MLS & Associations

MLS auctioned for $250K after years of association infighting

Trade group dispute cost hundreds of thousands of dollars
  • New York's Capital Region Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS) was dissolved during a public auction after four years of litigation between the two trade associations that owned it.
  • The Eastern New York Regional Multiple Listing Service, a new subsidiary of the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, won CRMLS's assets with a bid of $250,000.
  • The legal battle is not over. The two associations disagree on how to split the $250,000 from the auction.
  • The substantial litigation bills of this battle may serve as a lesson for future association and MLS disputes; impasses that end up in court come with a hefty cost to your wallet and time.

It didn't feel like a typical auction, the fast-talking auctioneer and prospective buyers shouting numbers in rapid-fire succession nowhere in sight. The room was quiet. About two dozen people witnessed an unprecedented event: the auction of a multiple listing service, mainly its data. The auction was the result of four years of bitter litigation between the two trade associations that owned the Albany, New York-based Capital Region MLS: the Greater Capital Association of Realtors (GCAR) and the Saratoga Schenectady Schoharie Association of Realtors (SSSAR). The winning bid of $250,000 came from an MLS that would go live just two days later, a new subsidiary of GCAR. Given that industry experts predict more MLS and association mergers in 2017, the fate of New York's CRMLS is a cautionary tale. Four years of hostile infighting cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, uncertainty for the brokers and agents on the ground, and, for one association, the rights to the collection o...