If you know anything about the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) you know they are communities and they are better when they are more inclusive than exclusive. A more inclusive MLS will generally have more members, more listings to share with its members and more opportunities for those members to make sales. That makes members happy but it also makes their consumers happy. It would be hard to make the case that less members and less listing content would make an MLS better than a MLS with more members and more listing content looking at it from either the member or their client’s perspective.
Therefore, we see more regional MLS’s in the country today than ever before and many smaller MLS’s are either merging or data sharing than in the past. The latest trend seems to be regional MLS’s merging, consolidating and or sharing data for the same reasons. Given those facts what could cause a merger or consolidation to fail?
There are many possible reasons why some MLS’s do not manage to come together. Here is a short list of the most popular reasons I have heard in my 35 years in the business:
- It is not in the best interest of the Executive Officer
- Their governance does not match ours (broker control or agent control) and we like ours
- It is not in the best interest of the largest broker in one MLS (big fish in a small pond)
- It is not in the best interest of “special markets” (don’t want those people getting in my market)
- Our MLS Rules & Regulations don’t lineup with theirs and ours are better
- Why should we merge with those people up there? I don’t do business up there
- Our Board counts on MLS revenue to survive and we can’t cut any of it for this merger
- They are much larger than us and would swallow us up. We would have no say in decisions
- Why should we go with their vendor when we’ve had ours for 12 years with no problems
Of course there are others but these are very common issues raised in an effort to kill a merger. In fact it is possible for an MLS to split for many of the same reasons. While this would be very rare, it has happened.
Here in the Northern Ohio Regional MLS (NORMLS) we covered six counties in the Cleveland Ohio region. Our neighbors, Centralized Real Estate Information Service (CRIS) in the Akron, Canton and Youngstown region had 1,500 duplicate members so we formed the Northeast Ohio Real Estate Exchange (NEOHREX), which serves 22 counties. With over 9,000 agents and over 35,000 active listings NEOHREX now serves five separate MLS’s of various sizes with a variety of prices and features depending on your point of entry and membership includes access to all of the listings. Members no longer must join many MLS’s, plus they get exposure to their listings by 9,000+ agents and their thousands of buyers.
While NEOHREX may grow it is hard to imagine a scenario where it would shrink or dissolve. Doing the right thing takes leadership that will rise above politics and serves the whole community.
Carl R. DeMusz, RCE
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