IRES has been asked to explain our points of contention with the merger negotiations with REcolorado and we are more than happy to do this.
Let us first stress that, despite what has been said about the withdrawal of the most recent offer, we have always been and continue to be in favor of consolidation. We believe it is best for our customers and the future of the MLS industry. That said, we also believe any major change to operations that affects so many brokers and appraisers — like a merger between IRES and REcolorado — must be done thoughtfully and carefully, especially since it impacts so many.
As most of you know, we have been working for more than a year to find a mutually beneficial path to merge IRES and REcolorado and we believed progress was continuing when negotiations were suddenly halted by REcolorado.
Here are the questions that have been raised that we want to clarify:
- A withdrawal provision. Experts in the MLS industry point to such a provision as a best practice and something that protects not just IRES or REcolorado owners, but all stakeholders involved. The details of such a provision have not been worked out — that’s part of what we were continuing to discuss when REcolorado terminated negotiations — but such a provision would simply provide agreed-upon options for remedies should one of the shareholder organizations elect to leave the new MLS organization within a specific period of time (likely 1-2 years) after the merger. This is not simply overcautious speculation — the scenario has happened in other regional MLS organizations, and it is the advice of the experts we consulted to introduce solutions for an orderly withdrawal should this arise in our newly formed company. REcolorado CEO Kirby Slunaker has characterized a withdrawal provision as a way to make the merger “temporary,” but that is simply not accurate. We are putting a process in place to help avoid expensive and disruptive litigation should a shareholder organization choose to leave for any reason within a certain period of time post-merger. To paint this request as an easy way for either IRES or REColorado to simply change our minds is disingenuous and false. The goal is to avoid crippling litigation, not to allow an easy out for any shareholder.
- Maintaining separate operations. This is a mischaracterization of IRES’ ongoing desire to complete the merger process while also making every effort to minimize disruption to subscribers of both IRES and REcolorado, especially during the peak Summer selling season. Merging to a single system is not a simple task, and no matter how smoothly it goes, it will result in a workflow disruption to our subscribers. To ensure everyone is served and experiences the least amount of business disruption possible, we must move forward thoughtfully. While this does mean maintaining both systems for a period of time, we feel it is a critical planning step that should not be rushed, especially during peak season in what continues to be a hot home buying market. This approach is once again considered a best practice. Further, we believe it is important to remember that subscribers of either IRES or REcolorado were able to access data from the other organization until REcolorado ceased data sharing in 2016. There is no technical barrier to enabling data sharing promptly, but the management of REcolorado does not wish to do so. Data sharing certainly does not provide the full solution that an effective and well-executed merger would, but it would be a good interim step to serve brokers throughout Colorado.
In summary, IRES remains committed to a well-planned and well-executed merger. In fact, plans were being made for an all-hands meeting to move these points closer to resolution when we received Mr. Slunaker’s notice to terminate negotiations. IRES ownership and management feels strongly that the remaining points are important and that a solution that meets the needs of IRES, REcolorado and our subscribers throughout Colorado can be found and we are open to continuing the process we’ve all worked so hard on for the last year and a half.