Complying with the NAR’s franchise IDX broker opt-in policy

Jun 9, 2011  |  Michael Wurzer

At the NAR mid-year meetings in May, the NAR Board of Directors voted to require that MLSs provide a mechanism to allow brokers to opt-in to display of their listings via IDX on franchisor (not the local franchisee but the national franchisor) web site. Most of our loyal readers are already familiar with this issue, but, if you are not (and even if you are), I encourage you to read Brian Larson’s excellent review and analysis of the issue.

Alas, despite many questions and concerns with this new policy, our customers needed a solution to comply with the rule. What we decided was to modify the syndication options in flexmls to support broker opt-in for franchise sites in combination with IDX. This approach has the benefit of both tracking the broker opt-ins by individual franchise site and also providing the MLS a way to provide a RETS feed of only those listings from opted-in brokers.

For more information on this new feature, check out this MLS Admin video tutorial and this broker video tutorial (the clear direction and calming voice on the video is our very own Kendra O’Brien, who quickly got up to speed on this complex topic to produce the tutorials). We’re hopeful this new feature will help our MLS customers comply with the new policy, if they must.

For our customers who find this valuable, thanks go to James Ridley and Troy Davisson for the guidance and development of the new features and, of course, Kendra for producing the tutorials. Given the tight time-frame and complexity of figuring out a solution to this new NAR decision, I’m very proud of the response our team provided.

7 Responses to “Complying with the NAR’s franchise IDX broker opt-in policy”

  1. Wow that was fast! And they said it couldn’t be done so quickly. Good job Kendra, James and Todd

  2. Oops make that Troy. Sorry Troy.

    (message to self, don’t post from the iPad while working out) #STUPID

  3. Sean Pearson says:

    It’s interesting that no one else seems to be talking about this. Great job you guys and gals are on the ball.

  4. As I understand it (after watching the MLS Admin Tutorial above) this solution requires an MLS to give every franchise a data feed. If you are giving a data feed to the franchise to use for the display of those listings that have opted in, is it still indexing?

    • Michael Wurzer says:

      I don’t think the franchises generally were indexing sites. If they were, it was selective to a few sites (their broker sites) and that can hardly be compared to a search engine index that hits every site and links back to them. Moving toward data feeds is better than allowing scraping. My guess, however, is that the franchises will just go back to re-directing consumers to their broker sites until this is resolved.

  5. Wasn’t the issue that they were indexing the IDX displays of their franchisee’s sites which included all listing from the MLS that were authorized for IDX? For example, we do not provided a data feeds to franchises, however all of our IDX listings were, and are currently (until the 13th) displayed on their websites via a local participant franchisee’s website.

    I think you have created a nice feature for your MLSs, but the question I was trying to ask was, are you providing a solution to the issue of indexing, or are you just circumventing the whole indexing issue (and NAR Policy) altogether by re-framing the “indexor” and “indexee” relationship as that of a “syndicator” and “syndicatee”.

    Maybe that’s where this should have gone to begin with. It seems to me that MLSs who do not have as progressive a MLS Vendor as FBS might consider encouraging the franchises to talk to their syndication partner (listhub, point2 etc.).

    By the way, your MLS Admin menu is impressive!

  6. Michael Wurzer says:

    I guess it depends on the specific circumstances but I believe some of the franchises were using IDX feeds provided by their brokers or the MLS and not scraping at all. I would further suggest that none of the franchises are truly “indexing” like Google does, as evidenced by the fact that the franchise only links back to itself or its brokers and would not link back to the source of the information as Google would. As Brian Larson pointed out in his post, use of the term “indexing” by franchisors was a clever way to confuse the issue. What’s involved is display of the listings on their site and indexing has little or nothing to do with it.

    As mentioned in the post, there are many questions and concerns about the policy as adopted and there are better ways to do it, but sometimes you have to play the cards you’re dealt.