hands on a computer keyboard and Rapattoni logo
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

eXp agents facing 'catastrophic' Rapattoni outage get Northstar fix 

More than 4,000 eXp Realty agents in 12 markets will be helped by NorthstarMLS, which has offered to assist other major companies as well.

August 19, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • Northstar’s temporary solution gets listings on the eXp site as well as portals such as Zillow.
  • The impact of this cyberattack “does shed light on the vulnerability of a centralized system with no redundancy.”
  • There is still no clear timeline for a resolution to the Rapattoni outage.

As an outage impacting dozens of MLSs continues to drag on, one of the nation's largest multiple listing services has developed a tool for major companies to assist their agents. 

NorthstarMLS is working with eXp Realty to help more than 4,000 of their agents in 12 markets get their listings online after a cyberattack knocked out Rapattoni services in the second week of August. As of Friday there was no clear timeline on when the problem might be resolved.

NorthStar's President & CEO Tim Dain said that by using some of the organization's technology that was already in place, they were able to quickly create a system for the eXp agents, allowing them to start getting listing exposure online on Friday.

Dain has also reached out to other major franchisors and brokerages with robust technical teams, offering help for their agents if they need it.

The solution for eXp includes getting the listings on the eXp site, but also to other places that want to list them, including portals like Zillow. It does not flow into any MLS data feed.

It's a temporary fix until Rapattoni clients are back online, but it's a big help, said Leo Pareja, eXp's chief strategy officer. Pareja couldn't recall in the past 20 years a more devastating situation for the agents stuck in the outage.

"It was a catastrophic type of loss scenario," Pareja said, noting that the online listings are the lifeblood of buyers and sellers in today's real estate market. "We have homeowners who have to make moves and they cannot not be on the market. I can't stress enough how impressed I've been with Tim's organization to be able to be this creative and this quick and responsive."

This is the latest in what has been an industry-wide effort to help agents impacted by the outage find a workaround. Several other MLSs, brokerages and portals have offered temporary access in order to get those impacted listings back online.

The cyberattack on Rapattoni will no doubt lead to broader questions about how to prevent another outage.

"I think this does shed light on the vulnerability of a centralized system with no redundancy," Pareja said.

Dain said many of the larger MLSs have backup systems in case of disasters, but the devastating impact of the attack on Rapattoni is a lesson for the industry as a whole to make sure effective backups are in place.

"Like any catastrophe, until you are tested you don't know where the weakness is," Dain said.

San Francisco MLS adds partners to help

The San Francisco Association of Realtors MLS on Friday announced a partnership where members can add new listings through Zenlist that will flow into Zillow. Members will soon be able to send their listings to more than just Zillow through the platform.

In an update to its members, SFARMLS said Rapattoni is working to decrypt locked servers and reconstruct new ones from backup files. However, "a specific timeline for the resumption of full services is still unknown," according to a news release.

"We understand that this attack has led to both inconvenience and frustration for many involved in the real estate industry," said SFAR CEO Walt Baczkowski. "However, if there is anything we know from these challenges, it's that San Francisco Realtors are some of the most industrious and tenacious in the field, always going above and beyond to provide the best service to their clients."

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