Seems that the Economy and the Political scene in this hot election year has caused the DOJ to re-think their approach on the battle with the National Association of Realtors. The case was settled this week or rather it appears that the DOJ gave up, because they did not want to seem unsympathetic to the plight of the industry as a whole, given the political climate et all in the U.S. right now.
The reason I and others say gave up is because, we do not think that the DOJ went far enough into really scrutinizing the MLS control issues.
One thing they did do was help free up the hold on VOWs, and that in it self may not have been a good thing depending on how you view the situation.
So what is a VOW anyway ? A VOW is basically a Virtual Office. One description I have often heard is in reference to the difference between an IDX platform and a VOW. VOWS differ from IDX by essentially taking the IDX platform at least one step further.” VOWS are “private business platforms that are designed to facilitate actual transactions” by registering consumers and delivering them as leads to other companies and sales agents, in some cases.
Hereâ€™s one of the key-issues that was discussed by NAR and various Multiple Listing Services on how VOWs operated.
â€œSome MLSs have objected to VOWs putting information on sold, expired or withdrawn listings on the Internet, saying that it makes it easier to mine data that belongs to their members.â€
The settlement, in effect says the Internet and innovation is going to be supported, and you have to allow competition to come into this space. Some brokers don’t like the changes and are trying to protect their business. This says you have to compete fairly.”
To put it in laymen s terms.
If a consumer visits a Realtor or Brokers web site with MLS listing data supplied in an IDX (Internet data exchange) format, most likely the consumer will be able to browse and research data without being required to verify an email address or create a log-in account. However with a VOW site, the consumer has to create a log-in, or leave identifying information to be able to access the data.
One such site is ZIP Realty, whose CEO made the comment’s above. On their site you can enter search criteria for an MLS search however, you cannot view any details of that data, including pictures on their site without registering first.
Only time will tell now how NAR and the MLSâ€™s continue to move forward in the integration of technology
One thing is for certain though, and that is that the monopolistic polices adopted by some MLS boards will continue to garner scrutiny by other state and federal agencies. In that venue the Justice Department is currently engaged in a lawsuit over policies adopted by an MLS in South Carolina, as an example, and the Federal Trade Commission is engaged in a lawsuit with a Michigan MLS.
If you interested in more details on the major talking points, I will defer to the excellent post by non other than Mr. Greg Swain of the Bloodhound Blog.
Look here for the details of the DOJ/NAR proposed Final Judgment,
In closing, I must confess that, Greg’s blog is what I one day aspire to be when mine grows up. Maybe not on this blog, but then again you never know ?