The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been fighting a losing battle to allow real estate agents to restrict where their home listings are shown. In essence, many agents are worried that if discount brokers have access to their listings, then the commissions for all agents will drop. After being officially sued by the Justice Department yesterday, NAR released this press release that all but reversed their policy:
The National Association of Realtors® announced today it has adopted a new policy that ensures that all members of Realtor® multiple listing services will receive exactly the same MLS property listings for display on their Web sites as their competitors.
The policy will bring consumers more points of access to real estate information from multiple listing services than they have ever had before, NAR said.
On a related topic… I’ve been fascinated to watch the growth of a new blog that is put out by a splinter group within NAR called the Center for Realtor Technology (CRT). CRT has been putting out some very interesting open source software products that help agents to develop advanced websites. Reading their blog, it makes me think that NAR has chosen to keep these people inside the tent peeing out rather than outside the tent peeing in… For example, on the same day that NAR made the public release mentioned above, CRT staff wrote a blog entry titled “Does ‘Data want to be free’?” In the post, the author makes some excellent observations on how organizations tend to control data (while carefully not mentioning the NAR press release). The CRT staff seem to be working on technologies (open source, wikis, etc.) that seem way more enlightened than the typical NAR approach to solving problems.
I’m going to continue to closely follow the CRT blog, and once I get a chance to try out some of the software, I’ll definitely follow it up with a blog entry!