REColorado Owners Oust Board Amid Plans To Sell MLS

Owners of the 16th largest MLS in the country plan to sell to a newly formed private company called MAZL that is run by a person identified only as J. Burks.

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The owners of one of the largest multiple listing services in the U.S. on Friday announced they had removed the organization’s board of directors, saying members broke confidentiality agreements as a controversial sale to a just-revealed buyer draws nearer.

The sale in question involves REColorado, which is owned by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR) and the South Metro Denver Realtor Association (SMDRA). News of the sale broke earlier this week, and was confirmed to Inman Tuesday by REColorado board Vice Chair Shelly Vincent.


Vincent said she and others had wanted to buy the MLS themselves and were exploring legal action to stop the sale to the private company.

However, on Friday DMAR and SMDRA leadership signed a resolution “removing all REColorado board members from their position and duties, effective immediately,” according to both a statement provided to Inman and a FAQ sheet circulating online.

The statement further notes that the REColorado board members were being removed for breaking confidentiality agreements.

“While disappointed, we have come to this decision based on the egregious violation of confidentiality and signed non-disclosure agreement carried out by a representative(s) of the REcolorado board of directors,” the statement noted. “Coupled with the response of the REcolorado board of directors over the past several days we have reached this decision which we believe is in the best interests of our collective membership, our long-term ownership and operational goals.”

The statement also reveals that the would-be buyer of the MLS is an entity called MAZL, LLC. The statement describes MAZL as a private company that was created specifically to purchase REColorado, noting that it is led by “J. Burks, a leader in the real estate industry for more than 40 years.”

The FAQ sheet states that MAZL “is not a private equity firm but rather a private entity.” However, neither the statement nor the FAQ sheet provided addition professional or personal information about J. Burks, and web searches for that name did not conclusively indicate who it might be.

Nevertheless, J. Burks is quoted in the statement as saying “our commitment to providing a broker-centric platform remains steadfast.”

“We assure the subscribers that REcolorado will continue to operate as a multiple listing service, maintaining its core mission of delivering exceptional data, tools and resources to Realtors and licensees,” J. Burks said in the statement. “We are dedicated to ensuring that the MLS remains a trusted, broker-focused, true partner that subscribers can rely on.”

Inman has asked for additional information about J. Burks, among other things, and will update this story with any information DMAR or SMDRA provide.

Inman has also asked for clarity about REColorado’s executive team. Friday’s statement does not mention staffing changes, but a confidential source indicated to Inman that leadership was also let go. Real Estate News also first noticed on Friday that Leesa Baker, REColorado’s vice president and chief operations officer, had changed her LinkedIn status to “open to work.”

The sale of REColorado — which describes itself as the 16th largest MLS in the U.S. — has been surrounded in controversy and questions for days. That’s in part because, according to Vincent’s comments earlier this week, she was part of a team that had been trying to buy the MLS when communications with the owners went silent in February. The team was then blindsided by news of a sale to another party.

A day after news of the sale to a private firm broke, DMAR and SMDRA released a statement suggesting the sale had to do with ongoing antitrust litigation related to commission lawsuits.

“We strongly believe that this is the right time to sell the MLS, as the industry continues to advocate de-coupling from the real estate Associations that have long owned the MLS,” the group said in a statement. “As has been widely reported in industry reports and media coverage, decoupling MLSs and Realtor Associations could help protect MLS organizations from ongoing antitrust litigation.”

The FAQ sheet circulating Friday includes that same quote.

It also states that REColorado’s owners “evaluated several legitimate offers for the sale” and settled on the deal with MAZL because it “best meets the long-term needs and services of our members.”

The FAQ sheet also points to non-disclosure agreements as the reason members of DMAR and SMDRA weren’t informed earlier about the sale, adding that news of the sale was improperly leaked to the media.

The FAQ sheet also states that the timeline of the REColorado sale, and the price MAZL will pay, have not been disclosed.

Read the full FAQ sheet here: 

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