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MRIS begins a multiple listing for business sites

The Baltimore Sun

The region's multiple-listing service for residential real estate is launching an exchange for commercial properties that could eventually include about 10,000 properties.

Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., which is owned by 25 Realtor associations in four states and the District of Columbia, now covers mostly residential properties, though commercial properties tend to account for 10 percent to 20 percent of listings.

Members have been asking for a service dedicated to commercial real estate that brokers can use to market their listings in the Mid-Atlantic, Jonathan Hill, MRIS vice president of business development, said yesterday.

Commercial brokers and their firms typically maintain lists of available properties for sale or lease and make them available through company Web sites, mailings or other marketing tools.

In its new venture, MRIS, the largest residential multiple-listing service in the United States, operates a system developed by Chicago-based Catylist Inc., which offers a Web-based commercial listing service to brokers in 30 local markets.

The service, open to members but including a public component as well, is accessible through a new Web site called CIE360. The Web site provides detailed information on commercial real estate properties for sale or lease throughout the region covered by MRIS.

"Our model emulates what's been available on the residential side for decades," said Richard Maxson, a senior vice president of sales and marketing for Catylist. "The biggest complaint commercial brokers have is, 'I want to market myself and my listings and I don't want to enter the data separately on all these Web sites and have to keep track of it and update it.'"

The commercial exchange was kicked off this week with more than 4,000 listings and could have about 10,000 in the first year, said Dick Stoner, the MRIS manager in charge of the new Web site.

"What led MRIS to seek out Catylist ... is the constant request from brokers and agents to help them market their commercial properties," Stoner said. "The purpose is to promote the listings, not to display an inventory," he said

Maxson said the commercial exchange differs from commercial property services such as CoStar, a research-based inventory of commercial properties.

With the CIE360 Web site, members have the ability to market properties locally and nationally and to promote themselves. They'll also have the option of sending listings through Catylist distribution channels to Web sites such as Google Base, Yahoo and others without having to resubmit data.

Members of the Realtor boards that own MRIS are eligible to join for a monthly fee, as are commercial property owners and licensed commercial brokers. The public can search for available property listings and find brokers.

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