NAR Answers Questions About ‘Instant Offers’

June 13, 2017

In recent weeks, members of the National Association of REALTORS® have engaged the association and their fellow agents in social media conversations, email exchanges, and in-person discussions about news of online business models, proposed federal budget and tax changes, and other potential disruptions in the industry.

“Everyone’s feeling pummeled by the news these days, but it feels particularly challenging in real estate,” says NAR Senior Vice President of Communications Stephanie Singer. While the prospect of change can be exciting, it can also cause concern about the future of the profession.

Most recently, news about Zillow’s “Instant Offers” pilot program has created a stir. But experiments like these can also reinforce the value of REALTORS®.

“There’s a human element to buying and selling a home that can’t be replaced,” said NAR President William E. Brown. “NAR is the sum of its REALTOR® members, and the association is fully committed to helping REALTORS® and their customers succeed. I want every member to know that we care about your business and are fully invested in shaping the future of the real estate industry.”

Here, NAR answers common questions that members have been asking about Instant Offers.  

Q: What is NAR doing to protect REALTORS®’ interests?

A: NAR supports its members and aligns with companies that do the same.

  • NAR’s purpose is to help its members become more profitable and successful. Toward this end, NAR engages in advocacy; develops standards for efficient, effective, and ethical real estate business practices; and provides professional development, research, and risk management resources.
  • Many years ago, NAR aligned itself with realtor.com® to ensure that at least one portal available to consumers would recognize and promote the value that REALTORS® bring to the real estate transaction.
  • Realtor.com® has remained faithful to that ideal by refusing to accept FSBO listings and by not facilitating offers directly to home sellers without the use of a real estate professional.
  • NAR will continue to promote the use of realtor.com® because of the focus it has placed on maintaining REALTORS® as being at the heart of the transaction.

Q: What is NAR doing to prevent agents from being cut out of the transaction, as it looks like Zillow may be trying to do with this Instant Offers test?

A: NAR is committed to working with brokers, MLSs, realtor.com®, and industry innovators who understand the value REALTORS® bring to any real estate transaction.

  • NAR provides extensive information and resources to help REALTORS® market and differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive space, including the only-for-members REALTORS Property Resource®.
  • Zillow appears to be testing how to get more advertising dollars from its Premiere Agents while also possibly creating a future revenue stream from big-pocket investors.

Q: Why doesn’t NAR sponsor a boycott of Zillow?

A: It would be unlawful for NAR to discourage members from using any product or service provider.

  • Such decisions must be made by the broker or agent independently.
  • NAR’s MLS Committee sets forth the policies that must be followed by all REALTOR® association-owned MLSs. Those policies give brokers and agents the flexibility and option to control where their listings are sent. Brokers and agents can opt out of sending listings to any third-party recipient.
  • If you have questions about the terms by which your information is being shared with a third party, ask the MLS to provide you with the relevant licensing terms.

NAR provides resources to educate members about the issues that should be considered when evaluating business decisions such as syndication of listings:

  1. A checklist of issues for MLSs and brokers to consider seeking in a license agreement.
  2. A webinar explaining the data requests and potential licensing terms.
  3. An article providing detail about licensing terms.
  4. Sample MLS data license agreement (stated purpose for AVMs, but can be easily modified to apply to licensing data to portals).
  5. Discussion about property listing photos (and sample agreements).
  6. Video explaining VHT v. Zillow regarding copyright infringement for property listing photos.

Q: How is NAR supporting brokers’ efforts to build and cultivate their own databases?

A: Many brokers have expressed a desire to have better control over their listing data and have asked NAR to help with that effort.

  • NAR’s board of directors agreed to help launch Project Upstream, which will give brokers and agents a tool for enhancing, distributing, updating, and tracking their data.
  • To learn more about Upstream, check out www.upstreamre.com/faq.html.

“NAR is continually sounding the drumbeat about the value REALTORS® bring to the real estate transaction and to every consumer relationship,” says Singer, who oversees NAR’s consumer advertising. “And we will stay focused on our extensive advocacy efforts at all levels of government on behalf of you, your clients, and homeownership.”

—REALTOR® Magazine