Flat-fee Denver brokerage Trelora has pulled commission information from its public search site after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the local multiple listing service, REcolorado.
Trelora stopped displaying the compensation rate and corresponding dollar value for buyer’s agents on specific listings on its site, search.trelora.com, on Thursday afternoon. It has also requested a meeting with REcolorado execs to explore the reasoning behind the MLS’ demand.
Trelora, which charges its buyers a flat fee of $3,000, began publishing commission details on its site less than a week ago, Trelora Chief Marketing Officer Rett Kearbey told Inman.
The brokerage, which has 12 agents and closed 468 transactions in 2014, believes that commission information on listings is a benefit to consumers and should be made available to them.
“We are unsure as to why REcolorado would want to prevent public access to critical financial information that directly affects a buyer’s purchase price and is, in all reality, 100 percent necessary for buyers to make informed purchase decisions in today’s real estate market,” Trelora’s lawyer wrote in a letter sent to REcolorado on Wednesday.
REcolorado did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The MLS, Colorado’s largest, threatened to cut off Trelora’s Internet data exchange (IDX) feed if the brokerage didn’t comply with the policy violations outlined in an email it sent to the brokerage on Monday afternoon. The alleged violations pertained to the MLS’ policy governing IDX feeds, the listing data brokers pool for publication on each others’ websites.
“Please remove all the co-op compensation percentages, as they are part of the MLS database and not available for IDX display,” a portion of REcolorado’s letter read. “The compensation amount(s) is being developed by others, as we do not compute that.”
When asked why Trelora complied with the MLS’ request, Kearbey said, “Being at the mercy of the MLS, we felt that it’s best to first comply and then challenge, buyers not being able to see [the commission data].”
Trelora gets compensation information directly from the MLS as a member and not through an IDX feed, Kearbey said.
Trelora asked REcolorado to send a full list of the listing elements the MLS considers to be “content developed by others,” because the line between what REcolorado considers “content developed by others” and therefore off-limits to IDX display is not clear to the firm, Kearbey said.
REcolorado’s letter also claimed that Trelora’s publication of compensation information violated other parts of MLS policy, including the brokerage’s act of “modifying or manipulating” the compensation rate to compute an actual compensation dollar amount for specific listings.
In its email to Trelora, REcolorado also pointed out other instances where the brokerage allegedly violated its IDX policy in its listing display. The MLS said Trelora neglected to prominently display the listing broker, IDX logo, and listing number of listings, and did not link to an IDX disclaimer and copyright information.
Trelora has since corrected those IDX policy lapses, but said it has found over 60 IDX violations on 30 sites representing local and national firms in the course of surveying the market. It shared that information with REcolorado in its letter on Wednesday and offered to share the data it gathered with the MLS, but the MLS has yet to respond to the brokerage’s letter, Kearbey said.
Nonetheless, Kearbey said the firm expects to have success in scheduling a meeting.