It is with great enthusiasm, Baldwin REALTORS® and the Mobile Area Association of REALTORS® announce a joint resolution to enter a due diligence phase for the merger of the two Associations and Multiple Listing Services.  Memberships will vote on the final plan, which we are hopeful will happen Fall 2020.

A special task force is actively working on the many details that lead to a successful merger. This task force is led by Jon Coile (a third-party nationally renowned, professional facilitator) and Mitchell Skinner (Attorney) and consists of 23 BR and MAAR REALTORS® and the two Association / MLS CEO’s, Sheila Dodson and Stephanie White. 

Consideration of the idea has been years in the making; yet, all answers are not finalized as of today. This website has basic details, but frequent updates about this project will be added as we progress.

Feel free to reach out to any of the Merger Task Force members throughout the process. We encourage your feedback throughout the process to help shape this Merger into YOUR new Association and MLS.

We hope you will join us as we anticipate and work towards an even brighter future of serving the greater region of South Alabama together.

 

MERGER DETAILS / FAQS

YOUR DUES

REALTORS® in both Baldwin County and Mobile pay a portion of their annual REALTOR Dues to the local Association. REALTORS® also pay a subscription fee to their MLS. Mobile currently pays $13 more in total dues and fees, than agents in Baldwin. Many of our members pay dues or fees to both sides. If a merger happens, that double billing would end, saving our members over $350,000 annually.

There is enough revenue in the two organizations, plus reserves, to be able to flatly say that total dues & fees would not go up if this merger occurs. We can make this commitment for two years, with no change in services, due to reserves. By the end of two years, economies of scale would kick in, and we do not expect dues to increase. We are financially stronger together.

To repeat, if you’re currently a member of both Associations and/or MLSs, you would only pay one fee, if the Merger is finalized.

 

THE WHO

The proposed Merger would be between Baldwin REALTORS® and Mobile Area Association of REALTORS® Associations and their respective wholly owned MLSs.

Leadership for these organizations have been in discussions for many years about the future of MLS and third-party disrupters, already in our markets. 

 

THE BACKGROUND & TIMELINE (HOW WE GOT HERE)

  • In October of 2017, there was a statewide task force consisting of the 5 largest MLSs in the state to consider and determine solutions for easier MLS operations. Common rules and regulations, combined IDX feeds, data sharing and a public-facing website were some of the topics discussed.

  • In June of 2018, Brokers in all markets were surveyed about their needs from the MLS.  Over 100 representatives from the 5 MLSs met to discuss solutions to broker and agent pain points.

  •  With the differing markets, it became apparent that working in our regions, instead of a statewide initiative, might be a better way to begin. 

  • In the Spring of 2019, Mobile & Baldwin began talking about different solutions to the overlapping market disorder, broker pain points and future regionalization. 

  • In the Fall of 2019, there was another meeting of a task force with representatives from both Baldwin and Mobile. The Task Force encouraged staff to interview facilitators to get help with further discussions.

  • In February of 2020, a group of people from both organizations met at Five Rivers Delta Center for two days. From those discussions, it was determined that combining both associations and MLSs with a merger yielded a lot of benefits to Realtors in our markets. 

  • Due to COVID, the next meeting was held in June 2020 for two days.  At the meeting on June 23, 2020, the Boards of Directors agreed to move forward with exploring a merger of the 2 Associations and their wholly owned MLS’s with two CEOs.

 

THE WHY

A better customer experience for the real estate buying public. Buyers and sellers today are not bound by geography, the same way agents and brokers are. They have access throughout the market area and in some cases have more data available than the professionals in the industry. A merged MLS with expanded geography keeps the agent at the center of the conversation.

More influence in our region and a cohesive voice in advocacy.  Combining these organizations would allow us to speak with a bigger voice at the Statehouse, and at the National Association of REALTORS. Lobbying and government affairs activities are one of the most significant benefits of the REALTOR Association and with more members we would carry more sway on the initiatives that are important to our region of Alabama. 

Enhanced Member benefits. Improved education, including more courses and designation programs. Greater efficiency, making it easier for brokers and agents to conduct business, remain relevant and make money by having ALL the information available to them in the markets in which they choose to work.

Consistency. Not having to use multiple different systems and having one consistent set of rules and practices.

Simplification. Only having to enter a listing into one system would save time and effort for busy Realtors who want to expose their seller’s property to more agents.

One regional MLS. A benefit for all members is having one MLS with one set of rules, and the offer of cooperation and compensation between each side of the Bay. The future successes of our MLS require a long-term vision of strategic planning. Planning that allows for viability, positioning for growth and maintaining stability against outside real estate aggregators. Together we are stronger. This would allow Members access to more data, which, in these times, is key to our business. Access to a larger marketplace is often in the best interest of our Clients. Due to outside third-party disruptors, the consumer sees all the market and does not understand its boundaries. By allowing the REALTOR® greater access to data, they would be able to compete with more market knowledge. It won’t be necessary to go outside of the MLS to find it.

Long-term Stability. Diversity of membership in the markets they serve would offer stability to the organization when changes come to the market or loss of jobs in the area due to storms, downturns, etc.

Future benefits to the Beach/Resort Market. Much of the discussion by the Task Force has been focused on positioning for the future, to benefit all our members, but especially the Beach/Resort markets of both Baldwin and Mobile. This new structure would position us for that future of a Regional MLS which would benefit all members.

  • NOTE: Competition is daily in the real estate industry. Those that want to sell at the beach and are licensed in Alabama are already able to do so.

  • From Baldwin Stats:

    • Out of the 8919 transactions completed in 2018, 1435 (16%) were done so by out-of-area listing agents and 1060 (12%) by out-of-area selling agents. 

    • Out of 9241 transactions completed in 2019, 1382 (15%) were done so by out-of-area listing agents and 1192 (13%) by out-of-area selling agents. 

    • So far in 2020, out of 6024 completed transactions, 970 (16%) have been done by out-of-area listing agents and 834 (14%) by out-of-area selling agents.

  • From Mobile Stats:

    • Out of the 4409 residential transactions completed in 2018, 94 (2.13%) were sold by Non-MLS members. 

    • Out of 4610 residential transactions completed in 2019, 114 (2.47%) were sold by Non-MLS members. 

    • So far in 2020, out of 2850 residential transactions in Mobile/Mobile County, 95 (3.3%) have been done by out-of-area selling agents.

 

THE WHAT: GOVERNANCE

There would be 2 separate Boards of Directors for the entities (Association & MLS). 

  • The Association would have 17 Directors, including Officers

    • There would be 3-year terms for Directors

    • Officer positions would serve for 1 year

  • The MLS would have 13 Directors with a Board-appointed Chair

    • There would be 3-year terms for Directors, with term limits of two terms before stepping off for a year.

THE HOW

  • Vote by The Boards. After the Task Force completes its due diligence and develops a plan, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be presented to both organizations for a vote by the Association Boards. If approved, it would then go forward to the membership for a vote.

  • Vote by Membership. Both memberships will be given ample time to learn the details of the final plan, once approved. There will be a series of Zoom Town Halls to make sure all members have ample opportunity to understand the plan in detail. Then both memberships will have an opportunity to vote. Primary and Secondary members of the association vote. NAR allows a secondary members full rights as in the Association as they pay full dues to be a member.

Breakdown of Primary & Secondary Members by Area:

  • Approval by NAR. Once the merger plan has been approved by the Memberships, approval would need to be obtained by the National Association of REALTORS®.

  • Name of the merged Association. The name of the new, consolidated Association would need to go through an approval process with the National Association of REALTORS®.

  • Name of the merged MLS. The merged MLS would be named the Gulf Coast MLS.

  • The MLS Platform. Which MLS platform (Paragon or Matrix) is a decision that has not been made and is still in process of being determined by the Task Force. We are in active negotiations with both vendors and would like to hear from the membership their opinions of Paragon and Matrix.

  • Association Offices and Staff. The territory of the newly merged Association and MLS is large enough that it makes sense to keep both offices. The plan is to utilize the Staff from both Associations and MLSs. The plan is to keep both buildings. While staff would remain the same, roles may change.

 

THE WHEN

Leadership is hopeful that a Membership vote may occur in the Fall of this year. The National Association of REALTORS is encouraging mergers of MLSs and has a grant program in place through the end of 2020 that would help pay for the legal consulting, so it is prudent to continue investigating the possibilities while assistance funds are available.

 

TALK WITH US

With any change comes curiosity and concern. We're here to answer your most pressing questions related to this new merger.

 

ANTITRUST 101 FROM NAR

 

UPCOMING VIRTUAL PUBLIC FORUMS

Our Public Forums about this merger will take place bi-weekly via Zoom beginning in August.

Standby for more details.

SCHEDULED

DATES

COMING

SOON!

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