California Regional MLS’s ‘Aggressive’ Growth Strategy Pays Off

California Regional MLS’s ‘Aggressive’ Growth Strategy Pays Off

CRMLS adds Rim O’ the World Association of Realtors as a member organization starting April 1. This comes years after CRMLS CEO Art Carter suggested that MLSs that are willing to cooperate become “more aggressive” with those that are not.

The largest multiple listing service in the nation is reaping the rewards of a years-long growth strategy with the addition of a new association member.

Rim O’ the World Association of Realtors, based in Lake Arrowhead, California, is joining California Regional MLS (CRMLS), which has more than 110,000 agent and broker subscribers.

Starting on April 1, all of Rim O’ the World AOR’s 300-plus members will start transitioning to CRMLS’s Matrix platform and get access to CRMLS’s historical and active listing data and training, compliance and customer support services.

Rim O’ the World AOR currently runs its own MLS using a system from MLS vendor Rapattoni, but when the association’s members voted to join CRMLS, they opted to switch over to the Matrix system, CRMLS CEO Art Carter told Inman via email. The Rapattoni system will be phased out and shut down at a to-be-determined date, according to Carter.

Rim’s MLS compilation will be incorporated into CRMLS’s historical listing data in late summer or early fall of this year.

Art Carter

“It’s an honor to bring Rim O’ the World on board,” Carter said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to supporting their members through their future success.”

The deal continues a multi-year trend of MLS consolidation in the industry, as associations and MLSs seek to relieve the pain point of agents and brokers having to join multiple MLSs with their differing fees, rules and listing data fragmentation.

It is also a result of steady effort on Carter’s part. Four years ago, in March 2018, CRMLS expanded its service area to include nearly four dozen ZIP codes in the Victor Valley, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear regions in Southern California, requiring CRMLS subscribers with listings in those areas to submit them to CRMLS in order to offer subscribers more comprehensive data.

The choice to expand to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear in particular was notable at the time given that a broker on a January 2018 panel regarding the future of the MLS complained the MLSs in those areas didn’t “talk” to each other, i.e. share listing data. At that panel, Carter suggested that MLSs that are willing to cooperate become “more aggressive” with those that are not.

“Consolidate with the willing. Data share with the unwilling to consolidate. And go around those willing to do neither,” Carter said at the time.

“I think that you are going to see a lot of MLSs … that are going to start going directly after the brokerages and communities outside of areas that they naturally control with their underlying associations.”

And that is exactly what CRMLS did, encroaching on the MLS service areas of the regions’ three local Realtor associations — the High Desert Association of Realtors, the Rim O’ The World Association of Realtors, and the Big Bear Association of Realtors — without contracting with them for MLS services.

In a phone interview at the time, Carter told Inman the service area change was an example of “CRMLS being more aggressive.” CRMLS has pursued the goal of a statewide MLS for years through various cooperative agreements with associations and MLSs, including data shares.

That aggressiveness appears to be paying off. In June 2021, one of those three associations — the High Desert AOR — joined CRMLS as a full member participant and now the Rim O’ the World AOR is following suit.

“We’re excited to come on board with CRMLS,” said Rick Rhilinger, 2022 president of the Rim O’ the World AOR, in a statement. “Their combination of reach, support, and improved technological offerings will give our Association members more resources we can use to serve our clients.”

In December 2021, CRMLS added a far-flung neighbor to the north, the Fort Bragg-based Coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors (CMAR), as a member association.

“We offer our services to Associations all across California, and we believe CRMLS provides the most opportunities and highest quality experience in the state,” Carter said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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