Bay Area real estate agents attempt workarounds as MLS outage stretches into second week

August 21, 2023

Imagine the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq got hacked, halting all digital trading on Wall Street.

Now imagine that outage lasted for more than an entire week.

This is the kind of situation residential real estate agencies and brokers are facing, in the Bay Area and across the nation after a major ransomware attack on the California company that is the technical backbone for the industry’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The outage has now gone into its second week with no updates or timelines for a fix

The MLS is a master database that includes most homes for sale in a particular geographic region, and when real estate agents list a property for sale, they add it to the database, which allows all agents and brokers in the region who subscribe to the service to review the listings. Buyers’ agents use the MLS to find homes to show clients. It is a tool at the center of nearly every real estate agent’s business.

So when Westlake Village-based Rapattoni, which provides the software as well as front-end service to the MLS for over 100,000 members nationwide, got hacked by an undisclosed group on August 9, it triggered chaos across the industry that has yet to subside.

“We are continuing to investigate the cyber-attack that has caused a system outage and are working diligently to get systems restored as soon as possible,” Rapattoni said on August 13 in a statement on the company’s website. “All technical resources at our disposal are continuing to work through the weekend. We still do not have an ETA at this time.”

Federal investigators are working with the company, real estate site Inman reports, and its insurance carriers are reportedly negotiating with the hackers.

Now, MLS services impacted by the ongoing ransomware attack on Rapattoni are now defaulting to manual updates, texts and emails to communicate listing updates, including with agents in the Bay Area.

The San Francisco Association of Realtors said it is still working to bring back its SFARMLS dashboard and Rapattoni systems, but there’s still no clear timeline for normalcy. “What we do know is that the ability to add new listings and edit existing ones directly in SFARMLS will not be restored before Thursday, August 17, 2023. Once we have an accurate estimate on when these services will be restored, we will let you know immediately,” SFAR said on its site this week. As of 3 p.m., service had not been restored.

Compass — the largest brokerage operating in the Bay Area — has outlined several options for its local agents to gain public exposure of new listings, advising brokers to post a “Coming Soon” listing using the Compass Listing Editor as well as updating listings directly on Additionally, each MLS is offering its own communication channels to help keep their members updated about what’s happening in the local market.

“I simply can’t believe this isn’t getting national coverage … the ripple effects are going to be insane,” said Mary Macpherson, founder of San Francisco-based Vantage Realty. “Sellers who needed to go on the market can’t, and those who had very specific strategies to go on the market at certain times will now likely face a flood of other listings that will dilute their impact. That the insurance companies are still negotiating with hackers over ransom while the folks at SFAR are working round the clock to try to find solutions for us is just unbelievable.”

“The longest it’s ever been down is like four hours,” said KW Advisors’ Jennifer Rosdail, who’s worked in the residential real industry for more than 20 years.

Rosdail said the hack was very effective because it focused on the technology between the MLS interface and its customized middle pieces that affect a multitude of MLS listings in different regions. She said she is currently using BridgeMLS, based in Berkeley, which does not use Rapattoni. She added that MLS staff are working diligently to manually update home sale information from brokers who submit changes. She said, that while the front end of the MLS remains down, by getting the info into the back end of the site, other third-party sites like Trulia, Zillow and Redfin take that info and put it out to the world.

“They are really helping,” Rosdail noted of the MLS staff.

But even with that workaround, other obstacles remain unmoved. “I just got this message about one of my deals in escrow. The appraiser is saying he can’t do his job,” Rosdail said. “I’m going to try to work with him to get it done of course but this is a good example of the kind of problems this is causing.”