I assume you are aware that I was wrong two weeks ago, when I said I expected NAR would pass the new social media IDX policy out of a sense of fatigue. In fact, the multiple listing policy committee approved the use of IDX listings in social media in concept only, with final approval pending the presentation of rule language in Washington in May. (The proposal to include IDX listings in RSS feeds was rejected outright, and, as expected, the franchisor IDX policy, which I have strongly criticized, was rescinded, though franchisors are encouraged to get set up as syndication channels to receive the listings of local brokers.)

The news in the last couple days that another large regional broker has decided to stop syndicating its listings, at least to some sites, makes IDX policy all the more important. Brokers who want to pursue the strategy of Edina Realty or Shorewest need very strong IDX programs in their markets to be able to mount an alternative to national listing websites. So it will be critical to get this policy right.

But we now have to wait until NAR publishes draft rule language to discuss the matter further… or do we? We propose a different approach, and we’re offering to provide some leadership to make it happen. Here’s what we will do:

  1. We will do a series of blog posts, each intended to prompt a discussion leading to a draft set of rules, based on NAR’s model IDX rules.
  2. Later this month: The first post will ask industry leaders to identify the ways that they think brokers and agents are already using other brokers’ listings in social media, ways they might want to do so, and a basis for defining what we mean when we say “social media.”
  3. In December: Given the examples we collect in the previous step, we should be able to identify the following: (a) the benefits that displaying brokers expect to derive from the social media displays; (b) the concerns that listing brokers might have about those displays; (c) the issues that MLSs might have in policing the displays for policy compliance; and (d) difficulties we might have when defining “social media.”
  4. In January: Out of the previous steps, we should be able to define what we mean by “social media” and provide a decent list of objectives that any social media rules should seek to achieve.
  5. In February: We will post draft rules (based on the NAR model IDX rules) that we believe achieve the objectives previously defined. There will probably be more than one draft as the discussions refine them, but I’d like to see us propose something workable by the end of February.

In each of these steps, we will do a post or posts to provide an outline and preliminary proposals of issues; we’ll count on reader comments to refine them until we (as editors of the project) are satisfied. We will extend personal invitations to the members of NAR’s prior workgroups on these issues, to leading brokers of various stripes, and to MLS executives, to take part in the effort.

We don’t expect to get unanimous support, and we’re happy to include criticisms and alternative reviews in the final document. In any event, the effort should result in a thoughtful approach that is well grounded in policy objectives. If the results are good, NAR may choose to use them itself. If NAR develops its own approach, our effort should provide a rational alternative against which to measure it. Hopefully, we’ll all go into the DC meetings a little better prepared to discuss and resolve the really sticky issues.

Facilitating and editing this project will be a time-consuming effort on our part, and I’m not interested in doing it if we’ll only be talking to ourselves. I’m hoping to see at least a handful of comments on this post suggesting you are interested. If that does not happen, we’ll drop the matter and move on to other projects.


Reader Interactions


  1. Good work Brian. I love your approach. I was considering leading a similar effort regarding "MLS Certification" to build consensus from the grass roots of associations / MLS / Brokers / syndicators and publishers. We don't have to wait for NAR or another NAR meeting to move this forward. Point2, Clareity, Homes.com Listhub and others have laid the foundation I think. We just

  2. Bravo Brian! Finally, someone is willing to take a thoughtful and organized approach to a VERY difficult subject. If you're willing to "drive the bus" – I'm willing to hop on board and help in any way I can … ollectively, we can do this!

  3. Defining social media – is this just an exercise in futility? Every day more and more ways of communicating via "social media" go live. If you try to define them all the rule would never be complete. How about we just simplify as the workgroup recommended? IDX is display -put rules around that.

    Adding more compliance rules to the MLS is a waste of time and resources and

  4. While I tend to agree with Russ's comment that this could be a lesson in futility I think the conversation is good. I also think that as long as this is approached as broker "opt-in" I don't know that the end result is nearly as critical.

  5. Russ: I think your comment reflects a common view. My concern is this: If we don't sort some of this out in advance of May's NAR meeting, what we'll get is a policy that suffers from the deficiencies you identified AND it won't be well thought-out.

    I hope you'll take part in the discussion anyway, though!

    Also, I've learned there is another effort at

  6. Brian – I too applaud your approach of trying to have a discussion and create consensus rather than waiting for "more rules". I can understand Russ Bergeron's frustration as well.

    I think we are trying to lump everything into one pot and there in lies the problem. IDX – was created for Brokers to be able to display each other listings and the "RETS" feed

  7. Thx. You know I'll be there to discuss and/or cuss.

    Dan – The broker opt in sounds good on paper. Where it tends to fall apart is at the MLS level – do we list every social media site as an opt-in candidate? Who is the keeper of the master list? Or do we just say opt-in to "social media"? What would that include? If I have an app on facebook that is actually a complete

  8. Russ Bergeron said…

    Defining social media – is this just an exercise in futility? … IDX is display -put rules around that.

    I'm not sure why the real estate community would try to define social media when the wiki social media community has already accomplished the task…"The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn

  9. I've written before that I believe the heart of the issue lies in proper licensing. As Russ said, the heart of IDX is display but that begs the question of display to who and for what purpose? The short answer is display to consumers for their personal use in buying or selling a home. If the license agreements (1) from the listing brokers to the MLS, (2) from the MLS to the displaying brokers