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Northwest Multiple Listing Service bans QR codes from listings

QR codes forbidden in the great northwest

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service has banned all 2D codes like QR codes and the proprietary Microsoft Tags from listing photos.

Agents across the nation have begun putting QR codes on flyers, billboards, yard signs, business cards, blogs and more which allows users to point their smartphone at the code, bring up a free scanner application, click scan and are taken automatically to the website the QR code is designed for.

NWMLS and QR codes’ background:

The NWMLS famous at one point for pulling their listings from and later for fining Redfin $50k for term violations is now making another move that will capture many peoples’ attention by curbing QR codes in listing photos, or simply uploaded as photos.

Several associations take steps to limit additional links and additional virtual tours, this seems an extension of that common step. This is no surprise as we have noted the security of QR codes is questionable (imagine if a Realtor uploaded a QR code as a photo and it was scanned and led to a porn site or worse, the agent used a phony QR code generator, didn’t test it and it generated a virus link). There is currently no verification or security system available for QR code applications.

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Violation of NWMLS Rule 10(i)

NWMLS member, Realtor Marlow Harris notes that “The rationale behind this ruling is that QR Codes often point to websites with additional information about the listing and these websites are usually branded with the listing agent’s contact information and branding and, as per Rule 10(i), advertising is prohibited in listing data.”

We anticipate that other Associations will follow suit- what do you think of the NWMLS ban on QR codes?

The NWMLS was not immediately available for comment. Story will be updated as confirmation is reached.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Matt Thomson

    March 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    When I first read your headline, I bristled. As a member of the NWMLS, famous for not allowing anything to progress, I saw this as another attempt to prevent our membership from actually selling our homes.
    As I read the full rule, though, I can’t say I disagree. QR codes don’t need to be uploaded as a photo. If you’re looking at the photo on your smart phone, good luck scanning the QR code anyway. If you’re looking at it online, just Google the address to find more info.
    There’s no reason to use a QR code as a photo in the MLS, so I don’t think this will have any impact at all.

  2. Luke Brookhart

    March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    From reading the information in the linked article, I believe clarification is needed here. NWMLS isn’t banning QR codes from being used at all. Instead, they just don’t allow the QR codes to be uploaded as listing photos. This makes total sense, since advertising can’t be inside the listing data, and photos are a part of the listing data.

    This doesn’t forbid agents from using QR codes in their own advertising, on their own sign riders, or anything other self-advertising. The above article is not clear about this, and leads the reader to believe that the MLS has the authority to ban marketing methods, which obviously is not correct.

    Luke Brookhart
    Onjax, LLC

    • Lani Rosales

      March 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      per the article, “another move that will capture many peoples’ attention by curbing QR codes in listing photos, or simply uploaded as photos.”

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