How Much Is Your MLS Worth? CALMLS is buying.

Jan 16, 2009 Michael Wurzer

Check out this Inman article.  Very interesting.  CALMLS — the entity formed by the California Association of REALTORS to create a statewide MLS in California — is looking to buy other MLSs in the state.  This is going to be fascinating to watch.  CALMLS has the theory that there’s a lot of money being wasted in California MLSs by redundancy, and so I guess they’re making the case to the state Board of Directors that plunking down some millions now will save them money in the long haul.  That seems dubious to me and I’d love see the actual numbers they’re using, and whether the costs they’re projecting are from real MLSs or assumed.

Based on this from the Inman article, my skepticism is shared by Art Carter from CARETS:

Art Carter, CEO for MRMLS, a Southern California MLS that is a participant in CARETS, questioned the plans by CALMLS to purchase a regional MLS or several regional MLSs.

“It seems like they’re using money to go after member assets,” Carter said. Why not be supportive of what’s already there?”

He also noted that MRMLS “is not among the regionals that they’ve approached” in seeking an acquisition.

“From our standpoint it’s a little disappointing that (CALMLS representatives) have basically gone to the leadership — the directors at CAR — and asked for the permission to go out and create something new,” Carter said.

Last week, Carter shared the stage with Joel Singer, executive vice president for the California Association of Realtors, during an MLS panel discussion at the Real Estate Connect conference in New York City, and Singer said he was hopeful that CARETS would play a role in the statewide MLS initiative.

The MLS panel referenced in the article was one of the panels I moderated. The discussion was very interesting but it came down to a single issue: Everyone agreed that a single data repository was the way to go, but they all thought their repository would be best.

Given that CARETS already exists, that first mover advantage has to mean something, but this is going to be very interesting to watch. How much money will CAR members be willing to spend to allow these powers that be sort out the politics? Or will cooler heads prevail and pick a winner from the start? Or will this end up being a colossal waste of money? Stay tuned.