Midyear Reports: Breaking News from MLS Policy Committee Meetings

This post, and this series of reports and opinions from NAR Mid-Year 2011, brought to you by:


I can report on three major developments at the MLS Policy Committee meeting at NAR Midyear.

Civix Patent Litigation Global Settlement

First, NAR has reached a tentative agreement with Civix, the greenmailer patent owner who has been going around suing various websites, MLS’s, and vendors. Most of you may not be aware, but this company has managed to get a patent issued on local search technology. They’ve been involved in litigation with various companies, and have settled with Realtor.com individually, and a couple of large MLS’s (MRIS for example).

Laurie Janik, the General Counsel of NAR, announced that NAR had reached an industry-wide agreement in principle with the greenmailer patent owner to cover the entire real estate industry. There will be far more details coming forth, but bottomline is that NAR will get a master license of sorts that would cover every MLS/Association and all of their members, as well as all of the software that they use for real estate, from further liability to Civix. The cost is $7.5M, payable in 30/60/90 days. The first payment of $2.5M is due within 30 days; make that payment and there’s a deal. Miss it, and there’s no deal. The lawsuits continue.

The settlement amount is basically $9 per member one-time payment for the remaining four years of Civix’s patent, instead of the $24 over four years that Civix had proposed. So NAR did get a great deal from that standpoint.

Franchise IDX Suspended Until November

The second major news is that the Franchise IDX rule, which brought forth such controversy, has been suspended until the Annual Convention in November. That represents a defeat for the group opposed to Franchise IDX, as it wanted to have the rule rescinded completely, while the supporters (at least Realogy) were open to revising the rule to broaden it. Suspending the rule and referring it back to the workgroup takes repeal off the table, at least until November.

Practically speaking, the suspension means that the franchisors such as Century 21 that have implemented franchise IDX must immediately take down their franchise IDX displays on the national websites. But, because the rule was not repealed outright, if there is no action taken in November at Annual, the rule will automatically go back into effect.

More analysis with much more detail on this later.

Electronic Display IDX Recommendation Fails

Finally, the recommendations of the IDX Data Use Workgroup was not accepted by the MLS Policy Committee. Instead, it was referred back to the workgroup with specific instructions to separate out “social media” from IDX. There was significant concern on the part of commentators and committee members about the lack of broker’s ability to monitor and control listings being put on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels.

The practical impact is that agents/brokers/etc. may not put other broker’s listings into any social media channel. For example, tweeting out a new listing that belongs to another agent is forbidden.

Much, much more on this issue later as well.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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5 thoughts on “Midyear Reports: Breaking News from MLS Policy Committee Meetings”

  1. Rob,
    a question on the last point above —
    so the MLS Policy Committee’s stance is that agents other than listing agents may not tweet someone else’s listing? Or do I have that backwards? What stance did NAR take on this issue.
    can you clarify a bit?

    • So I’ve had some conversations with others about this last night, and there’s some difference of opinion. I’ll detail that in the upcoming post — but basically, the issue is whether the Policy is silent on that question or not, given what happened at the Committee.

  2. re: “Electronic Display IDX” I’m curious if any words have been said about consumers sharing listings they are interested in, as opposed to broker/agents. (disclaimer: I haven’t researched this at all, just read headlines on this topic.)

    • Nothing was said about consumers, as none of this would apply to consumers, nor any third party website — except insofar as such “sharing” might be a copyright violation. 

  3. Spencer,

    Agents that are members of the MLS may not tweet out other Agent’s listing without the direct permission of that agent.  One of the big violations that has been popping up is agents who use RSS feeds to feed their IDX to Twitter.  Can’t do it – Not allowed.

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