IDX turns political

April 11, 2002

MLS organizations having trouble appeasing brokers? conflicting interests

By Bridget McCrea
Inman News Features

More than three months have passed since the National Association of Realtors? Jan. 1 deadline for MLSs to implement Internet Data Exchange, or IDX, services, but so far only about 50 to 60 percent of the nation?s MLSs have rolled out IDX to their members.

Technology isn?t holding them back, according to Jim Secord, director of product technology for real estate technology provider Interealty Corp., in Vienna, Va.. Rather, the challenge is figuring out how to create IDX-related business rules that sit well with all the MLS members.

"It?s not a matter of MLS companies not being responsive," said Secord. "It?s a matter of satisfying all their broker and agent members."

Secord estimated that 25 percent of Interealty?s MLS customers have implemented the company?s IDX solution while another 25 to 30 percent are using in-house solutions or have contracted with a local technology developer.

"IDX has been front and center on MLSs? minds for the last 12 to 24 months," said Secord, "but the overall adoption level isn?t where everyone expected it to be."

The fragmented atmosphere has resulted in part because while NAR published a basic set of IDX rules, much of the structure and implementation is being determined at the local level.

For example, whether an individual agent can incorporate IDX into his or her own Web site or only the broker can do so has been the subject of much debate as has figuring out which data elements can be displayed on which Web sites.

The makeup of an MLS?s membership also plays a part in how quickly the MLS has rolled out its IDX systems, Secord said. For instance, an area where one large broker has a majority influence might adopt IDX faster than than an area where market share is spread evenly amongst multiple brokers.

The size of the MLS also is factor. Secord said Interealty?s IDX-ready customers range from the very small to the very large; however, larger MLSs collect more dues dollars and are less constrained by limited resources.

"For the larger (MLS) companies, cost is not as much of an issue," he said.

Still, the primary hang-up appears to be developing IDX business rules in a way that makes the entire membership happy.

"Not everyone appreciated how political it could become very quickly," Secord said.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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