A Bright-er Future

by Buz Wolfe

The Real Estate world, as we have come to know it here in our geographic area, will undergo a seismic shift by the end of this very month.

“Bright” MLS is here.

As most consumers know, Multiple Listing Services, commonly referred to as MLS, are the organized “pool” of residential listings which Brokers make available for reciprocal privileges among other Brokers and Agents. Transactions in which the listing broker’s listing is sold by a broker or salesperson from another real estate company are called “Co-Brokered Transactions”.

So what is the big deal and how did it all come about? Well, first a little history.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, the former Carlisle Board of Realtors actually had its own MLs system. A half dozen or more local brokerage firms, comprised of about 200 agents, participated in the MLS – – which was a black and white print version book published every other week. By the early 1990’s, Carlisle brokers voted to abandon the Carlisle MLS and merge into the larger Bright Multiple Listing Service which covered the entire footprint of the Greater Harrisburg Area. This was primarily Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry Counties along with portions of Northern Adams and York as well as some Lebanon County listings.

In more recent years, the privately owned Bright Multiple Listing Service was acquired in whole by the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors. It has been efficiently managed and operated and has served well the nearly 1500 licensed real estate practitioners here in the mid-state.

The historical problem with multi-list systems, however, has been that they have always been subject to artificial and arbitrary boundaries. Many Brokers, particularly those operating in multiple markets, found it necessary to belong to several multiple-listing associations with different procedures and formats.

Enter “Bright”.

“Bright” actually began with discussions between the MRIS (Metropolitan Regional Information System) and TREND (Delaware Valley Real Estate Information Network) multiple-listing services. MRIS covered the Greater Washington DC Region — Virginia, West Virginia and much of Maryland and extending into Southern Pennsylvania as far as the Chambersburg marketplace. MRIS was one of the largest multiple-listing associations in the country with approximately 40,000 participating practitioners. TREND, with nearly 30,000 real estate practitioners, covered portions of New Jersey, Delaware and Southeast Pennsylvania – – extending into the Lancaster/Lebanon marketplace. Rather than a merger, the two multi-list giants discussed a “consolidation” that would create an entirely new entity.

Along the way, it was decided that it would be prudent to solicit additional smaller multiple-listing services whose markets were contiguous or similarly fit the footprint being created by the proposed “Bright” MLS. Ultimately, six other multiple-listing associations said “yes” including the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR), Realtor Association of York and Adams County (RAYAC), and Keystone MLS (Lancaster/Lebanon) here in our geographic area. Additionally, three other multiple-listing associations covering portions of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey joined the effort.

It should be noted that the consolidated MLS does not affect the individual Realtor Associations found within the expanded territory. In fact, some 43 separate Associations will be found within the “Bright” footprint. GHAR will continue to provide support, education and advocacy for Central Pennsylvania licensees.

So, what had been a historically fragmented system will now be unified. “Bright” MLS, now covering much of the Mid-Atlantic Region, will be the largest such system in the country and represents a more natural marketplace.

A few facts about the “Bright” area:

• 85,000 Real Estate Professionals
• Parts of six states and Washington DC
• 40,000 square miles
• 20 million consumer population
• 10 million property records
• 9 million on and off market listings

By removing longstanding artificial boundaries, not only will real estate practitioners benefit, but so will consumers – – in a very large way. Consumers looking to buy a home can now enlarge their search areas and have access to a breadth and depth of single source listings never before available. Conversely, sellers benefit from a far broader range of exposure. In our “real estate world”, this will be particularly beneficial to folks in areas such as Shippensburg, Northern Adams and York Counties where folks often had to determine which area multiple-listing service best served their particular location. No longer will that be the case.

The nation’s largest multiple-listing service will roll out in the Mid-Atlantic Region later this month. There will be a learning curve, for sure, for all involved. But the future does indeed look “Bright”!

*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2016, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Independent Broker.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.