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The shootout at the IDX corral, a syndication showdown and sprinkle of conspiracy theories!

by Greg Robertson on May 4th, 2011

This is brewing up nicely! We’ve got all the elements to a good story. Money. Power. Greed. And since it’s NAR Mid-Year I’m sure there is going to be lots of Sex too.

Take Your Hands Off My Listings!

It all started last year when NAR’s Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee (MLIPC?) made a rule change to allow Franchisors to display indexed IDX listings from their brokers on their respective site homepages. When implemented correctly this creates a better user experience and is also great for the site’s SEO performance. But of course the MLIPC had a bunch of rules/restrictions. The big one being you had to be a Franchisor, under FTC rules. I would argue, the restriction of displaying advertising around the indexed listings in another issue that needs to be re-looked.

Well it didn’t take long for large independant brokerages to raise a stink. They wanted the same ability as Franchisors. Letters were sent and chests were pounded in protest. Even the vendors are getting in on the action. And some flip flopping happen too. Most recently Ron Peltier, CEO of HomeServices of America Inc, who is a member of one of the groups requesting inclusion is now also saying he wants the policy repealed!

So much drama! I love it!

So NAR had to act. Recently CMLS published a “Policy Consideration” (reconsideration?) document for discussion next week in Washington D.C. at the NAR Midyear meetings. Here’s my predictions:

Will NAR allow broker networks as well a Franchisor to display indexed IDX listings on their websites?
Will NAR repeal the previous policy allowing indexed IDX listings on Franchisor websites?
Weak Sauce:
Let Franchisors and Brokers compete with other real estate portals by allowing advertising around these indexed IDX listings (I’m not going to give them a pass on this one.)
Damn Shame:
It will be a long time before anyone does any real innovation in this area (listing display). Most likely anyone who does will face a policy backlash.

And the weird part about all this is that this isn’t the most complicated issue the MLIPC is going to face. Check out what else is on their schedule.

Syndication showdown.

To me the single most interesting thing about this issue is what a game changer MOVE ( made by acquiring ListHub. You can’t have a talk about listing syndication today without MOVE in the discussion.

Greg Manship and I are moderating a panel of vendors next week at CMLS’ sold out Syndication Workshop. Panel includes representatives from: Zillow, Point2, Threewide, Trulia, and Zillow is in their “quiet period” so we don’t expect to hear much from them but it’s great they are going to participate.

Most of my questions will center around what responsibility does each vendor feel in regard to listing data. I might also dive in to the dynamics of the MOVE partnership. If there is something you would like to know let me know.

You can see the entire schedule at the CMLS website.

Conspiracy Theory Number 1.

Three little letters. IDS. Beware when NAR comes out to “save us” from all these Syndication woes and announces a new policy, IDS (Internet Data Syndication). They take a page from the past (IDX) they start issuing policies around the syndication of listings, and guess who they pick as their partner? Yup, MOVE.

Conspiracy Theory Number 2.
Substitute the name “MOVE” with “RPR” in Conspiracy Theory Number 1.

Stick your head out the window and put a hand to your ear. You’ll be able to tell who won by whether you hear the word “Checkmate!” come from Campbell, CA or Chicago, IL.

See you next week!

  1. I think that industry organizations would have to be very, very careful about issuing policies relating to syndication. There’s a fine line between providing guidance and actual policies/rules – and an anti-trust headache at stake.

  2. Wish I were going to be at your panel, Greg. Alas, children require me to be at home until Wednesday, so… will need to get your reports on the goings-on. Will you consider streaming or videotaping that session?

  3. Greg,
    We are looking forward to seeing you in DC and participating in the CMLS Syndication Workshop. This will the first time Vendors and MLSs have met together specifically to actually work collaboratively on an issue. I’m really looking forward to it!

    See you soon.

  4. Greg Robertson permalink

    @Rob Not sure about the video situation, I check and get back to you when I get an answer, but I’ll be happy to recap the event with you over beer when you arrive. : )

  5. If I were a franchisor, I would prefer to get listings of my franchises directly from the franchise, and the rest of the listings from Listhub, point2 and elsewhere. That would avoid a lot of problems.

    -Franchises would be able to place advertising around the listings
    -Franchises would be able to avoid the IDX rules and regulations disputes
    -Franchises could innovate on top of the data to be more competitive with other third party listing websites.

    My sense is that the policy will be changed, or NAR will face litigation. Big brokers are pissed off and appear to have positioned themselves property, and asked for review before lawsuits. From what I hear, their case is a no-brainer, but I have no legal standing.

    Should be a great NAR – they seem to get better and better each year – and in this case, we see the bombs coming in advance.

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