Bright MLS, a year-old consolidation project that may form the nation’s largest MLS, has been approved by the shareholders of its creators: MRIS and TREND.
— Jon Coile (@JonCoile) December 15, 2016
Note: Tweet depicts MRIS President and CEO David Charron.
— Sam Scott (@infosam) December 15, 2016
The ‘next era of MLS’
Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. (MRIS) and The Delaware Valley Real Estate Information Network Inc. (TREND), two of the nation’s biggest MLSs, announced their intention to merge and usher in the “next era of MLS” in September 2015.
The merger was dependent on the shareholders of both multiple listing services giving their final affirmation this month. MRIS and TREND today confirmed that the project has gotten the green light from the shareholders of both.
“We are excited that the shareholders from MRIS and TREND this week have unanimously approved the consolidation that we’ve all been working hard to make a reality,” the MLSs said in an emailed statement.
“There is still work to be done and we look forward to sharing more about Bright MLS, its participants, vision, and brand in early January.”
MRIS and TREND declined to comment further. The two will be separate organizations for “a few more days,” according to an MRIS spokesman.
As of September 2015, MRIS had 25 shareholder associations and just over 40,000 members in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia.
Philadelphia area-based TREND had 10 shareholder associations and about 28,000 members in 13 counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
From the beginning, MRIS and TREND hoped to convince neighboring MLSs to join them in a broader consolidation effort, potentially bringing their combined membership from about 68,000 to 110,000. The nation’s largest MLS, California Regional MLS, currently has more than 80,000 agent and broker members.
MRIS and TREND succeeded in bringing in seven other neighboring organizations, according to the project’s website. The MLSs declined to name the participating organizations, saying that information would be disclosed in January.
In November 2015, the 200-member Schuylkill County Board of Realtors, which ran the Schuylkill County MLS, joined TREND with the knowledge that TREND intends to merge with MRIS.
Bright MLS beginnings
Last month, an Inman public records investigation found that the project, known as MLS Evolved, was officially incorporated as Bright MLS Inc. in Delaware on Sept. 27, according to Delaware’s Department of State website.
Bright MLS Inc. also submitted a public filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 17, notifying the SEC that common stock of Bright MLS Inc. was being exchanged for the securities of MRIS and TREND in what appeared to be a step toward consolidating the ownership of the two MLSs under Bright MLS’s roof.
The SEC filing reveals that Bright MLS is based at MRIS’s current Rockville, Maryland, address and discloses key roles in the new company.
TREND’s current president and CEO, Tom Phillips, is Bright MLS’s president and CEO, according to the filing.
MRIS’s current president and CEO, David Charron, is Bright MLS’s secretary and chief strategy officer.
And Brian Donnellan, MRIS’s current chief operating officer, is Bright MLS’s treasurer and chief financial officer.
— Jon Coile (@JonCoile) December 15, 2016
Note: Tweet depicts MRIS Vice Chair Jon Coile, MRIS Chair Cindy Ariosa, and MRIS President and CEO David Charron.
The Bright MLS name was chosen, in part, to “[i]nspire belief that each day is an opportunity to give real estate professionals all they need to shine, today and tomorrow” as well as “[l]ift us out of the sea of acronyms most MLSs use,” according to a memo from Phillips republished on the WAV Group blog.
In January, MRIS and TREND announced their intention to serve up a combined listing feed in advance of the merger for brokers that belong to both MLSs. The MLSs said the feed — and eventually, the merger — would reduce costs and hassles for brokers currently belonging to both MLSs.
Complete consolidation between the two MLSs will also bring access to listings over a larger territory in one place and, potentially, fewer MLS and association fees, MRIS and TREND said at the time.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from MRIS and TREND.