The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has raised $7.5 million for an multiple listing services (MLS) licensing agreement that will allow MLSs and Realtor associations full access to valuable property listings without legal repercussions.
The settlement was paid to CIVIX, an Alexandria, Va.-based company that has already filed lawsuits against a number of companies that offer location-based search capabilities, including Midwest Real Estate Data and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, two of the largest MLSs in the U.S (both companies settled out of court).
When CIVIX began contacting other, smaller MLSs, and threatening legal action if they did not pay a licensing fee of $6 per member per year for four years, a few dozen MLSs requested that the NAR step in and negotiate a blanket licensing agreement for the entire real estate industry.
And the terms of the agreement were stiff – the NAR was to raise $2.5 million by June 16, $5 million by July 17, and finally, the full $7.5 million by August 16. Yet NAR was able to meet these terms, soliciting donations from Realtor Associations, MLSs and MLS vendors. Now, per the terms of the agreement, the entire industry can use MLS data without the fear of legal action from CIVIX.
The licensing agreement, though, does not protect third party property portals. CIVIX recently brought a new lawsuit against Trulia, Inc., an Internet search engine that focuses on real estate.