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Franchisor IDX

At the 2010 Annual Convention, the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Board of Directors approved an amendment to the Internet Data Exchange (“IDX”) policy authorizing Participants to provide IDX information to their real estate franchise organizations (“franchisors”) to be indexed for display on franchisors’ websites.

At the May 14, 2011 meeting, the NAR Board of Directors voted to keep the current IDX policy in effect until the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee reports back to the Board at the 2011 Annual Convention, but amended the IDX policy to permit display of IDX listings on franchisors’ websites only if a listing broker affirmatively consents (“opts in”) to franchisor indexing and display.  The amendment to the IDX policy is effective thirty days following the Directors’ action.

The implications of the NAR Board of Directors’ actions are:

  • Franchisors have until Monday, June 13 to discontinue display of the listings of MLS Participants who have not affirmatively consented to display of their listings on franchisor websites.
  • NAR states that: MLSs must permit Participants to affirmatively consent to display of their listings on franchisor websites. They further state that Participants’ consent to franchisor display can be blanket or can be granted only to specified franchisors at Participants’ discretion. To facilitate implementation of this discretionary opt-in, since NAR has stated that MLSs can presume that any Participant affirmatively consenting to display of their listings gives that consent on a blanket basis unless the Participant expressly directs otherwise; MLSListings is providing a blanket opt in selection in our Broker Control Center, which is available only to brokers and managers.
  • Franchisees who provide IDX information to their franchisor for display – or have their site indexed by the franchisor – will need to let the franchisor know which participants have affirmatively consented to display of their listings on the franchisor’s site. Only the listings of Participants who have affirmatively consented to such display can be displayed on franchisor sites.

Important Note

The intent of the MLS Policy Committee and the large independent real estate firms who spoke out about this Franchisor indexing policy was to repeal the policy adopted in November of 2010; however, for parliamentary reasons they could not advance this effort because the NAR board requires a minimum 30-day advance notification of a repeal vote before any formal action can take place.

The Opt-in decision was intended to give brokers control over where their listings are distributed, displayed, and indexed. The NAR MLS Policy Committee and the NAR Board of Directors are clearly expecting to change this policy again in November 2011.  Currently, a NAR work group has been formed to work out these efforts.  During this interim period, MLSListings plans to use a simplified approach to support the Opt-in to Franchisor display of listings because the policies will most likely change again based on input expected from the NAR work group later this year.

Significant NAR Policy decision which relates to this new Opt-In to Franchisor Display
The MLS policy on Participant ownership (MLS Policy Statement 7.85) was adopted in 2005 to make it clear that Participant consent is required for any use of their listings that are not part of the defined purpose of MLS.  The policy is further interpreted and explained by Cliff Niersbach, Vice President, Board Policy and Programs at the National Association of REALTORS®, as follows:

“Display of listings on franchisor sites is essentially analogous to display on third-party aggregator sites. Those displays also require listing participant consent and has never been construed as “everywhere or nowhere”. Absent direction from the Directors to the contrary, the same must be assumed with respect to display on franchisor sites.”

Clear and Indisputable Fact
The brokers own their data and have a right to determine which third party sites their listings can be submitted to.

Implementation
MLSListings will use a blanket Franchisor Opt-In option using the Broker Control Center, as follows:

After June 13, to allow the indexing or display of their listings on franchisor websites, Participant brokers can visit the Broker Center tab of the MLSListings website, then click on the “IDX Opt In” link and select preferences.

Under the blanket-based Opt-In option, all listings associated with the Participant will be automatically flagged based on the broker ID, allowing the display of that Participant’s listings on all franchisor sites. On a limited basis, should a broker decide that he wants to selectively restrict his Opt-In Franchisor display of listings to specific franchise websites, Participants should contact MLSListings Compliance department at 408-874-0200, option 5 to handle these individual requests.

Separately, the Franchisees-who are the responsible Participant in the MLS and who also receive data feeds for their IDX sites-will have to devise a system to insure their franchisors know which listings they can index and those they cannot. The franchisees will receive a flag in their data feed from the MLS identifying the listings which can be indexed by their franchisor under the blanket opt-in policy option.  This electronic flag option built into the franchisee broker’s data feed received from the MLS will not be available for “selective restrictions” of the Opt-In Franchisor display of listings policy. It is the franchisee that is providing access to IDX listings to their franchisor who is ultimately responsible for compliance with this NAR display policy.

MLSListings recognizes the impact of NAR’s decision and the aggressive timelines associated with these changes by June 13. In advance, we thank you for your cooperation.

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