So bright they need shades
The MLS is evolving. There are 850 MLSs in the country. Every one of them have different fees, jargon, and acronyms, making it hard for Realtors to work across MLS borders even if clients are moving to a neighboring area. With online listing portals like Trulia and Zillow, who offer parts of the MLS to everyone at no cost and with better search tools and property information, brokers are at a disadvantage.
7 MLS organizations, including TREND and MRIS, have joined together to smash borders and combine listings in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. This initiative, called MLS Evolved, puts 10 percent of North Eastern realtors under one roof. The new massive listing service is named Bright MLS, to ensure its future is just that.
“The pace of technology is growing past the capabilities of the current MLS infrastructure across America,” TREND and MRIS wrote in a paper last fall describing their merger. “This has created discord between brokerage firms and the general MLS establishment that is deeply rooted in outdated territorial cultures and practices.”
This move could strengthen real estate in that region and put brokers back in charge.
When consumers search for homes online, they are not limited by standard MLS boundaries, and realtors should be able to accommodate an out of MLS search. With fewer MLSs, larger groups of realtors get the same information, speak the same language, and play by the same rules.
However, MLSs aren’t technology companies, and real tech companies are outdoing them at every turn. But by consolidating, MLSs can beef up their tech to provide realtors with every amenity consumers have on offer. Otherwise, realtors and their search tools will become obsolete. Some would argue that they already have.
Realtors against this consolidation argue that real estate is a neighborhood business. They are each well-versed in the unique climate of their home turf. If home seekers want to look at a home in another state, that realtor may not be as helpful, and they would likely refer their client to someone else in that region.
A broader network may not be as beneficial to many local brokers, who tend to buy and sell all within the same region.
Where support comes from
That said, many leading organizations believe consolidation is one of the only ways to keep real estate agents well-fed. They note that fear of change may be driving dissenters most of all.
However, many are enthusiastic about the merger. Real estate consulting firm WAV Group is cheerleading this North Eastern merger vocally, but groups from around the country have been backing mergers like this one for the past few years.
“MLS Evolved is one of the most impressive initiatives in America,” WAV Group writes on their site. “It is a shining example of how organizations can place self-interest to the side and have an open and transparent business discussion and critical evaluation of the future of our industry.”
Setting the precedent
Bright MLS is the biggest MLS merger to date, and would consolidate four states of realtors into one listing service. Their efforts may lay the ground work for other consolidation efforts across the country. Realtors have to decide for themselves whether this is good or bad — all eyes will be on Bright MLS moving forward.
In the meantime, MLS Evolved is eager to transition realtors into their new network and are excited to provide more information in January. Check out the MLS Evolved website for more information on the merger, including the in-depth benefits of an MLS consolidation.