Ranks of Mid-Florida MLS Swells with Members of 5 New Associations
The Mid-Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service (MFRMLS) welcomes members of five additional Associations of REALTORS® to its ranks. Over 8,000 REALTORS® from Southwest Florida are joining more than 32,000 real estate professionals from the eight current Central Florida member associations to make MFRMLS one of the largest and strongest multiple listing services in the country.
A multiple listing service (MLS) allows REALTORS® to search other brokers’ listings, and it fosters an atmosphere of open cooperation between subscribers. For REALTORS®, the merger is a benefit because the economy of scale afforded by the additional subscribers helps MFRMLS to offer more sophisticated services. However, the real beneficiaries of an MLS are those looking to buy or sell a home, because their REALTOR® will have access to all the resources of the MLS to which they subscribe. By welcoming the new associations, MFRMLS essentially expands the Central Florida real estate market, which will stretch from Punta Gorda to Tampa and along the I-4 corridor to Volusia County.
In a similar expansion in 2004, MFRMLS added the Greater Tampa Assn. of REALTORS (GTAR) to its ranks, and by doing so, removed an invisible information barrier between Central Florida and Tampa. Lakeland and Bartow are home to commuters from both the Orlando and Tampa areas, and until GTAR joined MFRMLS, providing quality service to Tampa clients proved difficult.
Tom Scaglione (shown at right) is a member of GTAR and the Immediate Past President of MFRMLS. Speaking from experience, Scaglione says, “New members are going to find the service of the MFRMLS support staff unsurpassed, they will enjoy many more tools to work with, and they will benefit from an expanded market area.”
By including GTAR, MFRMLS solved a problem of what current MFRMLS President Jack Vahey calls “overlapping markets.” Vahey says, “These five Southwest Florida associations are right next to Tampa. Including them in MFRMLS eliminates the need for Realtors® there to belong to two multiple listing services.”
The merger also unifies the Southwest Florida real estate market as well. Alan Mitchell, President of the Punta Gorda – Port Charlotte – North Port Assn. of REALTORS® said, “We had worked for years to create a Data Sharing Alliance between the associations in Southwest Florida, but we knew it was just a first step. We were impressed with the professionalism and outlook of MFRMLS, and sharing a common MLS with our neighboring associations to the north will be a tremendous benefit for our members.”
Jack Vahey said, “We appreciate the trust and confidence the Presidents of the new Associations have placed in MFRMLS, and we are looking forward to our new partnership.”
MFRMLS Vice President Joel Cohen (shown at left) has led the MLS through significant growth in the past several years. “We are ready to grow again,” Joel says. “We have assembled an extraordinary team of management, administrative, and support staff that are prepared to pave the way for a smooth transition, and we look forward to providing a service that exceeds the expectations of our new member associations.”
Is bigger better? Jack Vahey says, “Every time we get bigger, the cost per member is decreased.” With more members in the ranks, MFRMLS leaders are able to use the economy of scale to negotiate better prices for subscriber services. MFRMLS President-elect Marty Hunt is excited that the growth “will allow MFRMLS to provide enhanced services to assist subscribers in serving clients and customers.”
Forward-thinking REALTOR® associations nationwide are looking at consolidation of MLS systems,” said Joe Hembree, 2007 President of the Sarasota Association of REALTORS®. “We’ve listened to our members, and I think we’ve made the right decision regarding the future of our MLS system. The consolidation effort strengthens our technology platform, improves our data exchange, and makes life much easier for our members.”
May Aston (shown at right), President of the Manatee Assn. of REALTORS®, is excited about joining MFRMLS. “It is something that our members have wanted for many years,” she says, “and it will provide us with many services that would be difficult or expensive to obtain on our own.”
Louise Bacher, President of the Englewood Area Board of REALTORS® says, “As a small board, we cannot afford to offer all the member services available with an MFRMLS subscription.” Louise also notes that joining MFRMLS makes it easier for out of area buyers to have access to listings in the Englewood area.
Laura Kopple, President of the Venice Area Board of REALTORS® says that becoming a part of MFRMLS eliminates the need for Venice area REALTORS® to be members of more than one MLS. “It will unify the local market and provide greater exposure for listings in Venice,” Laura said.
Currently, the MFRMLS member associations include the Bartow Board of REALTORS®, East Polk County Assn. of REALTORS®, Greater Lake County Assn. of REALTORS®, Greater Tampa Assn. of REALTORS®, Lakeland Assn. of REALTORS®, Orlando Regional REALTOR® Assn., Osceola County Assn. of REALTORS®, and West Volusia Assn. of REALTORS®. The new member associations will include Englewood Area Board of REALTORS®, Manatee Assn. of REALTORS®, Punta Gorda – Port Charlotte – North Port Assn. of REALTORS®, Sarasota Assn. of REALTORS®, and Venice Area Board of REALTORS®.