MRIS and other real estate listing services merge into Bright MLS

Listing service MRIS has merged with eight others to form Bright MLS.

Nine real estate listing services in the Mid-Atlantic are merging to form one of the largest Realtor-owned systems in the nation, with 10 million property records.

The new service, Bright MLS, includes the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., or MRIS, which spans Maryland, Virginia, Washington and parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. Other owners are The Delaware Valley Real Estate Information Network Inc., or TREND, and other associations from Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. MRIS and TREND are scheduled to announce the new venture Thursday.

The system will have 85,000 Realtor and broker members and cover nearly 40,000 square miles, including parts of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

"Today's real estate market moves fast and is driven by a consumer with data, technology and high expectations," David Charron, Bright MLS's chief strategy officer and former president and CEO of MRIS, said in the announcement. "Bright MLS was created to align with this new reality."

Bright founders said the more limited geographical boundaries of separate listings systems had become outdated. Agents and brokers who need access to a larger marketplace often must join multiple listing services, which sometimes offer conflicting information, said Tom Phillips, Bright's president and CEO and former CEO of TREND.

"The boundaries were really arbitrary and established decades ago when associations were first formed ... and technology was such that it couldn't handle vast numbers of users," Charron said.

Consumers will benefit from more up-to-date information, he said

Senior executives of TREND MLS and MRIS will lead the new venture. Besides Phillips and Charron, MRIS's former COO, Brian Donnellan, will lead the service as Bright's COO.

MRIS was formed in 1993 when several Realtor associations in the Baltimore area merged their listing system with that of other groups in the state and in surrounding jurisdictions.

Other Bright members in addition to MRIS and TREND include the Coastal Association of Realtors in Maryland; the Cumberland County Board of Realtors in New Jersey; the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, the Lancaster County Association of Relators, the Lebanon County Association of Realtors and the Realtors Association of York and Adams Counties, all in Pennsylvania; and the Sussex County Association of Realtors in Delaware. The associations will continue to exist but use a combined database.

The company is working on integrating separate listing systems and expects to have an initial version ready by summer, when it will start converting users to the new service.

Phillips said Bright hopes to expand eventually to an even larger footprint.

"This is definitely a trend, and I think we're going to see more of it going forward," Charron said.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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