The two biggest multiple listing services in Minnesota are merging.
NorthstarMLS, the biggest property listing information company in the state, will team up with Southeast Minnesota Realtors (SEMR) to represent the interests of nearly 90 percent of all Realtors statewide.
With more than 18,000 agent and broker subscribers, NorthstarMLS has been has been the largest such group in the state. SEMR, the second-largest MLS in the state, represents more than 1,000 agent and broker subscribers.
The two groups will officially blend their listings this fall, but NorthstarMLS CEO John Mosey said the groups have been working on the merger since December.
“Once our current shareholders, Minneapolis and St. Paul Associations understood the benefits of bringing SEMR into the regional, everything moved ahead smoothly,” said Mosey.
“We hope that other associations in our multistate market region can see how committed we are about collaborating to create a more efficient marketplace for our brokers and agents and continue to be open to further dialogue on MLS cooperation in any form.”
Technology has transformed the real estate industry, especially for agents and their buyers and sellers who now share listing information and data via massive databases that not long ago were considered proprietary.
So while agents and the real estate associations that represent them have historically functioned as hyperlocal entities, there’s been a shift toward consolidation.
Mosey said the next addition to the NorthstarMLS stable will be the West Central Association of Realtors, which is based in Willmar. The addition of that group’s 470-plus members means that NorthstarMLS will represent 91 percent of all Realtors in Minnesota on one platform.
Unlike the SEMR merger, which gives its members an ownership role and a vote on the board of directors, WCAR will be added as a client association that gives its members the same rights and equal treatment as other owners.
These deals reinforce the notion that expanding the geographic boundaries of the associations will create more opportunities for MLS members regardless of where the agents are based by providing broader access to agents, brokers, buyers and sellers.
The SEMR deal was facilitated by Matt Cohen of Clareity Consulting. Cohen helped the association’s members and leaders evaluate its strategic options and provide recommendations for various concerns.
Karen Becker, CEO of SEMR, said the cost savings and better efficiency are only a couple of the benefits of the merger.
“Too many of our members were paying to belong to two or more MLSes to get all the listings inventory they needed to do business,” she said. “They had to double-input their own listings to get them into both systems.”
SEMR represents brokerages in 11 counties in southeast Minnesota and will become a shareholder in NorthstarMLS, which includes real estate offices in Western Wisconsin and Minnesota.
During 2017, NorthstarMLS facilitated more than 87,000 real estate transactions worth more than $24 billion; SEMR was involved with more than 6,000 home sales.
“All our members will now have the most comprehensive and accurate property information for their sellers, and the most complete and up-to-date inventory for their home buyers,” Becker said.
“We are also excited for the additional technology tools that will improve how members serve their clients.”