California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS), Bright MLS and My Florida Regional MLS are the three biggest MLSs in the country, according to new rankings from real estate consulting and research firm T3 Sixty.
T3 Sixty released its second annual Swanepoel Mega 1000 list of the country’s top 1,000 brokerages along with top 20 franchisors and holding companies earlier this month. Now, the firm has announced that rankings for the largest MLSs, state Realtor associations and local associations have been added to the Mega 1000 list for the first time.
T3 Sixty asserted that the addition “solidifies their position as the residential real estate industry’s leading provider of the most comprehensive industry rankings and analysis,” which hints at a spat the firm has been having with rival real estate analytics and consulting firm Real Trends, which has long published the annual Real Trends 500 ranking of residential real estate brokerages.
Real Trends does not rank MLSs and Realtor associations, so this might be a case of the real estate industry at large benefiting from the competition between the two firms.
“Quality information enables leaders to make better decisions,” said T3 Sixty CEO Stefan Swanepoel in a statement.
“And as industries — such as transportation, health, entertainment, retail and real estate — undergo change, leaders are invariably concerned and tools like the Mega 1000 become invaluable.”
While “top” rankings can signal success and attractiveness to agents for the organizations so deemed — and that is likely the case to a certain extent with the ranked Realtor associations and MLSs — these entities are unlike brokerages in that if one wishes to become a Realtor or join the local MLS, there is often not much choice in which Realtor association or MLS to join due to geographic constraints and lack of competing options in many markets.
In addition, many MLSs require Realtor membership, meaning that many join their local Realtor association simply to have access to the MLS. Anyone who joins a local association must also join the state and national associations.
In a 2016 Inman survey, nearly 7 in 10 respondents felt they did not have the option of not joining a Realtor association. Industry veteran Russ Cofano, who has previously written about the often-coercive nature of membership in a Realtor association, commented on how “odd” it was to see a list ranking associations and MLSs on size given that membership is often mandatory.
Odd that we see a list ranking and “honoring” associations and MLS based on their size when in most cases membership is essentially mandatory in their local market. What’s to congratulate here? https://t.co/17P6YgssNf
— Russ Cofano (@russcofano) April 15, 2019
Still, at the very least, the rankings offer a window into Realtor and MLS membership today, highlighting which organizations are impacting the largest shares of agents and brokers.
T3 Sixty surveyed or researched nearly 600 MLSs, 50 state Realtor associations and 1,100 local Realtor associations to come up with its rankings.
“Still, in the midst of a period of strong consolidation, the Multiple Listing Service numbers have dwindled from just over 800 in early 2014, down to nearly 600 organizations today. The rankings reflect how big certain MLS[s] have grown as well as the emergence of new entities formed through consolidations,” the company said.
CRMLS topped the company’s list of 100 largest MLSs in the nation at 96,203 subscribers as of Dec. 31, 2018, followed by Bright MLS at 88,071 and My Florida Regional MLS at 58,600. All three have been proponents of MLS consolidation in recent years.
More than half of MLS subscribers belong to 19 MLSs — or about 3 percent of the MLSs in the country, according to the rankings.
Thirteen percent of the nation’s 585 MLSs account for about 80 percent of the country’s 1.4 million MLS subscribers, T3 Sixty said.
The smallest MLS on the top 100 list, the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors MLS, has 2,427 subscribers, indicating that the remaining 500 or so MLSs are smaller. About 400 of the nation’s 585 MLSs have less than 400 subscribers, according to T3 Sixty.
Top state Realtor associations
Among the 50 state Realtor associations, the three biggest had nearly half a million members combined at the end of 2018: California Association of Realtors (198,744 members), Florida Association of Realtors (177,964 members) and Texas Association of Realtors (118,680 members).
The smallest state Realtor association was the Vermont Association of Realtors at 1,641 members.
The top 10 state associations accounted for 58 percent, or 788,416, of the total Realtor membership in 2018 while the bottom 10 account only for 2 percent, or 29,164, according to T3 Sixty.
Top local Realtor associations
Among the top 100 local associations, the Miami Association of Realtors had the most members at the end of 2018 at 45,831, followed by the Houston Association of Realtors at 35,701 and the Realtors of The Palm Beaches & Greater Fort Lauderdale (the product of a recent merger) at 29,492.
The smallest local association among the top 100, the Lexington Bluegrass Association of Realtors, had 3,031 members.
As with MLSs, Realtor members are distributed disproportionately among associations. According to T3 Sixty, about 80 percent of the nation’s Realtors belong to 19 percent of the 1,103 local Realtor associations.
According to T3 Sixty, nearly 40 percent of local associations (410) have less than 200 members, and some have membership counts barely in the double-digits, including the Sierra County Board of Realtors in Elephant Butte, New Mexico (21 members); Clarksdale Board of Realtors in Clarksdale, Mississippi (11 members); and Mid-Valley Association of Realtors in Kewanee, Illinois (17 members).