With consumers searching for real estate listings on any number of websites — some more trustworthy than others — a nonprofit trade group comprised mostly of multiple listing services has launched an initiative it says will help consumers cut through the noise and identify which listings come from the most high-quality source: MLSs.

The initiative is called “sourceMLS.” The idea behind it is that MLS-derived listings on brokerage, MLS and third-party websites will have a “sourceMLS” badge displayed next to them, indicating that they’ve arrived on the site directly from an MLS.

SourceMLS is the brainchild of the Council of Multiple Listing Services, which, as of July, had 234 members — 163 of them MLSs representing 977,509 subscribers.

The sourceMLS project has been in development since 2012. Beta-testers for the project included the Chicago-area MLS Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED); Northeast Florida MLS; Loveland, Colorado-based Information and Real Estate Services LLC (IRES); and Boise, Idaho-based Intermountain MLS.

A listing detail page on IRES MLS' public-facing website displaying the

A listing detail page on IRES MLS’s public-facing website displaying the “sourceMLS” badge.

MLSs have business rules in place that serve as a “strict filter of quality control” and ensure that listings are updated when there are status and price changes, according to the sourceMLS website.

“By displaying the sourceMLS badge participating sites tell the public that they’re providing users with the highest levels of data accuracy and timeliness through a direct connection to the originating MLS database,” the trade group said in a press release.

In order for a website to be granted permission to use the sourceMLS badge, the site must meet the following criteria:

  • All data displayed pertaining to the listing must come directly from the MLS.
  • The listing database must be updated from the MLS at least every 24 hours.
  • The source of the MLS listing data must be identified.
  • The date/time the listing database was last updated must be displayed.
  • Data displayed may not be modified by the publisher.
  • No MLS listing data may be reused or repurposed.

The sourceMLS badge, implemented via a few lines of code, will be available to MLSs and their vendors at no charge, according Intermountain MLS CEO Greg Manship, who served as the Council of Multiple Listing Services’ president in 2012.

Currently, the initiative is focused on licensing badges to MLSs for their members’ Internet data exchange (IDX) websites and their public-facing MLS websites, Manship said, but third-party sites such as Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com can apply to use the badge as well.

Such sites could either sublicense the badges from an MLS providing them with a direct feed or ask the Council of MLSs for a national site license that would allow them to put the badge next to listings coming from any MLS participating in the sourceMLS program. The badge could not appear next to listings that do not comply with the program guidelines. If all of a site’s listings comply with the guidelines, an entire site could be branded with a sourceMLS badge.

The Council of MLSs has not yet had formal talks with listing syndicator ListHub about sourceMLS, but Manship said that listings distributed via ListHub that comply with the guidelines would be eligible.

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