Category : IDX (Internet Data Exchange)

IDX (Internet Data Exchange) Listing Syndication

Understanding IDX and VOW

I wrote this piece in 2002, but the concepts around marketing and lead generation are still relevant.

Your Listings on the Internet…For better or worse, they are there…now what?

Public display of other broker’s listings via the Internet has created the potential for major change in the real estate industry and that is exactly why we must move forward with our eyes open, going back to the basics and understanding the fundamentals before we move forward. It is time to re-evaluate where we have been and then where we want to proceed…or someone else will do it for us.

Let’s start by looking prior to the days of the www (the graphical part of the Internet), which has been around since 1992 or so with the development and then commercialization of “browsers” (The Internet has been around in some form since 1969).

Things were pretty simple in pre 1992 real estate. The two major ways to make money in real estate sales were:

Listing

Selling

If I took a listing, I could use that listing to help me generate more listings. “For Sale” signs and “just listed” mailings increased my “presence” and the chance that other owners would recognize me as a real estate sales leader in the neighborhood (and hopefully, help me get more listings). There was a recognized promotional value in the listing. Other brokers were not allowed to put their signs on my listings…they were not entitled to the promotional value I gained when I got that owner to sign my Exclusive Authorization and Right to Sell (listing agreement).

Listings and their promotional value helped me find buyer leads for my listing, other listings I might have…and…because I was a member of the MLS (“unilateral offer of compensation”), listings of other broker members of the MLS.

If I had a listing I could run ads and when calls came in (leads)I could begin to work with the caller by inviting them into my office to meet and discuss perhaps other properties in which they might have an Interest. This might include other broker’s listings as well as my own. I had no obligation to give the name and phone number of the listing broker when I provided listing information to a prospective buyer who came into my office. When I took a prospective buyer out to look at property, I had no obligation to give the prospect the name or phone number of the listing broker. I simply “showed” the property” and provided information, answered questions, etc. If the buyer said: This is great, now please give me the name of the listing broker so I can write an offer,” I was under no obligation to do so.

Once again, and this is an important concept, the listing itself had a promotional value that we all recognized and of which, only the listing broker, could take advantage. Listing brokers had no obligation to let competitors benefit from the promotional value of the listings they worked to obtain (Listings are the property of the broker. We all learn this in pre license classes and the Internet and web do not, because of their existence, change this foundational aspect of the business).

As a matter of fact, state real estate laws prohibited the advertising of another broker’s listing without the listing broker’s permission (still the case today).

Now roll forward to 2002:

As many RealTalkers might remember, Internet Crusade has been putting the IDX/VOW subject in front of readers for at least the last year…and most REALTORS in the field are not yet aware of ideas and concepts that have the potential to change the way many do business.

Today, there are at least 3 identifiable ways to make money in real estate sales:

Listing

Selling

Lead Generating and Referring

While referring existed prior to 1992, it was not a major part of most real estate businesses (except for maybe relocation, which was usually done within the confines of particular companies).

Listing information is content and it still has that promotional value. So who is entitled to the benefit of the promotional value created by listings? Many are saying all brokers (and even their agents, without their broker’s permission) have the right to display on their website as information, all the MLS listings without obtaining permission of the listing broker. While IDX requires permission, VOWs do not. This is a major distinction and critical to any discussion on VOWs.

Have you been to http://RealEstate.Yahoo.com? The site indicates: “Search our COMPLETE data base of MLS Listings”

Where did Yahoo get the COMPLETE MLS data base?

Have you gone to e-Bay lately and clicked on “Real Estate?”

(http://ebay.com)

Did you know that e-Bay is a licensed broker in most states? That means you could be in direct competition with e-Bay.

“List your home on e-Bay and on the MLS” says e-Bay (FSBOs and your listings in one spot). You can list for a flat rate listing fee on e-Bay.

By virtue of VOW concepts, e-Bay (as an MLS participant) can access all the listings of MLSs to which they belong and put the listings on e-Bay as content (along with FSBOs who post their own listings on e-Bay, which makes e-Bay a more complete data base and perhaps more appealing to potential buyers looking for homes).

This content on e-Bay…most of it your content (your listings)…draw buyers…who may then be sold back to you as leads…and e-Bay gets the content FREE (IDX/VOW). And since e-Bay is a licensed broker, it may be difficult to restrict their use of the data…in fact, that might be dangerous and border on anti trust. For you to survive, you must create a competitive model yourself.

And then there is REALTOR.com…REALTOR.com pays your MLSs 8 million dollars a year for the listings…e-Bay and Yahoo pay nothing through IDX/VOW. REALTOR.com has many restrictions based on a thousand page operating agreement, Yahoo and e-Bay have none. As REALTORS, It is time to seriously consider what REALTOR.com can become. Give it you attention in addition to your criticism.

And what about leads from the Internet? If you don’t have the means to generate them yourself, there are companies that will help you with Internet leads for a fee. Weigh carefully their business proposition to you because they just might make economic sense.

There is a cost to lead generation and you need to examine your cost and compare it to some of the new referral programs available online. I recommend that those who are serious about being competitive in this business over the next 5 years do some web surfing to see what they might be up against and how they can best utilize the Internet in the development of their own business model.

The business has always been about leads. What is one of the biggest time consumers in a REALTORS day…prospecting, and working on the development of leads…from cold calls to door hangers to direct mail, to signs on listings to classified ads…all designed to make the phone ring, leads… Brad Inman says nothing new when he says the business is all about leads…what is new is where many of those leads will come from, how they will be matched and distributed, and if there is a more cost effective way to develop leads than the old ways many agents and brokers are so used to.

What are you paying for your leads right now in your time and marketing…how can you generate leads from the Internet? What will you (do you) pay for those leads? Is it less than you are paying now for leads (when you consider all your marketing, advertising, referral fees, prospecting, cold calling door knocking, etc)? It is your job to find out what is right for you and how you fit into a changing real estate industry. Referral models are proving to be a third major area of revenue in the real estate sales business…Listings, Sales, Referrals.

Just like many in the industry did not and still do not know about IDX and VOW…many do not know about some of the new business models that have the potential to change the business of real estate. And it is everyone’s responsibility to know about the business they are in and know that there is no substitute for your own due diligence.

From someone who has observed closely the evolution of listings and consumers on the Internet since 1993 , from the inside and the outside, I want to stress to you that  IDX and VOW are important pieces of a much bigger puzzle…who will put the puzzle together first is the question we are all looking to answer…and by participating with us in our online discussions, you will have a better chance of learning what you need to know about industry changes first, and how these changes might affect your livelihood and your future in real estate.

Saul Klein

President, InternetCrusade.

2002

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IDX (Internet Data Exchange) Listing Syndication

Syndication is NOT IDX nor is it VOW

Syndication is NOT IDX nor is it VOW – By Saul Klein

This is a critical distinction. Syndication is NOT IDX.  “Repetition is the mother of learning,” so let’s repeat that.  Syndication is NOT IDX. They are different types of intended data distribution, each with its own set of “rules.”

People often get confused on this point because, at face value, the concepts appear to be very similar, and to the untrained, they seem identical. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Syndication is the term that has come to describe the distribution of listing information for the purpose of advertising, usually to multiple places on the Internet, with a “single point of entry” (the MLS).  Today, syndication models are moving toward “Opt In,” which means your listings will not be distributed to any site, unless you select where you want the listing to appear, and allow the distribution of your listing (informed consent).

IDX is a way of displaying your competitor’s MLS listings on your website.  It is a form of syndication (remember, syndication is merely distribution). Because it entails the advertising of a competitor’s listings on your website, permission is required of the listing broker, and IDX rules facilitate these permissions in a “blanket” way.

So, syndication is not IDX.  Syndication focuses specifically on where you want to advertise your listings, whereas IDX focuses on an authorized participant’s ability to display (advertise) other broker’s listings (competitors) on their website.

Syndication is NOT IDX

Syndication

IDX (Internet Data Exchange)

Allows you to advertise your   listing on online marketplace websites (these listing portals are not licensed brokerages). Typically there is no charge. Allows agents/brokers   to display the listings of others on their   own website (these websites are owned by competing brokerages). Typically there is a charge for the IDX solution.
Bound by the terms and conditions   of the Syndication Agreement. Bound by the IDX Rules of the MLS.
You grant permission for a   Syndication Partner to display your listings. Other agents/brokers grant  permission for you to display their listings.
The listing agent is the  contact person and receives the leads. The leads go to the site owner, regardless of who the listing agent is.

When you post your listings to your local MLS, you often have the option of using IDX (Internet Data Exchange).  This means you are giving permission to other members of your MLS to be able to display your listings on their sites.  Every MLS has different rules about how the listing must be displayed (built around a set of NAR “Model Rules” in which some aspects are mandatory, and others left to local MLS discretion) and how the leads are handled, but you are more or less opting to give your direct competition the ability to advertise your listings and possibly gain leads by using them.  This works both ways of course, but you generally don’t get the option to choose who can and cannot display your listings. Ask yourself: do you want your nearest competitor to advertise your listings?  Do you want to advertise theirs?

In every jurisdiction that I know, one cannot advertise another broker’s listing without the consent of the listing broker. IDX facilitates this process by allowing brokers to grant blanket permission rather than have to obtain consent on a listing by listing basis.  IDX is broker to broker advertising and is reciprocal (as a matter of fact, it was first known as Broker Reciprocity). Syndication –the term as used in the industry today– is distribution to non-licensed publishing entities such as property search sites.

IDX is an agreement the broker or agent makes with the MLS, allowing you to leverage the listings of others as a means of attracting more consumer eyeballs to your site.  Keep in mind that this also allows others to benefit from your listings. If you opt in to use IDX, you are sharing all of your listings (except those the seller does not want displayed).  If you don’t opt in, you are sharing none and won’t be able to display other broker listings. IDX is all or nothing.

The main difference is that with syndication, you are sending out, or distributing, your own listings to as many publishing channels as you choose.  You aren’t displaying the listings of others on your website like you do with IDX.  You are just getting your listings more traction by displaying them on many different sites across the web, at no charge and no extra effort on your part assuming the listing feed is generated by your Multiple Listing Service (MLS) under an arrangement with an approved syndicator.

The other main differentiator is that (in most cases) syndication services will let you pick and choose which of your listings are syndicated to which sites, at multiple levels within the listing ownership and management chain.  The MLS is typically at the top of the chain, then the brokers, who can opt to not allow agents to syndicate to a particular site.  The agents can then exercise further control, based on their own and their seller’s decisions.  Ideally, this is an option right down to the listing level. You can decide to not show a specific listing on a specific site, while showing the rest of your listings on the same site.  It is not “all or nothing” as it is with IDX.

With syndication YOU are given the control.  Controlled Syndication is all about choice and control. As opposed to blanket syndication, controlled syndication (also known as strategic syndication) refers to the use of a syndication engine in which the user controls where and under what conditions the listing is distributed to advertising channels.

Now, how are Virtual Office Websites (VOWs) different?

IDX is a way of advertising and marketing listings. VOWs, on the other hand, are a way of doing business over the Internet by providing useful information to a customer or client. It’s a question of Information vs. Advertising.

A VOW allows the display of all listings (except if seller refuses). No broker permission is required; i.e.,the opt-in/opt-out procedures with IDX do not apply to VOWs. Unlike an IDX that displays only a subset of data, a VOW will display all non-confidential listing data, including SOLD data (except in non-disclosure states like Texas, Utah, Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico).

A VOW requires the visitor to register and provide an email address.  A Participant may provide brokerage services via a VOW, but only to clients and consumers (“Registrants”) with whom the Participant has first established a lawful consumer-broker relationship in compliance with state law disclosures. Visitors to an IDX site do not have to register to gain access to the listings.

 

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IDX (Internet Data Exchange) Listing Syndication

Historical Note on IDX/VOW

Prior to the Settlement Agreement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) in 2007, Saul Klein voiced his opinion of the DOJ’s position on VOWs.

In this paper, Saul makes note of the “promotional value” of listings, a prime reason why listing brokers might object to competing brokers and listing search aggregators sometimes capitalizing on the listing broker’s hard work in obtaining and servicing those listings.

Here is what he said in early 2006:

03/07/2006
NAR’s VOW Policy
by Saul Klein, Internet Crusade
It seems the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has found at least two aspects of the proposed (yes proposed, not implemented) National Association of REALTORS®(NAR) VOW Policy objectionable and DOJ has gone so far as to threaten legal action. DOJ has also recently voiced objections involving the  states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
Is this a DOJ conspiracy against the real estate industry or just poorly informed government employees with nothing better to do…or both?
The current proposed (and well thought out) NAR VOW Policy has been under
review by DOJ for the past 18 months and DOJ has found the following
objectionable:
1. Selective Opt out provision (there are 2 types of Opt Out provisions in
the NAR proposal, Blanket and Selective Opt Out)
2. Restrictions or limitations on use of VOWs to generate referral business
by companies not involved in the actual listing and selling of real estate.
Public display of other broker’s listings via the Internet has created the
potential for major change in the real estate industry and that is exactly
why we must move forward with our eyes open, going back to the basics and
understanding the fundamentals before we move forward. It is time to
re-evaluate where we have been and then where we want to proceed…or
someone else will do it for us.
Let’s start by looking prior to the days of the Web (the graphical part of
the Internet), which has been around since 1992 or so, popularized by the
development and then commercialization of “browsers” (The Internet has been
around in some form since 1969).
Things were pretty simple in pre-1992 real estate. The two major ways to
make money in real estate sales were listing and selling.
If I took a listing, I could use that listing to help me generate both
buyers and more listings. “For Sale” signs and “just listed” mailings
increased my “presence” and the chance that other home owners would
recognize me as a real estate sales leader in the neighborhood (and that
would, hopefully, help me get more listings). There was a recognized
promotional value in the listing. Other brokers were not allowed to put
their “For Sale” signs on my listings…they were not entitled to the
promotional value I gained when I got that owner to sign my Exclusive
Authorization and Right to Sell (listing agreement). It cost money to
generate listings and as the listing broker, I was entitled to the benefits
of my (or my agents) listings.
Listings and their promotional value helped me find buyer leads for any
listings I might have, and because I was a member of the MLS (which was
once a unilateral offer of sub-agency, and since the late 1980s a
“unilateral offer of compensation”), buyers for listings of other broker
members of the MLS.
If I had a listing, I could advertise the listing (when and where I deemed
appropriate) and when calls came in (leads) I could begin to work with the
caller by inviting them into my office to meet and discuss the listing they
called on or perhaps other properties in which they might have an interest.
This might include other brokers’ listings as well as my own. I had no
obligation to give the name and phone number of the listing broker when I
provided listing information to a prospective buyer who came into my office.
When I took a prospective buyer out to look at property, I had no obligation
to give the prospect the name or phone number of the listing broker. I
simply “showed” the property and provided information, answered questions,
etc. If the buyer said: “This is great, now please give me the name of the
listing broker so I can have another broker write an offer,” I was under no
obligation to provide that information to the buyer.
Once again, and this is an important concept, the listing itself has a
promotional value that we all recognized and of which, only the listing
broker could take advantage. Listing brokers had no obligation to let
competitors benefit from the promotional value of the listings they worked
to obtain. Listings are the property of the broker. Licensees learn this
fundamental concept in pre-license classes and the Internet and web do not,
because of their existence, change this very foundational aspect of the real
estate business, regardless of what supposed consumer advocates, technology pundits, or other special interest groups might tell us. As a matter of
fact, advertising another broker’s listing without the listing broker’s
permission was and still is a violation of law and/or regulations in most
jurisdictions. Some now say that not to promote listings on as many web
sites as possible could somehow be interpreted as a breach of fiduciary duty
to the seller.
Prior to the Web, when you took a listing, did you advertise it in every
newspaper, every magazine? If you did not advertise a listing in every known
publication were you (and are you today) breaching your fiduciary duty to
the seller? When a broker takes a listing, the seller usually agrees to
allow the broker to determine the method and means of marketing. If a breach
of fiduciary duty occurs, sellers have the right to sue. Not advertising
everywhere has never been considered a breach of fiduciary duty. Brokers
choose where and how to effectively market a listing. That is how the
business works. Advertising a listing so 1,000,000 people in India see it
does not mean that the seller will receive more for the property because
more people saw the property offered for sale. This argument does not work.
How many properties, in a hot market, have sold before the listing gets into
the MLS or is advertised in the local newspaper? If you take a listing
today, and price the property based on all available data…and as soon as
the For Sale sign goes in the ground, you have 5 offers for full price or
better…do you advise the seller to wait and not accept the offers because
the ads have not hit the paper yet? Most brokers and licensees would not
advise a seller to wait, but to act on the offers on the table.
Now roll forward to today:
Today, there are at least 3 identifiable ways to make money in real estate
sales: listing, selling, and lead generating/referring (assisted greatly today by the Internet and the promotional value of listings).
While referring to other brokers existed prior to 1992, it was not a major part of most real estate businesses (except for maybe relocation, which was usually done within the confines of particular companies).
Listing information is content and it still has that promotional value. So
who is entitled to the benefit of the promotional value created by listings?
Many are saying all brokers (and even their agents, without their broker’s
permission) have the right to display on their Web site as information, all
the MLS listings without obtaining permission of the listing broker.
While IDX requires permission of listing brokers, VOWs do not. This is a
major distinction and critical to any discussion on VOWs. Should listing
brokers have the right to “opt out” (either blanket opt out or selective opt
out) and not permit their listings and the corresponding promotional value
of their listings to flow to all their competitors? The Department of
Justice is saying brokers should not have this right to control the benefits
developed by their labor and capital…and this prohibition and business
restraint will benefit the consumer. The Department of Justice does not “get
it” and/or the DOJ has some other agenda (maybe DOJ is frustrated by actions
in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky). The new DOJ position makes no sense when carefully examined and yet the DOJ will intimidate and threaten legal
action…anti trust legal action, which strikes fear into the hearts of
REALTORS. It is nothing more than bullying, but is anyone willing to stand
up to the biggest bully in the school yard? That is the current 64 Billion
Dollar Question.
As stated, listings generate leads for the listing broker and the real
estate business has always been about leads. What is one of the biggest
time-consumers in a REALTOR’S day? Prospecting, and working on the
development of leads…from cold calls to door hangers to direct mail, to
signs on listings to classified ads, to open houses…all designed to make
the phone ring or get prospects to show up. The question now is who is
entitled to the leads generated by listings?
What are you paying for your leads right now in your time and
marketing…how can you generate leads from the Internet? What will you pay for leads, in time, effort and cash? Are you paying online referral
companies such as Homegain, Housevalues, Lending Tree and others? If so, is what you are paying less or more than you are paying for “conventional”
leads (when you consider all your marketing, advertising, referral fees,
prospecting, cold calling, door knocking, etc)? It is your job to find out
what is right for you and how you fit into a changing real estate industry.
Referral models are proving to be a third major area of revenue in the real
estate sales business. Listings, Sales, Referrals.
How do many of these third party referral companies acquire the leads? Using listing data as content on their Web sites? Is this inherently good or bad for the industry?
The government is now trying to push the peanut down a particular road, for
a yet to be determined reason, cloaked in the veil of “consumer protection,”
tampering with the engine that has helped create such a good economy. The
brightest spot in the economy for a number of years now has been real
estate. Why the government hostility? Is anyone willing to stand up to the
bully? It is time to study the issues and “Take Back Your Future.”
As someone who has observed closely the evolution of listings and consumers
on the Internet since 1993, from the inside and the outside. I was
instrumental, as an evangelist and then as part of a sales force of four
(Carl DeMusz, Roy Rainey, Derry Davison, and myself) in first bringing those
listings to the Internet. I want to stress that VOWs are an important piece
of a much bigger puzzle…who will put the puzzle together first is the
question we are all looking to answer.
It makes no sense to compel brokers to share listing data if it would be
detrimental to their survival as a business. If they want to, that is fine,
but to force it by government mandate or threat is wrong.
Knowledge is Power, and knowledge is a differentiator…in a business
where success constantly requires differentiation.
—————
Questions and Answers
Q: Why should brokers be allowed to selectively opt out of participation for
VOWs?
A: IDX allows brokers to opt out, VOW does not if DOJ has their way.
IDX allows for limited data fields, VOW feeds must allow all the MLS data
and not selected fields, or at least more fields, if DOJ has their way.
So if you opt out of IDX and I can’t put your listings on my site, you can
still create a VOW and put all the listings (including mine) on your site.
Your site has all the listings. I can’t afford a VOW so my IDX site has
only some of the listings because you opted out of IDX. Your site has more
content than mine. I am at a competitive disadvantage because you have my
listings to display and I don’t have yours to display. To level the playing
field, I should have the right to opt out of VOW participation selectively,
and participate in VOW with other brokers who share their listing data.
What if a particular broker has no ethics and misuses the data. You should
have the right as a listing broker not to deal with that broker
professionally. Should you not have the right to make that type of business
determination?
Opting In or Out, blanket or selectively, has its place. If the reason a
broker opts out is to force a competitor out of business, then DOJ should go
after that broker, but to say all brokers will misuse an opt out when
sellers and the government have recourse for misuse is inappropriate.
Q: If in the traditional world I can invite a consumer to my office to look
at ALL the listings in the market area (via my access to the MLS) and not be
obliged to reveal the listing agent’s name or contact information, for the
purpose of representing them on the buy side of the transaction, why not on
the Internet once I have established a ‘relationship’? The point being, in
my office I have the ‘right’ to provide ALL the local listings to them. The
listing broker cannot opt-out to allow my particular company from having
this right, if they have opted to post their listing on the MLS.
A: The Internet is NOT the conventional or traditional world. Your ability
to benefit from the promotional value of my listing is limited in a
traditional world. People must physically make it to your office and this
really does limit your ability to use my listing data for marketing benefit.
The Internet is a much different place than the traditional world and allows
for leverage never contemplated when brokers, as competitors, agreed to
cooperate and share listing inventory when MLSs were created. I should have
the right to limit your ability to use my data and hard earned listings to
your marketing advantage at my expense.
Simple answer…the Internet is not the traditional world. It is not the
same. Anybody who thinks so doesn’t understand the power of the Internet. It
is a charade to hint otherwise.
Q: I would also question the statement, “As stated, listings generate leads
for the listing broker.” Do not all REALTORS have the right to generate
leads from those listings once the listing is on the MLS and cooperation
is now offered?
A: No, No, No. That makes no sense at all. You can show my listing to your
client, but you cannot use it to generate leads, that was not and is not the
reason I cooperate with you, my competitor. It never was the intention of
MLS and never will be.
Q: Whereas I would agree with your sentiment that some have used the
‘consumers’ interest in this debate to bolster their argument, the
consumer’s thoughts, opinions and concerns on this issue should not be
ignored. As an industry we would ignore their interests at our peril. In
2005, to argue that the Internet is still just an advertising medium as
Blanche of Realty Times insists, is to totally misunderstand what the
consumer thinks on that issue. We talk to 300-400 consumers a day on behalf
of our REALTOR members and I can tell you that they think that the agent’s
Web site they are visiting should be doing exactly what a visit to their
office would be able to do and more. It is why they are using the Internet.
They do not want to go to the office. That was yesterday.
A: The consumer does not always get what the consumer wants, nor should
they. I am a consumer of computers and I think IBM should give laptops to my
staff for free. That is an obvious unrealistic “want” and easy to understand
how IBM would be under no obligation to give me (the consumer) what I want.
While it is a little more subtle in the areas we are discussing, it is still
the case. The consumer does not always get what they want. Consumers want
all brokers to provide full service including fiduciary responsibilities and
not charge more than $500 to list and sell a home. They can “want” all they
want. If consumers want advanced technology available at Web sites, then let
brokers offer it and they will prosper and those who do not offer it will
perish…let the market take care of itself…but this strays from the
listing question. If I take the listing, pay for pictures and virtual tours,
advertise in newspapers, put up signs, etc…all on a contingency of payment
(commission), I should have the right to decide if I want my competitors to
use my “capital” to their advantage. If I want to fine, if I don’t want to,
that should be fine as well and if consumers don’t like it, they can list
somewhere else…it is a free country…or at least it should be.
Q: In an MLS, are we not cooperating to bring buyers to the seller?
You have the listing and I have my source of clients. I will show them what
listings I want to, and if you and I have been cooperating with each other
and you are offering a reasonable split on the transaction, I will bring the
buyer and my work will be equal to your work by potentially attracting the
buyer. You win and I win – real cooperation.
A: No, I am going to work to sell the listing myself, or have an agent from
my office or branch office sell it. You are an agent of “last resort.” I
have selling clients as well…and I want more selling clients and my
listings allow me to attract selling clients. I am in the “selling client”
business as well as the listing business. Also, everyone knows I work much
harder than you so I will end up doing a lot of your work. Cooperation does
not mean compensation – we need to make sure we are clear about that. As a
member of the MLS, I agree to making you an offer of compensation.
Q: You and I have often had a coffee together and visited each other’s open
house walk-throughs and my understanding was that you wanted me to bring my buyers to the table. Why do you now want to make it so difficult for me to
do that? If what you are saying is that you are only doing all of this so
that you can have me do all the work with the buyer, but in the end they ditch
me and call you, well, I don’t know if I find that very cooperative?
A: Don’t mistake my good nature for charity. This is a fiercely competitive
business. I can be competitive and drink coffee at the same time. Also don’t
mistake cooperation with friendly. I can be cooperative in the transaction
and not be friendly.
Q: If I take the listing, pay for pictures and virtual tours, advertise in
newspapers, put up signs, etc…all on a contingency of payment
(commission), should I have the right to decide if I want my competitors to
use my capital to their advantage?
A: Yes you should.
Final note
Real estate compensation is “contingency based.” Brokers and Agents “work
for free” most of the time.
Brokers only get paid if the listing sells. If it does not sell, they have
invested not only time but cash. When brokers list, they work on a
contingency. Most other occupations that work on contingencies charge a lot
more than 6%. Attorneys charge 30% to 50% when they work on a contingency
fee arrangement.
— Saul Klein, Internet Crusade

 

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IDX (Internet Data Exchange)

Internet Data Exchange (IDX) – Virtual Office Web(VOW))

Another article by Saul Klein prior to the NAR/DOJ Settlement,  but still instructional.

Internet Data Exchange and Virtual Office Web Sites (aka IDX and VOW)
More questions than answers for Brokers, Agents, MLSs, Vendors, and Regulators

It has been said that there are two types of people:
Those who make things happen and those who ask “what happened?”
The Internet and access to listing information, and the thoughts and concepts concerning access to that information will have a lot to do with what the real estate industry of the future will be like, and what the future will be like for brokers, sales licensees, MLSs, MLS vendors, and association executives.
While the information presented here will be helpful to all of the above, it is directed at the broker and the sales licensee who must become conversant in the concepts of IDX and VOW and then go to work at the local level to see that their issues and concerns on the subject are considered, so as not to fall into that second category of people, those who ask usually when it is  too late…”what happened?”
For brokers and sales licensees, this will require involvement now at the local association and MLS level. While it is true that the National Association of REALTORS can and will develop guidelines for the structure of MLS and Internet display of data, the real decisions will be made at the local level. If you want your voice to be heard, the time for involvement is now.
As Shakespeare said (Julius Caesar. Act iv. Sc. 3.):
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

When a residential real estate licensee is asked what they consider to be the most important business tool in their business, almost exclusively the answer you will hear is MLS.
MLS data was for years protected by the industry and coveted by the rest of the world. In the mid-1990s, limited amounts of listing information became available through national aggregators such as REALTOR.com. It is now being assumed by many that all the data should be made available to all consumers and what was once considered national electronic (Internet) advertising is drifting slowly towards national electronic (Internet) access by the public. What was unthinkable 6 years ago is now being touted as the  future and woe to anyone who tries to stand in the way of “progress.”
The Internet has created a “Paradigm Shift” in MLS and as such it is instructive to remember that when a paradigm shifts, everyone goes back to zero…your past success guarantees nothing when a paradigm shifts. As a matter of fact, your past success can block you from seeing the future. The question is whether that future includes unfettered consumer access to all the MLS
data (on all brokers’ web sites) or subsets of data as agreed upon by local brokers in local market areas.
The Internet has resulted in once-dominant MLS vendors now fighting for market share and a transition from legacy to browser-based Internet systems with Internet access for agents and access and dissemination of listing (and sold) information to consumers.
Parties with an interest in IDX/VOW
When examining IDX/VOW, it is important to consider the ramifications from the perspectives of different interested parties. Those parties being:
· MLSs
· Brokers
· Sales Licensees
· Vendors
· Regulators
· Consumers
Perspectives of the MLS Players
MLS must be concerned with:
Data integrity
Currency
Security of Data
Copyright
Brokers must be concerned with:
Marketing Value of Listings
Offering of other brokerage services
Offering FSBOs
Promoting reduction of fees
Sales Licensees:
May want listing content for their web sites.
May be allowed, with their broker’s permission only. Brokers are responsible for the supervision of their sales licensees.
>From California real estate law:
A broker shall exercise reasonable supervision over the activities of his or her salespersons.
Reasonable supervision includes, as appropriate, the establishment of policies, rules, procedures and systems to review, oversee, inspect and manage:
(a) Transactions requiring a real estate license.
(b) Documents which may have a material effect upon the rights or obligations of a party to the transaction.
(c) Filing, storage and maintenance of such documents.
(d) The handling of trust funds.
(e) Advertising of any service for which a license is required.
Vendors – IDX/VOW Solution Providers
How is IDX/VOW viewed by the license regulators in your state? Make sure your solutions comply
Regulators:
Must insure compliance with existing laws and may determine that what some consider the providing of information is in fact advertising, subject to current advertising rules which includes the requirement of permission from listing broker
Consumer:
Entitled to only what brokers want to provide. They have no automatic “right” to information just because there is an Internet.
Major areas of impact of IDX/VOW are:
Legal
Privacy
Marketing
Technology
How Does IDX Differ from VOW (and should it?)
The distinction has been made by some in the industry that IDX is advertising and that VOW is dissemination of information. The drawing of that line between advertising and information is not as easy as many in the industry would have us believe.
The following two definitions make this point, both defining advertising (and leaving little to the imagination about what might not be advertising and merely the dissemination of information).
Keep these definitions in mind when examining arguments for VOW as the dissemination of information, not requiring permission of the listing broker.
California DRE Commissioner Regulations
”Advertising”
Any written or printed communication or oral communication made in accordance with a text or outline that has been reduced to written form, which is published for the purpose of inducing persons to purchase or use a product or service.
Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO)
”Advertising”
All forms of representation, promotion, and solicitation disseminated in any manner and by any means of communication to consumers for any purpose related to licensed real estate activity
Definition of Internet Data Exchange (IDX)
Web sites offering IDX give the public the ability to conduct searches of listings, displaying data fields agreed upon at the local MLS level by MLS Participants.
Participants can only display listings allowed by other participants (opt in or opt out). IDX is the web site advertising of another broker’s listings with the permission of the listing broker.
Displayed fields are limited (decision made by each MLS)
Participants (Brokers) have the right to opt in or out.
Participation is not mandatory
Data displayed is considered to be advertising.

Definition of Virtual Office Web Site (VOW)
Virtual Office Web Sites can be used for providing real estate transaction services to clients, as well as listing information. This discussion will focus on VOWs providing customers the ability to search the MLS for listing information and then display that listing information to the searching
customer. The information provided need not be a subset of the data as is the case with IDX, but may be all the data contained in the MLS on the selected properties, including comment sections never intended for public display in any manner.
No permission is required of the listing broker to display the listing broker’s listings as it is not considered advertising by the web site owner, but merely the dissemination of information. There is an analogy to the “client copy” of an MLS which may be given to prospective buyers when they walk in to a broker’s “bricks and mortar” office.
To receive the information, the prospective buyer requires some “relationship” be established, usually by some sort of “online registration” process.
VOWs :
. Are subject to the same MLS Rules as a “bricks and mortar” office (Rules for VOWs have yet to be written as of the time of this article)
. Proponents state that a VOW is the same as a “Bricks and Mortar” office (theory)
. The visitor, by virtue of onsite registration, becomes a customer or client
. Allow the public, by providing contact information (non-standardized as to amount and type), to conduct searches of all MLS listings and obtain all the information contained in the MLS.
. VOW Participant can (arguably) display all MLS listings without permission of listing broker as VOW is the distribution of information (much like faxing information to someone or providing a “client copy” of MLS data so the theory goes), and it is not advertising (see regulations on definitions of advertising above, which seem to refute this theory and would thus require the  listing broker’s permission to be included in another broker’s VOW).
. All listing information details can be displayed, including comments (theory and practice at this point with few regulations written on VOWs)
VOW Issues for consideration
. Permission of seller
Should sellers have the right to withhold their properties from exposure on the Internet? The opinion of this author is yes, absolutely.
. Name and contact information of Listing Broker
This decision should be left to local broker MLS Participants
. Search Criteria or limitations
This decision should be left to local broker MLS Participants
. Status or types eligible for display
. Active Listings
. Pending
. Sold
This decision should be left to local broker MLS Participants
. Property Addresses
This decision should be left to local broker MLS Participants
Procuring Cause
Who starts that unbroken chain of events that ultimately leads to a sale? Does IDX or VOW create new scenarios?
Searches
MLS – Agents Search
VOW/IDX – Consumer Search
If all the MLS data is to be made available to the public, why not just give consumers a public MLS User Name and Password?
No business is required to provide their competition a marketing advantage. Brokers should have the right to opt out of VOW participation.
A Question for Listing Brokers?
What do the following have in common?
. e-BAY
. Yahoo
. Zip Realty
Could it be Your Listings?
What is the marketing value of a listing? Should your listings be used to:
. Sell someone else’s real estate services
. Be used to promote another business model offering the same
services you offer for lower fees than you charge?
Possible Scenario
. Company obtains license in majority of states
. Company joins major MLSs in states licensed
. Company advertises listing info available on site
. Company has prospects go through registration process
. Company allows FSBO to list properties on site
. Company refers out leads
. Company makes “sold” data available to prospect…online CMAs
That company could be:
. Yahoo
. e-BAY
. Costco
. Cendant
Thoughts on Public Access to MLS
MLS was not created with the intent that consumers should have access to all the content
The “first wave” of public display required fields to be agreed upon by participating brokers. The argument centered on “who owned the data”
Justification for Unfettered Public Access by Web Surfers
. Client copy does not contain name of listing broker
. Internet is just a new way to provide information and is no
different than having someone come into your office for information
Justification for Limiting Access by web surfers
. When someone comes into your office, do you give them your user
name and password to the MLS. If not in your office, why would you on the Internet?
. Justification for Limiting Access by web surfers
. Too many properties to choose from is confusing
. Certain information contained in an MLS is confidential and compromising – it could put the seller at a negotiating disadvantage, violate privacy, put people at risk (physical)
Below are sample VOW comments which promote discount services, other services of VOW provider, and potential confidential remarks which could put the seller at a negotiating disadvantage and could also violate fair housing and possibly put homeowners at risk.
First line relates to discount if customer works with VOW provider:
$3500 rebate when you buy this property through XXX.
MLS Comments: Exceptional Large Corner Lot. Great Location Near Schools & Easy Freeway Access. Huge Parking Space In Rear. Rv/Boat/ Ok? Lots Of Upgrades. Custom Drapes, Nice Floor Plan, Jack & Jill Bathroom. Nice Cozy Home. Large Living Room. Show & Submit All Offers,
Owner Anxious!
Last statement may or may not be intended for public display as it hints to the owner’s motivation.
$3,150* rebate when you buy this property through XXX.
MLS Comments: Hurry-Won’t Last! Well-Cared For Family Home. Walk To Park And Award Winning Elem School. Flooring, Roof, Fence, & Roll Up Garage Door W/ Opener 3 Yrs New.
Dishwasher, Water Heater, Stove, Garbage Disposal & Wood Patio Deck Replaced W/In Past 2 Yrs. Large, Private Back Yard. Must Call 1St–Small Children.
The mention of small children could be seen as a potential fair housing violation not to mention the security issue. As a parent, would you really want the world to know (via the Internet) that you have small children in your home?
Conclusions:
. A VOW is not the same as a “Bricks and Mortar” Office so different rules are necessary
. MLS allows for agent search, not consumer search; certain MLS information is confidential and should remain confidential.
. Listings have marketing value and brokers should have the ability to opt in or out when it comes to the display of their listings on another broker’s web site. Brokers do not allow other brokers to place for sale signs on their listings so they should be able to decide if they want the marketing power of their listings to help their competition market and sell current and future services
. Listing information is valuable and brokers can still be in control…just because there is an Internet does not mean brokers have to give up control of listing data.
. Sellers should have the right to opt out of Internet display of their property.
. There is no evidence that the property the buyer finds in an Internet search is the property the buyer purchases…in fact, the property purchased is probably the property found by the agent in an agent search.
. Surveys are often suspect and often reflect the wishes and/or bias of the surveyor than the surveyed. Have you ever seen the results of a survey and wondered who in the world was surveyed?
. Agents should only be allowed VOW or IDX sites if their brokers approve.
. Comments section of MLS should not be made public and any comments should be examined.
There is much to consider by all interested in MLS and the time to participate is now at your local association and MLS…this is not a drill.

Once again, as Shakespeare said:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

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IDX (Internet Data Exchange)

Comparison of IDX & VOW

Internet Data Exchange & Virtual Office Website – A turning point in real estate’s relationship with technology .
by Carolyn Schwaar

(Note: This article was written in 2002 for Association Executives shortly after the initial adoption of IDX and VOWs. The full version is included as a PDF file below).

VOWs have been called the next generation of IDX, but in fact the two are different. IDX is a national association-mandated program whereby MLS member brokers allow other member brokers to post their listings on each others’ Web sites, exposing properties to more consumers. IDX is a way of advertising and marketing listings. VOWs, on the other hand, are a way of doing business over the Internet.

On an IDX-enabled Web site, property listings are displayed to the public to browse according to the MLS’s IDX rules. At a VOW, visitors must register with the site, provide their e-mail address, and describe the type of property they’re looking for before they can access listings.

To use an analogy, IDX is the equivalent of a broker placing listings in the office window so that anyone can see them. A VOW, on the other hand, is akin to an online office. Consumers stop in, describe the type of property they’re looking for, and the salesperson shows them a variety of listings matching their criteria from the MLS.

There’s little difference between a virtual office and a bricks-and-mortar office. VOWs can give registered consumers access to listings from the entire MLS—as they would get in a real office—without any other broker’s permission. But instead of telling a live salesperson what type of house they’re looking for, homebuyers interact with the site’s software and enter the search data directly. By registering at the site, visitors become customers.

 Comparison of IDX and VOW
Key Points of IDX

Public is: Visitor
Search is: Allowed listings
Display has: Allowed items
Public reveals: Nothing
Site is: Advertising
Rules applied: IDX

Key Points of VOW

Public is: Customer/client
Search is: All listings
Display has: All items
Public reveals: Contact info, property interest
Site is: Business office
Rules applied: MLS

Click here for the PDF of the full article: IDXVOW (2)

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IDX (Internet Data Exchange) MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

Summary of DOJ vs. NAR Final Judgment

Final Judgment Summary

The litigation between the Department of Justice and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) over claims of antitrust violations has resulted in a proposed Final Judgment that likely will become final in early September 2008 without the imposition of any fines or admission of wrongdoing.
The litigation has been costly and time consuming. Both sides claim a win. But, will the judgment have much impact on the way brokerage is practiced? When we examine the key points below, it appears that the typical real estate professional will see little change in the way they service their clients and prospects. One reason is the fact that the popular Internet Data Exchange (IDX) remains intact as a valid method of displaying other broker listings on the Internet.
Some of the key definitions in the Final Judgment include:
  • “Broker” means a person licensed by a state to provide services to a buyer or seller in connection with a real estate transaction (includes agents associated with the broker).
  • “Customer” means a seller client of a Broker or Person who has expressed to a Broker an interest in purchasing residential real property and who has described the type, features, or location of the property in which he or she has an interest, entitling the Broker to Provide the Customer MLS listing information by any method (e.g., by hand, mail, facsimile, electronic mail, or display on a VOW).
  • “Modified VOW Policy” means the policy attached to this Final Judgment as Exhibit A
  • “VOW” or “virtual office website” means a website, or feature of a website, operated by a Broker or for a Broker by another Person through which the Broker is capable of providing real estate brokerage services to consumers with whom the Broker has first established a Broker-consumer relationship (as defined by state law) where the consumer has the opportunity to search MLS data, subject to the Broker’s oversight, supervision, and accountability.
Prohibited Conduct. NAR is not to adopt rules that are inconsistent with the Modified VOW Policy or that prohibit a Broker who uses a VOW from providing to Customers on its VOW all of the listing information that a Broker is permitted to Provide to Customers by hand, mail, facsimile, electronic mail, or any other methods of delivery. Nor can NAR prohibit or restrict the referral of Customers whose identities are obtained from a VOW by a Broker who uses a VOW to any other Person, or establishes the price of any such referral.
Required Conduct. Within five business days after entry of the Final Judgment (estimated to be early September), NAR is to (1) repeal their ILD Policy, (2) direct Member Boards that adopted VOW rules to repeal such rules, (3) adopt the Modified VOW Policy (and make no changes), (4) direct Member Boards to adopt the Modified VOW Policy within 90 days of entry of Final Judgment (around the end of 2008). If NAR finds that Member Boards do not adopt consistent rules, NAR can deny coverage under any NAR insurance policy.
Permitted Conduct. NAR may adopt the definition of MLS Participant and the accompanying Note (Exhibit B). NAR is to direct each Member Board not to suspend or expel any Broker from MLS membership or participation for reasons of the Broker’s then-failure to qualify for membership or participation until May 27, 2009.
NAR is to designate an Antitrust Compliance Officer with responsibility for educating Member Boards about the antitrust laws and for achieving full compliance with this Final Judgment. NAR is to publish the Final Judgment and Modified VOW Policy on www.realtor.org and once in the REALTOR Magazine.

NAR is to permit DOJ access to records and reports for purposes of determining compliance with the Final Judgment. The Final Judgment expires 10 years from date of entry.
MLS Participant – Exhibit B Summary
A key part of the Final Judgment in the settlement of the action brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) against the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is the clarification of the definition of “MLS Participant” under Statement 7.9 of the “Statement of MLS Policy” and Section 3 of the “Model MLS Rules,” as covered in “Exhibit B” of the Final Judgment.
Under the new definition of MLS Participant, the individual or firm must hold a current, valid real estate broker’s license and offer or accept cooperation and compensation to and from other Participants.  Note that Participants can also be appraisers who are licensed or certified by an appropriate state regulatory agency to engage in the appraisal of real property.
The most significant change requires that Participants actually “offer or accept cooperation and compensation” — the previous definition required that they only be “capable of offering and accepting cooperation and compensation.”

Mere possession of a broker’s license is not sufficient to qualify for MLS participation. The requirement to offer or accept cooperation and compensation means that the participant “actively endeavors” during the operation of its real estate business to list real property of the type listed on the MLS and/or to accept offers of cooperation and compensation made by listing brokers or agents in the MLS. “Actively” means on a continual and on-going basis during the operation of the Participant’s real estate business.
The requirement is not intended to deny MLS participation based on 1) a part-time or seasonal practice 2) not achieving a minimum number of transactions despite good faith efforts, or 3) the level of service provided by the Participant. Nor can the MLS deny participation to a Participant that operates a VOW that the Participant uses to refer customers to other Participants if the Participant actively endeavors to make or accept offers of cooperation and compensation.
From NAR’s perspective, the enhanced requirement to be an MLS participant strengthens MLSs, since MLSs will now be able to terminate the access of brokers who make no effort to either list or sell property in the MLS.  A broker who only took the MLS feed to attract consumers to refer them to other brokers will no longer qualify for MLS membership.

Modified VOW Policy – Exhibit A Summary

      – The Policy governing the use of MLS data in connection with Internet brokerage services offered by MLS Participants (“Virtual Office Websites”)
The DOJ vs NAR Final Judgment requires that NAR adopt and maintain what is now referred to as the Modified VOW Policy. This new policy is the guts of the decision that will affect how a MLS Participant (as defined in Exhibit B) may provide brokerage services via a VOW and how a Multiple Listing Service permits MLS Participants to operate VOWs.
I. Key points described in the Scope of Policy are:
  • A Participant may operate their own VOW or designate an Affiliated VOW Partner (“AVP”) to operate a VOW on their behalf, subject to the Participant’s supervision and accountability and the terms of this Policy (similar to IDX solution providers).
  • With the Participant’s consent, non-principal brokers and sales licensees may operate a VOW.
  • The right to display listings in response to consumer searches is limited to display of MLS data supplied by the MLS(s) in which Participant has participatory rights.
  • Participants’ Internet websites may also provide other features, information, or services in addition to VOWs (including the Internet Data Exchange “IDX” function); thus, a site can use both IDX and VOW if desired.
  • The display of listing information on a VOW does not require separate permission from the Participant whose listings will be available on the VOW; i.e.,the opt-in/opt-out procedures with IDX do not apply to VOWs.
II. Key policies applicable to Participants’ VOWs
  • A Participant may provide brokerage services via a VOW, but only to clients and consumers (“Registrants”) with whom the Participant has first established a lawful consumer-broker relationship in compliance with state law disclosures.
  • A Participant’s VOW must obtain the identity of each Registrant and obtain each Registrant’s agreement to “Terms of Use” of the VOW. The Registrant must provide a valid e-mail address. The Participant must verify that the e-mail address is valid and that Registrant received the Terms of Use confirmation.
  • The Registrant must supply a user name and password, which password must expire on a certain date (no sooner than 90 days) but may be renewed. The Participant must keep records of Registrant access information and make them available to the MLS if a suspected violation or breach of security occurs (e.g., for audit trails).
  • The Registrant must affirmatively express agreement to a “Terms of Use” provision that requires the Registrant to open and review an agreement that acknowledges entering into a lawful consumer-broker relationship with the Participant (a “mouse click” is sufficient acknowledgement). The agreement may not impose a financial obligation on the Registrant or create any representation agreement between the Registrant and the Participant (registration is likely to raise “procuring cause” arguments). Any agreement imposing a financial obligation or creating representation must be established separately from the Terms of Use, must be prominently labeled as such, and may not be accepted solely by a mouse click.
  • The VOW must display contact information so a consumer can contact the Participant to ask questions. The participant must be “willing and ableto respond knowledgeably to inquiries from Registrants about properties within the market area served by the Participant and displayed on the VOW.
  • A Participant’s VOW must protect the MLS data from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor for and prevent “scraping” or other unauthorized accessing, reproduction, or use of the MLS database.
  • No VOW shall display listings or property addresses of sellers who have affirmatively directed their listing brokers to withhold their listing or property address from display on the Internet. The seller must sign an approved standard form (sample located in Appendix to Exhibit A). The broker must keep the Seller Opt-Out Form on file for one year.
  • The seller can request that the VOW disable or discontinue any feature that (a) allows display of an automated estimate of the market value in immediate conjunction with the listing or (b) allows third-parties to write comments or reviews about particular listings or displays a hyperlink to such comments or reviews in immediate conjunction with the listing. A Participant may include personal comments (“professional judgment”) about other brokers’ listings posted on the VOW, and the seller’s right to require the Participant to “disable” the inclusion of third party comments does not apply to those.  But the Participant’s comments are subject to the requirement of section II.5.d that requires those statements to be accurate.
  • The VOW must maintain a means to receive comments about the accuracy of data added beyond that supplied by the MLS and that relates to a specific property displayed on the VOW. The VOW operator must correct or remove any false data (other than information that simply reflects good faith opinion, advice, or professional judgment).
  • Each VOW must refresh MLS data at least every 3 days.
  • Except as provided in this Policy or in MLS rules and regulations, no portion of the MLS database may be distributed, provided, or made accessible to any person or entity.
  • Every VOW must display a privacy policy informing Registrants how their information will be used.
  • A VOW may exclude listings from display based only on objective criteria, including, but not limited to, factors such as geography, list price, type of property, cooperative compensation offered by listing broker, or whether the listing broker is a REALTOR.
  • A Participant must notify the MLS of its intent to establish a VOW and make the VOW readily accessible to the MLS and to all MLS Participants for verifying compliance purposes.
III. Policies Applicable to Multiple Listing Services
  • MLS Participants may operate VOWs, or have Affiliated VOW Partners (AVPs) operate for them, subject to state law and this Policy.
  • Participants may request basic “downloading” of all MLS non-confidential listing data. Confidential data includes only that which Participants are prohibited from providing to customers orally and by all other delivery mechanisms. Sold data shall be deemed confidential and withheld from download only if the actual sales prices of completed transactions are not accessible from public records (in certain ‘non-disclosure’ states or counties, such as Texas, Utah, Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico).
  • MLSs are not required to establish publicly accessible sites displaying Participants’ listings. See http://PublicListings.RealTown.com
  • MLSs may require appropriate security protections and/or maintain an audit trail of Registrant’s activity.
  • An MLS may not prohibit or regulate display of advertising or the identification of entities on VOWs except to prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising.  The seller does not have the same right to request these ads be disabled as they can with any third party comments or automated estimates of market value in immediate conjunction with the seller’s listing.  III.7 is the new version of what was referred to as the “clean page” rule in the old policy.  That rule precluded any advertising on a page of a VOW where a listing of another broker was displayed.  The new rule allows such advertising but precludes it when, in effect, it appears in such a fashion that it is not clear that the VOW itself is operated by the participant operating the VOW.  That is why there is a “deceptive or misleading standard” and a safe harbor provision addressing the size of the identification of entities other than the VOW operator.
  • An MLS may not prohibit Participants from enhancing their VOWs by providing information obtained from sources other than the MLS, additional technological services (such as mapping functionality), or information derived from non-confidential MLS data (such as estimated monthly payment derived from the listed price), nor can the  MLS restrict  the format of data display on a VOW or regulate the appearance of VOWs.
  • An MLS shall make the MLS data available to an AVP under the same terms and conditions as those applicable to Participants. AVP access to MLS data is derivative of the rights of the Participant on whose behalf the AVP is downloading data. MLSs may require Participants and AVPs to execute license or similar agreements that insure that the data provided by the MLS may be used only to establish and operate a VOW on behalf of the Participant and not for any other purpose.
  • An MLS may not prohibit, restrict, or impede a Participant from referring Registrants to any person or from obtaining a fee for such referral.
  • An MLS may impose certain requirements on VOWs but may impose them only to the extent that equivalent requirements are imposed on Participants’ use of MLS data in providing brokerage services via all other delivery mechanisms. A Participant’s VOW may not make available for search or display to Registrants the following data intended exclusively for other MLS Participants:     1. Expired, withdrawn, or pending listings     2. Sold data unless the actual sales price of completed transaction is accessible from public records     3. The compensation offered to other MLS Participants     4. The type of listing agreement, i.e., exclusive right to sell or exclusive agency     5. The sellers and occupants name, phone number, and email address, where available     6. Instructions or remarks intended for cooperating brokers only, such as those regarding showing or security of the listed property.
  • Content of MLS data that is displayed on a VOW may not be changed from the content as it is provided in the MLS. MLS data may be augmented with additional data or information not otherwise prohibited from display as long as the source is clearly identified.
  • Any listing displayed on a VOW shall identify the name of the listing firm in a readily visible color (not, for example, white on white), and reasonably prominent location, and in a typeface not smaller than the median typeface used in the display of listing data. The listing shall also identify the name of the listing agent.
  • The MLS can limit the number of listings that may be viewed or downloaded in response to an inquiry, but in no event may the limit be fewer than 100 listings or 5% of the listings in the MLS, whichever is less.
  • An MLS may not prohibit Participants from downloading and displaying or framing listiings obtained from other sources but may require either that such information be searched separately or, if such other sources are searched in conjunction with searches of the listings available on the VOW, that the display of listings from other sources identify such other source.

Additional Resource Video (6 min) – https://www.realtown.com/about/resources/InternetListingDisplayResource/Final-Summary

https://www.realtown.com/about/resources/InternetListingDisplayResource – there is a sidebar box with links to key summaries, documents, and videos of Saul and John discussing the DOJ/NAR Settlement when it was hot off the press in late 2007

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IDX (Internet Data Exchange) Listing Syndication MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

What would happen if MLSs decided that they would no longer provide free listing data to feeds to real estate portals? Good Things.

Real Estate Web Sites wanting to draw eyeballs and generate commerce by displaying properties for sale are ubiquitous. What they need to succeed is inventory. What are the potential sources of listing data today, and what makes some better than others? What happens if MLSs tighten the rules on syndication?

Sources of For Sale Real Estate Data:

1. MLSs – This is the best source of active real estate inventory for many reasons. It is the most comprehensive, accurate and complete collection of for sale properties. It is the Gold Standard. Currently, MLSs make this well-policed data available at little to no cost for the purpose of distribution or syndication. There is no reason MLSs must make this data available to public sites.

2. Franchisors – Franchisors have databases of for sale inventory. For a number of reasons, this data often lacks the high quality of MLS data. It can be made available to third party sites and often is.

3.  Brokers

4. Sales Associates

5. Owners

6. Syndication and Data aggregators such as Point2 and Listhub.

7. Scraped from other sources (theft)

Consequences of MLS tightening control of For Sale Real Estate Data: 

1. Portals would still have access to listing data as there are many ways sites can acquire this data. Granted, some data sources are better than others. See above.

2. MLSs data would become more valuable as MLS data is curated and other data sources are not curated to the same degree.

3. MLSs could generate revenues by charging content users to whom data feeds are provided, much the same way MLSs currently charge for IDX feeds. This revenue could be rebated to brokers and agents in the form of lower MLS fees, at a minimum. No one knows how much this might grow in the future, especially if combined with an MLS Public Portal and the collection of consumer behavioral data, and the creation and sale of derivative works. All done for the benefit of the providers of the content, the brokers and agents who are MLS members.

4. Properties would continue to sell, especially as the market turns and we head into the expansion phase of the next real estate cycle.

5. Consumers will find the best data for their situation as they get closer to decision time, through the MLS and the MLS subscribers and participants.

 

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