Internet Display of Listings: Broker Considerations for Syndication

The following list of considerations was developed to assist a broker in evaluating organizations and websites for display of the broker’s listings. Each broker should make an independent business decision where and under what terms to permit the display of the broker’s listings.

The National Association of REALTORS® (“NAR”) has heard a variety of concerns raised by listing brokers about the syndication or re-syndication of their listings without their knowledge or consent.  Brokers have also expressed concern over dated listing information appearing on websites and about leads from their listings sold or directed to other brokers or agents.

The NAR MLS rules (including the IDX and VOW policies) address a number of the key data issues. Third-party websites, however, are not subject to NAR policies.

The listing broker owns the listing agreement. The broker’s consent is required in order for the broker’s listings to be advertised by any party other than the broker.

Any advertisement of a listing must include the broker’s name and any additional information required by state law such as office location or telephone number. Below is a list of additional factors brokers should consider when deciding where to advertise their listings.

Display Issues

  • Is the broker’s identity prominently displayed?    
  • Is the listing agent identified?  Is the listing agent’s contact information included?
  • Do links on the listing display go directly to the broker?
  • Does the publisher update the listings on a timely basis, including updates to the price and removal of active listing status when the property is taken off the market? 
  • Does the publisher’s display of listings contain a “freshness” date or timestamp?
  • Does the publisher identify the source of the listings?
  • Does the publisher receive the listings from an authoritative source?
  • If a publisher accepts listings from multiple, overlapping sources, does the publisher have a publicly available policy stating how it handles duplicate listings from those multiple sources?
  • If the publisher accepts listings from multiple, overlapping sources, does the broker have control over which data sources take precedent?
  • Does the listing display include advertisements? Are those ads of other real estate licensees? Are these ads displayed on listing detail pages of other brokers’ listings?
  • Are agents who are not affiliated with the broker advertised on the broker’s listings?
  • Does the listing display clearly distinguish between the listing content and advertising placed around the listing?
  • Does the publisher modify the listing content?
  • Does the publisher augment the listing content?  (e.g., add sellers’ names, automated valuations or allow for comments or reviews?)  Does the publisher give the broker the ability to opt out of having any of the additional content displayed on her listings?
  • Does the publisher co-mingle or display “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) properties on the website?
  • Does the publisher have a process to promptly correct inaccurate listing information?
  • Does the publisher’s website include a disclaimer that the listing information is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed? 
  • Is the publisher’s identity readily identifiable on the website?
  • Are all sites “powered” by the publisher (listings displayed under the publisher’s URL, but framed into another site), identified by the publisher?
  • Does the publisher have control over the advertising content displayed on these “powered by” sites?

Protection of Listings

  • Are copyright notices on listings preserved and displayed?
  • Does the publisher have an effective process to guard against scraping or unauthorized use of the listings?
  • How are visitors to the publisher’s website permitted to use the listings?  (e.g., send via email, post on Facebook?)
  • Do the terms of use on the publisher’s website restrict the use of the listing information  exclusively to consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and prohibit its use for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing? 

Contract Issues

  • Is the broker required to transfer any rights in the listings, including intellectual property rights, to the publisher?
  • Does the publisher acknowledge the broker’s rights to the listing information and agree not to challenge any of those rights?
  • Does the contract prohibit the publisher from re-transmitting, re-purposing or sharing the listings with third parties?
  • Does the publisher permanently retain the listing information? If yes, how is it used?
  • Does the publisher have a process that provides the broker with metrics on views of the broker’s listings and/ or leads?
  • Is the business model used by the publisher to monetize its site understood by the broker?  If yes, is the broker comfortable with the value received by the use of her listings in connection with the business model?
  • Can the data license with the publisher be terminated or can the Broker otherwise stop sending listings to the publisher at any time?  If not, what is the term of the agreement? Is notice required for termination?

If you have questions, please contact NAR's Legal Affairs department at 312-329-8270.