First multistate MLS rebrands to reflect its culture
New England's NEREN, with coverage in seven states, is now PrimeMLS.
- NEREN, now PrimeMLS, wanted a name that didn't tie it to a geographic region but instead reflected its culture and mission.
- The MLS does not have any current plans to grow beyond its coverage areas, but would consider expansion if the right opportunity arose.
- The organization's two public-facing websites deliver leads to member brokers.
The New England Real Estate Network, or NEREN, recently rebranded itself as PrimeMLS, and the company's CEO said the new name was in the works for a while.
"The word 'prime' has been part of our DNA for a long time," said Chad Jacobson, who became CEO of PrimeMLS earlier this year. "We have been the prime model of collaboration within the MLS industry for decades."
"A number of MLSs have shed any geographic reference to their name, but at the same time tried to pick a name that was indicative of their culture," Jacobson told Real Estate News.
Jacobson, who was COO at NEREN for seven years before becoming CEO, has already worked through one rebranding and knows it can be a challenge.
"NEREN was originally the Northern New England Real Estate Network, and seven years after that rebranding, we still have people calling us that," he said.
The change in name doesn't necessarily mean a change in geographic boundaries for PrimeMLS, he said. "If an opportunity came up, I'm sure the board would explore it, but we don't have a strategic plan in place to expand our reach at the moment."
Right now, that reach includes the six New England states — New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut — plus New York. PrimeMLS serves more than 12,000 real estate agents and brokers in those areas, according to the company.
Those members have access to an online dashboard, and from there, they have single-sign-on access to a number of services, including insurance data, financial management tools and, of course, listings.
"The No. 1 tool we offer our members is obviously the listing entry maintenance," Jacobson said. "That's what our members want to be able to do, to advertise their listings among other members of the system."
Some consolidation has occurred among MLSs in recent years, but PrimeMLS doesn't have plans along those lines, according to Jacobson.
"We're fortunate that we're the dominant MLS for two complete states, New Hampshire and Vermont, and we have members in some of those border areas around us," he said.
While PrimeMLS is owned by 25 Realtor associations, others are broker-owned or have different models, making partnerships and consolidation difficult. "There are just a lot of business models," Jacobson said.
PrimeMLS's model includes two consumer-facing search portals.
"It's always been a very interesting question, should we or should we not provide a public-facing website," Jacobson said. "Our leadership many years ago chose that we would, and now we have two, one oriented toward residential listing and the other toward commercial listings.
"The advantage for our members is that it's a very popular place for consumers to search for properties," he added. "All of the leads go directly back to the broker, and the broker decides how that lead is handled."
Continuing to provide the best benefits for members — whether in the form of leads, data, or training and support — is reflected in the MLS's rebranding. "Our new name PrimeMLS raises the bar, and we will live up to its promise by delivering pristine data in all of our markets along with the products and services our subscribers need to not only survive market shifts but help them thrive," Jacobson said.