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Do Buyers and Sellers Have a Stake in Google's Access to Their IDX Listings?

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By : David Abernathy    99 or more times read
The backstory: A REALTOR® was reported to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Board of REALTORS® for allowing her IDX to be indexed by Google, referring to section 15.2.2 of the MIBOR (Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS®)

MLS Rules and Regulations: "participants must protect IDX information from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor and prevent “scraping” or other unauthorized accessing, reproduction, or use of the BLC database". They interpreted that to mean that since Google gathers information to determine relevance for its search functions, it is the same as a "scraper" site; one that gathers information, steals images and copies an original website onto another for the purposes of generating revenue from ads or other devices. The REALTOR® appealed, going so far as to attend the Mid-Year Meeting of NAR in Washington to air her concerns. The result: NAR upheld MIBOR's ruling and affirmed that local boards could view Google and other search engines as scraper sites and take steps to prevent them indexing the IDX listings on a REALTOR®'s website.

As a buyer or a seller, would you think that this is a good practice? Take Google. Google is the Internet's phonebook. As a buyer, would you be suspicious of a company that is trying to hide information from you on the site of one of their registered members? Especially if you were making the biggest purchase of your life? If you were trying to sell something, but you can't put what you're selling in the phonebook where someone looking for it could find it (and you), wouldn't you think that the group you belonged to was not developed with the purpose of "help[ing] its members become more profitable and successful", as the NAR's mission statement claims?

The owner of real estate who is hiring a REALTOR® to represent them has a right to have their property publicized as efficiently as possible and since a large number of people use Google as a mean of searching for real estate, it stands to reason that sellers represented by a REALTOR® have the right to have their listings appear in Google search results. To not be allowed to do so means that a REALTOR® is effectively barred from making sure their client has the best means of exposure possible on the Internet. Sellers of real estate should take note that their listing and information will appear on and on Trulia and on Zillow and on other sites - just not on the site of the person who they have been given to understand is a member of good standing of the National Board of REALTORS®.

The fact that members are being told that they cannot have Google-friendly IDX listings is something that doesn't make the NAR or its members appear in a very good light to the public. What kind of board of businesspeople hampers its members' ability to disseminate information about their items for sale? And we are talking about sales of thousands or millions of dollars, not dollar-store purchases. Why should people trust the NAR when the NAR very obviously is not placing any faith in their members' abilities or intentions? Why, when there are so many for-sale-by-owner sites out there should buyers and sellers trust that an organization that makes it harder instead of easier for its members wants what is best for the buyer/seller?

While this issue has been mainly discussed by real estate professionals, it may behoove non-real estate professionals to research it and throw in their own two cents. This is real estate; it's your home and your money that is at stake here. Since the NAR has such a monopoly on real estate buying and selling, it is arguable that real estate owners, investors and others closely involved with the transaction of real property should be keenly interested in how this issue is resolved. is by far the most advanced Palm Beach Florida real estate website. Visit its pages (rich in listings!) for info about the local areas and property types, including Condos For Sale in Palm Beach's Carlton Place.

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