Northwest MLS announces expanded accessibility search features for residential listings

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Improvements are the result of a joint effort between John L. Scott and Marketplace Sotheby’s

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service (Northwest MLS) has implemented changes that make it easier for brokers in the Pacific Northwest to identify and search for homes with accessibility features. This update is a result of the collaboration between two Woodinville-based brokers, John L. Scott’s Tom Minty, and Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty’s Barry Long.

Real estate brokers use the Northwest MLS to upload and view current residential real estate listings in the Pacific Northwest. While the directory has long had a check box that brokers can select to designate a property as having “Disabled Access,” brokers will now have the ability to notate and search for specific accessibility criteria and more detailed descriptions to assist their clients and buyers who are listing or searching for homes with specific accessibility features.

The new searchable accessibility features section includes information for the following areas: accessible approach, entrance, central living/common area, bedroom, bath, kitchen, utility, modifications for hearing/vision, accessible elevator/lift installed, ceiling track and smart technology. To provide further information, brokers selecting any of the boxes under the accessibility features section will also submit a straightforward supplemental document to provide a more granular description of the specific accessibility features of a home.

The impetus for these changes came about when Barry Long, a motivational speaker and disability advocate, was approached by Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty. They saw a need to change the current system used for selling and buying homes with accessibility features and asked Long to become a residential real estate broker with a focus on accessible real estate.

After running into issues trying to connect the dots for buyers looking for accessible homes in 2016, one of his contacts recommended Long reach out to Tom Minty, a Residential Specialist with John L. Scott, who had been working on expanding accessibility designations for years. Luck had it that they were not only located in the same area of the same country, but the same city of Woodinville, Washington. For the last two years, the pair has worked together to improve database options surrounding accessibility.

“Soon after I entered the real estate industry in Washington, I realized we had major strides to make in accessibility,” said Long, Broker at Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty. “As a wheelchair user myself, I understand the importance of having an accurate representation of a home’s accessibility. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with Tom to make these improvements to the Northwest MLS.”

For Minty, working collaboratively with Long was a perfect opportunity for him to make great strides in his passion project for years – helping those wanting to age in place find appropriate homes.

“We’re so pleased that we now have a better framework for designating homes as accessible in the Pacific Northwest,” said Minty. “Our work is far from over, but we are looking forward to what’s next to make accessibility features relevant so those who need accessible homes are able to find them.”

The changes Long and Minty worked on have implications outside of just the Northwest MLS – the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), which owns the universal directory of fields used by multiple listing services across the country, has decided to adopt these fields nationally. Moving forward, other multiple listing services can duplicate what was started with the Northwest MLS by this duo from John L. Scott and Marketplace Sotheby’s.