When Eric Bryant wrote the original Kiss Your “RSS” Good-bye, he was referring to RSS feeds being a thing of the past as social networking sites like Twitter provided a filter for really good articles, “Kinda like a ‘Human Aggregator'”.
I thought this was a smart observation, but Eric’s post had to do with RSS feeds as they pertain to blogs and the reading of real estate articles. Today, I’m here to talk about RSS feeds as they relate to MLS data.
RSS Feeds + MLS Data = Leads & $$$
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a web feed format used to publish frequently updated content. Back when the original IDX policy was written, RSS technology existed, but how it applied to MLS data had not been discovered. If you’re not up to speed on RSS technology and how it works with MLS data, let me give you an example of how a brokerage or agent might use RSS to drive traffic and leads.
Let’s say I’m a real estate agent with an IDX feed and a Facebook account (this will work for Twitter too). I can Really Simply Syndicate all price reductions for any zip code covered by my local MLS, for instance Honolulu, and for any criteria that I desire, let’s say condos. I can then create a Facebook page called “Honolulu Condo Price Reductions” and attach my RSS feed to it. This new Facebook page will now display all price reductions for condos in Honolulu. Potential buyers interested in this niche can become a fan of this page and get price reduction updates displayed directly on their Facebook “Wall”.
Simple to setup (you can have a Facebook page like this up and running in minutes), and a very good way to build your fan base and social sphere. Which, in turn, generates more traffic, leads and money in your pocket.
So what’s the problem? When a real estate agent signs up for a MLS feed, the agreement is that they will display MLS listing on the URL specified in their contract for which other brokers have agreed to share their listings with (this does not include Facebook or Twitter). Let’s remember that advertising another broker’s listing (outside of the website specified in your MLS agreement) requires written consent from the listing broker.
Also, IDX policy does not speak to RSS feeds. And NAR rules and regulations say that if something isn’t specifically allowed within policy, then it is not allowed…period. So, for the time being, distributing MLS data through RSS is not OK.
The NAR does understand RSS is an issue, however, and during their last meeting (roughly 1.5 weeks ago) the board spoke on this topic and eventually voted to form a task group around RSS to provide a recommendation for NAR’s next November meeting.
Will RSS feeds be gone for good? It really does look that way, unless Realtors speak up.
It would be interesting to hear how Geek Estate Blog readers feel about this subject. Should RSS feeds be allowed? If so, how far should property syndication be taken before we’ve gone too far…or is there such a thing?