NAR’s IDX Rule Changes Need More Study

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

The NAR Board of Directors voted Saturday to send two recommendations regarding acceptable use of IDX data back to the Multiple Listing Policy Committee because the committee is currently reviewing all IDX policies with an eye toward updating them. The action came at the board meeting that concluded the national association’s 2009 NAR Midyear Legislation Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.

IDX, or Internet Data Exchange, refers to a system and process that allows multiple listing service participants to display each others’ property listings on their web sites.

The recommended changes to the IDX rules were as follows (underlined sections indicate proposed additions, strikeouts indicate proposed deletions):

1. Multiple Listing Policy Statement 7.58, paragraph 2, Policies Applicable to Participants’ IDX Sites, Internet Data Exchange (“IDX”) Policy: “Participants must protect IDX information from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor and prevent “scraping” or other unauthorized accessing reproduction, or uses. of the MLS database. This requirement does not prohibit indexing of IDX sites by search engines.

2. Section 18.2.2, model MLS rules: “Participants must protect IDX information from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor and prevent “scraping” or other unauthorized accessing, reproduction, or uses. of the MLS database. This requirement does not prohibit indexing of IDX sites by search engines.

In discussion of the issue at the board meeting, an NAR director from Indianapolis rose to suggest the recommendations be sent back to MLS committee, since this group is already reviewing all aspects of the IDX policy, first implemented in 2002, with an eye toward updating them. The move to refer back was driven not by any objections to the actual proposals, the speaker said, but rather by the fact that neither the MLS committee nor NAR directors had sufficient time to review the changes and consider their implications.

The IDX rule on scraping — a term that refers to the harvesting of Internet data, often for unauthorized use — was passionately discussed on the Agent Genius real estate blog and others last week after a local board of REALTORS®’ interpretation of the rule that was backed by NAR found that the rule prohibited property listings from being indexed on search engines such as Google. In response to the concerns about this interpretation expressed by hundreds of REALTORS® on the blog, NAR’s MLS Committee took up the issue at its meeting earlier this week.

In that meeting, a majority of the committee agreed that “scraping” and “indexing” are different forms of data use and approved the revisions to the IDX rules that specifically allow the “indexing” of IDX data rule by search engines. Revisions to the rule were prepared just days before the committee meeting, so that the committee could consider them at its upcoming meeting.

The NAR director who spoke to the board expressed concern at the speed at which these changes were about to be implemented, possibly without full consideration of their implications.

The vote of the NAR directors to refer the IDX rule changes back to the committee was closest of the meeting, requiring board members to hold up placards after the typical voice vote proved inconclusive.

What do you think of these proposed changes? Would they significantly impact the way you do business on the Web? Let us know!

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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  1. Hi to all, I have been studying the NAR and MLS issues for some time. I work in the IT field in the military and can tell you from the start that there are many agents that will stay old fashioned. They will become extincted. The MLS system started out as a good idea however like many companies back in the day were not ready for the technology boom. The NAR will lose their monopoly on their precise MLS system, i.e., Google, and even big Microsoft took a peek at making their own MLS system that scared the hell out of the NAR. The NAR and their members (Realtors) are going to have to take this battle to the internet. Agents can be good for buying a home for first time home buyers however the knowledge that I have acquired I really don’t need an agent. It is a sad situation but the only way to stay in the game is to change your plan of attack.

    Too all, knowledge is only as good as you know how to use it.

  2. The IDX model is clearly in flux today – and given Google’s current (and planned) aggressive moves into the real estate space, these clearly need to be updated and an expanded and forward thinking view needs to be included.

  3. So, my sources are telling me that Google is getting ready to make an even bigger announcement in the Real Estate Area… I’m sure some of this will seem like the minor skirmish vs. the real battle that will be waged in the future.

  4. It seems unrealistic to me that long-term NAR (or anyone) can avoid having listings scraped given the nature of the Internet.

    What would be a better approach is to find a way to create a win-win scenario before some dominant party – possibly Google – figures out how to dis-intermediate the existing parties.

  5. Interest – we’re hearing the same thing from the coaching side from national clients that Google has a planned announcement for next 60 days. Anyone else hear anything specific about Google?

  6. At least now the rules are the same for everyone.

  7. Nothing yet from Google… however they have moved into the mortgage industry. If you Google “mortgage calculator” they now have the top paid ad and it takes you to lenders that they will refer you to. Interesting…

  8. Hopefully, more Realtors will become aware of these issues. In spite of the terms of use, there are still some brokers who disregard certain IDX terms.

  9. The whole idea of requiring members to “Protect IDX Information” shows how out of touch some people at NAR are. The Internet has a very good track record of freeing information. It also has a reputation for disintermediation, although I don’t think that will apply to real estate the way it has to insurance and stock trading.

  10. I am glad this got resolved and that all REALTORS are allowed to try to get MLS listings indexed in the search engines. It has been very helpful to my real estate practice.