UPDATE: In-person open houses (Public and Broker) are once again available for scheduling on NorthstarMLS.

If you and your clients choose to schedule an in-person open house, it is still critical that you take precautions to protect your clients, the public and yourself. Please take a moment to review this letter from Chris Galler (CEO) and Susan Dioury (Legal Counsel and SVP) from the Minnesota Realtors Association. As they state, “you should consider adopting a plan that incorporates site-specific best practices surrounding health and wellness, social distancing, cleaning, sanitation and protection, and operations and communications with your sales associates, clients, and visitors in mind.”

Please also review Open House Considerations, provided by the Minnesota Realtors Association. This helpful document outlines practical steps you can take to help protect health and safety at Open Houses.

NorthstarMLS has made permanently available the “Virtual” Live Stream Open House types for those who prefer to conduct them.

We appreciate everyone’s understanding of the need to restrict Open House scheduling throughout the Governor’s stay-at-home order. It was instrumental in his decision to include Real Estate as an essential service.

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Virtual Open vs Virtual Tour

We are pleased to see many of you taking advantage of the new live stream virtual open house options on NorthstarMLS.

There has been some confusion between these new virtual open houses and virtual tours, as well as the rules around them. Some of you are incorrectly uploading your Virtual Tours as live stream Virtual Open Houses. We understand—it’s all new and gets confusing! Here is a quick guide to help you navigate the differences.

Live Stream Virtual Open House vs. Virtual Tour

  • Virtual Open House: a live stream event set for a specific day and time. May be set to Public (available to all, including clients, consumers and IDX/third party data feeds) or Broker (available to agents and viewable only within the MLS). Check out this list of live stream vendors.
  • Virtual Tour: a pre-recorded tour of the house.

 It is important to note that different rules apply to each as follows:

Live Stream Virtual Open House
While the public face to face open house has been suspended, agents may use the virtual open house fields to advertise their public live-stream events. 

  • Must be a live event. Usually, consumers may participate and ask real time questions about the property.
  • Someone (typically the agent) will walk through the home, live, at the scheduled time for collective viewing
  • Use the virtual open house fields in NorthstarMLS to specify the date/time of the live event and provide a URL for access to the live stream event.
  • Because the live stream virtual open house is in place of a face-to-face open house, the agent may introduce him/herself and be visible during the live event.
  • On NorthstarMLS, you may promote the virtual open house only in the designated open house fields and in Agent Remarks. Outside NorthstarMLS, you are free to promote the event through your usual marketing channels.

Virtual Tours
With the addition of live stream virtual open houses, no changes were made to what constitutes a virtual tour or the rules around them.

  • Agents may upload up to 2 virtual tour URLs per listings.
  • A virtual tour on the MLS is a link to pre-recorded videos and/or photo slideshows of the property. 
  • The video (and everything displayed around the video) must be unbranded and cannot link to any other websites.
  • Because YouTube and Google Docs do not allow the branding or links to be suppressed, they do not meet MLS display requirements.
  • Options for hosting the video include using a page on your broker or agent website that displays only the video or using a third-party photographer or video service to host the video.  The video hosting site Vimeo allows all links and branding to be suppressed if you have a Vimeo Pro or Vimeo Plus account.

Questions? Contact our Help Desk at help@northstarmls.com, 651-251-5456 (1-877-251-5455). We are available M-F, 8:00-5:00.

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As announced last month, we’re rolling out a redesign of the NorthstarMLS Add/Edit system. The overhaul boasts a modern design that automatically adapts to your device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone). Open Houses was the first phase of the redesign that will be followed in the coming months by Media Uploads (photos, supplements and virtual tours), the listing input screens, and more. For a quick look at how Inputting Open Houses works, check out our video below!
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Gearing up for the spring market? That likely means more showings and open houses.

The video below offers showing etiquette tips that we’ve received from agents, along with some plain common sense, to help ensure a pleasant house hunting experience. Give it a view if you have two minutes – you might get a chuckle!

Don’t forget to use ShowingTime to manage your showings & open houses. It’s a NorthstarMLS core service and part of your MLS subscription.

Questions? Our rules & regs staff is here to help! Contact us at help@northstarmls.com or 651-251-3210.

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NorthstarMLS is rolling out a redesign of its Add/Edit system, starting tonight with Open Houses. This is the first of a phase-in of the redesign that will be followed in the coming months by Media Uploads (photos, supplements and virtual tours), the listing input screens, and more.

There may be up to a 1-hour Add/Edit outage tonight (at approximately 11:00pm) as we rollout the Open Houses input redesign.

For a preview of how it will look, check out our new Open Houses quick guide.

We are very excited for you to see and use the entire Add/Edit redesign in the coming months. It’s easy to use, and boasts a modern design that automatically adapts to your device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone).

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Upload Photos and Supplements Before You Save Your Listing As Active!

We are happy to report that one of our most requested Add/Edit features is now a reality. You may upload your listing photos, supplements, virtual tours and open houses to your listing before you save it as Active. You can also upload them to a listing while it’s in Withhold status as you and your seller prepare the home to go Active on the MLS.

How does it work?
Whenever you save a listing as Incomplete or Withheld, the system will automatically assign it an MLS number. Having this MLS Number is what will allow you to upload all your photos, supplements, etc. before you save the listing live and Active to the MLS.

For instructions and more detail on how everything works, check out our Quick Guide.

Questions? Contact our Help Desk at help@northstarmls.com or 651-251-5456 (1-877-251-5455) M-F, 8:00 to 5:00.

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It’s a nice hot summer Saturday afternoon, but you’re hard at it – a full day showing your clients home to potential buyers. But 3PM has passed, and you’ve just had another scheduled showing bail on you with no warning. Annoying and unprofessional, right?

Last month, we posted this infographic that illustrates some showing etiquette tips. Home showings and open house etiquette is for the most part common sense. Having respect for sellers and the real estate agents involved in the process will go a long way to helping ensure an enjoyable house hunting experience for everyone involved.

The situations below were recently reported to the NorthstarMLS Rules and Regs Department:

  • Early is good in some cases – like showing up to a job interview. But early is not always good for home showings. While a lot of homes are vacant during the selling process, it’s not always the case. Many sellers still live in the home they are selling, so arriving to the showing at the time scheduled is very important. An early arrival at a showing could make for an uncomfortable situation for everyone.
  • The home smelled like gas, but it wasn’t reported to the home owner/seller’s agent until the next day. Always report suspicious smells like gas or any other activity that might seem out of the ordinary.
  • Five showings in one day were canceled and the showing agent did not receive any cancellation message from the buyer’s agent. Always contact the showing agent/listing agent if you can’t make the scheduled appointment! Things come up. Even if you need to cancel last minute, a phone call, text message or email is common courtesy and won’t leave your colleagues wasting valuable time.

Questions? Our rules & regs staff is here to help! Contact us at help@northstarmls.com or 651-251-3210.

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TLCengine’s True Lifestyle Cost, a NorthstarMLS core service, recently integrated a new paperless lead-capturing open house technology (works great on iPad or Android/Windows tablets) to its system: Spacio. And since TLC integrated it, the integration feature is free for all NorthstarMLS subscribers!

Spacio offers an open house sign-in form to attract and engage new leads. The system helps you log buyer leads, feedback and other data so you can effectively revisit and follow up with your new leads at anytime. Spacio also captures whether they are already working with another agent.

This video shows you how to set up your Spacio account from the TLC link in Matrix.

Once your Spacio account is linked to your TLC/NortshtarMLS account (as seen in the video above), you can setup open houses for your listings by inputting the MLS Listing Number. All your listing fields and photos will automatically populate in Spacio. This video shows you how to link MLS Listing Numbers in Spacio.

Even better, the TLC for your listing will show up on the sign-in form so you can keep buyers informed of the True Lifestyle Cost if they were to make an offer for the property. It’s a great way to start a conversation with a new client! Give it a try the next time you use TLC!

You can find more information on Spacio here.


True Lifestyle Cost (TLC) Archive Want to check out older TLC content? Click here to view the archive of previous TLC news, articles and other content on the NorthstarMLS Blog & Archive.

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Rules Roundup – Strangers at Showings

These three things recently happened to a NorthstarMLS agent while showing homes, and the lessons learned.

Unknown Buyer Wanders In
When showing a home recently, the agent left the front door half open (the glass storm door was closed). He was showing the property to his clients when they heard a noise. An unknown buyer had entered – the individual had arrived before their agent arrived on location and walked right in. It was awkward getting the people out.

Not an Open House
At another recent showing, the agent led his client inside and the client proceeded through the house for glimpse of the backyard. The agent shut the door and was turning on the lights. The client came inside to tour the rest of the home, but had left the backdoor entrance unlocked.

While they were in the family room, three unknown people came in the room. It wasn’t clear who they were, so the showing agent asked all of them who their agent was. One of them said he was an agent, and said he “thought it was an Open House.”

Odd, but True
The agent had just entered the property with his clients and were taking off their shoes when a strange person opened the door behind them and asked if he could use the bathroom. The agent told the man “no” and he seemed surprised and disgruntled. The agent told the man this is a private showing and asked him to leave the premises.

The Bottom Line
When showing a property, always lock the door immediately after entering and inform your clients of the importance of doing the same. Bring the key and lock box cover (if any) inside with you. This could help resolve the problems above and others potentially more serious.

Remember to always arrange showings with the listing office before bringing clients out for showings, even if the property is vacant. If a mistake occurs and you accidentally enter a property without an appointment, contact the listing agent immediately to let them know what happened. Respecting privacy and security is an important professional responsibility.


Questions? Our rules & regs staff is here to help! Contact us at help@northstarmls.com or 651-251-3210.


Submit Your Own Rules Roundup Question or Topic! Do you have a question or topic that you would like to see featured as a Rules Roundup article? We’ll supply the answers. Just send your idea to tips@northstarmls.com. We will use one submission each month and the winner will receive a $30 Caribou Coffee gift card!


Rules Roundup On Demand Want to check out older Rules Roundup topics? Click here to view an archive of previous Rules Roundup entries.

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Tip of the Week – Map Searching for Open Houses

Currently, there are over 3,600 Public/Broker Open Houses in the NorthstarMLS Matrix system. The Open House Search screen allows you to quickly find Public Open Houses and Broker Tours in the Matrix system. Make it even easier by using the map function to search for Open Houses and Broker Tours, rather than skimming through the Single Line Display list. This video demonstrates.

Click here to watch the video on Open House Map Search in a new window

Thanks to Cotty Lowry of Keller Williams Integrity Realty (Minneapolis) for submitting his Tip of the Week idea on using map searching for open houses. Cotty will receive a $30 Caribou Coffee gift card for the submission!


Submit Your Own Tip! Do you have a question that you would like to see featured a Tip of the Week? Or maybe you have your own tip you would like to share with other NorthstarMLS users. Send your question or idea to tips@northstarmls.com. We will use one submission each month and the winner will receive a $30 Caribou Coffee gift card!


Tips On Demand Want to check out older Tip of the Week topics? Click here to view an archive of previous Tip of the Week entries.

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