By Roger Parham, Association/CarolinaMLS President
Each year, Executive Committee members who serve the Association and CarolinaMLS attend eight to 10 state and national meetings where the focus is typically on best practices and key issues related to associations as well as to MLSs.
For the past five years or so at these meetings — which include NAR, Inman conferences and the Council of MLS — a topic continues to be discussed and debated: what to do about having so many MLSs across the country. As an industry, if we could reduce the number of MLSs, we would become more relevant, efficient and sustainable.
Compelling arguments for consolidating the number of MLSs are:
- A reduction in costs for brokers (listing firms) with one MLS in a market area, as well as standardized data feeds, rules and compliance
- A reduction in fees for agents with only one MLS in a market
- More robust MLS products and services for brokers and agents because of economies of scale
- Less confusion and more exposure for sellers and more options for buyers from a single source
We’re seeing consolidation take hold. Several years ago, there were more than 800 MLSs. Today, there are fewer than 700. The number will keep dropping, I assure you. Some experts say we could end up with a dozen to several dozen MLSs.
A key driver is economy of scale. Small MLSs lack the resources to pay for the technology required to compete in today’s market. Not that they don’t want to; they just don’t have enough members to make the technology affordable.
Furthermore, listing firms don’t like having to subscribe to more than one MLS to cover their market, or having to adhere to rules from a variety of MLSs when displaying data on firm and agent websites. Standardization of data would cut down on costs for firms.
Also, agents dislike having to pay for multiple MLSs to make a good living within their marketplace area.
CarolinaMLS is not new to consolidation. Decades ago, MLSs in North Carolina counties surrounding Charlotte-Mecklenburg merged with CarolinaMLS.
More recently, CarolinaMLS has been the wholesale vendor for the North Carolina Mountains MLS (NCMMLS). We have provided MLS services for its members since 2015. In addition to benefiting from our technology, they have access to our CarolinaMLS listings, not just their own. We recently signed a similar agreement with the MLS of Catawba Valley (Hickory, N.C., area).
Business Has No Borders
To give agents in bordering S.C. counties near Charlotte the opportunity to experience the value of CarolinaMLS, we are promoting a limited time offer to join us until December 31, 2017.
Our “Business Has No Borders” program lets S.C. licensees who are affiliated with S.C. firms join CarolinaMLS for only $5 for rest of the year. That’s a $245 savings over the usual rate. S.C. firms can also join for only $5 — which is a $595 savings for them.
We hope our S.C. colleagues will see the value in CarolinaMLS and will support being part of it. If the S.C. MLS they belong to were larger — like Catawba Valley and NCMMLS — they would offer the economy of scale that would allow CarolinaMLS to be their vendor.
CarolinaMLS has approximately 11,000 members and nearly 4,000 more that we service as a vendor. That enables us to negotiate more attractive rates with MLS providers and supply more services than MLSs with a few hundred, or even a few thousand, subscribers.
MLS consolidation will continue, and CarolinaMLS is dedicated to being a thoughtful leader in this change. I look forward to hearing what agents and firms who sign up for our Business Has No Borders offer think about CarolinaMLS. We hope you like it, and we welcome your feedback.
You are welcome to share this offer with S.C. licensees affiliated with S.C. firms and, if they are interested, all they need to do is call 704-940-3110.