- Merger proponents say future benefits include increased services, economies of scale, a larger footprint, more political influence and better technology tools.
The members of two local Florida Realtor associations have approved a merger, propelling the initiative through its final hoop with flying colors.
On May 25, members of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB) and Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors (GFLR) voted to merge to become the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale.
RAPB CEO Dionna Hall said that the consensus was nearly universal — 99 percent of the RAPB members who voted and 98 percent of the GFLR members who voted approved the merger.
Earlier this month, the boards of directors of the associations unanimously voted in favor of merging. Now that the associations have obtained member approval, the merger’s effective date will be June 16.
At that time, the combined entity will be the third-largest local Realtor association in the country with more than 25,000-plus agent, broker and appraiser members total.
The two associations will also merge their MLSs, RAPB’s BeachesMLS and GFLR’s South Florida MLS, which will have 30,000 MLS subscribers, making it one of the 10 largest MLSs nationwide.
The Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale will cover Palm Beach, Broward and St. Lucie counties and its MLS will cover those three counties as well as Martin County. BeachesMLS currently data shares with the Realtor Association of Martin County and that data share will continue after the merger, according to RAPB.
“We are very excited to bring our members together in being the voice of real estate for more than a 100 mile span,” said John Slivon, president of RAPB and future president of the merged association, in a statement.
The associations’ leaders have touted several future benefits for agents and brokers on the ground once the merger is complete, including increased services, economies of scale, a larger footprint, more political influence and better technology tools.
Citing similar benefits, more MLSs and associations are consolidating this year, fulfilling a desire among many MLS members who wish their associations or MLSs would join forces. The newly formed Bright MLS and SmartMLS in Connecticut have led the way so far in 2017.
RAPB declined to share how many RAPB and GFLR members participated in the vote. RAPB is the larger of the two associations with more than 15,500 association members and about 19,000 MLS subscribers.
“It is our process to not provide specific information on our special member meetings. What we can say is that both associations had record membership participation and overwhelming support for the merger,” Kim Hansen, RAPB’s COO, told Inman via email.
Hall, who will be CEO of the merged association and MLS, added: “We are amazed with the outpouring of support both associations have received from the membership. Clearly, this reimagined association and MLS is the direction our members were eager to go in.”
The combined MLS will carry more than 40,000 on-market listings, totaling over $21 billion in inventory, RAPB said. The association declined to provide a timeline for when the MLS systems would merge.
“Merging MLSs is a multifaceted process. Members will see a merged MLS, but some of the backend programming, while already underway, will take time to complete,” Hansen said.
The merged MLS will offer members what’s commonly called “front end of choice” — the ability for subscribers to choose between more than one MLS system. In this case, they will be able to pick between the MLS systems that BeachesMLS and South Florida MLS currently provide: flexmls and Matrix, respectively. This means agents won’t have to change systems if they don’t want to.
“There will be one set of rules and IDX feeds from each platform given to subscribers. There are currently some unique products offered with each platform. We will go through a process to evaluate all products, resources and tools,” Hall said.
The merged association will have local regional boards, which Hall has previously described as “mini boards of directors,” that aim to help ensure that agents and brokers maintain input into local market decisions.
The five regional boards will have 10 members each and be distributed across the association’s coverage area in Eastern Broward County, Western Broward County, South Palm Beach county, North Palm Beach county and the Treasure Coast.
The regional boards will encourage members to stay involved in local issues and continue to give to the Realtor Political Action Committee (RPAC), Hall said earlier this month.