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War of words breaks out in MLS merger debate

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The heated debate in the Chicago area over a proposed joining of a large association-owned multiple listing service with a competing broker-owned MLS is now boiling over as an all-out war of words. Five of the 10 Realtor associations that own the MLS of Northern Illinois -- one of the largest MLSs in the nation with about 51,000 members -- are opposing a proposed transaction that would combine MLSNI with smaller competitor MAP MLS (the MLS of Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Palatine and Prospect Heights) and create a new MLS entity dubbed Newco. The debate over the proposed MAP-MLSNI transaction has largely centered on proposed changes to the ownership and control of the combined MLS, and the financial benefits to MLSNI shareholders in pursuing the deal. Across the country, some other MLSs, too, are pursuing MLS consolidations and structural changes as member companies seek to play a greater role in ownership and operations and curb costs associated with membership in multiple MLS o...