Broker Reciprocity, VOW and IDX Websites


What is broker reciprocity?


Broker reciprocity is a real estate broker, Internet data exchange or IDX of shared or communal property listings that not only benefits subscribing brokers but prospective buyers of the listed properties as well. Property listing data is found in the multiple listing service or MLS listings to which each broker can subscribe.

To maximize the market visibility of property listings, a broker can subscribe to an IDX program and get permission from another broker to display his property listings on the other’s website and vice versa. If a broker chooses not to participate in an IDX program, other brokers cannot display that broker’s listings on their Websites.

This virtual office website or VOW can be part of a hub in a network of participating broker-owned Websites from which prospective homebuyers can shop local or remote listings. The perception of a big versus small brokerages becomes blurred with a strong VOW. For example, a small brokerage can appear bigger than they are with placing and advertising of their MLS listings on big brokerage websites. Conversely, a large brokerage can appear more provincial or local, catering to the needs of a small community. In short, both the big and small brokerages can benefit from broker reciprocity by participating in an MLS Internet data exchange.

In practice, the concept of broker reciprocity is not new since a broker could always (ethically, legally, and with permission) allow other brokers to advertise their listings on his or her website and vice versa. It’s only recently that the National Association of Realtors or NAR sanctioned a new policy that ensures proper and ethical use of an IDX, virtual office website.

In the past, broker’s websites of property listings included:

  • Their own properties

  • Links to or the MLS system

After increased use of the Internet to advertise MLS listings, the NAR decided to encourage broker reciprocity, enhancing the breadth of placement listings on the Internet. Since the January 1, 2002 inception of the NAR and REATORS® policy of IDX reciprocity, the shared advertising of MLS listings began benefiting both brokers and consumers.

A few advantages of broker reciprocity in an MLS, IDX VOW program follow:

  • Helps establish relationships with other brokers and consumers, generating leads

  • Gives the broker a more professional presence in the eyes of consumers

  • Creates website user retention and revisits since new data is automatically updated every day

  • Provides consumers a portal to become better educated working with a broader spectrum of real estate professionals and information

  • Affords the small broker a better way to advertise to a larger market area

  • Enhances advertising by allowing a broker to place links or banner advertising on other brokers' sites

  • Gives the consumer an impression that a small broker is bigger

  • Allows brokers to brand their type of IDX VOW

How MLS data is displayed on a Website or VOW is also determined by the NAR and REALTORS® associations. A broker can display MSL listings on his or her Website by “framing” or “downloading” MLS information.

An easy way for a broker to put his property listings online is to frame the MLS data website in his website after getting permission from the MLS system or REALTORS® association.

Another way is to download property listings from a closed or legacy SMLS system. Although, the MLS should be sure to exclude fields that consumers are prohibited from viewing such as fields containing compensation or home security codes.

For more information on broker reciprocity, contact the NAR or REALTORS® associations.

Answered over 11 years ago
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