstarMLS and GLAR users will benefit from more effective cooperation facilitated through belonging to one MLS and elimination of the problems and expense for Realtors in the state caused by arbitrary and overlapping MLS jurisdictions.  Additionally, GLAR members will benefit from a powerful and state-of-the-art MLS system (Matrix), enhanced (and wider area coverage) public tax records, Realist, Down Payment Resource, group copyright protection, data standardization tools, List Assist automated quality control and compliance administration, SafeMLS security, continued use of BookAShowing and Instanet forms, and other core services.

We look forward to serving the members of the Greater Lakes Association of REALTORS® with all the great features NorthstarMLS has to offer.

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NorthstarMLS is proud to announce that we are the first MLS to feature HomeSpotter in our NorthstarMLS for Smartphones application.  HomeSpotter is a new feature that shows you MLS listings simply by aiming your iPhone or iPad at homes or condo buildings.  Currently available for iPhone and iPad only, it is also coming for Android devices in the next couple months.

HomeSpotter overlays property information on your iPhone or iPad live camera feed. As you point your iPhone/iPad down the street, you see a view of the street and info on all the houses for sale pops up. There’s even a radar display that shows the direction and proximity of nearby properties for sale.

For more information, view the quick video from and read the press release and the Star Tribune Blog.

Also new with this Update: My Listings and Agent Roster

  • Select My Listings from the main menu to view all listings for which you are the List or Co-List Agent.
  • Select Agent Roster to search for contact information on other Active NorthstarMLS subscribers.
  • The My Listings and Agent Roster update is also available to Android device users and coming later for BlackBerry.

To update to the new version, use your iPhone or iPad to go to Apple’s App Store and then to the Updates section.  Android users will find the update in the Android market.

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We are pleased to announce the availability of Find, a new agent tool created by Move, Inc. (the company that brings you  This is a core service of NorthstarMLS and included in your subscription at no additional charge.

To access Find, click the link here on the Home page of Matrix in the “External Links” box (just below the WEBForms link).  The first time you access Find, you will be asked to enter your name and email address.  After that, you will automatically be directed straight to Find when you click the link.

What is Find?
Find is a database of residential properties throughout the U.S. into which information is captured from MLS’s and from public record sources. Find contains active listings data, off-market data, sold data, and property photos; county recorded data, community information, amenities, environmental, and transaction data.  Just a few of the things you can do with Find:

  • Search residential properties throughout the U.S. regardless of whether they are or have recently been for sale (information form MLS’s around the country and public records);
  • Create Community Reports with valuable information for your clients about the surrounding community that you won’t find in Matrix;
  • Create additional professional-looking Property Reports with your photo and company logo;
  • Search using map or “natural language” search (e.g. 2 bedroom condos with deck and sauna in Minneapolis);
  • View property lot boundaries and prices (list, sold in last 6 months or AVM) on map;
  • View map layers such as school district boundaries, flight paths, amenities, and map pins for active, recently sold, off market and rental properties.

Getting Started:
Find Overview Video (7 minutes)
Complete User Guide
Quick Guide: Keywords and Power Shortcuts
Quick Guide: Map Search
Quick Guide: Text Search
Quick Guide: Reports
Quick Guide: Hot Feeds

Technical Support:  Click the “Contact Support” link in the upper right corner of any screen in the Find system.

Systems Supported: Windows PC with IE7 or later or Firefox 3.0 or later.  Mac with Firefox 3.5 through 4.0.

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The Share Your Listings Widget has been enhanced:

  • Includes your listings from all property types, including Multi-Family, Land and Commercial.
  • Button added to main window to allow you to post your listings on craigslist.
  • Facebook posting instructions are revised to reflect changes made by Facebook.

Share Your Listings Widget, available directly through NorthstarMLS at no additional cost, allows you to quickly and easily share your NorthstarMLS listings through social media and monitor hits.  To get started, click the “Share your Listings Widget” link in the External Links box of the home page (just below WEBForms and Infosparks).

For more information, read the original announcement from last September or the Help Guide.

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