San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 23rd, 2013
Realtors hope merger forms Central Texas bulwark

by BRAD ROLLINS

Squeezed from the north and south by industry rivals, members of the San Marcos Area Board of Realtors and their counterparts in New Braunfels and Seguin have voted to merge into a unified, regional organization.

On Friday, presidents of the San Marcos Area Board of Realtors, the New Braunfels Canyon Lake Association of Realtors and the Seguin Board of Realtors signed a merger agreement outlining general terms for the consolidation, which requires approval from the National Association of Realtors. If the merger is finalized, officers say the newly formed CTX Association of Realtors will have a combined 1,100 members and affiliate members in five counties along the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio.

The new association “will be a powerhouse in the region, advocating for and protecting the rights of property owners,” according to a written statement issued by San Marcos’ Barrie Breed, New Braunfel’s Beckie Whittier and Seguin’s Katie Clark, the 2013 presidents of their cities’ association and the signatories to the merger agreement.

The San Marcos, New Braunfels and Seguin boards have long been joint owners of the Central Texas Multiple Listing Service, a digitized database that connects property buyers with information from sellers. Central Texas MLS competes with Austin MLS and San Antonio MLS, each owned by the larger and more influential Boards of Realtors based in the corridor markets’ metropolitan anchors. Central Texas MLS remains the industry-standard listing service in the county seats of San Marcos, New Braunfels and Seguin, but has been supplanted in other corridor cities, especially in suburbs nearest Austin or San Antonio.

A prospective homebuyer this morning would find 33 percent more single-family houses on the market in San Marcos and 20 percent more in New Braunfels via a search of Central Texas MLS compared to either Austin or San Antonio MLS. But that advantage erodes quickly elsewhere in Central Texas MLS’ native territory.

For example, a search conducted Monday of Austin MLS offerings returned 1,625 single-family homes and 956 residential lots for sale in Buda. Only four of those homes, and none of the lots, appeared to be listed with Central Texas MLS. In Dripping Springs and Driftwood, there are 245 active listings for single-family homes and 127 for home lots compared to three homes and eight lots listed with Central Texas MLS.

On the south end of the central corridor cities, a search of San Antonio MLS showed 125 listings for single-family homes in Schertz, compared to 25 listed in that city with Central Texas MLS.

Overall, Central Texas MLS is lagging on its home turf. A search for single-family homes of the major cities and communities in CTX Association of Realtors’ footprint — Dripping Springs, Driftwood, Buda, Kyle, San Marcos, Wimberley, Canyon Lake, New Braunfels, Seguin, Schertz and Gonzales — Central Texas MLS, the local outfit, had less than half the combined listings of Austin and San Antonio MLS, 2,215 compared to 4,905.

The disparity was most marked in the northern half of Hays County, as far south as Kyle, where Central Texas MLS is a virtual non-entity based on the number of responsive search results. Austin MLS showed 116 single-family homes on the market in Kyle and 23 residential lots; on Central Texas MLS, one finds 19 houses and one lot.

The charter officers of the CTX Association of Realtors have their work cut out for them, but the potential rewards are high — even for maintaining merely a piece of the real estate sales service sector.

Billion dollar baby

Minimum aggregate market price of single-family homes sold between January and November 2013 in Central Texas, based on Austin and San Antonio MLS data.

CountyGross home sales
Hays County$595 million
Caldwell County$22 million
Comal County$396 million
Guadalupe County$239 million

Source: Hays, Caldwell totals based on Austin Board of Realtors sales data. Comal, Guadalupe County totals based on San Antonio Board of Realtors sales data.

In the first 11 months of 2013, buyers forked over nearly $1.3 billion to purchase single-family homes in Hays, Caldwell, Comal and Guadalupe counties, according to Austin and San Antonio MLS sales closing data analyzed by the San Marcos Mercury. (The $1.3 billion in sales accounts for single-family residential houses alone and does not include any land or commercial transactions that took place between January to November. It is also likely a low-ball estimate since it does not include properties listed solely with Central Texas MLS).

Assuming that only one side of each deal was represented by a real estate agent or broker, working for standard three percent commission, that is $37.6 million that has flowed so far this year into the pockets of real estate sales people and brokerage firms in the four-county area.

Under the merger agreement signed on Friday, the current presidents-elect for the San Marcos, New Braunfels and Seguin boards will serve rotating one-year terms as the first three presidents of the consolidated organization. In addition to a president-elect, treasurer and secretary, the CTX Association of Realtors will be administered by six Realtor directors elected by the association’s membership plus two additional directors elected by affiliate members.

Once assembled, the new board will appoint a selection committee charged with interviewing candidates for an association executive, including the three people who currently hold that position or a similar one for the pre-merger Realtor groups. The selection committee will make a recommendation to the board, which will hire the new chief executive officer.

The new organization will keep its three offices in San Marcos, New Braunfels and Seguin, according to the agreement.

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