Aiming to compete with search portals, the National Association of Realtors will create a toolkit with resources, best practices and case studies that MLSs will be able to use if they choose to share listing data within a state.

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What appears to be a perpetual struggle to provide agents with listing data that’s as geographically comprehensive as that available to consumers online got something of a leg up from the National Association of Realtors this week.

Volunteer leaders of the 1.6-million member trade group approved 10 proposals from a group of Realtors appointed by NAR’s 2021 president, Charlie Oppler, to study MLS data sharing statewide. The MLS Statewide Data Share Presidential Advisory Group worked for two years to come up with recommendations to advance data sharing among all Realtor association-owned MLSs within a state.

The now-approved recommendations are meant to offer best practices and resources to Realtor-affiliated MLSs wishing to share data statewide voluntarily, without making such sharing mandatory.

Nicole Jensen, the PAG’s chair, told NAR’s Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee on Saturday that statewide data shares provide value to Realtor members as well as consumers.

Nicole Jensen

“We have examples of different data shares throughout the country,” Jensen said. “Even the smallest [MLSs] have gained membership because of the data share.”

“The whole purpose is to arm Realtor members with the same data that consumers are getting from online sources,” she added.

Of the 10 PAG recommendations, only one — an MLS policy that defines a statewide data share — had to be submitted to the NAR board of directors for consideration. NAR’s board, which has 1,030 members, met on Monday, the last day of NAR’s annual conference, NAR NXT, at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida.

The new policy reads:

A statewide data share should deliver MLS data through a common technology interface (e.g., API) of all data fields, including offers of compensation, to all Participants of MLSs in the statewide data share. However, the data should not include MLS-only data fields that are viewable only to the listing Participant and the respective local MLS.

Note: Considerations should be given to:

  • Inclusion of local data fields (non-RESO Standard fields).
  • Any different compensation models such as a percentage of the net vs. gross sales price, tiered commission arrangements, and other models that are used by Participants in MLSs.
  • Individual MLS’s “attached document” retention policies and state laws regarding the sharing and retention of documents related to a previous transaction (privacy laws)

The MLIP Committee submitted the definition to the board with the aim of “encourag[ing] all industry stakeholders to approach statewide data sharing from the same broad concept.” The board approved the definition overwhelmingly and without discussion, 799 in favor and 60 opposed.

NAR’s leadership team and/or the MLIP Committee approved the other nine recommendations, which will go into effect without needing a NAR board vote because the recommendations did not create any mandates, including any suggestion that MLSs were obligated to share data statewide.

“Rather, the recommendations are intended to provide resources and information to those MLSs who are interested or are implementing statewide data sharing,” a proposal with the PAG’s recommendations reads.

“This consists of best practices and actions for developing educational materials that address technology, standards, and utilization barriers.”

Here are the other nine approved recommendations, according to NAR’s leadership team:

    • To work with industry partners, stakeholders, and local MLSs to create a toolkit with resources, best practices, samples, considerations, and case studies that MLSs within a state could use and reference to pursue and form statewide data shares.
    • To develop clear educational messaging that promotes the benefits of data sharing and how it can be pro-broker, pro-consumer, and pro-competitive.
    • To incentivize statewide data sharing by offering NAR economic analysis and reporting of statewide data or resource allocations for local analysis and reporting.
    • To recommend to MLSs that any statewide data share standards include but are not limited to: A full exchange of data into local and/or regional native MLS platforms.
    • To recommend to MLSs that any statewide data share include but not be limited to the following defined uses and considerations for the Participants use: Data used in IDX/VOW, BBO, and other data feeds; Data used in MLS’s provided 3rd party products (e.g., CMA, market reports); Considerations for MLS public facing websites and applications
    • That NAR partner with CMLS and RESO to identify qualified facilitators/moderators to serve as a neutral voice and assist MLSs with aligning data fields and enumerations.
    • To enlist the services of NAR data scientists to study the benefits of data sharing for brokerages of all sizes based on established data shares and marketplace trends.
    • That NAR recommend as a best practice that MLSs explore and consider statewide data sharing consistent with NAR’s recommended policy definition of “statewide data share.”
    • That NAR provide MLSs with recommendations about potential applicability, enforcement and establishment of local MLS rules to a statewide data share.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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MLS | NAR | realtors
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