?IDX Is For All?

January 14, 2002

Why Buyers-Only Brokerages Aren?t Banned From IDX Participation

Inman News Features

The uninitiated might assume that buyers-only brokerages wouldn?t be welcome in Internet Data Exchange programs since they wouldn?t be bringing any homes for-sale listings to the MLS database.

But IDX systems, which enable brokers to display one another?s MLS listings on their own Web sites, are open to all MLS members, regardless of whether they contribute data.

Laurie Janik, general counsel for the National Association of Realtors, which mandated the IDX concept, said the thought of barring buyers-only agencies--many of which couldn?t previously display listing inventory on their own Web sites?never was at issue.

"IDX is for all MLS participants who are involved in real estate brokerage," said Janik.

A few Realtors raised the issue with NAR last year, Janik said, but she hasn?t heard any such rumblings in the last few months.

"We received a call or two a few months ago from brokers expressing displeasure about it," Janik said. "We explained that if they don?t like the way IDX operates, they don?t have to participate. It doesn?t take long to realize the benefits of IDX really do flow in all directions."

Janik said the issue of buyers-only agencies using IDX also surfaced in a recent NAR meeting with several large-company brokers. One broker reportedly questioned why big brokerages wouldn?t want their listings on buyer agencies? Web sites. Janek said the broker concluded any MLS member that wanted to advertise his company?s listings should be welcome to do so.

"He said the more exposure the listings get, the quicker the homes sell and the higher the prices are for the seller," Janik added.

John Herman, president of Buyers Representative in Farmington, Conn., isn?t using IDX yet, but he has links on his Web site to other Web sites that contain for-sale homes information and plans to consider IDX when it becomes available in his area.

Herman said the argument that buyers-only agencies would have an advantage because they don?t contribute listings to IDX is flawed, mainly because agencies such as his already have the complete listing information from the MLS.

"The only difference is that the information will now be available to the public in a very efficient manner," he said. "That is a positive move because buyers love to search listings on the Internet."

He believes agents who are reluctant to put their listings on an IDX system aren?t fulfilling their obligation to the seller.

"There have always been agents who hold back their listings, but as a sellers? agent, their obligation is to promote the listing to all possible sources and get the most number of offers and amount of money for the seller," he said.

Leo Berard, co-owner of Buyer Brokers of Cape Cod in Barnstable, Mass., said he has heard a lot of gripes from other brokers since he started his buyers-only agency in 1989.

But none of the gripes has concerned IDX, though Berard said he?s not surprised that some agencies are raising concerns about it.

He said such concerns are unfounded and added his four-office agency is very active in the local MLS. Buyer Brokers agents helped the MLS get IDX-ready, teach real estate courses and even have served on the MLS board, he said.

"We?re Realtors and we pay hefty MLS fees just like everyone else does," said Berard. "We contribute as much to the industry as anyone else does--and probably more in terms of the value of our services."

Ultimately, Berard said, it?s home buyers and sellers, not real estate offices, that will benefit from IDX.

"Sellers will gain a tremendous amount of exposure while buyers will have updated, complete databases to browse through," said Berard. "As buyers-only agents, we?ll win through improved standings and increased business."

Copyright: Inman News Service

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