The Northern California Real Estate Exchange, or NCREX, this week announced the first stage of a planned merger by four San Francisco Bay Area multiple listing services.

NCREX has acquired RE InfoLink MLS and Central Valley MLS, which unifies 23,000 MLS subscribers. Contra Costa MLS and Bay East MLS have also been involved in the creation of NCREX but have not yet formally been acquired by this regional MLS. NCREX makes its debut with a $20 million operating budget.

There are several other efforts under way in the state, too, that could dramatically alter the MLS landscape.

“MLS consolidation is a revolutionary step for the real estate industry,” said Jeanne Garde, chairperson for the NCREX board of directors, in a statement.

RE Infolink brings a consumer-facing real estate search site, MLSListings.com, to NCREX, and there are plans to enhance that portal “to actively refer potential buyers to NCREX subscribers,” the MLS announced this week.

“NCREX increases agent efficiency by providing a single-source, standardized and quality-driven MLS with one data structure, one set of rules, aggregated information and one fee. Regionalization also eliminates the need to subscribe to multiple MLSs and conform to multiple sets of rules and regulations,” according to the announcement.

Agents and brokers are the driving force behind the NCREX consolidation, according to that MLS’s announcement, as they “recognized the need to eliminate redundancy, streamlining information flow and simplifying the work of brokers and agents.”

NCREX is established as a nonprofit entity that must reinvest any revenue into continuing operations.

Several MLSs in California have forged data-sharing agreements, and a California Association of Realtors task force is studying the feasibility of creating a statewide real estate database or a statewide MLS.

One data-sharing effort in California, called MLSAlliance, links 10 MLSs in Northern California and Southern California. And even rural MLSs in the state have banned together to weigh options with the myriad MLS agreements popping up across the state.

Last month, the 6,000-member Greater South Bay Regional MLS and 30,000-member Multi-Regional MLS of Southern California announced a merger that is expected to be completed in December.

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