SEATTLE CURBED: NWMLS Update Allows Brokers to Zero in on Accessibility Features

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The Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) announced updates today that let brokers and buyers zero in on accommodations for people with disabilities.


For those unfamiliar with multiple listing service (MLS) databases like the NWMLS: They’re tools that real estate brokers use to share sales and listing information. The typical non real estate professional probably interacts with an MLS largely through aggregation services like Redfin, Zillow, or Estately. The NWMLS serves most of western Washington, including Seattle.

With an MLS, brokers have a central database for a variety of home features, like year built, number of bedrooms, listing price, or square footage. But as far as disability accommodations go, most fall short. A spokesperson for the NWMLS said the service believes this is the first feature of its kind in the country.

What was formerly just a “disabled access” checkbox—which doesn’t tell anyone very much, and doesn’t speak to what a home does or doesn’t have—has now expanded to 12 different options speaking to the breadth of accessibility and type of accomodation. The vagueness can also turn off buyers who don’t need accomodations, said Barry Long of Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty, because it can bring up images of “ugly grab bars and a makeshift ramp that someone’s uncle built.”

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