This may be a surprise to some in the real estate industry, but there is no current nationwide policy that gives brokers the right to get back the listing data they put into a multiple listing service.
That may be about to change. On Monday morning, at the National Association of Realtors’ online midyear conference, the trade group’s Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee approved a policy that gives MLS participants (defined as brokerage principals) the right to receive a data feed of their own listing information without restrictions on what they can do with that data.
Previously, brokers could receive their own data back through Virtual Office Website (VOW) or Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds, but had to follow the extensive rules that come with those feeds. VOW and IDX feeds contain the listing data of all brokers in an MLS, not just a broker’s own data, so the policies surrounding those feeds are designed to protect misuse of other brokers’ data.
The proposed Participant Data Access policy approved by the committee at the Virtual Realtors Legislative Meetings on Monday states:
A Multiple Listing Service must, upon request, promptly provide an MLS Participant (or the Participant’s designee) a data feed containing, at minimum, all active MLS listing content input into the MLS by or on behalf of the Participant and all of the Participant’s off-market listing content available in the MLS system. The delivery charges for the Participant’s listing content shall be reasonably related to the actual costs incurred by the MLS. The data feed must be in compliance with the RESO Standards as provided for in MLS Policy Statement 7.90.
Note: MLSs will not limit the use of the Participant’s listing content by the Participant or the Participant’s designee.
The Council of MLSs, which counts 220 MLSs representing 1.3 million subscribers nationwide among its members, first proposed a version of the policy to the committee’s emerging issues advisory board in March after consulting with their members and other industry organizations such as brokerage network The Realty Alliance.
Although it’s not a widespread problem, CMLS is still hearing occasionally that some MLSs aren’t giving brokers back their data, CMLS CEO Denee Evans told Inman in a phone interview.
“CMLS is trying to elevate MLSs and [ensure] that they are really great partners to their brokers,” she said.
“If the participant is inputting the data and feeding it to the MLS, that data should go back to them. It’s all their own data, they already have it — the idea is so that they don’t have to input it twice.”
CMLS is always looking for how to make real estate professionals’ jobs easier so they can better serve consumers, she added.
In an emailed statement, CMLS Chair Brad Bjelke said CMLS was proud to promote a policy that fosters the efficient flow of data and was happy about the committee’s approval.
“Ensuring that brokers receive reciprocal data access to the content they put in the MLS ultimately leads to a more vibrant real estate marketplace,” he said. “We listened to our members who were asking for better data management.”
“The collaborative nature used to craft and refine this policy is an example of how the industry can come together to make positive changes. We continue to focus on Making the Market Work for everyone.”
CMLS, HomeServices of America, the California Association of Realtors, and TRA all expressed support for the policy and offered their feedback to it before Monday’s committee meeting, according to Evans.
TRA sent the committee a letter at the end of April advocating for the prompt mandatory delivery of participant data feeds, but not endorsing any specific wording.
The policy as originally proposed was tweaked during the meeting and TRA is pleased with the final wording, TRA President and CEO Craig Cheatham told Inman via email.
“Committee members seemed very prepared on the issue and all the amendments only strengthened and clarified the spirit of the policy,” he said.
“Our brokers always have more on their wish list, but this new policy appears to address everything we had hoped for on this topic.”
Asked how brokers would use the data feeds, Cheatham provided a partial list of the types of systems for which the broker’s own data would be key, including:
- brokerage websites
- various marketing platforms (internal and outside vendors)
- social media management programs
- relocation/referral network databases
- transaction management platforms
- company CRM databases
- appointment/showing services
- company intranet
- testimonial/ranking software
- customer/client surveys
- customer/client status update systems
- back-office platforms (accounting, commissions, etc.)
- agent activity reports
- days on market reports
Some MLSs have had a similar policy in place for years. CMLS’s Evans noted that Arizona Regional MLS has created a contract for such a data feed and suggested other MLSs could learn from ARMLS’s responsible approach. ARMLS CEO Matt Consalvo provided Inman with a copy of the contract.
“We have had a long standing respect of broker request for their own data and have made that happen as long as I can remember,” Consalvo told Inman via email.
“In a legal review of most all of our agreements a few years back we felt we should ‘break out’ this agreement from our others to protect ARMLS and the broker better. This process helps us make sure the broker understood the data use and such with the vendor. For us it was continuing the long standing respect for a broker receiving their data back, but also to make sure all parties were informed and educated with respect to liability and data use.”
The Participant Data Access policy was the only policy the MLIP Committee, which has 120 members, voted on Monday. The policy now heads to NAR’s Executive Committee, which will decide whether to send the policy to NAR’s board of directors for a vote at the board’s meeting on May 15.
If it passes, CMLS will be crafting a best practices and procedures document for the policy’s implementation well before it goes into effect, Evans said.
NAR did not respond to questions regarding Monday’s MLS Forum and committee meeting, saying the trade group was preparing a report about the policy proposal and the meeting for release “later this week, if not sooner.”