MLS vendor FBS acquires competitor Solid Earth

Gang Liu /

When multiple listing service (MLS) vendors FBS and Solid Earth announced a partnership earlier this year, it was as competitors looking to serve their mutual MLS clients.

Nearly six months later, the two are rivals no more. FBS will acquire Solid Earth’s assets and employ all five of its existing employees in a deal slated to close by the end of the year, FBS CEO Michael Wurzer told Inman via email.

Michael Wurzer

“This acquisition is a classic example of the result being more than the simple sum of the parts. We’re creating something new and beneficial to MLSs, brokers, agents, and their respective customers,” he said.

In June, FBS and Solid Earth announced that they would integrate FBS’s Spark API into Solid Earth’s Spring consumer portal. Spark API allows MLSs to offer vendors real estate data in a standard format in real time.

The integration would give MLSs the ability to create and quickly launch their own MLS listing websites and also allow them to use Spring portals to offer their agent and broker members an alternative “front end of choice” to search their MLS database and manage contacts.

The Spark-Spring integration has not launched yet, but is in the final stages of development with commitments from many of FBS’s MLS customers, Wurzer said.

Now that the Spring team is joining FBS, the company will turn to directly serving brokers and agents as well as MLSs.

“We’ll be enhancing Spring to serve broker and agent marketing needs on the web and mobile platforms in the first half of 2018,” Wurzer said.

Matt Fowler

In a statement, Solid Earth CEO and co-founder Matt Fowler added: “MLSs, brokers and agents all share the core need to create, elevate, and control their brand; marketing the service and value that they provide to their unique customers online.”

Fowler will become an FBS vice president and continue to lead the Spring team after the acquisition closes.

Using Spring, FBS will also offer products that “help MLSs showcase all of the valuable products and services they provide to members,” according to a press release.

Asked whether this meant developing a product to compete with the single sign-on dashboards offered by CoreLogic’s Clareity, Wurzer said, “Product details will be presented later, but I can say that Spring customers will not need the Clareity/CoreLogic dashboard.”

Before this deal, Solid Earth was working with Realtors Property Resource (RPR) to offer Spring as a possible front end (user interface) to the MLS back end (database) RPR is currently developing, called Advanced Multilist Platform (AMP). As an MLS system vendor, AMP would be a competitor to FBS and its ilk, though it could also be a potential partner because AMP will not offer an MLS front end.

Asked whether Spring’s work with RPR would continue, Wurzer said, “We’re discussing that work with RPR now and we remain open to working with them.”

Solid Earth will cease to exist as a corporation after the acquisition, Wurzer said. He declined to disclose the firm’s purchase price.

This is FBS’s first acquisition in its over 30-year history. The employee-owned company is the third-largest provider of MLS systems in the nation, serving over 150 MLS customers representing more than 211,000 subscribers.

In addition to the Spring platform, FBS acquired Solid Earth’s other product: a legacy MLS system called List-It, which has received poor satisfaction ratings in recent years.

List-It currently has one MLS customer, according to Wurzer. Asked whether List-It would be phased out, he said FBS had not made any decisions in that regard.

Fowler said, “We plan to move the remaining customer to AMP when AMP is ready.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with an additional comment from Matt Fowler.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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