Colorado ‘commingling’ ruling a win for agents, consumers

A letter from Matt Hendricks, a Senior Director of Broker Operations at Zillow.

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Home shoppers want to conveniently see all their available options in one place when searching online. At Zillow, we have always believed the best way to help buyers find their dream home is to make all available listings easily accessible to home shoppers — or as we say at Zillow, to “turn on the lights” by bringing transparency to the search process.

So, what’s preventing that from happening now? As those in the real estate industry know, the National Association of Realtors’ Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy, which governs consumers’ online home search on brokerages sites, includes an optional rule by which multiple listing services (MLSs) can choose to require that certain categories of non-MLS listings appear separately from MLS listings.

When MLSs adopt this rule, housing options like buildable home plans, manufactured homes and homes sold by the owner cannot be shown alongside MLS listings. This limits the ability to provide a comprehensive home search in which all listings appear together.

This policy is nearly 20 years old and it was created at the beginning of the internet age, when even search engines like Google were in their infancy. The authors of the IDX rules, though well-intentioned, didn’t foresee how internet search would evolve. In almost every shopping category consumers expect easy access to comprehensive search results.

While there’s much work to be done to make listings easily accessible for everyone, there is reason to be encouraged by recent developments.

Last week, REcolorado, the largest MLS in Colorado with nearly 28,000 professional subscribers, announced their decision to allow the display of all listings together on brokerages sites. Why is this momentous? Well, REcolorado’s board voted to remove the old policy preventing buyers from seeing all their options together in service of providing a better home shopping experience for customers.

This is a big win for consumers and their agents, and we applaud REcolorado’s decision. Being able to see all types of properties for sale together is what consumers expect. If other MLSs across the country follow REcolorado’s lead, buyers will have ready access to all listings together and sellers’ (and their agents’) listings will appear alongside all other listings.

Zillow strongly supports updating policies like these because they empower consumers and provide a more accessible, transparent picture of what is on the market, helping them make better-informed real estate decisions.

We hope to see more MLSs follow REcolorado’s lead and take meaningful action to remove this rule – especially at a time when more options could make a life-changing difference to buyers and sellers looking to move into their dream home.

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