The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) announced a new toolkit this week at NAR’s annual conference that may help make the bumpy road smoother for MLSs considering consolidating, whether through mergers, data and technology sharing cooperatives, group buying or administrative support agreements.

CHICAGO — More and more, brokers and agents have been calling for their MLSs to merge … and MLSs are listening.

Rick Harris

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) announced a new toolkit at NAR’s annual conference that may help make the bumpy road smoother for MLSs considering consolidating, whether through mergers, data and technology sharing cooperatives, group buying or administrative support agreements.

The toolkit lives on NAR’s website and is called “MLS Consolidation Resources.”

MLS Consolidation Resources home page

The toolkit is meant to stamp out dysfunction: “MLSs are able to remove barriers that create inefficiencies and instead facilitate a truly orderly marketplace that empowers their Participants and Subscribers to focus on serving the consumer. In the end, eliminating dysfunction is a Business Solution,” reads the website.

Its tagline is “Collaboration to Serve the Brokerage Community,” which Oregon broker and MLS executive Rick Harris, who chaired the work group that put the toolkit together, said was appropriate since “that is our primary clientele.”

The toolkit is the result of a partnership between NAR and CMLS announced in May 2016 to work together for the benefit of their mutual constituents: brokers and agents.

Caitlin McCrory

“It’s definitely been a meaningful partnership,” Caitlin McCrory, NAR’s MLS manager, told conference attendees. McCrory is also the NAR staff liason for the CMLS-NAR partnership.

“Even if we don’t agree 100 percent of the time, we have respect for each other’s positions.”

The toolkit has been in the works for about a year now, and NAR and CMLS will continue to populate it, McCrory and Harris said.

It’s divided into seven sections:

  • Challenges and Obstacles: Does your MLS fear loss of income or market control? Do you think it would be too hard or expensive to merge? This section offers concrete steps to tackling these and other obstacles.
  • Getting Started: Don’t know where to start? This section offers seven steps to an MLS consolidation, starting with a self-evaluation. How does your MLS stack up?
  • Case Studies: Check out case studies from MLSs that have been there — Smart MLS, California Regional MLS (CRMLS), Carolina MLS and North Carolina Mountains MLS, MARIS and Southeast Missouri Association, and Northeast Florida MLS.
  • Glossary of Terms: Do you know what the difference is between consolidation and merger? This glossary might help avoid some confusion.
  • Activity Database: What consolidations have you seen in your area? You can share them here.
  • Consultants and Facilitators: This page lists consultants that may be able to mitigate concerns about personnel, governance, technology, ownership and financial considerations “and be a rational party in what can be a tense setting.”
  • Success Documents: This section links to white papers, studies, articles, documents, FAQs, templates, videos and other resources on consolidation from across the industry.

Kevin McQueen of real estate consulting firm T3 Sixty helped NAR and CMLS develop the materials, including the case studies, and guided the work group’s efforts, according to Harris.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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