Consolidation: Look Beyond Your Neighbor

Camel and Matt C.JPG



Coming off a fresh viewing of Billy Chee’s legendary “lions coming over the hill” speech, via David Charron’s post a few months back, I am reminded that Billy’s “lions” have come and gone from our industry.  With that, we still must reject those among us who want to paint a future of sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops without any care to the real challenges we face…status quo is never a strategy as a new pride of lions are always on the horizon. Now with that said we are not under siege like in Lord of the Rings nor are we at an extinction level event (ELE) like in Armageddon.

For my organization, we believe strongly that the brokerage community, for which we are commissioned to serve, deserves modern technology and orderly flow of standard data. To this end, we have chased the “lion” of consolidation more than any other as we feel it is our greatest opportunity that we have the power to solve. Organizationally we have long echoed the industries voice that an organized marketplace is not efficient at the current count of MLSs. While our industry has witnessed many success stories in the past five years there is still much more work to be done. Additionally, most of these successes have been geography based, neighbor touching neighbor, which might not be the only path of the future.

For many years ARMLS used the longstanding example of MLS “dating” when looking at the hopes and prospects of consolidation with other MLSs in the state of Arizona. Former ARMLS MLS Director, Austin Drew, penned many short stories to me over the years we worked together under the tag of “I want to date your MLS”. He articulated the prospect of dating and marriage between the MLSs within our sphere of influence. I always found his musings insightful and helpful, but it was an early morning in August of 2017 that I shifted the focus to a facet he and I never discussed. This new shift was of MLS compatibility down to the DNA. Simply put we should stop looking at our closest neighbor as our best prom date, and look to those MLSs that we are most able to secure long-term sustainable relationships with.  We must accept that a long-distance relationship might better serve our goals of sustainability than an easy date with the MLS next-door. Since that August morning, I have heard other whispers and questions of non-contiguous MLS mergers, and I cheer on those parties looking at taking bold steps.


As an industry, we are outstanding at responding to challenges and threats. In fact, I would say we have a great number of solid first responders that will rise when called upon every time, but we need to cultivate more architects. We must architect a future that better meets the needs of our users and the brokerage community. This will require some winds of change. It’s okay to be different, and it is just fine to reject the status quo and do something that has never been done before. We must make sound decisions and architect our future if there is to be one. Billy’s words have never had more truth than they have today. I challenge everyone within the industry to accept our “lions” and find meaningful solutions to the challenges they represent. I say go for it and chart a new path for others to follow.

Tinus Swanepoel