The Idea

Concern arose years ago about business practices and formats of many websites, some owned/operated by MLSs and others owned by media companies and others by brokerages. Certain functions were deemed to be confusing and misleading to the consumer public at best. To provide clarity, a group of representatives of real estate networks, real estate franchisors, real estate brokerages and MLSs convened to develop guidance for those developing and managing technology that would publish information about real estate for sale/rent to the public. The guidelines were designed not to limit competition or to steer business in any direction, but instead to help the consumer get more accurate information, enjoy a more efficient process for gathering that information and to determine on his/her/their own what party or parties from whom they wished to seek that information.

Gathering Of Thought Leaders

A group of representatives met in person to hammer out the exact wording of the Guidelines and secure endorsement of the Guidelines by their organizations.

The Brokers

Jon Coile – Champion Realty
Craig Cheatham – The Realty Alliance
Kent Hanley – William Raveis
Joe Horning – Shorewest

Cindy Ariosa – Long & Foster
Pam O’Connor – Leading RE
Dan Elsea – Real Estate One
Alex Perillo – Realogy

The MLS Industry

Ann Bailey – COVE
Bob Hale – Houston MLS
David Charron – MRIS

The Script

A number of representatives of real estate networks, franchisors and brokerages had been working on issues related to business practices and functionality on real estate real estate advertising websites, including those owned/managed by MLSs. Certain practices were seen as confusing and perhaps even harmful to the consumer public and as creating inefficiency in the dissemination of real estate information and disruptive to the real estate transaction process. From that project that group had assembled 24 points that were thought to be important starting points as we all worked to define the rules of Fair Display of a broker’s listings on an MLS Public Facing website. The full list of 24 Points was emailed around to the brokers and the MLS employees and volunteer leaders and ultimately with the help of all, the list was whittled down to ten points in advance of our face-to-face meeting at NAR Mid-Year.

The Outcome

The group ultimately settled on Eight “Fair Display” Guidelines. The guidelines were further vetted, edited and then ultimately approved and copyrighted by The Realty Alliance Board.

Trust But Verify

Clareity Consulting offered to survey the 300 MLSes that have public facing websites, and then verify their answers. From their surveys we have created a list of Fair Display Certified℠ websites.

The Fair Display Guidelines may not solve World Peace but they are a step in the right direction to ensure that real estate listings are displayed on the Internet in a fair and honest manner that respects the seller, the potential buyers, the listing agent and the rest of the real estate industry.