CMLS intensifies pressure on NAR to repeal recent IDX rules

by Victor Lund on May 4, 2011

Dear Pat and MLS Issues and Policy Members,

 

Please accept this letter on behalf of the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) regarding the

recommendations included in the “Report and Recommendations of the IDX Data Use Work Group”. The

difficult task of reviewing the inclusion of social media in IDX isnt an enviable one; please know that we respect

the commitment that each work group member gave to the effort.

 

The membership of CMLS is very diverse and includes Associations and MLS organizations from small to very

large REALTOR® owned to regional to broker owned to private. Regardless of size or governance of an MLS,

our fellow MLS Executives are very experienced and highly professional. While we do not profess to speak on

behalf of our entire membership, we feel it is prudent to share the feedback we have received regarding the

“Report and Recommendations of the IDX Data Use Work Group”.

 

Historically, IDX policies have been very specific to the permission of brokers to advertise their respective

listings on other participating broker (or agent, if allowed) websites for use by consumers. MLSs have vigorously

enforced these rules on behalf of their MLS Participants. The requirements for timely updates, recognition of the

listing brokerage and other rules relating to the protection of the listing content have created a significant level of

confidence in the process.

 

Before proceeding, it is important to note that we have not received feedback with objections to allowing IDX via

mobile technology. However, expanding that reach to include social media options such as Facebook and RSS

feeds is causing consternation among MLS Executives and Brokers alike. CMLS humbly requests that the MLS

Issues and Policy Committee consider the following concerns and comments prior to a vote to authorize IDX via

social media options:

1. The ability to require current and accurate information on properties (status, price, etc.) to avoid

misconception by consumers is not possible when considering Facebook posts, tweets or RSS feeds.

Allowing such distribution as recommended in the report would be contrary to current IDX rules

regarding refreshing listing content.

2. Listing brokerage acknowledgement and other required disclosures can be verified for compliance on a

broker website, but verifying compliance on tweets and posts will be nearly impossible, creating a huge

void in compliance monitoring. Is this creating different standards for broker IDX websites and social

media distribution? In many cases state law may require disclosures that cannot be included in a short

post or tweet. Are we increasing the liability for our brokers?

3. The lack of enforcement options for social media applications appears to dilute the purpose of IDX by

allowing advertising of fellow Participants listings anywhere another Participant might choose. In print

advertising, members are not allowed to advertise anothers listings without permission what makes

distribution of static content through social media channels any different?

 

2501 Aerial Center Parkway, Ste. 103 *

 

Morrisville, NC 27560

 

NAR MLS Issues and Policy Committee

May 4, 2011

Page 2 of 2

 

4. If brokers are comfortable with the current IDX policies, but object to the social media options, they will

have no choice but to accept that they have no control over the distribution of their listings or opt out of

IDX. Is this a disservice to our brokers who have embraced IDX and enhanced their marketplace by

doing so?

5. Distribution of listing information via RSS feeds is a significant concern. There are no guarantees that

once an RSS feed is subscribed to and received that it will not be repurposed, re-syndicated or used to

create derivative works by unauthorized parties looking to aggregate listing content for distribution and

possible revenue all without proper licensing or permissions. Subscribing to an RSS feed is not difficult,

nor is aggregating it. There are significant unintended consequences that should be reviewed carefully

before including RSS as an IDX option.

6. Historically, IDX has been an opportunity for brokers and agents to “display” listing information when all

requirements of the rules were met. Allowing distribution of listing data through RSS feeds lends itself

more to being a new way to transmit data without proper licensure.

7. These changes, if approved, will basically be un-enforceable by the MLSs that are tasked, through rules

and policies, to do so.

 

For a personal perspective, please review the following comments I received today from one of our largest and

most successful brokers:

?When my company (company name removed) enters into a listing agreement with a seller, there is an explicit

agreement to protect the proprietary property information. The mandate (reference: proposed addition of social

media and RSS feeds to IDX) makes it impossible for me to manage the liability with respect to infringement

claims and breach of contract claims with the seller during the list period and in fact, into the future since I have

no control over where third party and non-MLS participants send my listing data.

 

From the 30,000 foot level, our members recognize that there are already serious problems in relation to the

syndication, licensing, proper use and protection of our brokers data. Portals have multiple sources for content

and therefore difficult decisions on which source is the most accurate. Adding RSS feeds to the mix may further

dilute the value of on-line content by adding multiple additional sources that may not be current.

 

Thank you for allowing CMLS to put forth a small compilation of the concerns we have heard expressed

regarding the report of the IDX workgroup and the possible impact on the brokers that we all serve. We

respectfully request that these comments be considered by the MLS Issues and Policy Committee along with

others that you have received.

 

Merri Jo Cowen, 2011 President

Council of Multiple Listing Services

CEO, My Florida Regional MLS

407-218-8701 ceo@mfrmls.com

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