Final Judgment Summary
- “Broker” means a person licensed by a state to provide services to a buyer or seller in connection with a real estate transaction (includes agents associated with the broker).
- “Customer” means a seller client of a Broker or Person who has expressed to a Broker an interest in purchasing residential real property and who has described the type, features, or location of the property in which he or she has an interest, entitling the Broker to Provide the Customer MLS listing information by any method (e.g., by hand, mail, facsimile, electronic mail, or display on a VOW).
- “Modified VOW Policy” means the policy attached to this Final Judgment as Exhibit A
- “VOW” or “virtual office website” means a website, or feature of a website, operated by a Broker or for a Broker by another Person through which the Broker is capable of providing real estate brokerage services to consumers with whom the Broker has first established a Broker-consumer relationship (as defined by state law) where the consumer has the opportunity to search MLS data, subject to the Broker’s oversight, supervision, and accountability.
NAR is to permit DOJ access to records and reports for purposes of determining compliance with the Final Judgment. The Final Judgment expires 10 years from date of entry.
MLS Participant – Exhibit B Summary
A key part of the Final Judgment in the settlement of the action brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) against the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is the clarification of the definition of “MLS Participant” under Statement 7.9 of the “Statement of MLS Policy” and Section 3 of the “Model MLS Rules,” as covered in “Exhibit B” of the Final Judgment.
Under the new definition of MLS Participant, the individual or firm must hold a current, valid real estate broker’s license and offer or accept cooperation and compensation to and from other Participants. Note that Participants can also be appraisers who are licensed or certified by an appropriate state regulatory agency to engage in the appraisal of real property.
The most significant change requires that Participants actually “offer or accept cooperation and compensation” — the previous definition required that they only be “capable of offering and accepting cooperation and compensation.”
Modified VOW Policy – Exhibit A Summary
- A Participant may operate their own VOW or designate an Affiliated VOW Partner (“AVP”) to operate a VOW on their behalf, subject to the Participant’s supervision and accountability and the terms of this Policy (similar to IDX solution providers).
- With the Participant’s consent, non-principal brokers and sales licensees may operate a VOW.
- The right to display listings in response to consumer searches is limited to display of MLS data supplied by the MLS(s) in which Participant has participatory rights.
- Participants’ Internet websites may also provide other features, information, or services in addition to VOWs (including the Internet Data Exchange “IDX” function); thus, a site can use both IDX and VOW if desired.
- The display of listing information on a VOW does not require separate permission from the Participant whose listings will be available on the VOW; i.e.,the opt-in/opt-out procedures with IDX do not apply to VOWs.
- A Participant may provide brokerage services via a VOW, but only to clients and consumers (“Registrants”) with whom the Participant has first established a lawful consumer-broker relationship in compliance with state law disclosures.
- The Registrant must supply a user name and password, which password must expire on a certain date (no sooner than 90 days) but may be renewed. The Participant must keep records of Registrant access information and make them available to the MLS if a suspected violation or breach of security occurs (e.g., for audit trails).
- The VOW must display contact information so a consumer can contact the Participant to ask questions. The participant must be “willing and able” to respond knowledgeably to inquiries from Registrants about properties within the market area served by the Participant and displayed on the VOW.
- A Participant’s VOW must protect the MLS data from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor for and prevent “scraping” or other unauthorized accessing, reproduction, or use of the MLS database.
- No VOW shall display listings or property addresses of sellers who have affirmatively directed their listing brokers to withhold their listing or property address from display on the Internet. The seller must sign an approved standard form (sample located in Appendix to Exhibit A). The broker must keep the Seller Opt-Out Form on file for one year.
- The seller can request that the VOW disable or discontinue any feature that (a) allows display of an automated estimate of the market value in immediate conjunction with the listing or (b) allows third-parties to write comments or reviews about particular listings or displays a hyperlink to such comments or reviews in immediate conjunction with the listing. A Participant may include personal comments (“professional judgment”) about other brokers’ listings posted on the VOW, and the seller’s right to require the Participant to “disable” the inclusion of third party comments does not apply to those. But the Participant’s comments are subject to the requirement of section II.5.d that requires those statements to be accurate.
- The VOW must maintain a means to receive comments about the accuracy of data added beyond that supplied by the MLS and that relates to a specific property displayed on the VOW. The VOW operator must correct or remove any false data (other than information that simply reflects good faith opinion, advice, or professional judgment).
- Each VOW must refresh MLS data at least every 3 days.
- Except as provided in this Policy or in MLS rules and regulations, no portion of the MLS database may be distributed, provided, or made accessible to any person or entity.
- A VOW may exclude listings from display based only on objective criteria, including, but not limited to, factors such as geography, list price, type of property, cooperative compensation offered by listing broker, or whether the listing broker is a REALTOR.
- A Participant must notify the MLS of its intent to establish a VOW and make the VOW readily accessible to the MLS and to all MLS Participants for verifying compliance purposes.
- MLS Participants may operate VOWs, or have Affiliated VOW Partners (AVPs) operate for them, subject to state law and this Policy.
- Participants may request basic “downloading” of all MLS non-confidential listing data. Confidential data includes only that which Participants are prohibited from providing to customers orally and by all other delivery mechanisms. Sold data shall be deemed confidential and withheld from download only if the actual sales prices of completed transactions are not accessible from public records (in certain ‘non-disclosure’ states or counties, such as Texas, Utah, Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico).
- MLSs are not required to establish publicly accessible sites displaying Participants’ listings. See http://PublicListings.RealTown.com
- MLSs may require appropriate security protections and/or maintain an audit trail of Registrant’s activity.
- An MLS may not prohibit or regulate display of advertising or the identification of entities on VOWs except to prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising. The seller does not have the same right to request these ads be disabled as they can with any third party comments or automated estimates of market value in immediate conjunction with the seller’s listing. III.7 is the new version of what was referred to as the “clean page” rule in the old policy. That rule precluded any advertising on a page of a VOW where a listing of another broker was displayed. The new rule allows such advertising but precludes it when, in effect, it appears in such a fashion that it is not clear that the VOW itself is operated by the participant operating the VOW. That is why there is a “deceptive or misleading standard” and a safe harbor provision addressing the size of the identification of entities other than the VOW operator.
- An MLS may not prohibit Participants from enhancing their VOWs by providing information obtained from sources other than the MLS, additional technological services (such as mapping functionality), or information derived from non-confidential MLS data (such as estimated monthly payment derived from the listed price), nor can the MLS restrict the format of data display on a VOW or regulate the appearance of VOWs.
- An MLS shall make the MLS data available to an AVP under the same terms and conditions as those applicable to Participants. AVP access to MLS data is derivative of the rights of the Participant on whose behalf the AVP is downloading data. MLSs may require Participants and AVPs to execute license or similar agreements that insure that the data provided by the MLS may be used only to establish and operate a VOW on behalf of the Participant and not for any other purpose.
- An MLS may not prohibit, restrict, or impede a Participant from referring Registrants to any person or from obtaining a fee for such referral.
- An MLS may impose certain requirements on VOWs but may impose them only to the extent that equivalent requirements are imposed on Participants’ use of MLS data in providing brokerage services via all other delivery mechanisms. A Participant’s VOW may not make available for search or display to Registrants the following data intended exclusively for other MLS Participants: 1. Expired, withdrawn, or pending listings 2. Sold data unless the actual sales price of completed transaction is accessible from public records 3. The compensation offered to other MLS Participants 4. The type of listing agreement, i.e., exclusive right to sell or exclusive agency 5. The sellers and occupants name, phone number, and email address, where available 6. Instructions or remarks intended for cooperating brokers only, such as those regarding showing or security of the listed property.
- Content of MLS data that is displayed on a VOW may not be changed from the content as it is provided in the MLS. MLS data may be augmented with additional data or information not otherwise prohibited from display as long as the source is clearly identified.
- Any listing displayed on a VOW shall identify the name of the listing firm in a readily visible color (not, for example, white on white), and reasonably prominent location, and in a typeface not smaller than the median typeface used in the display of listing data. The listing shall also identify the name of the listing agent.
- The MLS can limit the number of listings that may be viewed or downloaded in response to an inquiry, but in no event may the limit be fewer than 100 listings or 5% of the listings in the MLS, whichever is less.
- An MLS may not prohibit Participants from downloading and displaying or framing listiings obtained from other sources but may require either that such information be searched separately or, if such other sources are searched in conjunction with searches of the listings available on the VOW, that the display of listings from other sources identify such other source.
Additional Resource Video (6 min) – https://www.realtown.com/about/resources/InternetListingDisplayResource/Final-Summary
https://www.realtown.com/about/resources/InternetListingDisplayResource – there is a sidebar box with links to key summaries, documents, and videos of Saul and John discussing the DOJ/NAR Settlement when it was hot off the press in late 2007