NAR policy allows MLSs to write their own social media listing display rules

Inman News

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The National Association of Realtors has approved a policy that allows individual multiple listing services to choose whether to allow member brokers and agents to display for-sale listings represented by other, consenting members on social media sites.

NAR's Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee approved and recommended the policy on Saturday; NAR's board of directors approved the policy without discussion via a voice vote on Monday at NAR's annual Conference and Expo.

For the most part, the policy lets MLSs that choose to allow the display of shared listings on social media sites write their own rules, but the policy also forbids MLSs from requiring that their member brokers and agents allow their listings to be distributed through social media, or other nontraditional channels such as text messaging.

NAR had considered adopting a blanket policy for the display of shared Internet data exchange (IDX) listings on social media sites that would have applied to all MLSs affiliated with the trade association, but NAR leaders backed down after some MLSs objected to the difficulty of policing social media sites for compliance with rules that govern the display of IDX listings.

Consequently, instead of amending its policies governing the display of IDX listings so that those rules also governed the display of IDX listings on social media sites, NAR is creating another avenue for the display of a different set of shared listings, outside the context of IDX policy.

Brokers who want to participate in IDX are either "all in" or "all out." They can't choose whether or not to display listings represented by other participating brokers on their own websites, or prevent listings that they contribute to the IDX pool from being displayed on the websites of other participating MLS members.

Therefore, had the policy kept display of shared listings on social media within IDX rules, those brokers who strongly objected to seeing their listings on social media sites would only have the option to withdraw from IDX altogether, causing potentially serious gaps in listings coverage for industry websites in their market.

At NAR's midyear meeting in May, NAR approved several rules governing the display of IDX listings on mobile devices. These included a rule preventing MLSs from restricting their members from distributing IDX listing data using mobile applications; a new definition of websites and mobile apps where IDX listings are displayed; how "control" is determined for these IDX listings; and an option for IDX listing information of 200 characters or less to appear without full IDX policy-related disclosures if a link is provided that connects directly to a full, policy-abiding listing. The latter is particularly relevant to listing information appearing on Twitter, in text messages, and in other abbreviated listings platforms.

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