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North Bay real estate listings outage could last days longer | #ransomware | #cybercrime

Five days after a cyberattack locked thousands of real estate agents in the Bay Area and in certain markets nationwide out of being able to add or update property information, officials that run these electronic repositories are bracing for this outage to run well into this week.

“We do not yet have a firm (estimated time) for the return of our MLS system,” wrote Karen “KB” Holmgren, president and CEO of Bay Area Real Estate Information Service, in an email Sunday afternoon. Better known as BAREIS, the Santa Rosa-based multiple listing service serves five of the six North Bay counties.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, a ransomware attack hit Rapattoni Corporation, a Southern California data services company that hosts multiple listing services for BAREIS and other MLSes.

That effectively froze property information viewable to the public on real estate websites that pull data from MLSes as well as for agents who handle the listings and those with clients shopping for homes.

In the days following, BAREIS set up an electronic system that allows listing agents to submit changes to property listings and for other agents to see the changes. But agents have been encouraged to call listing agents to double-check information.

Another big help has come from the Northern California alliance of seven MLSes, Holmgren said. In place for over a decade, the NorCal MLS Alliance arrangement synchronizes listing information between the services every 15 minutes. So when the attack took down the servers hosting the BAREIS and San Francisco MLSes, the data as of that time was on the five other services systems.

MetroList Services, an alliance member based in Sacramento with over 23,000 users, is also a Rapattoni customer, but its data center is in the Sacramento area and remains unaffected, according to Dave Howe, CEO of MetroList. Rapattoni staff alerted MetroList of the attack in progress, and the data link was severed with the affected servers before the ransomware spread to Sacramento.

And since BAREIS, San Francisco and MetroList use a similar Rapattoni system, MetroList has offered to give users of the other two systems temporary access to view archived listing information. That was set up for BAREIS on Friday evening. San Francisco Association of Realtors, operator of that MLS, hasn’t responded yet, Howe said Sunday afternoon.

Several days without MLS access can add up for a brokerage, according to Gerrett Snedaker, broker and partner in Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate|Wine Country Group and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate|Ming Tree. The Sonoma-based operations added just over 1,000 listings in July, or roughly 35 a day.

That said, August has historically been a slower time in local real estate, so this outage may not impact overall activity for the month, Snedaker said in an email. He also serves on the BAREIS board as treasurer.

“If it extends more than a few days into next week — issues may begin to arise,” he wrote Friday, noting the days before interconnected computer listings when MLSes would send books of updated listings regularly to brokerage offices.

“We may revert to more face to face contact with our fellow agents for a while, which I believe won’t be a bad thing,” Snedaker said.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Reach him at [email protected] or 707-521-4256.

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