MLSs have been consolidating rapidly at a rate of approximately three per month.
The number of MLSs in the US has shrunk from 825 in January 2014, to 705 in April 2017. Change is taking place because of association and MLS leaders taking bold actions to make it easier for their members and brokers to conduct business and make money. That is the primary purpose of MLS.
But change doesn’t have to be painful. Rather than force a merger, which creates winners and losers, we have learned that it is usually better to partner up to create something new, bigger and better by working together with other associations. Nobody wins unless everybody wins.
Based upon my experience working with 300 MLS over the last 30 years, there are 5 major obstacles to MLS mergers and consolidation:
- Pride/fear of the unknown/egos – Most of those who lead successful associations and MLSs are very passionate and proud of what they have created. And they should be! The problem is that, in many cases, what they created no longer serves the members the same way. It will not last much longer unless they adapt, innovate and create something new to meet current consumer demands.
- Fear of job loss – Staff and leadership are afraid of losing their positions. Yes, volunteer leadership can sometimes slow the process due to the fear of their roles disappearing as well.
- Fear of loss of control or power – This is a frequent concern, but ask this question: “What do you and your organization actually control right now?” The list is shorter than you might think.
- Don’t know how to manage consolidation – Most staff and leadership have never managed an MLS merger or consolidation before. It’s a lot like listing your own home for sale: It’s complicated and requires an expert with proven experience navigating the process. A third party who doesn’t take sides and is not attached to a particular outcome is just what’s needed. At T3 Sixty, we empower our clients to win at the highest level possible. Hire an expert for this challenging and important work.
- Loss of money – Worrying about the loss of money may be last on our list, but it is the number one obstacle to MLS mergers. The loss of MLS profits can impact jobs, programs and other association services.
MLS mergers are occurring nearly every week. There is a proven process which you can learn from. Navigating the obstacles to MLS consolidation can be incredibly complex, and unless they are managed correctly, consolidation can seem nearly impossible. For more information, read my article on Inman about whether your MLS should consider consolidating.
As President of T3 MLS, I provide consulting services to Realtor associations and MLSs across North America regarding mergers, collaborations, strategic planning, technology, joint ventures, request for proposals and more. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how my team can serve you right now.