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in RSS feeds was rejected outright, and, as expected, the franchisor IDX policy, which I have strongly criticized, was rescinded, though franchisors are encouraged to get set up as syndication channels to receive the listings of local brokers.)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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.