Section 15 VOW and IDX

Section 15 VOW and IDX


Note: Provisions in this Section 15 include references to section numbers in the NAR model rules for VOWs. Those references appear as “NAR Section x.x.”  These reference numbers appear here only to ease comparisons of these rules with the NAR model rules.

Section 15.1 Definitions and Usage.  (NAR Section 19.1)a)
  1. A “VOW” or “Virtual Office Website” is a Participant’s Internet website, or a feature of a Participant’s website, through which the Participant can provide real estate brokerage services to consumers with whom the Participant has first established a broker-consumer relationship (as defined by state law) where the consumer can search MLS Listing Information, subject to the Participant’s oversight, supervision, and accountability. References to “VOW” and “VOWs” include all VOWs, whether operated by a Participant, by a non-principal broker, or by an AVP on behalf of a Participant.
  2. “Participant,” as used in Section 15of these rules, includes a Participant’s affiliated non-principal broker or sales licensee is subject to the participant’s oversight, supervision, and accountability.
Section 15.2 Scope limited; Other services permitted; No listing broker permission required. (NAR Section 19.2)
  1. The right of a Participant’s VOW to display MLS Listing Information is limited to that supplied by the MLS(s) in which the Participant has participatory rights. However, a Participant with offices participating in different MLSs may operate a master website with links to the VOWs of the other offices.
  2. Subject to the provisions of the VOWPolicy and these rules, a Participant’s VOW, including any VOW operated on behalf of a Participant by an AVP, may provide other features, information, or functions, e.g. Internet Data Exchange (“IDX”).
  3. Except as otherwise provided in the VOW Policy or in these rules, a Participant need not obtain separate permission from other service Participants whose listings will be displayed on the Participant’s VOW.
Section 15.3 Prerequisites for Access; Registration; Terms of Use. (NAR Section 19.3)
  1. Prerequisites for access. Before permitting any consumer to search for or retrieve any MLS Listing Information on his or her VOW, the Participant must take each of the following steps:
    1. The Participant must first establish with that consumer a lawful broker-consumer relationship (as defined by state law), including completion of all actions required by state law aboutproviding real estate brokerage services to clients and customers (hereinafter “Registrants”). Such actions shall include, but are not limited to, satisfying all applicable agency, non-agency, and other disclosure obligations, and execution of any required agreements.
    2. The Participant must obtain the name of, and a valid email address for, each Registrant. The Participant must send an email to the address provided by the Registrant confirming that the Registrant has agreed to the Terms of Use (described in subsection (d) below). The Participant must verify that the email address provided by the Registrant is valid and that the Registrant has agreed to the Terms of Use.
    3. The Participant must require each Registrant to have a user name and a password, the combination of which is different from those of all other Registrants on the VOW. The Participant may, at his or her option, supply the user name and password or may allowthe Registrant to establish his or her user name and password. The Participant must also assure that any email address is associated with only one user name and password.
  2. Password expiration; Retention of records.The Participant must assure that each Registrant’s password expires on a date certain but may provide for renewal of the password. The Participant must always maintain a record of the name, email address, user name, and current password of each Registrant. The Participant must keep such records for not less than 180 days after the expiration of the validity of the Registrant’s password.
  3. Disclosure of records to the Service.  If the MLS has reason to believe that a Participant’s VOW has caused or permitted a breach in the security of MLS Listing Information or a violation of rules, the Participant shall, upon request of the Service, provide the name, email address, user name, and current password, of any Registrant suspected of involvement in the breach or violation. The Participant shall also, if requested by the Service, provide an audit trail of activity by any such Registrant.
  4. Terms of use.  The Participant shall require each Registrant to review, and affirmatively to express agreement (by mouse click or otherwise) to, a “Terms of Use” provision that provides at least the following:
    1. the Registrant’s acknowledgement that he or she has entered alawful consumer-broker relationship with the Participant;
    2. the Registrant’s agreement to use information obtained by the Registrant from the VOW only for the Registrant’s personal, non-commercial use;
    3. the Registrant’s representation and warranty that the Registrant has a bona fide interest in the purchase, sale, or lease of real estate of the type being offered through the VOW;
    4. the Registrant’s agreement not to copy, redistribute, or retransmit any of the information provided except about the Registrant’s consideration of the purchase or sale of an individual property;
    5. the Registrant’s acknowledgement of the MLS’s ownership of, and the validity of the MLS’s copyright in, the MLS database.
  5. Terms of use impose no financial obligation or representation.  The Terms of Use agreement may not impose a financial obligation on the Registrant or create any representation agreement between the Registrant and the Participant. Any agreement entered atany time between the Participant and Registrant imposing a financial obligation on the Registrant or creating representation of the Registrant by the Participant must be established separately from the Terms of Use, must be prominently labeled as such, and may not be accepted solely by mouse click.
  6. Access for review purposes.  The Terms of Use agreement shall also expressly authorize the Service, and other MLS Participants or their duly authorized representatives, to access the VOW for the purposes of verifying compliance with rules and monitoring display of Participants’ listings by the VOW. The agreement may also include such other provisions as may be agreed to between the Participant and the Registrant.
Section 15.4 Contact information; Response to inquiries. (NAR Section 19.4)  A Participant’s VOW must prominently display an e-mail address, telephone number, or specific identification of another mode of communication (e.g., live chat) by which a consumer can contact the Participant to ask questions, or get more information, about any property displayed on the VOW. The Participant, or a non-principal broker or sales licensee licensed with the Participant, must be willing and able to respond knowledgeably to inquiries from Registrants about properties within the market area served by that Participant and displayed on the VOW.

Section 15.5 Preventing unauthorized use of data.(NAR Section 19.5)  A Participant’s VOW must employ reasonable efforts to monitor for, and prevent, misappropriation, “scraping”, and other unauthorized use of MLS Listing Information. A Participant’s VOW shall utilize appropriate security protection such as firewalls if this requirement does not impose security obligations greater than those employed concurrently by the Service.

Section 15.6 Sellers withholding listings and addresses from Internet. (NAR Section 19.6)
  1. A Participant’s VOW shall not display listings or property addresses of any seller who has affirmatively directed the listing broker to withhold the seller’s listing or property address from display on the Internet. The listing broker shall communicate to the Service that the seller has elected not to permit display of the listing or property address on the Internet. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a Participant who operates a VOW may provide to consumers via other delivery mechanisms, such as email, fax, or otherwise, the listings of sellers who have determined not to have the listing for their property displayed on the Internet.
  2. A Participant who lists a property for a seller who has elected not to have the property listing or the property address displayed on the Internet shall cause the seller to execute a document that includes the following (or a substantially similar) provision:
Seller Opt-Out Form
1)  Please check either Option a or Option b
a.  ___ I have advised my broker or sales agent that I do not want the listed property to be displayed on the Internet.
b.  ___ I have advised my broker or sales agent that I do not want the address of the listed property to be displayed on the Internet.
2)  I understand and acknowledge that, if I have selected option a, consumers who conduct searches for listings on the Internet will not see information about the listed property in response to their search.
________initials of seller
  1. The Participant shall retain such forms for at least one year after the date they are signed, or one year after the date the listing goes off the market, whichever is greater.
Section 15.7 Third-party commentary; Automated valuation; Professional judgment. (NAR Section 19.7)
  1. Subject to Section 15.7(b), a Participant’s VOW may allow third-parties
    1. to write comments or reviews about listings or display a hyperlink to such comments or reviews in immediate conjunction with listings, or
    2. to display an automated estimate of the market value of the listing (or hyperlink to such estimate) in immediate conjunction with the listing
  2. At the request of a seller the Participant shall disable or discontinue either or both of those features described in subsection (a) as to any listing of the seller. The listing broker shall communicate to the Service that the seller has elected to have one or both features disabled or discontinued on all Participants’ websites. Subject to the foregoing and to Section 15.8, a Participant’s VOW may communicate the Participant’s professional judgment concerning any listing. A Participant’s VOW may notify its customers that a feature has been disabled "at the request of the seller."
Section 15.8 Means to correct errors. (NAR Section 19.8.) A Participant’s VOW shall maintain a means (e.g., e-mail address, telephone number) to receive comments from the listing broker about the accuracy of any information that is added by or on behalf of the Participant beyond that supplied by the Service and that relates to a specific property displayedon the VOW. The Participant shall correct or remove any false information relating to a specific property within 48 hours following receipt of a communication from the listing broker explaining why the data or information is false. The Participant shall not, however, be obligated to correct or remove any data or information that simply reflects good faith opinion, advice, or professional judgment.

Section 15.9 Frequency of updates. (NAR Section 19.9) A Participant shall cause the MLS Listing Information available on its VOW to be refreshed at least once every three (3) days.

Section 15.10 No other distribution permitted. (NAR Section 19.10)  Except as provided in these rules, the VOW Policy, or any other applicable MLS rules or policies, no Participant shall distribute, provide, or make accessible any portion of the MLS Listing Information to any person or entity.

Section 15.11 Privacy policy required. (NAR Section 19.11)  A Participant’s VOW must display the Participant’s privacy policy informing Registrants of allthe ways in which information that they provide may be used.

Section 15.12 Listings excluded from display based on objective criteria. (NAR Section 19.12).  A Participant’s 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, and whether the listing broker is a REALTOR®.

Section 15.13 Access to VOW for compliance evaluation.  (NAR Section 19.13) A Participant who intends to operate a VOW to display MLS Listing Information must notify the Service of its intention to establish a VOW and must make the VOW readily accessible to the Service and to all MLS Participants for purposes of verifying compliance with these rules, the VOW Policy, and any other applicable MLS rules or policies.

Section 15.14 Multiple VOWs permitted. (NAR Section 19.14)   A Participant may operate more than one VOW himself or herself or through an AVP. A Participant who operates his or her own VOW may contract with an AVP to have the AVP operate other VOWs on his or her behalf. However, any VOW operated on behalf of a Participant by an AVP is subject to the supervision and accountability of the Participant.

Section 15.15 Password expiration. (NAR Section 19.20)  A Participant shall require that Registrants’ passwords be reconfirmed or changed every 90 days.

Section 15.16 Advertising and ‘co-branding.’ (NAR Section 19.21)  A Participant may display advertising and the identification of other entities (“co-branding’) on any VOW the Participant operates or that is operated on his or her behalf. However, a Participant may not display on any such VOW deceptive or misleading advertising or co-branding. For purposes of this Section, co-branding will be presumed not to be deceptive or misleading if the Participant’s logo and contact information (or that of at least one Participant, in the case of a VOW established and operated on behalf of more than one Participant) is displayed in immediate conjunction with that of every other party, and the logo and contact information of all Participants displayed on the VOW is as large as the logo of the AVP and larger than that of any third party.

Section 15.17  Displaying listings from other sources. (NAR Section 19.22)  A Participant shall cause any listing displayed on his or her VOW that is obtained from other sources, including from another MLS or from a broker not participating in the Service, to identify the source of the listing.

Section 15.18 License agreement required. (NAR Section 19.24)  Participants and the AVPs operating VOWs on their behalf must execute the license agreement required by the Service.

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