Model Virtual Office Website (VOW) Rules
19.1 VOW Definitions.
a. A Virtual Office
Website (“VOW”) is a Participant’s Internet website, or a feature of a
Participant’s website, through which the Participant is capable of providing
real estate brokerage services to consumers with whom the Participant has first
established a broker-consumer relationship (as defined by state law) where the
consumer has the opportunity to search MLS Listing Information, subject to the
Participant’s oversight, supervision, and accountability. A non-principal
broker or sales licensee affiliated with a Participant may, with his or her
Participant’s consent, operate a VOW. Any VOW of a non-principal broker or
sales licensee is subject to the Participant’s oversight, supervision, and accountability.
b. As used in Section 19
of these Rules, the term “Participant” includes a Participant’s affiliated
non-principal brokers and sales licensees – except when the term is used in the
phrases “Participant’s consent” and “Participant’s oversight, supervision, and
accountability”. References to “VOW” and “VOWs” include all VOWs, whether
operated by a Participant, by a non-principal broker or sales licensee, or by
an Affiliated VOW Partner (“AVP”) on behalf of a Participant.
c. “Affiliated VOW
Partner” (“AVP”) refers to an entity or person designated by a Participant to
operate a VOW on behalf of the Participant, subject to the Participant’s
supervision, accountability and compliance with the VOW Policy. No AVP has independent participation rights in the MLS by
virtue of its right to receive information on behalf of a Participant. No AVP
has the right to use MLS Listing Information except in connection with
operation of a VOW on behalf of one or more Participants. Access by an AVP to
MLS Listing Information is derivative of the rights of the Participant on whose
behalf the AVP operates a VOW.
used in Section 19 of these Rules, the term “MLS Listing Information” refers to
active listing information and sold data provided by Participants to the MLS
and aggregated and distributed by the MLS to Participants.
19.2 VOW Operating Parameters.
a. The right
of a Participant’s VOW to display MLS Listing Information is limited to that
supplied by the MLS(s) in which the Participant has participatory rights.
However, a Participant with offices participating in different MLSs may operate
a master website with links to the VOWs of the other offices.
to the provisions of the VOW Policy and these Rules, a Participant’s VOW,
including any VOW operated on behalf of a Participant by an AVP, may provide
other features, information, or functions, e.g. Internet Data Exchange
b. Except as
otherwise provided in the VOW Policy or in these Rules, a Participant need not
obtain separate permission from other MLS Participants whose listings will be
displayed on the Participant’s VOW.
19.3 VOW Registrant Access
permitting any consumer to search for or retrieve any MLS Listing Information
on his or her VOW, the Participant must take each of the following steps:
ii. The Participant must
first establish with that consumer a lawful broker-consumer relationship (as
defined by state law), including completion of all
actions required by state law in connection with providing real estate
brokerage services to clients and customers (hereinafter “Registrants”). Such
actions shall include, but are not limited to, satisfying all applicable agency,
non-agency, and other disclosure obligations, and execution of any required
Participant must obtain the name of, and a valid email address for, each
Registrant. The Participant must send an email to the address provided by the
(described in subsection (d) below). The Participant must verify that the email
address provided by the Registrant is valid and that the Registrant has agreed
Participant must require each Registrant to have a user name and a password,
the combination of which is different from those of all other Registrants on
the VOW. The Participant may, at his or her option, supply the user name and
password or may allow the Registrant to establish its user name and password.
The Participant must also assure that any email address is associated with only
one user name and password.
Participant must assure that each Registrant’s password expires on a date
certain but may provide for renewal of the password. The Participant must at
all times maintain a record of the name, email address, user name, and current
password of each Registrant. The Participant must keep such records for not
less than 180 days after the expiration of the validity of the Registrant’s
c. If the
MLS has reason to believe that a Participant’s VOW has caused or permitted a
breach in the security of MLS Listing Information or a violation of MLS rules,
the Participant shall, upon request of the MLS, provide the name, email
address, user name, and current password, of any Registrant suspected of
involvement in the breach or violation. The Participant shall also, if
requested by the MLS, provide an audit trail of activity by any such
Participant shall require each Registrant to review, and affirmatively to
that provides at least the following:
i. That the
Registrant acknowledges entering into a lawful consumer-broker relationship
with the Participant;
ii. That all
information obtained by the Registrant from the VOW is intended only for the
Registrant’s personal, non-commercial use;
iii. That the
Registrant has a bona fide interest in the purchase, sale, or lease of real
estate of the type being offered through the VOW;
iv. That the
Registrant will not copy, redistribute, or retransmit any of the information
provided except in connection with the Registrant’s consideration of the
purchase or sale of an individual property;
v. That the
Registrant acknowledges the MLS’s ownership of, and the validity of the MLS’s
copyright in, the MLS database.
e. The Terms
of Use Agreement may not impose a financial obligation on the Registrant or
create any representation agreement between the Registrant and the
Participant. Any agreement entered into at any time between the Participant
and Registrant imposing a financial obligation on the Registrant or creating
representation of the Registrant by the Participant must be established
not be accepted solely by mouse click.
f. The Terms
of Use Agreement shall also expressly authorize the MLS, and other MLS
Participants or their duly authorized representatives, to access the VOW for
the purposes of verifying compliance with MLS rules and monitoring display of
Participants’ listings by the VOW. The Agreement may also include such other
provisions as may be agreed to between the Participant and the Registrant.
19.4 VOW Contact Requirements. A Participant’s VOW
must prominently display an e-mail address, telephone number, or specific
identification of another mode of communication (e.g., live chat) by which a
consumer can contact the Participant to ask questions, or get more information,
about any property displayed on the VOW. The Participant, or a non-principal
broker or sales licensee licensed with the Participant, must be willing and
able to respond knowledgeably to inquiries from Registrants about properties
within the market area served by that Participant and displayed on the VOW.
19.5 VOW Data Security. A Participant’s
VOW must employ reasonable efforts to monitor for, and prevent,
misappropriation, “scraping”, and other unauthorized use of MLS Listing Information.
A Participant’s VOW shall utilize appropriate security protection such as
firewalls as long as this requirement does not impose security obligations
greater than those employed concurrently by the MLS.
19.6 VOW Listing Display Restrictions.
a. A Participant’s
VOW shall not display listings or property addresses of any seller who has
affirmatively directed the listing broker to withhold the seller’s listing or
property address from display on the Internet. The listing broker shall
communicate to the MLS that the seller has elected not to permit display of the
listing or property address on the Internet. Notwithstanding
the foregoing, a Participant who operates a VOW may provide to consumers
via other delivery mechanisms, such as email, fax, or otherwise, the listings
of sellers who have determined not to have the listing for their property
displayed on the Internet.
Participant who lists a property for a seller who has elected not to have the
property listing or the property address displayed on the Internet shall cause
the seller to execute a document that includes the following (or a
substantially similar) provision:
Seller Opt-Out Form
1. Please check either Option a or Option b
a. [ ] I have advised
my broker or sales agent that I do not want the listed property to be displayed
on the Internet.
b. [ ] I have advised
my broker or sales agent that I do not want the address of the listed property
to be displayed on the Internet.
2. I understand and
acknowledge that, if I have selected option a, consumers who conduct searches
for listings on the Internet will not see information about the listed property
in response to their search.
Initials of Seller
c. The Participant
shall retain such forms for at least one year from the date they are signed, or
one year from the date the listing goes off the market, whichever is greater.
19.7 Posting Consumer Comments and
Automated Value Estimate.
a. Subject to subsection
(b), a Participant’s VOW may allow third-parties
i. to write
comments or reviews about particular listings or display a hyperlink to such
comments or reviews in immediate conjunction with particular listings, or
ii. display an
automated estimate of the market value of the listing (or hyperlink to such
estimate) in immediate conjunction with the listing
the foregoing, at the request of a seller the Participant shall disable or
discontinue either or both of those features described in subsection (a) as to
any listing of the seller. The listing broker or agent shall communicate to the
MLS that the seller has elected to have one or both of these features disabled
or discontinued on all Participants’ websites. Subject to the foregoing and to
Section 19.8, a Participant’s VOW may communicate the Participant’s
professional judgment concerning any listing. A Participant’s VOW may notify
its customers that a particular feature has been disabled "at the request of
19.8 Correction of VOW Listing Information. A
Participant’s VOW shall maintain a means (e.g., e-mail address, telephone
number) to receive comments from the listing broker about the accuracy of any
information that is added by or on behalf of the Participant beyond that
supplied by the MLS and that relates to a specific property displayed on the
VOW. The Participant shall correct or remove any false information
relating to a specific property within 48 hours following receipt of a communication
from the listing broker explaining why the data or information is false. The
Participant shall not, however, be obligated to correct or remove any data or
information that simply reflects good faith opinion, advice, or professional
19.9 VOW Mandatory Listing Refresh. A Participant shall
cause the MLS Listing Information available on its VOW to be refreshed
at least once every three (3) days.
19.10 VOW MLS Listing Distribution
as provided in these rules, the National
Association of Realtors® VOW Policy, or any other applicable MLS rules or policies, no Participant shall
distribute, provide, or make accessible any portion of the MLS Listing Information
to any person or entity.
the ways in which information that they provide may be used.
19.12 VOW Selective Listing Display. A Participant’s VOW may exclude listings from display based only on
objective criteria, including, but not limited to, factors such as geography,
list price, type of property, cooperative compensation offered by listing
broker, and whether the listing broker is a REALTOR®.
of MLS of Intent to Operate a VOW. A Participant who intends
to operate a VOW to display MLS Listing Information must notify the MLS of its
intention to establish a VOW and must make the VOW readily accessible to the
MLS and to all MLS Participants for purposes of verifying compliance with these
Rules, the VOW Policy, and any other applicable MLS rules or policies.
of Multiple VOWs. A Participant may operate more than one VOW himself or
herself or through an AVP. A Participant who operates his or her own VOW may
contract with an AVP to have the AVP operate other VOWs on his or her behalf.
However, any VOW operated on behalf of a Participant by an AVP is subject to
the supervision and accountability of the Participant.
19.15 VOW Data Display Limitations. NOT ADOPTED.
19.16 Changes to Listing Content. A Participant shall
not change the content of any MLS Listing Information
that is displayed on a VOW from the content as it is provided in the MLS. The
Participant may, however, augment MLS Listing Information with
additional information not otherwise prohibited by these Rules or by other
applicable MLS rules or policies as long as the source of such other
information is clearly identified. This rule does not restrict the format of
display of MLS Listing Information on VOWs or the display on VOWs of fewer than
all of the listings or fewer than all of the authorized information fields
19.17 Listing Accuracy Disclaimer. A Participant shall
cause to be placed on his or her VOW a notice indicating that the MLS Listing
Information displayed on the VOW is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed
accurate by the MLS. A Participant’s VOW may include other appropriate
disclaimers necessary to protect the Participant and/or the MLS from liability.
19.18 Listing Broker or Agent Identification. NOT ADOPTED.
19.19 Listing Search Result Limitation. A Participant shall
limit the number of listings that a Registrant may view, retrieve, or download
to not more than 500 current listings and not more than 500 sold listings in
response to any inquiry.
19.20 Mandatory Registrant Password Change. A
Participant shall require that Registrants’ passwords be reconfirmed or changed
every 90 days.
19.21 VOW Co-Branding and Advertising. A
Participant may display advertising and the identification of other entities
(“co-branding’) on any VOW the Participant operates or that is operated on his
or her behalf. However, a Participant may not display on any such VOW
deceptive or misleading advertising or co-branding. For purposes of this
Section, co-branding will be presumed not to be deceptive or misleading if the
Participant’s logo and contact information (or that of at least one
Participant, in the case of a VOW established and operated on behalf of more
than one Participant) is displayed in immediate conjunction with that of every
other party, and the logo and contact information of all Participants displayed
on the VOW is as large as the logo of the AVP and larger than that of any third
19.22 Identifying Listing Source. A Participant shall
cause any listing displayed on his or her VOW that is obtained from other
sources, including from another MLS or from a broker not participating in the
MLS, to identify the source of the listing.
19.23 Separate Source Listing Search. A Participant shall
cause any listing displayed on his or her VOW obtained from other sources,
including from another MLS or from a broker not participating in the MLS, to be
searched separately from listings in the MLS.
19.24 MLS Licensing Agreement for VOW. Participants and the
AVPs operating VOWs on their behalf must execute the license agreement required
by the MLS.
19.25 Seller’s Direction to Withhold from
a seller affirmatively directs their listing broker to withhold either the
seller’s listing or the address of the seller’s listing from display on the
Internet, a copy of the seller’s affirmative direction shall be provided to the
MLS within 48 hours.