How These 4 Top Producing LA Agents are Disrupting the Real Estate Industry with Their Private Listing Platform
Published:3/25/2019 By: Paul Gaita
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. And the creators of ThePLS.com (Pocket Listing Service) saw a need for real estate agents to regain control of their industry from the public sites. “Every agent in the country, or at least, the majority is frustrated with how [they] have changed our industry,” says founder Chris Dyson. “For example, the MLS’s freely pass our listing information, which we have worked hard for, to the public sites, who then sell it back to us. Another agent can now pay to advertise against your listing, reducing your opportunity to generate direct leads and grow your business.”
“Even worse, they’re cutting out agents altogether by buying and selling direct,” Dyson says. To that end, Dyson, along with founding partners James Harris and David Parnes of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles,” and Mauricio Umansky, CEO and Founder of The Agency, co-created ThePLS.com, an online platform for licensed real estate agents to both search and share off-market listings.
Membership, which is still free in most areas, has grown nationwide to more than 9,000 members, who have listed more than $8.2 billion inventory in the last two years. Response has been nothing short of positive, says Umansky. “I’ve heard from multiple agents that it’s really working,” he notes. “I myself have made deals on the PLS.”
Carey More (Los Angeles) sold a $3.7M luxury home on The PLS
Trent Beaver (Arizona) sold an $850K house on The PLS
George Salazar (California) sold a $3.7M luxury home on The PLS
Carolyn Rae Cole (Los Angeles) sold a $725K Duplex on The PLS
James Harris (Los Angeles) sold an $18M luxury home on The PLS
Constantino Heredia (Miami) sold a commercial property for $7.2M on The PLS
Off-market or pocket listings present a particular set of problems for agents. “In big cities, and especially in places like Los Angeles, you have a lot of sellers who don’t want their information shared publicly, and it can be difficult to get enough exposure for these types of properties,” says Dyson. “Up until now, the only way to market these private listings has been to email or call other agents in your network and hope your list was good enough.”
But even agents with the best lists are at the mercy of an inefficient landscape that requires email blasts, posting on fast-moving social media feeds, or information shared directly between agents. “Every day, we receive multiple emails from agents telling us about their off-market listings,” says Umansky. “Sometimes it’s not needed at that moment, and then three weeks later, you’re asking, ‘Who had that listing?'”
“If you don’t have a client right then and there, the email gets ignored, and you go on to the next hundred emails. It’s very haphazard and disorganized,” adds Dyson.
While ThePLS.com fulfills a very practical need, it’s also giving agents a whole new way to fight back against public sites like Trulia and Realtor.com and offer unique opportunities to their clients. “This is crucial,” says Dyson. “The perceived relevance of the agent community among buyers is being damaged, because everything is more or less available online now. If we’re going to survive, we have to take back some control of our listing information.”
The solution was to establish a user-friendly, agent-facing platform where members can post their private listings to a searchable database. With this exclusive inventory aggregated in one place and searchable by all the same criteria as The MLS, agents can finally utilize the information that is already “out there,” but previously impossible to leverage.
“There are three scenarios for the PLS,” says Dyson. “First, there are those sellers that never want to put their house on the market, such as a person in the public eye. In addition, a lot of sellers think that by adopting an off-market strategy, it makes them more exclusive. Those properties will never hit the MLS – they are pure pocket listings.
“Second, there are properties that will hit the MLS, but also experience a time lag for pictures, staging, or holidays. It could be five days, it could be 20 – but the PLS allows agents to give those sellers maximum exposure during that waiting period before posting to the MLS.”
Perhaps the third and most exciting scenario is testing price point, something that was previously not possible without accruing days on the market. “Every agent in the country can relate to a situation where their seller thinks that their house is worth more than they do,” explains Dyson. “But when you put a house on the market at too high a price, you start to accumulate days on market, and the more days it spends on market, the more people start to infer that there’s a problem with the house.”
The PLS offers a unique solution for agents in this bind who don’t necessarily want to pass on a listing, but also don’t want to spend marketing dollars on numbers they don’t believe in. They can list privately on the PLS directly to the top agents in the business and either close a deal at the sellers’ price, or use the feedback to achieve a price reduction and list on the MLS at a more aggressive price. “This is truly how the PLS can be relevant for all listings,” says Dyson.
“It’s what we’ve all been waiting for,” says David Parnes. “As an agent, I can put my properties on the PLS, test price point, see other properties, and share information with other agents on a platform that is not only private, but also works efficiently and effectively. Working with other agents is the key to a successful transaction, and to be able to share this information without having it plastered all over the internet gives control back to the agent.”
Regaining that control, according to the PLS founders, is the crucial element to ensuring there is a future for real estate agents. “In any industry, a client will only engage you if you can provide information they don’t have. In our industry that means leveraging every off-market and coming soon opportunity we can. If we don’t jump on this, pretty soon we will lose control completely,” says Dyson. “Historically, technology renders the workforce obsolete. We are in a unique position to use technology to insure our future. ”
Going forward, the creators of ThePLS.com want to see their site become an integral part of every agents arsenal. Umansky envisions a complete national PLS system, and adds that “international is something that could certainly happen.” For James Harris, that’s the way it should be. “There are two million agents across America, and the way I see it, every one of them should be using this platform,” he says. “There are so many benefits that agents are able to offer their sellers. Show me one downside to giving your sellers more options to market their property. There’s only upside.”
Agents who would like to join The PLS can create a free account here. Valid state licence number required.
Paul Gaita is a writer based in Los Angeles, California. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly and Thefix.com, among many other publications and web sites.