Hoboken Real Estate News
This blog is written by, and is purely the personal opinion of Howard and myself. We primarily discuss the Hoboken real estate market, among other things. It is not affiliated with, nor does it in any way reflect the opinions of The Liberty Board, The Hudson County MLS (“HCMLS”), the New Jersey Association of Realtors (“NJAR”), the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”), or any other person or organization. While we happen to be real estate agents, we do not and have never sold real estate on this blog. In our opinion, this site is not commercial and we have never “advertised” MLS or any other property listings, or ourselves on this blog. There is no search engine for properties or “find a home” function here. There never has been. We believe that by providing useful advice and information, intelligent, thoughtful buyers and sellers will recognize our skills and the value we add and will seek out our services and listed properties on our fully-conforming agent website hobokensbesthomes.com.
The HCMLS asserts that by including links to MLS listings in our analysis we violated one of their rules. The rule prohibits “advertising” of a listing that is not ours without the prior permission of the listing agent and the listing agency. (The listing is the property of the ageny, not the agent). It is not feasible to obtain the prior permission for every property on the market prior to publish the link to each listing. That is why the HCMLS initiated the Internet Data Exchange (“IDX”) system. IDX allows an agent to pay the HCMLS for a data feed of the MLS listings. We have been told we are permitted to put a search engine for the IDX feed on our agent website or here. The resulting listings say “courtesy of Coldwell Banker or Weichert Realtors” and have the listing agents name and phone. Although we could pay the HCMLS to put IDX on this site, we don’t find IDX very useful. It is a very elementary program that does not allow us or you to sort, analyze or compile the resulting information in any meaningful way.
In our posts we had been including a link to the ‘customer copy’ of the MLS listings. This copy is generated by HCMLS’s computer program. It can be emailed by any agent to anyone. The customer copy is an attenuated version of the ‘agent report’ that agents access through the MLS computer program. The agent report includes the listing agent and agency and the commission amount and the number of days the property has been on the market. Agent reports cannot be emailed. The HCMLS determines what fields of information appear on the customer copy. It now has only the name and contact info of the agent who generates the report at the bottom of the page. Since the content of the information on each customer copy is exactly what is provided on a listing searched through the IDX feed, it would seem that if a brokerage granted permission for its listings to be included in the IDX feed it would also apply to the customer copy. The substance is the same, the information is just accessed and presented in a different form. If the HCMLS were worried that a consumer would be mislead and think that every single listing in Hudson County were ours, (or any other agent’s who thought to post the links) the HCMLS could include the listing agent info on the customer copy but they haven’t.
The HCMLS has fined us $50 a day for posting the links. They threatened to deny us access to the MLS, which would effectively put us out of business, unless we removed them going back for a 30 day period, which we have done. While we can no longer post the links, the HCMLS allows all agents to email the very same link to anyone who requestes said info. As such, from now on we will email reports with links, but only upon request so as not to violate any rules. Last week we published the Weekly Wednesday Wrap Up without the links (as we will continue to do) and asked you to email us if you wished to receive the report with the links. We received HUNDREDS of requests this week. My inbox was a mess. We are creating a private email distribution list. My apologies for the one email that accidentally had email addresses in “To” instead of “bcc”. I was a bit overwhelmed by this whole episode. The only thing that will change on this blog is that we will not post MLS links. The weekly Open House Google Map is going to need some tweaking as well. We’re working on it and appreciate your patience. Everything else will continue as always.
We are licensed real estate agents and abide by the regulations of our governing bodies with respect to selling real estate, which we do on our official agent website, hobokensbesthomes.com. The HCMLS and the NJ Real Estate Commission (which is a governmental agency) can surely regulate the time, place and manner of our commercial speech. They can possibly regulate the content of our speech when we are selling real estate. We have made and will continute to make every attempt to comply with their rules and regulations with regard to our commercial site. There are scores of agents in Hoboken with agent websites that are in screaming violation of the HCMLS and RE Commission rules.
I studied First Amendment law as a student at Boston University Law School where I was on the Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. I spent two years as a law clerk to a judge in Federal Court in the District of Columbia. When I was a practicing attorney, I served on the New York State Bar Association First Amendment committee with Floyd Abrams. (I am still a member of the bar of the State of New York in good standing, officially of retired status). Some of our readers are attorneys and may be experts but I do know a little about free speech. Hobokenrealestatenews.com is our personal blog on the subject of Hoboken real estate. We express our observations and opinions of the Hoboken real estate market, community and local economy. It is not commercial speech. We appreciate your support. I wish I had the time to respond to each and every one of your individual messages saying how much value you find in our information. We will continue to do everything we can to provide open, honest, transparent information.