1.  What exactly is a VOW?

A “VOW” or “Virtual Office Website” is a broker or agent website through which the broker or agent is capable of providing real estate brokerage services to consumers with whom they first have established a licensee-client relationship.

2.  Isn’t that what IDX is?

No. “IDX” or “Internet Data Exchange” is a collaborative program created to allow for the display of active properties belonging to other MLS Members on an agent’s or office’s website. Whereas IDX’s fundamental purpose is simply for the advertising of listings to consumers, VOWs mirror the functionality and accountability of your physical office over the Internet.

3.  I don’t plan to offer on-line brokerage services on my website, so the VOW rules really don’t affect me, right?

Wrong. The VOW rules affect every MLS Member, regardless of what their on-line business model is.  These new rules related to the display of property on the Internet need to be reviewed with each of your clients, especially since Sellers now determine how their property is to appear on the web.

Below are various resources that Members may want to employ when discussing property display options to a Seller.

» Download “Advertising Your Property On The Internet” Seller’s Flyer
» Download “Seller Opt-Out Form”
» Download Internet “Listing Data Flow Chart” (before viewing video below)
» Watch Video On How The New Policies Will Affect You & Your Listings

(For those who wish to have a Virtual Office Website, the regulations surrounding their functionality are very specific and should be reviewed with MLS staff.)

4.  Who can operate a VOW?

A  Virtual Office Website can be operated by either a Principal Broker or a sales licensee affiliated with the Principal Broker.  However, sales licensee can only operate a VOW with the Principal Broker’s consent, supervision and accountability.

5.  What data can be displayed on a VOW?

All MLS fields can be displayed on a Virtual Office Website except those deemed as confidential:

  •  Compensation
  •  Type Of Listing Agreement (ex. Exclusive Agency)
  •  Seller’s Name, Phone Number and Email
  •  Showing Instructions

6.  Can my brokerage “opt-out” of VOWs like we do for IDX?

No – unlike IDX, there is NO “Broker Opt-Out” for VOWs.

7.  The VOW policies say that a consumer can access a VOW only after he/she becomes a “client”.   What do I have to do to formalize a consumer as a client?

According to the Policy, a consumer’s access to a VOW can only be provided after first establishing a licensee-client relationship.  Per RI State Law, a lawful broker-consumer relationship is established (and thus, VOW access can be granted) only after a “Mandatory Real Estate Relationship Disclosure”form is completed.