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Broker Reciprocity -- NAR Policy

NAR Policy on Display of MLS Data

June 22, 2000

Policy Statement

The following Statement of Multiple Listing Policy became effective upon approval by the NAR Board of Directors on May 22, 2000.

Associations of REALTORS and their Multiple Listing Services are encouraged to immediately, and must by January 1, 2002, enable MLS Participants to display on Participants' public websites aggregated MLS active listing information through, at Participants' option, either downloading and placing the data on Participants' public access websites or by framing such information on the MLS or association public access website (if such a site is available) subject to the requirements of state law and regulation.

Unless state law requires prior written consent from listing brokers, listing brokers' consent for such display is presumed unless a listing broker affirmatively notifies the MLS that the listing broker refuses to permit display (either on a blanket or on a listing-by-listing basis). If a Participant refuses on a blanket basis to permit the display of that Participant's listings, then that Participant may not download or frame the aggregated MLS data of other Participants.

In addition, the following guidelines are recommended but not required to conform to NAR policy. Pursuant to these guidelines, MLSs may:

  1. prohibit display of confidential information fields intended for cooperating brokers rather than consumers.
  2. require that any listing displayed identify the listing firm.
  3. require that the identity of listing agents be displayed.
  4. require that information displayed not be modified.
  5. require that any display of other Participants' listings indicate the source of the information being displayed and require Participants to refresh all downloads and refresh all data at least once every seven (7) days.
  6. prohibit sharing of the MLS database with any unauthorized third party and may require Participants to indicate on their websites that the information being provided is for consumers' personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.
  7. may establish reasonable limits on the amount of data/number of listings that consumers may retrieve or download in response to an inquiry.
  8. limit the right to display other Participants' listings to a Participant's office(s) holding participatory rights in the same MLS.

Questions and Answers

Q. What is Internet Data display?

A. Internet Data Display ("IDD"), sometimes referred to as "Broker Reciprocity", is the next stage in the evolution of MLS as the primary means of enhancing cooperation between REALTORS to facilitate the purchase and sale of real property. IDD gives MLS Participants the tool they need to display each others' listings on their Internet websites. Under IDD brokers exchange consent to display each others listings on the Internet.

Q. How is Internet Data Display accomplished?

A. Other brokers' listings can be displayed either by downloading data from the MLS compilation and publishing it on your website or by framing the MLS's publicly accessible website (if such a site exists).

Q. Do I have to allow other Participants to display my listings on their websites?

A. No, Participants are free to withhold authority for such display - either on a blanket or on a listing-by-listing basis.

Q. What happens if I won't allow other Participants to display my listings on their websites?

A. If you prohibit the display of your listings by other Participants, you may not display their listings on your website pursuant to the IDD program. Other Participants may give you permission to display their listings but that permission would have to be sought and obtained separately from each Participant.

Q. If I don't participate in IDD but give another Participant permission to display my listings on their website, can the MLS (with my permission) transfer my listings to that Participant?

A. Yes. MLS may, but are not required to, transmit your listing information to any destination you authorize. The decisions as to whether an MLS will provide this service and whether to charge for such a service, are matters of local determination.

Q. If I want to authorize other Participants to display my listings under IDD, how do I do it?

A. Once your MLS implements the IDD program you don't need to do anything. The way the IDD program is structured, the consent of each Participant to permit display of their listings is assumed. If you choose not to permit display of your listings by other Participants, you simply notify the MLS that your consent is being withheld.

Q. Can the MLS refuse to accept my listings if I do not permit other Participants to display them on their websites?

A. No. Participants cannot be required to consent to display of their listings on other Participants' websites as a condition of participation in the MLS.

Q. Can the MLS refuse to transfer my listings to REALTOR.COM or to another aggregator of real property ads if I do not permit other Participants to display them on their websites?

A. No. IDD (which enables individual MLS Participants to display other Participants' listings either by downloading listing data from the MLS or by framing listings on an association's or MLS's publicly accessible website) is distinguishable from such aggregations and right to advertise in that medium is not affected even if a Participant refuses to allow other Participants to display their listings.

Q. Does IDD conflict with license law or the Code of Ethics?

A.Implementation of IDD must be consistent with state law. NAR's IDD policy statement is consistent with the Code of Ethics since no display of other Participants' listings can occur without their consent. Consent, though, is assumed unless affirmatively withheld by the listing Participant.

Q. Our MLS doesn't have a publicly-accessible website displaying Participants' listings. Does NAR's IDD policy mean we have to establish one so that Participants can frame each others' listings?

A.No. Framing is an IDD option available to Participants only if an association or MLS maintains a publicly-accessible website. NAR's policy does not require associations or MLSs to create such websites simply provide this option to its Participants.

Q. Our MLS is computerized but is not Internet-based. Do we have to establish an Internet-based system to comply with NAR's IDD policy?

A. No, but under the IDD policy, by 2002 your MLS will have to permit Participants to extract listing information so that listing information can be displayed on other Participants' websites (unless, of course, consent is withheld by listing brokers).

Q. Can I authorize some, but not all, Participants to display my listings on the Internet?

A. If you consent to the display of your listings by other Participants under the IDD program, then any other Participant in the MLS may display your listings. If you prefer to authorize some, but not all, Participants to display your listings, this can be accomplished - though not under the IDD program. Separate consents would have to be granted to each Participant authorized to display your listings. As noted in an earlier question, MLSs may, but are not required, to transmit your listings to any destination you authorize. The decisions as to whether an MLS will provide such a service, and the related charges (if any) are matters to be determined locally.

Q. Can MLSs charge a fee for downloading listing information to Participants?

A.Yes, NAR's IDD policy does not affect the right of associations and MLSs to assess fees and charges for services provided to Participants. This remains a matter of local determination, subject to the parameters of existing policy (See Multiple Listing Policy Statements 7.9, 7.45, and 7.57 in the Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy).

Q. Does IDD mean that confidential information will now be available to the public?

A. No. IDD permits MLSs to prohibit display (by either downloading or by framing) of information intended exclusively for other real estate professionals and not for consumers.

Q. Must the listing firm be identified when I display other Participants' listings on my website?

A. This is a matter left to the discretion of local MLSs. Participants will want to keep the requirement of license law and the Code of Ethics (particularly Article 12) in mind when engaging in such displays.

Q. Can listing information be modified when it is displayed on other Participants' websites?

A. This, too, is a matter of local determination, although any authorized modification must comply with the "true picture" mandate of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics.

Q. Won't buyers (or individuals posing as buyers) be able to extract the entire MLS database and do whatever they want with it?

A. MLSs can, as a matter of local determination, establish reasonable limits on the amount of data and/or the number of listings consumers can retrieve in a particular query of Participants' websites.

Q. Won't IDD enable national and regional firms to aggregate listing information from many MLSs and create "super-MLSs"?

A. The ability to aggregate listing information from several MLSs remains subject to local MLS rules. Under IDD, MLSs may strictly limit the right to display other Participants' listings to those offices holding participatory rights in that MLS.

Q. Why should we let our listings be displayed on our competitors' website?

A. Letting other Participants display listings on the Internet is a business decision each Participant must make, taking into account their duty to promote the best interests of their clients; to cooperate with other REALTORS; and the opportunity to use the Internet to better serve their clients and customers.



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