This morning I received an email from a not-so-happy agent from another brokerage. They had found one of their listings on our website and wanted to know how this was possible as they had “not given us permission” nor was it “permitted by SABOR” [SABOR is our local real estate association that owns and operates the MLS]. Of course, I knew why the listing had appeared and knew that neither of these assumptions were true. In fact, the agent had given us permission and it was well within the “MLS Rules and Regulations” of SABOR for us to be showing this property on our website.
Now here’s what bothers me. I’m a nerd, I freely admit that. I tinker and toy with websites and IDX all day long looking for new ways for our company to grow and expand. So yes, I pay attention to these things more than most, but for agents not to understand or be aware of IDX in this day and age is shocking to me. I urge all brokers to sit your agents down and explain it to them, because this is a major component to your business today.
What follows is my response to the agent, edited to remove any reference to their name or their company. Hope you enjoy it (and perhaps those brokers that still haven’t taught their agents about IDX can use it as a teaching aid).
Dear agent, this explains it all.
Hi, my name is Matt and I am the web-nerd for Kimberly Howell Properties. I received your email via our system in reference to your listing at [redacted] informing us that you did not give us permission to post your listing on our site. You also mentioned that SABOR does not approve of it. You found it on our site at the following link: [redacted]
Your property is appearing on our website – www.kimberlyhowell.com – via syndication through IDX (Internet Data Exchange). You may read more about IDX and what opportunities it provides at www.sabor.com/index.php/mls/rules-a-regulations.html (See MLS Rules and Regulations, Page 2, Section 18 – Internet Data Exchange (IDX)). Via IDX, we are able to list and show virtually any property that is listed on the SABOR MLS. Via a contract (provided by SABOR) between us, SABOR, and Diverse Solutions (the company who provides us with our IDX solution), we have the ability and express permission of SABOR to show these listings on our website. SABOR provides the MLS data to Diverse Solutions and they in turn for a fee provide us with the tools to make these listings appear on our website.
There are two main ways for a property to not appear on our website (See MLS Rules and Regulations, Page 2, Section 18.1 – Authorization). One is a blanket refusal of participation in IDX by the broker, which your broker, [redacted], does not have (I know this only because of the amount of properties we have of yours that appear on our site). The other method, is a listing by listing method. This can be done via the MLS during listing data entry. The “Media” tab of the MLS input now contains two drop downs – “Display Listing on Internet” and “Display Address on Internet.” By marking “Display Listing on Internet” as “NO” you would be able to keep your listing off of the internet via IDX (and if I remember correctly all syndication – ie, it won’t appear anywhere). There are also checkboxes for these on the newest version of the Residential Real Estate Listing Agreement Exclusive Right to Sell (TAR-1101, Revision 3-02-12, Page 5, Paragraph 11. Broker’s Authority, Section B). If for some reason you have checked these boxes on your listing, then you will need to speak to SABOR directly about the issue as your data is still being pushed out via IDX.
A quick google search for [redacted] brings back an impressive amount of results (about 1.16 million, although many of these probably can be discounted as there is more than likely more than one [redacted] in the US). You can review the results yourself at: [redacted]
As you can see there are the usual results (the big aggregators – Zillow, Trulia, and REALTOR.com) as well as many small syndicators (movoto.com, homes.com. etc.) and even some brokerages and agent sites (your personalized results will vary but I see [redacted] as one of them). In this case, I’m not even finding us on page one…or the [redacted] site. Because of the dearth of results, I’m going to venture a guess and assume you have not given a refusal to participate via the “Display Listing on Internet” drop down menu in MLS. Of course, this would be the quickest and easiest way to scrub your listing from the internet, although it would still take a few days to really see the effects (SABOR has a minimum requirement of IDX feed updates of every three days – we update a lot more often however).
I hope this helps explain IDX a bit and helps you understand why your property appears on our site. It’s actually a rather common practice and is growing in size every day. We here in San Antonio are a bit behind the curve when it comes to implementing the IDX systems for broker and agent websites if you ask me, but I’m seeing it more and more and I welcome the change. With people using the internet more and more, it makes sense to make properties available on other sites, after all, the goal is to sell the property, and the more people that can view it, the larger the pool of potential buyers.
If there’s anything else I can do to help your understanding of IDX and its uses, please let me know.
I also highly recommend this article by Jay Thomspon (The Phoenix Real Estate Guy) on the subject. Although he is dealing with a different MLS (ARMLS in Arizona), the story is quite the same. Jay is widely regarded by many as the Godfather of Real Estate Blogging and is a highly sought after speaker on the subject (and many others) at many events across the nation.