Tag Archives: IDX

The Realcomp Anti-Trust Ruling Will Affect MLS Syndication


Inman News reports that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against Realcomp II in a years-long case:

Michigan’s largest multiple listing service “unreasonably restrained competition” among real estate brokers by refusing to transmit exclusive agency property listings favored by discount brokers to Realtor.com and other public-facing Web sites, a federal appeals court has ruled.

At issue was whether Realcomp’s refusal to transmit Exclusive Agency listings to places like Realtor.com was anti-competitive. Since Realcomp’s policy only applies to a tiny fraction of listings in the market, Laurie Janik, the outgoing General Counsel of NAR, suggested this wasn’t that big a deal:

NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik said that because other MLSs don’t have similar rules in place, the appeals court ruling is unlikely to have a wider impact. “I’m sure it’s extremely disappointing news to the folks at Realcomp, but it’s not the kind of case that’s going to send ripples across the rest of the industry,”

That’s especially true since the NAR’s MLS Policy prohibits the MLS from excluding Exclusive Agency listings from feeds, as Realcomp had done.

Nonetheless, I respectfully disagree with Ms. Janik. I think this ruling will send ripples across the rest of the industry. At the very least, it should since the next case that comes down the pike will surely look at Realcomp II, Ltd. v. FTC as precedent.

(By the way, for the non-lawyer folks, this case is especially significant because it came from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The only higher court is the Supreme Court. At least within the Sixth Circuit, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, this ruling is binding. And throughout the country, the ruling will be extremely persuasive.)

Before we dive into why I think this ruling is significant, since I am doing law-blogging here, I have to say that this is in no way a legal opinion (I mean, c’mon, it’s a blog post) and that you should consult your own qualified legal counsel.

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Why You Should Know About Aereo

I’m reasonably certain that 90%+ of my audience — that would be you — have no idea what Aereo is. And until recently, there was no real reason to know, unless you lived in the NYC area and just looooved over-the-air TV.

But last Friday, the US Supreme Court chose to hear a case involving this odd little startup, ABC, Inc. vs. Aereo, Inc., and that could have immense implications for intellectual property law. I think there could be direct relevance to real estate given the industry’s recent and ongoing fights over who owns what and how. Nothing may come of it, but Supreme Court cases rarely result in nothing, so those of you in this arena might want to check out Aereo, what’s going on, and get your lawyers involved.

FYI, I haven’t followed the case that carefully, so I’d love to hear from the legal eagles in our business (Brian? Mitch?)

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Law of Unintended Consequences: The ACTRIS Version


The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.

- Library of Economics & Liberty

I’m in St. Paul, MN, where the sun has conspired with the river to create a hundred gorgeous pleasures. Like conversing with new and old friends sitting on bar patios with 2 Gingers irish whiskey.

As one might imagine, The Realty Alliance and CMLS were both on all our minds. I’ve written a lengthy post on the topic, and Notorious B.O.B. Bemis has been absolutely crushing it with his series of posts. (Check this, and this.)

But CMLS 2013 had some other news as well, which we all would be buzzing about had it not been for the TRA bombshell. One of them is this:

The Austin Board of Realtors has decided that its more than 9,000 members can choose to syndicate their listings to third-party websites, but it will no longer help them do it.

On Sept. 30, the trade group’s board of directors voted to end ABoR’s agreement with listing syndicator ListHub, citing concerns about unethical business practices and inaccurate listing data on consumer websites not affiliated with a Realtor trade group.

Read the whole thing on Inman; Andrea Brambila has done a great job of covering the story. But this move concerns me, because of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Let’s get into it.

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Notorious POD, Episode 7: Breaking Bad With Bob Bemis



I think every single podcast episode I do these days is my newest favorite. This one is really special, really amazing. I’m only sorry that due to travel, work, and life in general, I couldn’t post this sooner. We recorded this a couple of weeks ago, right after Bob’s first post on Notorious but these topics are evergreen.

Bob Bemis, formerly of Zillow, formerly of Arizona Regional MLS, is the special guest on this episode of Notorious P.O.D. With his decades of experience in the real estate industry, especially in the MLS side which is oft-shrouded in mystery, as well as his time at Zillow, there isn’t anyone in the real estate industry who knows more, has worked more on, and has thought more about some of the hottest issues in the real estate industry than almost everyone alive today.

We begin talking about his post, about buyer agency, about the trends and warning signs confronting the industry, but the topics range all over from MLS, syndication, MLS consolidation, Associations, brokerages, agents, the big portals, data accuracy, etc. etc. If you don’t learn something from this podcast, then you’re the smartest person in the real estate industry, because I took away so much personally.

Your comments/thoughts are always welcome, but particularly on this one, I’d love to hear from you all. There will be a second podcast as soon as we can arrange it.

Once again, thanks to Bob, and if you’re interested in his posts, you can check out his author page.


What is a Listing? On the SourceMLS project from CMLS


I’ve been invited to speak at CMLS on the topic of what MLSs should do to help brokers make smart decisions about syndication.

The invitation is surprising for a couple of reasons:  I’m no longer in the MLS business nor do I work for a recipient of said broker syndication efforts and decisions.  Also, after I left Zillow I swore to myself (out loud this time) that I wouldn’t get involved in rehashing this old topic yet another time. I personally have attended multiple funerals for that dead horse (cause of death: multiple beatings) and do not look forward to yet another wake.

But of course I accepted the invitation because I’m a glutton for punishment.  And lately some thoughts have occurred to me, more often now that I’m no longer under the influence (figuratively as well as literally speaking) of either of the two polar opposite positions in this debate – MLS gatekeeper or national real estate portal.

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