Technology vs. Fairness
A few years ago, many in the real estate industry raised concerns about the business practices and formats of many websites, some owned by media companies and others by MLSs/associations and brokerages. Certain practices were seen as confusing; others were creating inefficiency in the dissemination of real estate information, and were disruptive to the consumer’s real estate experience.
There needed to be a solution that would factor fairness into the technology equation.
Fair Display Guidelines
What emerged from the pain points the real estate brokerage industry was feeling from the online real estate space, in particular, was a series of eight industry-developed guidelines to align fairness with technology. Today, these guidelines at FairDisplayGuidelines.org require that every MLS operating a public-facing website adhere to these concepts to become Fair Display Certified.
Here are the guidelines and their relevance:
Brokers May Opt-Out of Displaying Their Listings on the MLS-Operated Public-Facing Website. We want brokers to have the ability to control their listings and be able to determine where their listings appear.
Unbiased Display of All Listings. Search results will return listings sorted/ranked based upon the consumer’s search parameters. The search results list will not give preference to any featured listing or paid placement.
Consistent Display of Listing Data. Each MLS will determine the amount of listing data and photos to display on a public-facing website, with no charges for displaying any data related to the listing or the agent, such as fees for photographs or contact information.
No Ads for Other Brokerages or Agents Displayed on or With a Brokerage’s Listing. Only the actual listing broker and agent may be displayed on the property details page. No ads from companies that may compete with a broker’s affiliated business will be displayed on an individual property listing page.
Leads Distributed at No Charge to the Listing Brokerage Firm. All leads will go directly to the listing brokerage firm or the agent, as directed by the firm. Every listing will have the brokerage name and logo prominently displayed, and contact information as provided by the broker, including a link directly back to the brokerage website.
Make Reports Available to the Broker. If Available. Brokerages will receive or be able to access complete reports on any traceable activities related to their listings.
Brokerages Maintain Control of All of Their Data.There’ll be no syndication of the broker’s listing data without the broker’s knowledge.
The MLS and Brokerage Firms Will Work Together Locally to Make Decisions About Allowing Ads on the MLS Public-Facing Website. If there are ads, the MLS and brokers will determine the types of ads allowed, and any potential revenue generated will be shared between the MLS and listing brokers.