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NAR – Welcome to the Waffle House


Just as a gentle reminder to all of what the actual purpose of the National Association of Realtors is supposed to be:

"The core purpose of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is to help its members become more profitable and successful."  You can see that here.

Prior to reading this post – which most internet-savvy Realtors have now read – I didn’t know what "indexing" was and didn’t care.  That was something I only learned in the comments section of that post.  So I now ask, Is it possible that Paula was wrong to allow search engines to find all of those listings on her site and for Google to index them?  Is it possible?  Really, isn’t it possible?  Well it must be possible, some people at NAR already thought it was wrong and Paula’s local association leaders also seemed to think it was wrong.  Do I personally think that a "no indexing rule" would be such a horrible bad thing?  If no one, no company could index listings?

It would be alright with me if wasn’t allowed to do it.  But is allowed to do it.  And they are also allowed to use terms like "MLS" in their meta words.  All of the listings on can be found by Google and indexed.  Because some people at NAR (who couldn’t see around corners, even a little bit) originally gave away the name, "" to a for-profit company instead of making it a member benefit we now have LOADS of other places that have our listings out there to be indexed.  Trulia, Zillow (and a growing list of other sites with MLS feeds) are all allowed to have the listings available for indexing.  These are all companies that would not even exist if it weren’t  for NAR’s original mishandling of  Is NAR going to stop them?  Could NAR stop them?  Is NAR going to stop from allowing listings to be indexed?

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This past week in Washington D.C. it looked for a brief moment like sanity would prevail.  In the end it didn’t.  Can anyone (elected or paid staff) at NAR, on any committee or in any position explain how this makes even a little bit of sense?  Or are you going to try to ignore this issue by justifying it with, "It will be taken up by the committee in November"?

Why would it be okay with you for public – for profit companies – to have the right to freely do something that Realtors are then prevented from doing?  What twisted, tortured logic is used to justify that? 


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Written By

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and



  1. Paula Henry

    May 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Russell – Sanity? What’s that?

    After the roller coaster ride of the last two weeks, I would also like an answer to the question. It was one my original points in the post you referenced. is not for REALTORS(r), they are a third party aggregator like any other.

  2. Tim McDonald

    May 20, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for your sanity with this very insane issue.

  3. James Malanowski

    May 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I still say that the only reason this is an issue is because it was Paula’s IDX feed being indexed. I don’t think anyone has a problem with listings being indexed in general. I know I don’t, anyway. It sounds like this whole mess was caused by a competing REALTOR who couldn’t afford the technology Paula was using decided to take advantage of the current IDX rules and use them against her. and others are being given their listing data either by us (agents/brokers) directly or via agreements with the individual MLS systems and a RETS feed (not an IDX feed) – again, agreed to by the brokers. This is how they “get around” the issue that has been discussed to death the last week or so.

    Again I say, if we’re unhappy with the IDX rules we need to work to change them. I think the whole scraping vs indexing argument is but a part of what needs to be modified in order for indexed IDX feeds to be “legal.”

    If we don’t like and the way they treat us then we need to start an organized effort to reform that debacle. Another totally different fight. One that I think is worth fighting, BTW. should definitely be a benefit for the NAR membership and not a cash-cow for a 3rd party.

    We could all boycot … If you can convince your brokers to disallow feeds. And if you can convince your sellers that is run by a bunch of evil bastards and the exposure their property receives from the #1 real estate site out there won’t hurt their chances of selling. A major catch-22 here, I think.

    Nice to see you’re still around, Russell … It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a post from you! 🙂

  4. Ken Brand

    May 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Hope this isn’t an inappropriate comment to an appropriate and important post.

    But (Behold the Underlying Truth), the first thing that ran through my mind when I finished reading your post and the second to last sentence:

    What twisted, tortured logic is used to justify that?

    I thought of the famous opening qualifier preamble to all Epic “you won’t believe it” stories. The best ones start like this:

    “Well, we’d been drinking. And the next thing you knew………”

    I’m not saying that’s how it went down, perhaps it’s the only plausible, life is stranger than fiction scenario.

    On a serious note, how in the world does one or several guide our association on track. I believe the core problem is that the CEO and entrepreneurial whiz-bangers who lead the public companies can run rings and drink the milk shakes of those that lead our behemoth trade association. It’s understood that the key to victory is speed, innovation and reinvention, not protect, delay, postpone and baby step into the future.

    It’s no contest and scary.

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    May 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm


    It’s not defensible. I’ve tried hard to see each side. The reality is – it’s politics. In the course of the leadership trying to do what’s best for the members, they are trying to peer into uncharted waters.

    The trap we fall into is thinking that this issue is of widespread concern with the membership at large. It simply isn’t. I would guess that less than 10% of the membership has any clue at all what we’re discussing, non-the-less if it effects them or not.

    I myself am not certain that what we’re asking for will yield the desired response. There is no presidency and the law of unintended consequence has not looked favorably on the Real Estate Industry in the past.

    I am not defending the tabling of the motion, but simply saying that when political machines don’t what to do they do nothing at all.

  6. Jim Duncan

    May 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    From – the History of – (bolding mine)

    Helping REALTORS® Thrive in the Information Age was created to be an Internet site that would always be owned and controlled by REALTORS®, and it has helped thousands of REALTORS® thrive. Its success has:

    * Protected members against business models intended to disintermediate them or force unfriendly tariff models upon the industry; and

    No, No, NO they haven’t. They have set the stage for the TPA’s.

    * Provided a REALTOR®-friendly level playing field, as each member is afforded the same opportunity to decide how they want to use the site in their own Internet marketing strategy.

    Key Provisions in the Operating Agreement
    The operating agreement negotiated more than eight years ago contained a number of important provisions ensuring NAR’s control over the content and operations of the site. Those provisions remain in full force today and continue to guide the relationship between NAR and Homestore (NASDAQ: HOMS), which owns RealSelect.

    1. The National Association of REALTORS® owns and controls NAR’s subsidiary, RIN, also owns approximately 4% of Homestore’s stock, and maintains two seats on the Real Select board, and one seat on the Homestore board. In addition to their fiduciary responsibilities to those entities, the NAR appointees also:

    * Represent NAR and RIN’s interests in all matters pertaining to the agreement;
    * Assure compliance with all agreements with RIN and NAR, and report any non-compliance or other concerns to the RIN board and through them, to the NAR Board of Directors; and
    * Provide quarterly reports to the Leadership Team on all significant Homestore activities.

  7. Paula Henry

    May 20, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Matthew – The sad truth is, I believe you are right – less than 10% of the membership knows. It is my hope by the time this issue is addressed again in November, we will have a larger percentage who understand the issues and recognize the effect it will have on their business.

  8. Russell Shaw

    May 21, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Thank you for that, Jim. I didn’t even know that content existed until I read your comment here.

    I wonder if there is *anyone* who actually believes any of those parts about a “Realtor-friendly level playing field” or “helping prevent unfriendly tarriff models”. NAR’s policies regarding are what has – single handedly – *created* the unfriendly tarriff models.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    May 21, 2009 at 5:35 am

    No one truly wants a level playing field…. The consumer already considers Realtors to be all alike.

    Marketing that works for agents, typically works because the Agent is inventive, new or just better than another agent.

    Agents who wish to use Google as a venue for their lists do so because they want a competitive edge. They are most likely more savvy at reaching the online consumer and therefore can dominate that marketing venue.

    I don’t want to have a “level” set and have all practitioners at that same level. In order to achieve that, you’d have to lower the level to the least common demoniator.

    IMHO, NAR should be providing services to their members, and not try to influence the open market. I WANT to be better than other business models, I want to create a business model that works for me. was created to make Move money… period. If it’s focus was to be Realtor centric, you wouldn’t have to pay for enhanced listings or anything else for that matter. It would be a member benefit.

  10. Ann Cummings

    May 22, 2009 at 11:37 am

    The sad truth is that Matt is undoubtedly correct in that less than 10% understand what’s going on. And the really sad thing is that that room full of directors who were present when this was tabled most likely had few in there voting who understood what was in front of them.

    To have to wait until November for this to be brought back to the table is an eternity. And in the meantime, those other companies that take our data, scrape it and then try to sell leads from that data back to us will continue along their merry way, doing just that very thing that we’re being told ‘no can do’ about.

    A huge lumbering elephant that is way behind the times…..

    The tabling of that motion was in no one’s best interest, except the ‘aggrevators’ out there.

  11. Bob Wilson

    May 22, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    “No one truly wants a level playing field….”

    Not true. I love competition and I relish a fair fight, but I won’t play any game with a cheater.

    I want a level playing field and I welcome my competitors to play the game on that field.

    My hometown Padres play ball on a level playing field, but they may still lose 90+ games this year. the skill with which they choose to play the game is what makes a difference.

    My daughter plays softball. She pitches. She isn’t fast, and will never be able to pitch as fast as her idol, Jennie Finch. What she can do though is put the ball wherever she wants, like future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who just happened to win 355 games. What made Maddux one of the best pitchers in the modern era of baseball was his control and his ability to out-think most hitters.

    Like Maddux, the fact that I may be better at one aspect of the game than another is what makes competition work.

    Just as any pitcher can find out how to throw a 2 seam seam fastball and circle change the way Maddux did, everyone has the same access to info that I have acquired over the years on how to rank well organically. The fact that I may understand the nuances of that info and how to make it work better than most doesnt make the playing field uneven.

    PPC is level as well. The fact that Russell can out spend me by a factor of (insert big number here) doesn’t make the playing field uneven.

    What makes the playing field uneven is when an entity has different rules for different players in the same game. Allow an umpire to tell my daughter that she cant a throw her curve that has a 6 inch break and make her rely on her fastball, or take away the outside of the plate while the other pitcher can throw any pitch where ever they want, and the game is no longer fair.

    “I would guess that less than 10% of the membership has any clue at all what we’re discussing, non-the-less if it effects them or not.”

    Yes it does. The defense behind the pitcher rarely knows when the ump’s strike zone is whacked and the outside pitch is taken away. They just see the pitcher struggling – walking hitters or getting hit, but it certainly impacts the outcome of the game.

    What NAR has done is take away a pitch from some, while allowing others to have it. It doesn’t matter whether or not the pitch is even effective – all that matters is that the rules are different for different players in the same game.

    That said, I’m playing the game under protest.

  12. Paula Henry

    May 27, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Bob – You are a Genius – I truly enjoy your insight!

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