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MRIS, February 16, 2009-In accordance with the settlement of the antitrust lawsuit between the National Association of REALTORS® and the Department of Justice, MRIS is instituting a formal VOW policy for the first time. This policy is designed to conform to and meet the requirements of the court approved settlement.

A VOW, or “Virtual Office Website” is a website (or feature of a website) operated by or for a Broker, through which:

• the Broker is capable of providing real estate brokerage services to consumers with whom the Broker has first established a Broker-consumer relationship (as defined by local state law), and

• the consumer has the opportunity to search MLS informational content, subject to the Broker’s oversight, supervision, and accountability.

A VOW is different from IDX. For example:

• VOW sites allow brokers to provide brokerage services online – essentially as an alternative to “bricks and mortar” operations.

• Establishing a broker-consumer relationship is a requirement for accessing listing information via a VOW site.

• IDX is broker-to-broker advertising.

• IDX allows brokers to display the active and contingent listings of other consenting brokers on their broker or affiliated licensee web sites. A VOW site may also display listings in sold status.

• Brokers may opt out of IDX. They may not opt-out of VOWs.

Brokers who currently are operating a VOW will have 180 days after the implementation of the MRIS VOW policy to conform their VOW to the new MRIS VOW policy. If you are interested in operating or establishing a VOW, please contact the MRIS Compliance Department at compliance@mris.net or at (301) 838-7140.

You also may refer to the MRIS VOW FAQ and the VOW Policy, located under the Compliance section of the MRIS website (www.mris.com), for the most up-to-date information on the MRIS VOW policy, VOW applications, and related checklists.

To send feedback on this article, email communications@mris.net.

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