In May, NAR will be discussing a policy proposal that originates with The Realty Alliance (TRA). You can read TRA’s open letter to NAR here on The Realty Alliance website. At issue in TRA’s letter is this position:
TRA believes current NAR MLS Policy already permits MLS Participants to use MLS data to create AVMs using third-party software and deliver the AVM results to financial institution end users for a fee separate from any brokerage commission that may be earned on the sale of the subject property. Since the use of MLS data for this purpose is a permitted use under NAR’s MLS Policy, MLSs subject to that Policy cannot effectively deny MLS Participants the ability to engage in this permitted use of MLS data by refusing Participants and their technology service providers to use the MLS’ VOW data feed to create the AVMs.
In other words, in TRAs view, NAR should require that MLSs provide data feeds to MLS participants to allow them to build AVMs for sale to third parties.
Over the next couple weeks, I plan to do four blog posts addressing this issue (not counting this one):
- Summary of current policy based on NAR responses to inquiries we made last summer and fall.
- Examination of TRA’s letter.
- Examination of NAR’s proposed policy language, when it becomes available.
- Some thoughts about the proposed policy.
I should emphasize that I don’t have any strong personal feelings about this issue. Some of our MLS clients believe that they should not provide data feeds for these broker-owned AVMs. Others are fine with it, provided the broker signs a license agreement that protects the MLS and other brokers. Still others have said [while aiming a data hose in the general direction of requesting broker] “You want data? Here it is!”
Instead, I see this as an opportunity to discuss the policy issue and existing proposals so that MLS leaders go into the NAR Midyear meetings equipped to make decisions after some thoughtful deliberation.
I can’t deliberate by myself, so this post is really intended as a warm-up. I’d like you to start thinking about the issue so that you’ll have questions when the later posts go up. Read over the TRA letter, too. It’s well-reasoned and carefully argued.
Note: Our firm has previously represented The Realty Alliance, though not in matters related to MLSs. We currently represent the Council of MLSs, but these posts do not necessarily represent the position of CMLS or any of its members. And as noted above, our MLS clients have a variety of views on this subject, all of which appear to us to be supported by rational arguments. Finally, we also represent a few of the larger brokers in the U.S., some of whom are members of TRA; again, we don’t represent them with regard to their relations with MLSs. I have not consulted them regarding their views on this issue, and I therefore have no idea what their views on it are.