Thanks to InmanBlog, I learn that there is an ethical dilemma brewing in RE.net. It appears that NAR has promulgated a new standard
This standard falls under Article 12 in the Realtor code, which provides that Realtors “shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representations.” (See Inman News article.)
A case example for this new standard, provided by the National Association of Realtors in its 2008 Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, found that a Realtor who operated a real estate site named “northwoodsandlakesmls.com” was in violation of the code and standards because “a real estate-related URL that included the letters MLS would lead reasonable consumers to conclude that the Web site would be an MLS’s, and not a broker’s Web site.”
The matter is up for local hearing panels to consider, in the event ethics complaints are filed against Realtors who operate sites with the word “MLS” in them or who are otherwise accused of using a misleading Web address.
This is tantamount to the Ford Motor Company prohibiting its dealers using a name like “Joe’s Horse and Carriage”.
With very few exceptions, MLS websites routinely suck. Not just as “Web 2.0” sites, but as websites, period. Here’s NJ MLS for example. Awful site — great people they may be over there at NJ MLS, but I think they know that their consumer site is plain old bad. Even large, powerful MLS organizations like MRIS have public websites like this. It’s not teh good. I mean, how many clicks before I actually get to see a listing?
In this day and age, is NAR truly concerned that some broker is going to gain an marketing advantage by including the words “MLS” in its name or URL? As a marketer, I do believe I would have to advise my clients not to use those letters if at all possible. In fact, if I could figure out a way to have my client’s competitors use “MLS” in their name or URL, while my client’s site remains blissfully free of the taint, that would be wonderful.
NAR needs to get with the program. Recognize what’s important in todays so-called “Web 2.0” world, and focus on those. Might I recommend that NAR begin with (a) understanding the Realtor brand, where it is, and how to improve it; (b) understanding the consumer’s mindset in a far stronger, clearer way, to provide guidance to its members; and (c) working on removing barriers to open and honest conversation between agents and consumers — for example, some of the overreaching provisions of the Fair Housing Act.