Today, geographic boundaries are virtually non-existent for homebuyers and sellers. So, to best serve their clients, brokers, agents, and appraisers can’t be bound by the invisible lines of the MLS. In order give subscribers what they really need to be successful, MLSs must unite. In Colorado, this translates into the need for One Front Range MLS.
Across the industry, experts agree. In his article, Friday Flash: Let’s Dance, Brian Boero out lines his thoughts on the topic.
Here’s what I think about the topic of MLS consolidation:
1. It should probably happen where MLS boundaries are significantly incongruent with natural market areas and impose burdens of time and cost on brokers and agents
2. It should probably happen if an MLS’s broker and agent customers are consistently unhappy with product, service, scope of activity or management.
3. It should probably happen if a strong business case can be made that combination will create a stronger organization with more human and financial capital directed at supporting brokers and agents.
Everything else? Case-by-case.
Which brings me to a case: Bright MLS [Disclosure – they’re a 1000watt client.]
Bright is the result of the combination of MRIS, which served DC, Baltimore and big swaths of Virginia, and TREND, which covered Philadelphia, most of Delaware and a vast suburban chunk of the mid-Atlantic. In all, parts of six states are now in one MLS.
Factors 1 and 3 above were definitely at play in the Bright deal. Both TREND and MRIS were among the best-run MLSs in the country, but they operated in an area that is more or less an undivided block of people and housing. The boundaries of TREND and MRIS were, in important ways, artificial.
But the most instructive thing about Bright’s coming to be is how it happened.
First of all, someone was willing to stick their neck out. David Charron, CEO of MRIS and now Chief Strategy Officer of Bright (and President-elect of CMLS – dude’s not going anywhere), was willing to put his position into play for the sake of making a deal happen that he perceived as beneficial to his customers.
Leadership, plain and simple. David has always been one of the smartest people in real estate. Now he’s something of an MLS folk hero.
The other notable characteristic here was the political finesse and diplomacy David, Tom Phillips (TREND’S CEO and now CEO of Bright) and the boards of both MRIS and TREND exhibited here. Where other consolidation or expansion efforts have been marked by acrimony, the Bright deal was an act of openness, consensus building and a smart business case presented rationally. This made a complex deal with 43(!) association shareholders possible.
So, the debate about the degree to which MLS consolidation should happen will roll on. Those seeking to understand how it could happen could learn a lot from spending some time with the people behind Bright.