A Colorado MLS has declined to participate in a merger effort, despite a request from large brokers in the state to do so. After “highly charged” merger talks, in late May the two largest MLSs in the state, REcolorado and Information and Real Estate Services (IRES), signed a letter of intent to merge, setting an “aggressive” deadline of November 1 for a signed commitment to merge.

  • Colorado MLS declines a request from brokers to form a single database with its larger neighbors, which brokers say would help them -- and their agents -- do their jobs better.
  • The two largest MLSs in the state continue their consolidation efforts.

A Colorado MLS has declined to participate in a merger effort, despite a request from large brokers in the state to do so.

After “highly charged” merger talks, in late May the two largest MLSs in the state, REcolorado and Information and Real Estate Services (IRES), signed a letter of intent to merge, setting an “aggressive” deadline of November 1 for a signed commitment to merge.

At the time, the neighboring Pikes Peak Association of Realtors and its MLS, the Pikes Peak Realtor Services Corp. (RSC) were not participating in the talks, but were considering doing so.

In February more than 20 large brokerages in the state sent a letter to all three MLSs requesting that they consolidate into a single database “no later than January 1, 2018, to enable us to do our jobs, serve our clients and remain relevant and valuable to the people who pay us.”

REcolorado has about 20,000 agent, broker and appraiser subscribers; IRES has about 6,000; and RSC has about 3,600. All three operate in Colorado’s Front Range region, which includes Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. PPAR and RSC are based in the latter.

Now, the boards of directors of PPAR and RSC have decided not to enter merger talks with REcolorado and IRES, the Colorado Springs trade group told the MLSs in a statement.

‘Not practical’

“At this time, our leadership feels it is not practical for PPAR to participate in these merger discussions,” PPAR CEO Amy Reid said in the statement.

“PPAR and RSC had hoped to enter into the discussions earlier to allow for the three organizations to work together to create the best solution for Realtors in the Front Range and Colorado. While it is clear the discussions between REColorado and IRES have been limited, your two organizations have been able to make significant progress towards the creation of a Front Range MLS.

Amy Reid

“RSC and PPAR cannot sign the revised Letter of Intent, key provisions remain binding and its scope remains too narrow; and creating a new Letter of Intent with input from all three MLSs would only delay the progress already made by REColorado and IRES.”

“We wish we could have been included in the conversations earlier, but will look forward to the end result of your efforts,” Reid continued.

“PPAR leadership is open to future talks with REColorado and IRES, or the resulting merged MLS, while continuing to advance and protect the Realtor brand and professionals in the real estate industry.”

Reid declined to comment on why PPAR felt it was impractical to participate in the merger discussions, which provisions in the current letter of intent PPAR objected to, how much longer the association thought it would take to create a new letter of intent, or when PPAR first started having conversations with REcolorado and IRES about joining in the merger talks.

When asked what PPAR had to say to the brokers who requested the merger, Reid declined to comment. She previously told Inman the brokers’ market share isn’t large in the Pikes Peak area and the vast majority of the brokers’ agents are in REcolorado’s and IRES’s jurisdictions.

PPAR was not invited to the initial talks between the two MLSs announced in late March, but had been invited to participate at least as of May, according to an IRES blog post.

In June, REcolorado and IRES had agreed that “having the three groups involved is beneficial in the long run” and had therefore agreed to give PPAR more time to consider joining the effort, setting a July 21 deadline, according to identical blog posts published by IRES and REcolorado.

Lauren Hansen

IRES CEO Lauren Hansen told Inman via email that IRES had “welcomed” PPAR to the table, “but respect their decision” not to participate in the merger.

When asked whether revising the letter of intent to merge with input from all three MLSs would have been a significant delay, she said, “Since we don’t know how many changes they were going to suggest, it’s impossible to say.” She said she didn’t know which provisions in the letter of intent PPAR objected to.

REcolorado declined to comment for this story, pointing to its blog posts and directing inquiries to PPAR.

A broker speaks

Kevin Risen, REcolorado board member and executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Colorado, said that the Pikes Peak association was probably taking a “wait-and-see position.”

Kevin Risen

“They’re probably watching to see how REcolorado and IRES will move forward and I wouldn’t be surprised to see PPAR come in later,” he told Inman.

Risen said his firm was one of the large brokerages that signed onto the letter asking for the three MLSs to form a single database by January. CBRB has offices in the market areas of all three MLSs, including Colorado Springs.

“It’s the desire of the big brokerages and I think most brokerages to have that single data source from a convenience standpoint and it’s difficult when you’re in some of these crossover markets where you might be on a border and companies are forced to belong to two different systems,” Risen said.

He said his brokerage and others would benefit from entering listings into a single MLS system, saving agents the time and effort of inputting listings into multiple systems, each with different data fields.

Agents would also benefit from consistent data across a larger footprint, according to Risen.

“It just makes things easier to operate up and down the Front Range knowing that everything is shown the same no matter where you pull it up,” he said.

For instance, an agent working with expired listings might see a home that one system shows as active and another system shows as expired.

“The agent now has to make two calls to confirm that it’s expired. That’s just one example,” Risen said.

When asked what’s next for the merger talks he said REcolorado and IRES will likely announce a facilitator sometime in the next 30 days.

“Somebody neutral to continue to move these talks forward. Somebody that both parties can agree on,” he said.

Risen credited the leadership among both MLSs, especially the CEOs — Hansen and REcolorado CEO Kirby Slunaker — with the progress so far.

“I’m happy we’re having discussions and I’m encouraged that there seems to be the proper amount of patience and openness right now to get something done,” Risen said.

“I think the push from the membership, the brokerages coming together saying, ‘this is what we want,’ I think that did have an impact,” he added.

If REcolorado and IRES do achieve their plans to combine, they would join the ranks of mega MLSs forming as part of a real estate industry trend toward consolidation.

The newly formed Bright MLS in the Mid-Atlantic region, SmartMLS in Connecticut, and a merger between two associations and their MLSs in Florida in May have led the way so far this year. Two Texas MLSs run by local Realtor associations in Austin and San Antonio also announced merger talks in February.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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