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Added: January 16, 2004
Article rating: 3.06 (of 5) - 307 votes

NAR approves the display of MLS real estate listings on the Internet

[ by NAR ]
WASHINGTON (May 17, 2003) –Homebuyers will be able to access more comprehensive information about residential properties over the Internet as the result of a new policy governing the display of real estate listings adopted today by the National Association of Realtors®.

Beginning next year, brokers who participate in the nation's approximately 900 multiple listing services (MLSs) will be allowed to display MLS property listings so that they can be accessed by consumers on websites that provide on-line brokerage services, which are known as virtual office websites (VOWs). At the association's 2003 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo the NAR Board of Directors approved the policy, which is the result of over a year of research and deliberation by two NAR work groups. sites are already compliant with this decision, so you can include all the MLS listings in your area, if your MLS board supports IDX.

Customers of real estate brokerages that participate in a multiple listing service and operate a VOW will be able to view MLS listings, which typically contain a great deal more detailed information about properties than the on-line advertisements currently displayed on most real estate sites.

"The new policy on VOWs will make it possible for real estate consumers across America to see virtually the same information about residential property that professionals use. The policy also protects the integrity of that data, respects sellers' rights to privacy and maintains the viability of the MLS system," said NAR President Cathy Whatley, owner of Buck & Buck, Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla. "Under this new policy, Realtors® will remain at the forefront of the real estate transaction and more consumers will have access to more information than ever before."

Sellers and the brokers representing them will have the right to withhold their listings from display on others' VOWs either on a blanket or a selective basis even though the properties may be available for sale through an MLS, according to the policy adopted by the NAR board.

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Before consumers can access listings on a VOW, the policy requires that they first must become bona fide customers of the brokerage operating the VOW and sign a Terms of Use Agreement. Any agreement imposing a financial obligation between a consumer and the operator of a VOW must be established separately from the Terms of Use.

The new standards protect the integrity of MLS data by prohibiting "scraping," or copying listings from one website to another, and by requiring that data be refreshed at least once every seven days. VOW sites must display a privacy policy and information about customers registered on the site cannot be sold unless the VOW operator is a real estate broker providing a referral to another brokerage.

Local MLSs may require VOWS comply with the same policies and business practices required of bricks-and-mortar businesses. For example, if the names of listing brokers are displayed on VOW listings, they must also be displayed on listings given customers in Realtors' offices.

The policy gives local MLSs the flexibility to determine how expired or sold listings are handled, how long passwords shall be valid, how many listings an on-line customer can view at a time and whether agents or sales associates can operate VOWs.

For MLSs the policy will take effect no later than January 1, 2004. Brokers operating VOWS will have an additional 180 days after the adoption of a policy by their MLS to comply fully with its provisions.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing approximately 880,000 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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