At NAR's Mid-Year Conference in Washington D.C. (now rebranded as the REALTOR Party Convention & Trade Expo), there are always issues before the Board of Directors that drop out of the sky like a sudden downpour to drown out the conversations started earlier in the week. This year is no different. The meeting may have a new name, but the game remains the same. The issue dropping out of the sky for 2014 is AVMs - and whether NAR should require member MLS systems to provide the data feed to brokers that is used to produce them.
Earlier in the week, hallway & lobby conversations revolved around the Core Standards issue being voted upon this morning, only to be wiped away like smog by a rainstorm by the motion carried out of the MLS Committee meeting on Thursday. By early evening, AVMs dominated conversations in lounges & dinner tables near DuPont Circle.
As Friday dawned, battle lines had been drawn and opponents started sharpening the points of their defense in the argument to bring into the afternoon caucuses. The interesting thing about listening to both sides is that passionate non-understanding & smug arrogance took precedence over meaningful discussion of the issue. Opponents weren't seeking to understand how AVMs worked (or in the case of some 'non-disclosure' states, the difference between Custom & Law). Supporters who blindly joined the side of pro-AVM were overheard talking about how "only the ignorant could be opposed" to letting brokers have the feed...as if they knew the issue in-depth. The most passionate arguments I heard were full of fear & little fact to support them...with the exception of one I heard in the mens room (usually the place of benign sports discussion while, well, you know - doing bathroom things):
"The issue is the feed that already goes to companies like CoreLogic, RPR, Courthouse Retrieval Systems, etc. What the brokers want is the right to have the same feed for themselves - after all, it IS their data," said one man.
"If the brokers in the Realty Alliance who are pushing this through NAR want this so bad, why couldn't they get their own individual MLS's to allow it? Must have met a stone wall, so this is an 'end run' to get it required from the top down."
I know a little about how such things work, but certainly am no expert - I know just enough to be dangerous. This morning I will listen to both sides & sort out the facts before me prior to casting my vote as a member of the NAR Board. Could this be the type of issue that causes another "Special Meeting" to be called? Who knows. I tend to fall on the Data Freedom side of things - if a data feed is already going out to 3rd parties, why not let brokers have the same feed? It will be an interesting session - and I hope there are compelling, cogent arguments on both sides instead of what may well turn out to be Fear vs Arrogance with a whole lot of uninformed passion from both viewpoints.
We'll see by 1pm!