(Updated 12/3 to reflect the correct implementation deadline as published by NAR.)

Judge Kennelly signed the settlement between NAR and DOJ on November 18, 2008, by its terms, the settlement requires NAR to adopt the VOW policy in Exhibit A of the settlement within five days after that, and it requires that MLSs adopt the VOW policy within 90 days after that. Brokers operating VOWs have 180 days to bring their VOWs into compliance with the new policy. NAR has informed MLSs affiliated with it that MLSs have to implement the VOW policy no later than February 15, 2009, which is a lot closer than it seems.

On the VOW Clearinghouse, we have put together a lot of resources to help MLSs, brokers, and others implement the policy, including a list of things that MLSs must or should do to implement it. Here is a selection four of the more important ones.

  1. Determine whether to categorize fields or statuses as confidential, recognizing that doing so means that participants cannot disclose them, even orally, to their brokerage customers.
  2. Ascertain what state law requires for the formation of broker/consumer relationships. Are disclosures required? Is a contract required? An MLS without an understanding of the answer to these questions will not be able to enforce the VOW policy.
  3. Develop a process for receiving, evaluating, and granting broker/AVP requests for data feeds, recognizing that each broker/salesperson may have multiple VOWs under Policy Section II.7. MLSs should probably have a standard VOW access agreement (permitted under the Policy) or modify their existing IDX access agreements to address VOWs.
  4. Prepare to provide a persistent download upon participant request. The download must include all non-confidential listing information.

In the coming few days, I’ll post on each of these issues, and then discuss some of the other things MLSs must, ought to, and may do when implementing the VOW policy. Looking at the list of MLS To-Dos, which to you think are most important and challenging? Comment on this post or contact me with your thoughts.


Reader Interactions


  1. I’m hoping to write a post on this soon, but it will be interesting to see how NAR gets the word out on this and, from my perspective as a vendor, what will be asked of us in turn.

  2. One question I have is to confirm my understanding that RETS meets the definition of persistent download. Am I correct about that? From a vendor’s perspective, one of the issues will be integrating the seller opt-out options for address.

  3. @Mike,
    I think a RETS feed that permits the broker/AVP to create and maintain a synchronized copy of relevant portions of the MLS database on the broker/AVP’s servers will meet the persistent download requirement.

    A RETS interface designed to provide brokers data only as needed, in response to consumer queries on the broker’s web site, would probably not do the trick.


  4. Mike Wurzer noted in a post today that FBS’s RETS server likely wil permit his company’s MLS clients to meet the download requirements of the VOW policy, because it permits MLSs to configure RETS interfaces flexibly. I’m not surprised to hear that of FBS, and I expect other MLS service providers will offer similar flexibility.