5 real estate tech acronyms demystified

Trying to keep up with all the technology terms and acronyms within our industry can be a challenge. If you’re SITD (still in the dark, BTW) about what VOW, IDX, DLA, MLS®, and DDF® mean and how they impact your day-to-day business activities, read on to make sense of these five commonly used terms.

1. VOW (Virtual Office Website): VOW is a password-protected brokerage website through which  brokerages and their members are capable of providing real estate brokerage services to consumers after they  have established a broker-consumer relationship.  A VOW allows a consumer to register to search a real estate Board’s MLS® System listings subject to the participating brokerage’s oversight, supervision and accountability.

Example Who can participate Required permission
ABC Realty establishes a VOW allowing consumers to view a real estate Board’s MLS® System listings through the REALTORS®’ password protected website. The consumer agrees to provide basic information (such as an email address and perhaps other personal information) in order to access more listings or more listing content and, in return, is provided with a password to access the VOW. Broker owners and REALTORS®, with their broker owners’ permission, who adhere to their Board’s rules and policies on VOWs. Contact your local real estate Board. For example, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) has a VOW Data Feed Agreement.

2. IDX (Internet Data Exchange): An IDX makes it possible for brokerages, through reciprocal agreements, to display each other’s listings.

Example Who can participate Required permission
ABC Realty and XYZ Realty both opted-into an IDX. Patty, a Salesperson with ABC Realty, will be able to display listings from both brokerages onto her personal website. If 100 brokerages opted into the IDX, listings from all 100 would be available on Patty’s website. Typically, only brokerage owners or Brokers of Record/Managers can opt in or out of an IDX. Ask your local real estate Board about an IDX Licence Agreement/IDX Data Feed Agreement.

3. DLA (Data Licence Agreement): A DLA is an agreement signed by a brokerage authorizing a real estate Board/Association to allow a salesperson or third party to display their listings.

Example Who can participate Required permission
A brokerage owner or Broker of Record/Manager authorizes TREB to send all of their listings to a website provider or to specific salesperson’s websites. Typically, service is available to all salespeople, but the Broker of Record/Manager must approve the level of access (e.g. member, office or brokerage). Ask your local real estate Board about a Data Licence Agreement.

4. MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®): This may come as a surprise to some, but MLS® is not a noun (it’s an adjective) and it does not mean a database or website. Rather, MLS® refers to a standard or quality of service provided by REALTORS® in conjunction with Boards’ co-operative listing systems.

CREA licenses its member real estate Boards to use the MLS® marks in association with the operation of their co-operative selling systems. Accordingly, the proper identification of these systems is “MLS® Systems.” The MLS® Systems operated by Boards and Associations across Canada send their listings to REALTOR.ca—the Canadian national listing marketing website and mobile apps owned and operated by CREA—up to four times daily.

Example Who can participate Required permission
Once Patty has uploaded her listing to her Board’s MLS® System, it is usually uploaded to REALTOR.ca. Brokerage owner of record and their salespeople. The permission must be set to display on REALTOR.ca (look for an option in your MLS® System similar to “Advertise listing on the Web”).

For more information on the proper use of CREA’s trademarks, including MLS®, please refer to REALTORLink®.

5. DDF® (Data Distribution Facility): CREA’s DDF® is a permission-based system that enables broker owners and salespeople to push their listings to several third party websites. DDF® also enables sharing of listings in a national pool with other broker owners and salespeople. Unlike an IDX, the national shared pool is not restricted to the listings from a single real estate Board.

Broker owners and salespeople who opt into the national shared pool can also opt into the national franchisor pool. Once a REALTOR® updates or removes a listing from their Board’s MLS® System, and once REALTOR.ca has been updated, the DDF® automatically makes the changes across all destinations. Details about all DDF® modules can be found here.

Example Who can participate Required permission
ABC Realty signed up for DDF® to increase exposure for its listings. All listings displayed on REALTOR.ca can now automatically appear on websites CREA has contracts with, including and not limited to, Worldproperties.com and Point2homes, as chosen by the brokerage. Permission-based service at the brokerage level. Each broker decides the level of participation for its agents.

Brokerage owner of record and their salespeople.

Your local real estate Board is opted into the National Shared Pool and has the option to opt-in to second & third modules (like  member website feeds, or third party destinations). Brokerages and their salespeople can participate in the different modules of the DDF® depending on their Board and Broker permissions.

If you have specific questions about the first three terms (VOW, IDX, and DLA), contact your local real estate Board / Association. For questions regarding the MLS® marks, REALTOR.ca, or DDF®, don’t hesitate to contact CREA’s Member Support Centre (1-888-237-7945 / support@crea.ca).

Patrick Pichette, Vice-President, REALTOR.ca, is responsible for the development and growth of Canada’s leading real estate website, and other technology services that help REALTORS® in Canada and their businesses. As the head of the Product Management and IT Services departments, he is constantly evaluating the latest technology trends. Patrick is also the staff liaison on CREA’s Technology Committee. Prior to joining CREA, he held marketing and product management leadership positions with MD Physician Services (a subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association) and the Canadian Tourism Commission. When not at work, Patrick can be found at a local rink or baseball diamond coaching his favourite sports.

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