Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that Tarasoft and Discover Software Inc. provide the MLS platforms currently used by CRMLS.

Visions of a statewide multiple listing service in California are a step closer to reality today, with the California Regional Multiple Listing Service Inc. (CRMLS) announcing a merger that will double its size and make it the nation’s largest, with 68,000 participants and subscribers.

CRMLS will merge with Anaheim-based SoCalMLS, itself one of the nation’s largest with more than 33,000 members. The merger has been approved by the boards of directors of both MLSs, a spokeswoman for the California Association of Realtors said.

San Dimas-based CRMLS was formed last year to carry on CAR’s vision of building a statewide MLS. After CAR launched its calREDD MLS system in Northern California, it agreed to merge that effort into Pomona-based Multi-Regional Multiple Listing Service Inc. (MRMLS).

That brought participation in the fledgling statewide MLS to 22 Realtor associations. The merger announced today brings a total of 33 Realtor associations from around the state under the umbrella of CRMLS.

CAR, which holds an ownership stake in CRMLS, represents 160,000 members who belong to 113 local Realtor associations. The Department of Real Estate lists 447,642 licensed real estate brokers and agents, a figure that includes mortgage brokers.

SoCalMLS President Len Herman said merger discussions began last November.

"We just think this is great — from the first time we sat down to talk about it, we had no disagreements," Herman said. "I sell real estate for a living. I have never been in a transaction that went so smoothly."

CRMLS President Rob Arrietta will serve as president of the merged company, with Herman remaining as part of the transition team, the companies said.

CRMLS CEO Art Carter, who will continue to serve as the top executive at the merged MLS, said that while there are "a lot of synergies" to be realized through a merger, all SoCalMLS employees will be making the transition. SoCalMLS CEO Adrese Roundtree will become chief operating officer of CRMLS.

"As the organization grows and changes, the staffing will change as well," Carter said.

Both CRMLS and SoCalMLS are members of CARETS (California Real Estate Technology Services), a joint venture that allows 40 Realtor Association around the state to share listings, and Realtors Property Resource, a national property and listings database backed by the National Association of Realtors.

That means there’s no need to integrate CRMLS and SoCalMLS listings, Carter said.

"From a merger standpoint, it’s not typical, because both of us have each other’s data in our systems already," Carter said.

SoCalMLS members will continue using their existing software platform, MarketLinx Tempo, and MarketLinx’s new MLS system, Fusion, which SoCalMLS is in the process of implementing.

"Being partners in CARETS, if we hadn’t put a press release out to members, they probably wouldn’t have known" about the merger, Herman said. "They already have the data, the phone numbers won’t change, it’s the same people on the other end of the phone — that’s how clean and smooth this is going to be."

CRMLS members currently have a choice, at the association level, of employing the Tarasoft Matrix MLS platfom or software provided by Discover Software Inc. Eventually, CRMLS members will be able to choose from all of the software platforms currently used by both MLSs, Carter said.

With both MLS already sharing data, the motivation for the merger was to achieve greater efficiencies and economies of scale, and improve member services, Carter said. Asked if mergers with other CARETS members could also accomplish the same goal, he said, "Nothing is imminent. We are always open to talking to people."

As for the future prospects of a statewide MLS, Carter said, "We’re continuing to talk (to MLSs and Realtor associations) up and down the state, and where it makes sense, we’re going to forge relationships in those situations."

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