Carolyn Chodat – ‘Vast inventory’

When it comes to brokers posting other agents’ home listings on their Web sites, some have been quicker than others to do so.

The National Association of Realtors wants all the nation’s multiple listing services to have in place systems that allow brokers to display one another’s home listings on their Web sites by January 2002.

Months after NAR adopted the so-called broker reciprocity policy in the spring of last year, New England’s largest multiple listing service, Worcester-based Multiple Listing Service-Property Information Network, had already proposed guidelines to meet the national industry group’s mandate. MLS-PIN’s system is up and running.

Meanwhile, the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors and the Berkshire County Board of Realtors, which run their own multiple listing services, are currently working on final details to implement their own Internet Data Exchange, or broker reciprocity systems.

We do have rules and regulations in place, so as far as their [NAR’s] mandate goes, we are up to speed, said Sherry Street, president of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors and a member of the board’s MLS. Street added, however, that most Berkshire County brokers are not displaying outsiders’ listings on their Web pages because the multiple listing service’s vendor is currently working out the final technical details.

Street also added that Berkshire County brokers haven’t shown a big interest in it.

I don’t know if they actually see that there is a benefit to it, she said.

On Cape Cod, the Broker Reciprocity Task Force of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors has come up with guidelines that need to be approved by the group’s board of directors.

We are definitely planning to have everything in place by January, said Trisha Daly-Karlson, the task force chairwoman and owner of Real Estate Company Inc. in Orleans.

Brokers who are participating – that is, posting other agents’ home listings on their Web sites – rave about the benefits of broker reciprocity. According to several Realtors interviewed by Banker & Tradesman, listing sharing offers greater exposure for properties, which is very important given that today’s real estate environment is turning from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

They love it, said Carolyn Chodat, referring to Realtors’ reaction to broker reciprocity. Chodat, owner of Classic Properties in Medway, serves on MLS-PIN’s board of directors.

This is where we need to be. We have a vast inventory to show the consumer because of our cooperative efforts with each other through this reciprocity, said Chodat.

MLS-PIN members can opt out of the system by sending a signed written notice that they do not want their listings on others’ Web sites, according to Chodat. If they opt out, brokers will not be able to post other agents’ listings on their sites, either.

MLS-PIN President Kathleen E. Condon said that there aren’t many firms that have decided to opt out of the system. Only a few smaller firms have, she said.

Once they decide to opt out, firms are sent a letter reminding them that they can’t take advantage of the system, and participating MLS members are reminded that the non-participating firm’s data must be removed from their Web sites.

MLS-PIN’s Web Assist, the framing of the service’s Web site, has been available for about a year, said Condon, and downloads of data have been available during the last three to four months.

It’s a means of enhancing cooperation between participants of an MLS to facilitate the purchase and sale of property. It merely gives the broker an additional tool to do so, said Condon of broker reciprocity.

‘No Issue’
Nelson Zide, one of the owners of ERA Key Realty Services in Framingham, sees no issue with broker reciprocity and thinks it’s smart for brokers to participate. Sharing listings gives the sellers’ property much more exposure, he said.

That’s what the whole MLS system is about – sharing information, said Zide.

Helen Babcock, president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, said real estate agents she’s encountered have been very receptive to broker reciprocity.

I think they need to embrace it in order to continue servicing sellers and buyers, said Babcock of Carlson GMAC Real Estate in Winchester.

Before broker reciprocity, most Realtors with Web sites could display only properties they represent, offer visitors a link to or another aggregator’s site or link them to an association or MLS site, according to information provided by NAR. The links meant, however, that a visitor left the broker’s Web site or Web page while searching those outside listings.

Many franchisors, like Re/Max and Century 21, combined listings from their branch offices into one online database, according to NAR.

But NAR leaders felt that with more and more people using the Internet to market properties, brokers should have the chance to display on their Web sites the same full list of properties from their local MLS that consumers can view on the large aggregators’ sites like

Smaller real estate firms have expressed concerns that they might have trouble with the technology aspects of broker reciprocity. Some also feared that they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the extra costs of participating, such as hiring technology experts.

Laurie Janik, general counsel of NAR, said she’s heard arguments from both small and large real estate firms saying that the other segment would benefit disproportionately.

Some of the larger firms that have the resources to market their listings and Web sites might feel they could draw more customers without showing competitors’ listings and Web sites. Therefore, they may not want to participate, said Janik.

But in those markets that have adopted it, everyone agrees that everyone benefits, she said.

Coldwell Banker offices in some major metropolitan areas, like Milwaukee, Chicago and San Diego, are not using the new service. Those that are not choosing to participate argue that the availability of large listing aggregators – like and HomeAdvisor – combined with their firms’ many listings are adequate.

The concept of broker reciprocity started in the Seattle area about three years ago, according to Janik. The idea then caught on in Minneapolis, where it has been very successful, she said.

NAR initiated discussion on reciprocity because more and more brokers were creating their own Web sites and firms started having an increased presence on the Internet.

NAR has not kept track of which brokers and multiple listing services are already participating, said Janik.

However, in a survey done by NAR’s Center for Realtor Technology about a month ago, those multiple listing services that had implemented broker reciprocity systems have had much success.

NAR leaves it up to each MLS and association to decide what kind of information should be included in outside listings posted on a broker’s Web site. NAR does not require brokers to include competing listing agents’ name or contact information, and it allows the MLS to charge fees to members participating.

In Massachusetts, MLS-PIN requires Web site listings to include the name of the firm and listing agent, but not the home address, pushing visitors to contact brokers for further information.

On Cape Cod, real estate leaders are trying to decide what information must be included and hope to have a decision this week, according to Daly-Karlson.

The Cape Cod task force looked at other policies – including MLS-PIN’s – in order to formulate guidelines, she said. The task force has decided to require agents to include the listing firm but not the listing agent.

Some Cape Cod Realtors are already posting other agents’ listings on their own Web sites without rules and regulations in place.

The biggest concern right now is to educate agents so they can understand the benefits of broker reciprocity, said Daly-Karlson.

I think it’s going to be shocking to some agents that everyone is going to be able to view everyone else’s listings, said Daly-Karlson. After that initial shock, they’re going to be happy they can offer this to their customers and clients.

Few Realtors Opt Out of Reciprocity Pact

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 5 min