In a bid to provide economies of scale and cost savings to members, two Ohio multiple listing services (MLSs) are sacrificing their individual businesses to form a new company that will be the largest MLS in the state.
Cleveland area-based Northern Ohio Regional MLS (NORMLS) and Akron-based Centralized Real Estate Information Service (CRIS) have been sharing a listing database, Northeast Ohio Real Estate Exchange (NEOHREX), for years.
But on Jan. 22, 2018, the MLSs’ Realtor association shareholders voted to take the partnership further, dissolve the MLSs and consolidate them into one company, Yes-MLS.
Set to launch operations on May 1, Yes-MLS will have more than 12,000 members and serve the 36 counties in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania previously covered by NEOHREX.
“The leadership wanted a clean break from the past by forming a new company with improved governance while preserving the rights of its combined shareholders,” Carl DeMusz, current CEO of NORMLS, told Inman via email. DeMusz will be the CEO of Yes-MLS.
According to DeMusz, the main benefits of the consolidation for the MLSs’ agent and broker subscribers will be:
- A more streamlined decision-making process for products and services being offered to members
- A single point of negotiations will bring economies of scale, which will allow cost savings that can be passed on to members
- Because all listing content will be managed by a single entity, that will allow for improved data use in back-office products and analytics for brokers and their vendors
How will consumers benefit? “By supporting our members as they contract for new technologies as they become available, our members will be able to more quickly and efficiently get the data into new apps and services,” including those for consumers, DeMusz said.
“Quality assurance will also be managed from one central point assuring more accurate listing content to the consumers,” he added.
According to DeMusz, the combination of NORMLS and CRIS is a consolidation and not a merger because, legally, in a merger one company survives and the other doesn’t, while in a consolidation both companies die and a new company emerges.
In a statement, John Kurlich, current CEO of CRIS, said, “The ‘consolidation’, rather than a ‘merger’, enables us to create a new and forward-looking MLS for our members. One that provides accurate data and the technology to use that data in an increasingly data-driven real estate environment.” Kurlich will be COO of Yes-MLS.
The goal of the newly formed Yes-MLS board of directors, which includes directors from NORMLS and CRIS, is to remove market barriers for their agent and broker members whenever possible, DeMusz said.
In 2008, there were 24 MLSs in Ohio; after this consolidation, there are 16, according to DeMusz. There are no other MLSs involved in this consolidation, but Yes-MLS is in discussions with another MLS to the east to provide that MLS with “wholesale” MLS services, meaning Yes-MLS will manage that MLS and integrate it into its database, DeMusz said. Yes-MLS hopes to announce a deal soon. He did not rule out adding additional areas to the west.
Yes-MLS will keep the MLS system NORMLS and CRIS are currently using, CoreLogic’s Matrix, and its member management system will be MMSI. Neither NORMLS nor CRIS has a public-facing listing site, but it will be a “priority” for Yes-MLS to join the Broker Public Portal — the first national public-facing MLS website powered by Homesnap — DeMusz said.
Still, the “first order of business” for Yes-MLS will be to survey its members to measure their current level of satisfaction and then figure out how to improve, according to Demusz.
“The real work is just beginning,” he said.