What you need to know about NAR’s updated MLS policy

by James F. McClister


Today, the National Association of Realtors board of directors approved revisions to its Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy that will henceforth require all members have the rights to any listing content entered into the MLS.

In response to a series of lawsuits between real estate companies regarding listing content – including a dispute between Zillow and VHT Inc., as well as a case against NeighborCity – the association’s Multiple Listing Issues and Policies committee proposed on Thursday changes to its MLS handbook that “reflect the importance of (MLS) participants obtaining and transferring the necessary licenses for MLS content including property photos provided as part of a listing.”

The changes – which as Inman reported, amount to two word swaps and a revised phrase, and will immediately affect all MLSs owned by Realtor associations – require that brokers now obtain ownership or the authority to license all content published to the MLS.

Furthermore, the revisions clarify that affected MLSs will be unable to require that brokers forfeit ownership rights to content in order to be listed. However, they can ask brokers to grant the “necessary licenses for storage, reproduction, compiling, and distribution of listings and listing information, including photos, to the extent necessary to fulfill the MLS’s purpose.”

According to Inman, the NAR board passed the revisions “overwhelmingly without discussion.”