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REcolorado warns Realtors of pitfalls of outside MLS ownership

Says the sale could add uncertainty and even compromise the MLS's data

In a statement released Wednesday night, REcolorado warned Denver-area Realtors that outside ownership of the local MLS could bring added uncertainty during an already uncertain time and suggested that their data could be compromised.

The company’s statement says it supports the effort to decouple the local MLS from the two local Realtor associations that own it — Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR) and the South Metro Denver Realtor Association (SMDRA). However, REcolorado said it objects to the associations selling it to an outside private equity firm.

“We disagree with their approach and are dedicated to keeping REcolorado a broker-focused business partner and will continue to pursue all options to make certain your MLS remains a locally owned organization that is operated in your and your clients’ best interest,” the statement reads.

Tensions that have been boiling for years between REcolorado and the Denver associations erupted this week when REcolorado learned of the sale to a private equity group because it accepted an offer to buy the MLS in February after being approached about a deal in January.

But DMAR and SMDRA cut off communication with REcolorado, and the two associations reached a deal with an unknown private-equity backed group, which REcolorado learned about late last week. REcolorado leadership said it was blindsided by the deal.

“This was done without our knowledge, without our input, nor were we given the ability to compete,” said Shelly Vincent, vice chair of REcolorado and vice president of operations and employing broker for HomeSmart in Colorado, when the company received a letter of intent about the sale.

The relationship between the two sides has gotten increasingly tense, which partly drove REcolorado’s interest in buying itself out. It also could have impacted DMAR and SMDRA’s decision to welch on the deal to sell to REcolorado. DMAR and SMDRA even rewrote the company’s bylaws in 2023. 

The entity buying the MLS was formed in January, which could suggest DMAR and SMDRA weren’t negotiating in good faith. A private equity group buying an MLS has never happened and it’s unclear whether the firm buying REcolorado is interested in running the MLS or using its data.

REcolorado board chair Mark Trenda and Vincent represented REcolorado in negotiations with DMAR and SMDRA. REcolorado is the 16th-largest MLS in the United States and has 25,000 members. It was launched four years ago.

DMAR and SMDRA released a statement on Tuesday saying that the sale was in the best interest of association members and MLS subscribers because of antitrust litigation tied to the National Association of Realtors and a number of major brokerages.

“This is a decision that our respective associations agree will help provide expanded and improved service opportunities for metro Denver realtors and licensees, the members of our Associations and REcolorado subscribers that depend on the MLS to provide the vital market information required to best serve consumers in their home buying and selling process,“ the statement reads.

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