Redfin releases a genuinely interesting update!

According to their press release, they are now commingling MLS, FSBO and Foreclosure listings on one map… and this has me scratching my head!

Are they allowed to do this? Isn’t this type of commingling of listings against MLS rules?

redfin search in woodland hills

Notice the purple and pink icons… Those are REO (foreclosures) and FSBOs, respectively (green icons are MLS listings).

I have four ideas about how they are able to get away with this:

  1. They found a loophole in MLS agreements that let’s them commingle listings (but I would find this hard to believe).
  2. They got buy-off from all their local MLS organizations (but I would find this hard to believe)
  3. They have reason to believe they can win this battle in the courts… (maybe a DOJ brief in support of this or something similar?)
  4. They just don’t care about the rules and believe that consumer support for this feature will be so great that they’ll risk MLS fines.

None of these scenarios seem likely to me. What am I missing?

With that said, I REALLY like how they are approaching the foreclosure data. I’ve received a few press releases recently from real estate search sites that “announce” they are now publishing foreclosures on their site. However, inevitably, when I tested out the feature, the sites were just regurgitating RealtyTrac data that required consumers to pay a fee to get the actual address of the property. Redfin is providing the address.

Also interesting, someone from Redfin let me know that they are going to phase in a flat-fee buying option in order to accommodate these new listings types.

I want to send my congrats out to the Redfin team for pushing the boundaries yet again. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re working pretty darn hard to deliver features and tools that they think will do a better job serving their customers.


There’s some debate in the comments about whether there are local MLS rules against commingling of data, with some people claiming it’s just a misunderstanding that the data can’t be commingled.  However, someone (who wished to remain anonymous) send me the following email which demonstrates that for at least one MLS where Redfin is commingling data, the rules are pretty clear:

Check it out:

“4.13. Listings obtained through IDX must be displayed separately from listings obtained from other sources, not including information provided by other MLSs.”

What that says to ME (having experience with MLS rules) is that MRMLS doesn’t allow FSBO properties side-by-side with MLS listings.

15 responses

  1. […] Read our press release or the first coverage in the LA Times blog. Dustin calls this release genuinely interesting. […]

  2. Congrats to RedFin for pushing the envelope! I guess their challenge will be to make this available nationwide as fast as possible. We’re looking for this kind of service to add to our member offerings, but even with RealtyTrac, their coverage is spotty in certain areas (eg: New Hampshire).

    The next big goal for RedFin will undoubtedly be free access to MLS comparables for the general public. The NAR is clinging onto this data by their fingernails…. I wonder how soon they’ll loose their grip on this, too?!

    Yours with boundless enthusiasm,

    Richard 🙂

    Chief Deal Weaver

  3. Actually has been “commingling” listings for years. Go look for listings in Long Beach, WA, to see both NWMLS and RMLS.

  4. […] foreclosures and for-sale-by-owner inventory along side alongside their MLS listings (more from The first, as far as I know, of any major brokerage to do […]

  5. Glad you like the release, Dustin! As to your question about co-mingling listings, we researched that one pretty hard. We found that what the rules actually require is that we clearly mark the source of a listing, such as with different color icons for non-MLS listings and clear messaging on the listing itself. We’ve done that, because we don’t want to misrepresent a listing as an MLS listing if it isn’t.

    Also, if a listing is both a for-sale-by-owner home and is in the MLS (perhaps it’s an old FSBO listing, or the seller is trying both approaches), we show the MLS listing first by default.

    And finally, thanks for noticing that you get the address with foreclosures. We looked at a few ways of doing this and really didn’t like the idea of teasing searchers with a foreclosure, only to send them off to a fee-based site to get the address.

  6. What we’ve found is most MLSs specifically note “This MLS’ Listings may ONLY be commingled with other MLS’ listings.”

    However after reviewing NWMLS rules, I don’t see anything of that sort. Seems (for now) redfin is in the clear. UNLESS other rules implicitly apply to data in a Member’s (Broker) site in general (ie. Framing rules).

  7. We launched this on our site back in January. Not quite as detailed however we did a deal with and and have those listings fed to our site daily.

    We were unsure of the commingling issue so we dont pull onto the same page/map…rather you have to perform separate searches.

    Check it out at click on search and you can see you can search for: New Developments, Exisiting Buildings, Full MLS, Foreclosure, FSBO and even Auction.

  8. We caught wind that our FSBO listings were appearing on Redfin searches via the Redfin press release and with further research found one of our Long Beach CA listings included ( )

    I personally think it’s great for the consumer but part of the reasoning to move forward is for the PR attention they may get from a possible MLS that file complaints which would make Redfin appear even more pro-consumer.

  9. This is from the Redfin press release…

    “Consumers’ first question of any real estate site is whether it shows all the homes for sale,” said Redfin Chief Technology Officer Michael Young.

    I 100% agree with the above statement and it’s exactly what is driving the development of our beta site.

    Although other sites have claimed to do this… I think it will be very interesting to watch how the will react to this.

  10. there is no rules against this whatsoever. the only site that cannot mix fsbos is they have an agreement with NAR that does not allow this. Google tride to strike a deal with NAR but since they were not allowed to mix listings Google said forget it.

  11. […] Dustin Luther – Redfin releases a genuinely interesting update! […]

  12. I think providing customers with the latest data is extremely important and real estate professionals and MLS organizations should take note and make sure that they give the customers what they want. MLS’s that give the consumers all the data first will provide more value to their real estate agents who pay them dues. After all it is in the best interest of the consumer and the agent that they get to see ALL properties that meet the buyers criteria. While the rest of the redfin model may be up for debate their committment to data to the consumer is great.

  13. […] has a way to go before being complete. Plus, there seems to be some debate as to whether or not mixing up these listings on the same website with an MLS/IDX feed is even legal. These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web […]

  14. What we’ve found is most MLSs specifically note “This MLS’ Listings may ONLY be commingled with other MLS’ listings.”

    However after reviewing NWMLS rules, I don’t see anything of that sort. Seems (for now) redfin is in the clear. UNLESS other rules implicitly apply to data in a Member’s (Broker) site in general (ie. Framing rules).

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