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Answering Your Questions

Lauren Hansen, CEO
IRES, LLC.

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.

35 thoughts on “Answering Your Questions”

  1. Wow. Are you serious? You are actually Telling your members this was recommended by MLS industry professionals? That is false! The truth is you went against the lawyers and the mediators advice. Hired a brand new rookie attorney, and came back with these ridiculous clauses in the final hour. It was a blind side. Please tell the truth.

    1. Hi Karen. Thank you for your comments. The withdrawal provision was suggested by legal counsel on behalf of *all* owners and is considered best practice with current MLS mergers to avoid the unfortunate situations recently found in San Diego and NY.

      1. I fully support keeping the two organizations (IRES and REColorado) separate. I have been a member of both organizations for the past 10 years and the difference between the two is staggering. Those IRES agents fthat wish a “merger” may be unaware that REColorado, as an organization, is NOT as customer-focused as IRES, and they also outsource their software to CoreLogic, a really poor software system in terms of functionality and user-friendliness, so far below IRES’s awesome custom-made system. REColorado/Corelogic’s customer portal is also quite poor functionally, as compared to MySite. Why should IRES downgrade their technology to REColorado’s pitiful software system? This would not be beneficial to us agents, at all. Much better to keep the two organizations separate and restart “data sharing” as was done before. It may not be “the” perfect solution but it worked just fine for us. Of course, REColorado did not want to do “data sharing”, which is a tell-tale sign of the type of organization that it is. Stand your ground, IRES, and do not compromise your high standards. Data sharing is a simple solution and will work for us all.

    2. What I hadn’t understood about this until reading the REColorado info on their site and on Facebook today is that REColorado’s goal is to become a statewide and even regional MLS. They’ve argued in the past…and in their current site…that brokers were upset with the quality and the quantity of the shared data. While there were minor and occasionally irritating technical glitches with the data sharing, I don’t think they’d find a single broker…either IRES based or REColorado based…who would give up data sharing because of those glitches. Data sharing was ended with IRES and the Springs MLS in order to try to force mergers…as part of the plan…now laid out explicitly by REColorado…to create a statewide MLS…based on REColorado platform…and I’d suspect…with extra funds flowing to the owners of REColorado. Follow the money and I suspect that all of this would make more sense to the IRES and REColorado brokers who’ve had to struggle with this mess over the past year. It was a mess that was created intentionally and with malice aforethought in order to make our lives miserable…and to get us to put pressure on IRES to merge with REColorado.

      1. Agreed! The data sharing system was working well. There is no way I’d want to navigate the ReColorado system on a regular basis. IRES and datasharing is the way to go.

    3. Truth be told, Ires simply needs to allow itself to be bought-out and go away. I am a subscriber to both ReColorado and Ires… and Ires is the clearly inferior interface. It lacks extremely basic functionality such as a radius search for pulling comps, and is a nightmare to use compared to ReColorado.
      However all of that aside… The existence of Ires puts many agents at a severe competitive disadvantage to major predatory national sites like Zillow and Redfin, by rendering our IDX fed agent sites relatively useless. Because Ires insists on naming its IDX Criteria Fields, slightly different from the fields on ReColorado, it creates a situation where agent sites can never function properly when dual IDX feeds are in place. As long as Ires exists with its own odd names for search fields, no ambitious agent will ever be able to construct a perfectly functioning website that pulls data in from both Ires and ReColorado. So Ires, if you refuse to be absorbed… PLEASE do your subscribers a favor and at least UNIFY THE NAMES OF YOUR SEARCH FIELDS WITH RECOLORADO!!!!! Give all of the hard-working agents a fighting chance at building websites that compete with the national sites!!!

  2. Thank you for your comments Lauren, it’s important that we, as an industry, hear all the voices. However, as a full time Realtor Broker in my 43rd year of business I am disappointed that we are at what feels like a stalemate. A lot of time, energy, fact finding and effort has been put into this merger for a what could be a win-win for all agents in our industry. It’s should not be this difficult to make it happen and we hope that everyone can come to terms, get their acts together, whatever you want to call it and let everyone get on with the business of helping and serving the public/our clients achieve their goals of Homeownership.

    1. Well said! At the end of the day, it’s about serving our clients, the public. Some entity seems to be hell bent on delaying or tying this issue up, much to the frustration of brokers who are struggling to do their job.

  3. The merger documents that have been in the hands of IRES for the last three weeks included protections for shareholders that are standard with corporate mergers. Additionally, they made it clear that there would be no disruption to business during peak season. Any way you look at it, the withdrawal provision that was suggested by the additional IRES attorney at the last-minute, was merely a way to make it possible to undo the merger in its entirety. I would like IRES to produce proof of any MLS merger that has included a withdraw provision such as the one that was suggested.

    1. Hi Eric, Thank you for your comments. IRES negotiated in good faith. The withdrawal provision was suggested by legal counsel on behalf of *all* owners and is considered best practice with current MLS mergers to avoid the unfortunate situations recently found in San Diego and NY.

      1. It certainly doesn’t benefit the Realtor community as a whole. All eight shareholders (3 REColorado, 5 IRES) agreed to 12 points to be “finalized” by one attorney for IRES and one attorney for REColorado. *ALL* owners did not suggest that clause. Why did IRES invite the third attorney that blew up the agreement at the last hour?

    2. Eric: Replying to your most recent post, I wanted to clarify that each of our owners felt they needed legal representation for such an important transaction. IRES in turn offered to hire industry expert, Mitch Skinner on their behalf. The owners of IRES directed the withdrawal provision be added by the attorney, which was submitted to RECO counsel in March (not the ‘last hour’). Additional notes were added to the Term Sheet in early April suggesting the concept be discussed so that all parties understood the intent, which has been mischaracterized to date.

      Mr. Skinner wrote an article for Inman News that outlined some of the pitfalls to avoid with a merger: http://www.larsonskinner.com/2017/01/questions-help-avoid-regional-mls-dysfunction.html

      I hope this information is helpful.

      Lauren Hansen
      CEO

      1. Have there been any further discussions with REColorado about the possibility of restarting “DATA SHARING”, at least as a short-term solution? This would be beneficial to all brokers, no matter which organization they choose to be associated with.

        The idea of a merger is particularly unappealing to me because IRES is already such a well-run organization, efficient, with excellent customer support (unlike REColorado), a far superior technology platform and tools (compared to REColorado’s Corelogic), excellent communication, and an outstanding leadership team. While both organizations use similar “property data” this is where their similarity ends.

        I much rather prefer IRES’s friendy way of doing business and their open policy about data sharing, which REColorado refuses to do. REColorado’s cancellation of data sharing, and the chaos they have subsequently created in our industry, speak for themselves.

  4. Enough is Enough!!!!
    To little progress, over too long a time-frame, with little to no result!

    FIX IT NOW OR BE REPLACED! The Brokers, Agents, Realtors, and Appraisers, and most importantly the public we serve DESERVE AND SHOULD DEMAND BETTER . . . NOW!

    1) No more whining . . . restore previous level of Data Sharing IMMEDIATELY!
    Don’t care that it is not perfect, it is better than what we have now, and WHEN you can do better . . . great!
    2) Work toward better solution, in on a short timeline, 6 months MAX.
    3) Stop the silliness, and SERVE THE MLS CONSUMER.
    4) Avoid a single, exclusive, monopoly, or bully.
    5) Choice and Competition is good for innovation, and accountability, but
    agree on and implement universal access to common data.

    Do we really wish to allow ourselves out of business over petty noise? Time to simplify the lives of licensed Real Estate Professionals with good, comprehensive tools and inclusive information.

  5. Simple solution-just reinstate datashare. It worked well and that way we can use the MLS of our choice. IRES was always on board for datashare. Just need to get REColorado back on board. No need to build a new MLS.

  6. I think it should have been clear from the beginning when REColorado unilaterally terminated
    data sharing that they did not have in mind the best interests of the public or we who serve them. It must have seemed obvious but left unstated by even the casual observer that RECo was engaging in a power play to control all matters MLS. IRES’ effort these long months to ameliorate the problem, created solely by RECo, was a noble but futile attempt by those in IRES who do care for the needs of the public and the brokers who serve them.

    Perhaps the boards who “own” RECo will soon recognize the enemy with whom they “sleep”. Perhaps as the light dawns upon them, they will see the wisdom of cutting ties with RECo either in a buy-out of their current contract or at the end of such contract. It should be clear to most of us who have worked with both systems that IRES is clearly superior and certainly much more intuitive.

    I would hope that IRES “sticks to their guns” so that no matter how long it takes, RECo will someday be a distant memory. I suspect that the Pike’s Peak MLS system understood early the ruse that is RECo. We should never succumb to the demands of what could easily be viewed as “tyrants”. Do not get caught up in this idea that a merger is, especially with RECo, our only solution to continuing our work effectively.

  7. Having been a member of both IRES and REColorado for about 10 years, I know for a fact that the IRES MLS system is far superior technologically compared to the terrible Core Logic technology used by REColorado. Their system is very poor, functionally. IRES users would not be comfortable using Core Logic. The system doesn’t even allow to manually sort items in a cart. Also, IRES is a much better organization, with a strong focus on customer service, unlike RE Colorado. I am actually glad that the organizations have decided not to merge – I was concerned that the merger was going to imply lowering the high technology standards that IRES has always had. There are other options than to merge rganizations, such as the creation of a data warehouse. Thank you, IRES Team, for all your great work, always.

  8. I TOTALLY agree with ROBERT FEICHTINGER. IRES, REcolorado get your act together and get it done. IRES once the deal is done there is no going back! if you think the Realtors in Northern Colorado would agree to go back to what we have now you are sadly mistaken. I am a member of both and I hate the REcolorado platform but we need something that covers the Front Range that we can all use. Get the deal done so we can serve the real customers, who are our buyers and sellers.

    1. Mr. Anderson: “…Get the deal done…” which implies “at all costs” is not only unwise, but foolhardy. Thank you IRES for all you do to protect us long term. In the meantime, like many of us, join both boards to “serve” your clients if that will help you in the interim.

  9. The problems sounds like you have two sides trying to figure out if they want to play nice with the other side. Both IRES and RE Colorado systems have a lot to be desired (especially IRES). Sounds to me like the lawyers are giving bad advice. The simple (not easy) solution would be to have a neutral party develop a better system (better than both IRES and RE Colorado) and both sides agree to that better system. Keller Williams is always looking at how we can do things better. Many times it involves getting outside minds to come in revamp old systems. It appears you are trying to figure out whose way is better. Both systems are terrible. In other words, don’t cling to old ways of thinking, look for a new and better way of doing things and embrace that. You won’t get there if you aren’t willing to listen to new ideas.

  10. If REColorado wishes to claim some high moral ground here I would like to remind them they they were the ones that squashed data sharing which worked quite well, thank you. And brokers who needed more than that could join REColorado as I did so my listings would be in their system. The public was well served with the data sharing agreement. I am so upset with REColorado that I have terminated my membership and will cooperate with Metro Brokers when I need MLS exposure. I will certainly not line their pockets with my money.

  11. I fully support IRES in their decision. I believe it is in our best interest to remain separate and share information. The platform that RECO uses is not user friendly and not a platform I would be happy using at all. Just go back to data sharing and give us a choice in who we want to use on a full time basis not a monopoly type company where we have no say.

  12. I am not at all surprised by this turn of events. REColorado could of course reinstate data sharing, which of course they will not. Their goal is to put IRES out of business and not to empower it or give it legs with a merger. It will take the Denver R’s getting fed up with their leadership before there will be any change.

  13. What are the chances of getting some ADULTS involved. This is petty bickering and not serving their clients best needs.

    1. The issue here is REColorado, not IRES. ReColorado refuses to do data sharing because they want to control the Colorado real estate market. With data sharing there would be no need to have a merger and everyone would have access to the same data. REColorado’s members need to put some pressure into that organization to re-enable data sharing, as it used to be.

  14. This is disappointing.
    I wish we could pick a main MLS and if we wanted to share data or receive data, we could then simply pay that extra using the preferred MLS and pay a fee. I will pay the correct amount to see this be successful.

    I see this costing the public in the end.

    Some agents are only putting in listings into one MLS, other agents that don’t belong to that MLS are not seeing the properties quick enough.

    I see sellers selling for less because agents do not have the proper exposure to both.

    As and agent, I will belong to both – not grinning, but barring this sour situation.

    In the near future, I see Zillow and other companies taking over and leaving iresis.com and REColorado behind.

    You can not have a partnership if you don’t work on trust, transparency and having a win/win.

    If feels like you both can’t stand each other, can not figure it out and do not have respect for each other – seems this won’t be accomplished without some serious sole searching of what this partnership means.

    In the mean time, life and data sharing move on. If staying together can’t happen, staying separate is not the solution, then something else mostly likely will take place in the near future.

    Disappointed,

    Krista

    1. REColorado has refused to do “data sharing”, while they allow Zillow to get the data. It is clear to see that all REColorado wants is to control our industry instead of creating a beneficial environment where data is shared across multiple organizations and platforms. We had data sharing between IRES and REColorado 2 years ago and it worked just fine. Then REColorado blocked it. It is easy to see why … they are trying to force the industry into a consolidation, for their financial benefit, while the solution would be much easier if REColorado would agree to data sharing. I hope the IRES team continues to work on this, without compromising the high standards of the organization that we appreciate so much.

  15. I do not want a monopoly on listing data in Colorado. IRES has served me well for over 20 years with excellent service and software and I vote to keep it. Will pay extra for REColorado.

  16. I now subscribe to IRES and REColorado. Please don’t allow us to be stuck with the REColorado user interface. It is terrible. IRES is so much better as is the training and support. If the subscription price were less for IRES than REColorado, would the REColorado subscribers switch and list on IRES? I’m all in on that merger.

  17. Buyer clients are getting so frustrated with me sending 2 sets of listings from 2 different MLS’s and trying to weed through the duplicates. So they have gone to sites like Redfin etc to search. I can’t say I blame them, this lack of any MLS solution (whether temporary data sharing or something better) is making us look unprofessional as Realtors!!

  18. I’m not a tecky and unsure if this will even go 3 weeks since this email arrived with the comments. IF so, I have belonged to both for 19 yrs. IRES and 20 years REC. Since in Coal Creek Canyon I felt from beginning it was to the best interests of my probable clients to be in both. So I have been. It costs about the same per year: $400 + -. Now 20+ years later? working all over the metro area? My feelings are: I like both. They each have their pluses and minuses for me and my skill level. It is not costly to belong to both. So a real estate professional? should just belong to both until and if they do/did merge. I wish the two could come to terms. The bickering is just a sign of the times, I guess. I am fortunate in that for the most part whoever I do business with in which ever MLS system? seem to get along with me. That helps all of our clients. NO bickering. But that is a dream world. Businesses merge, or don’t merge and come or go. A good business model? deals with whatever there is to accomplish their business to the best of all parties. Sometimes there is compromise and there needs to be. That’s life. I liked the data sharing when it was here. Everyone – please use your energy to be positive.

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