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Ripple effects of months-old cyber attack continue to have major impact on homebuyers, sellers in Cincinnati

1,000 Realtor-members signed a petition to return to Rapattoni services as a primary listing service among complaints aimed at Perchwell listing services
Cincinnati Housing
Posted at 9:58 PM, Sep 19, 2023

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati is one of the country's hottest housing markets, but the ripple effects of a months-old cyber attack could ruin both buyers' and sellers' shot at a good deal.

Roughly 8,000 members of the Realtor Alliance of Greater Cincinnati will cast a vote deciding whether the group will return to using the Rapattoni Multiple Listing Service more than a month after the California-based company was knocked offline by a cyber attack crippling home listing for sellers and buyers in Cincinnati.

The vote was forced by a petition of 1,000 members who complained the replacement service, Perchwell, has been riddled with bugs and inaccurate data for houses on the market.

In a statement on behalf of the Realtor-members of Greater Cincinnati Brett Keppler said, "After weeks of attempting to utilize the Perchwell system, which has been approved and endorsed by our local Board of Directors, we have found that our data has lost its integrity and cannot be trusted when pricing a home and when searching for homes on behalf of our clients."

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Keppler said the Perchwell system often failed to accurately convey information to popular listing websites like Realtor.com and Zillow.com.

"For the sake of both our livelihoods and for those families transacting real estate, a significant number of Realtor-members of the Greater Cincinnati Realtor Alliance have banded together to demand we return to Rapattoni, the reputable system which is back up and running and had previously supported our local market for the past 20 years," the statement read.

Real estate agent Casey Stewart said she had full confidence the board would lead local real estate agents to the best system for serving home sellers and buyers in the region, but said the transition to Perchwell hasn't been without difficulty.

"It's definitely been like being between a rock and another rock you know less about," Stewart said

In a statement, MLS of Greater Cincinnati President Anne Uchtman said they could never have anticipated a cyber attack leaving the region without any listing services.

"The Multiple Listing Service of Greater Cincinnati and its board of directors are committed to finding a solution that allows our users to do their job to the best of their ability and continue serving our consumers," she said. "Our two MLS providers, Rapattoni and Perchwell, have been extremely helpful and supportive during this crisis. We are working non-stop to get this issue resolved and hope to have a solution in the coming days.

Board member Joe Duffy with Comey & Shepherd Realtors said the board had been working to bring Perchwell online since 2022, well before the cyber attack on Rapattoni, and they accelerated the process when it was clear Rapattoni's system wouldn't be online quickly.

"We never knew when Rappatoni was going to come back," Duffy said. "It was a ransomware attack, so we looked into rolling out Perchwell before it was fully developed."

He said Perchwell has agreed to a long schedule of rolling out bug fixes and new features as they become available.

Duffy said Perchwell has been the least disruptive option available for Realtors, home buyers, and home sellers as they recover from the MLS outage.

"The petition is a result of fear, I feel like," he said.

A vote of all Realtor-members on the future of Perchwell and Rapattoni in Cincinnati will begin electronically Sunday, Sept. 24, at noon and conclude on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at noon.

In the memo shared with WCPO, Realtor Association CEO Carl Horst wrote "Rest assured; the outcome of the subscriber vote will determine the course of action for CincyMLS."

A Rapattoni representative declined to comment and directed attention to their "great customer of 20+ years, the REALTOR® Alliance of Greater Cincinnati."

WCPO attempted to reach Perchwell for comment through their website but didn't receive a response.

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