Realtor getting sued over IDX feed. Are you next?

By
Real Estate Agent with Future Home Realty
http://actvra.in/RQK

Update 4:31PM EST March 11, 2013 - I just received word from Laurie Janik, Chief Legal Counsel at the National Association of Realtors that the Lawsuit has been dismissed. I am not sure what has happened but I am thrilled. I want to thank everone for their support. 

 

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about how I had to remove the IDX feed from my website. Today, I have an update in that Brian Stevens and Frank Garay at the National Real Estate Post featured my Federal Housing Lawsuit in their extremely popular video blog.  

 

I feel that the information in the video and in my original post is very important for all real estate agents to know, as most agents are not aware that they can be sued for any listing that appears in an MLS IDX feed, whether that listing is yours or not. In my case I am being sued for another listing agents listing which has the language of "Adults Only, No Children Under 16 Allowed" in it.

I have contacted the local and state associations of Realtors with the primary answer from them being, that they are interested in being updated on the lawsuit, but that real estate agents are responsible for all listings on their website, including those on an IDX feed, and we are also responsible for all listings we email to buyers from the MLS. I am waiting for the NAR to contact me also, and I will give an update when I hear from them.

My goal is to make as many real estate agents as possible aware that they can easily be sued by the general public who decide to become Independent Fair Housing Testers, and how easy it is for them to file a lawsuit against any and all real estate agents.

Please understand my intention is not to get anyone, including the actual listing agent in trouble, and it certainly is not to say anything bad about my brokerage as they are great. I understand the company attorney feels that it is best for me to settle for $5,000 however, I am at this time unwilling to do so without a fight. 

Without listings on my website, I am pretty much out of getting much business. Hopefully, I can get this resolved without any great expense, though it appears I will now have to pay an attorney to defend me in Federal Court. And of course will I be allowed to make a living or not. Time will tell.

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Re-Blogged 15 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lyn Sims 03/10/2013 06:22 AM
  2. Jill Sackler 03/10/2013 09:06 AM
  3. Cindy Westfall 03/10/2013 10:00 AM
  4. Marte Cliff 03/10/2013 11:25 AM
  5. Ed Silva 03/10/2013 12:22 PM
  6. Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805 03/10/2013 12:33 PM
  7. Inna Ivchenko 03/10/2013 01:49 PM
  8. Pamela Seley, REALTORĀ® 03/10/2013 02:22 PM
  9. Lisa Lowe 03/11/2013 11:04 AM
  10. Karen Steed 03/11/2013 11:15 AM
  11. Jerri Schick 03/11/2013 11:57 AM
  12. Ute Ferdig 03/11/2013 12:07 PM
  13. Pat & Wayne Harriman 03/11/2013 12:09 PM
  14. Mark Brian 03/11/2013 01:04 PM
  15. Dianna 201-895-1768 03/12/2013 02:16 PM
Topic:
Real Estate Best Practices
Location:
Florida
Tags:
fair housing laws
independent fair housing tester
lawsuit
mls
idx
real estate agent
realtor

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
88,265
Jeff Launiere
Future Home Realty - Tampa, FL
Jeff Launiere

First, I again, want to thank all of you for your support.

 

I have now changed brokerages and am now with Future Home Realty here in Tampa, FL. This whole situation was really unfortunately. Until this lawsuit, I had no plans to leave my office as I have to honestly say it was the best run office I had been with over the years. Great staff, and incredible service to its agents. I am looking forward to my new office. I also have put IDX back onto my website. My MLS is saying they believe they have now enacted something that will prevent the likelihood of this happening again. When agents enter new listings, there will words that will cause a warning saying please check the word for proper context. You can still use the words, but since the word could by itself point to a violation, it makes you aware and asks you to verify that it cannot be discrimination. There are also stop words, such as "adult only" or "no children." These words will not be allowed to be used in public or Realtor remarks. An agent would be forced to choose new words.

Will this all work? Hopefully it will prevent Federal Housing violations. It will however not stop the MLS violations which are common in our MLS, such as agents contact information being in the public remarks, or on property photos, as there are no plans to use the software to prevent phone numbers and email addresses from being put into public remarks.

I am hoping this will all work, but at the same time I am keeping the following words of Laurie Janik, Chief Council of NAR just in case.

"For anyone involved in litigation such as this case, a defense exists under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to protect those of you who merely publish content provided by others, as is the case with IDX feeds. We have never seen a case in which this Act has been applied to an IDX display, but the Act has been found by the courts to provide protection against fair housing claims brought against sites such as Craigslist and Roommate.com." Laurie Janik

Mar 22, 2013 05:46 AM #296
Anonymous
Anonymous
Rachel LaMar

Jeff, This is beyond outrageous. If people are going to waste everyoone's time filing lawsuits that are this frivolous and have no grounds to begin with, then every agent is going to eventually have to remove IDX from their sites. This will be a huge loss to our clients and to those who want maximum exposure sellling their homes. IF we could in any way be liable for this, then NO ONE should be able to post listings anywhere, except for local MLS boards. This of course would put us back to a time when real estate agents were the only ones who possessed the knowledge of what was on the market, which makes it ripe for fraud and shady dealings amonst agents (as if we don't have enough of that already). As an attorney I am astounded that others would even file such a lawsuit. I am going to keep my eyes glued to your plight. I know you will come out fine, but I am sorry you have to go through this. I am sure your attorneys will counter sue to cover all your expenses and then some. Best of luck to you.

Mar 22, 2013 07:53 AM #297
Rainmaker
717,785
Juli Vosmik
Dominion Real Estate Partners, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739

Jeff, I had to stop back on this one.  My broker is FURIOUS that your local board will not help you on this.  That's why we have to pay the dues we pay.  He would certainly step in anddemand the board do their jobs!!!!

Mar 30, 2013 01:07 PM #298
Rainmaker
88,265
Jeff Launiere
Future Home Realty - Tampa, FL
Jeff Launiere

Juli Vosmik - Laurie Janik, Chief Legal Counsel at NAR got involved, and a few hours later, I was dismissed from the lawsuit. I also got massive support from Realtors across the country, and Realtor Associations in many states. I also have to thank and recommend anyone who ever has any Real Estate related issues to give Attorney Michael Erdman of Teeple Leonard & Erdman a call. He gave me so much help and can be reached at (312) 242-1585. Also, Ann Cummings, a Realtor in New Hampshire had the contacts that got me the call from Laurie Janik. I have no doubt that if it was not for the massive support from the Realtor Community, this would have turned out very different, as surprisingly, those that I would have expected to receive help from, were nowhere to be found.

Mar 30, 2013 05:09 PM #299
Anonymous
Anonymous
Susan Hornr

Thank goodness this has a decent ending! Things are crazy enough without this sort of idiodic stuff to contend with. Sorry you left your brokerage. Your positive attitude is inspirational! 

Apr 01, 2013 10:08 AM #300
Rainmaker
88,265
Jeff Launiere
Future Home Realty - Tampa, FL
Jeff Launiere

Susan Hornr - Thank you! Things worked out well in the end, though it did take time, energy, money, and likely lost money. I wish I did not have to leave my brokerage, as it has been the best. Very efficient office, well run, and I would have likely spent the rest of my days there, but an incident like this can force your hand.

Apr 01, 2013 12:12 PM #301
Ambassador
1,739,434
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Palm Harbor, FL
Palm Harbor & Dunedin FL Residential Real Estate

wow, I just heard about this whole thing last week and am flabbergasted! For SO MANY reasons!!!

Apr 22, 2013 02:24 PM #302
Anonymous
Anonymous
Eric Vazquez

I just am completely mind-boggled by the response from your state and regional/local associations. I am going to assume your association is like mine in NY. All MLS data inclusive of commentary viewable to the public is a copyrighted compilation. How can the "owner" of the data refuse to accept any responsibility for the data especially when that ownership is confirmed by the copyright?

Apr 22, 2013 02:56 PM #303
Rainer
29,021
Angie Johnson
RE/MAX Luxury Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Angie Johnson

Always have a disclaimer at the bottom of your pages stating you are not liable for information being displayed as it is a 3rd party service:).  Thanks for the post, very interesting!!

 

May 17, 2013 07:56 AM #304
Rainer
51,410
Rod Pierson
Coldwell Banker C&C Properties - Redding, CA
Northern California

With all the hungry attorneys an agent has to be extremely careful and keep their eyes open for all pit falls.

So happy for a happy ending, someday I will share one personal experience that no realtor would have saw it coming.  

Wishing All Active Rain Community a Happy,Healthy,Prosperous New Year in 2014. 

 

 

 

Dec 30, 2013 12:41 PM #305
Rainer
14,469
Robert Adams
Broker at The Adams Team at Rothwell Gornt Companies in Las Vegas & Sankey Real Estate in MA - Las Vegas, NV
Real Estate Broker in NV, MA, & RI

Everyone gets sue happy with this kind of bs.

Dec 30, 2013 01:08 PM #306
Rainmaker
342,363
Catherine Ulrey
Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere - Salem, OR
Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist

Do you have an update on this?  Please keep us informed.

Dec 30, 2013 01:12 PM #307
Rainmaker
342,363
Catherine Ulrey
Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere - Salem, OR
Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist

Do you have an update on this?  Please keep us informed.

Dec 30, 2013 01:12 PM #308
Rainmaker
342,363
Catherine Ulrey
Keller Williams Realty Portland Premiere - Salem, OR
Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist

Do you have an update on this?  Please keep us informed.

Dec 30, 2013 01:12 PM #309
Rainer
49,606
Eric Galuppo
Real Estate Rev - Helping Agents Increase Revenues

CONGRATULATION Jeff for being one of the top 5 most commented post of 2013!

 

Dec 30, 2013 06:30 PM #310
Rainer
169,827
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

We have become a group of moral lepers, just look at the congress. American greatness is dwindling so fast and NO ONE wants to talk about what  we are beccoming.

Dec 30, 2013 06:57 PM #311
Rainer
155,011
Jane Chaulklin-Schott
TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766 - Orlando, FL
TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836

Congratulations, Jeff! Came over from Kerrie's post on the top 5 commented posts. I did miss your post and will review. Nice going, though.

Dec 30, 2013 08:04 PM #312
Rainmaker
82,724
Andre R. Aragon
Greater Tampa Photo - Real Estate Photography - Tampa, FL
Real Estate Photographer

Happy New Year Jeff! I hope you have a great one in 2014!

Dec 31, 2013 05:29 AM #313
Rainmaker
255,762
Marie Story
Keller Williams - Pinecrest (Miami) - Pinecrest, FL
Broker Associate, Pinecrest (Miami) Homes For Sale

The thought that there is a possibility that I might be responsible for what another agent does is very unsettling!

Dec 31, 2013 06:33 AM #314
Rainer
51,410
Rod Pierson
Coldwell Banker C&C Properties - Redding, CA
Northern California

HI jeff, sounds like a real accomplishement, keep up the good work and congratulations 

Have a great day tomorrow, and bring in the year with a bang..... 

Dec 31, 2013 03:43 PM #315
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Rainmaker
88,265

Jeff Launiere

Jeff Launiere
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