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Silver City, New Mexico

Virtual Office Defined
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The Commission created a definition for a “virtual brokerage office” in
response to a comment that while the Commission was implementing a rule that
addressed license display requirements for virtual offices, it did not define a virtual

 Courtesy of Google, the new definition of a virtual brokerage office is one
that “provides communication and address services without providing dedicated
office space.”

"Consumer choice should not be restricted by 'one size fits all' regulation."

Real estate brokers provide property listings to their customers in a variety of ways — in their offices or by mail, fax, or e-mail. Some brokers have begun offering their services to customers over the Internet, using VOWs, the Department said. VOWs are password-protected Internet sites that allow the broker's existing customers to search the MLS database on their own to obtain the same information that would be available from a traditional broker.

Delivering listings over the Internet gives web-savvy consumers more control over their search for a home, allowing them to educate themselves about their options at their own pace and on their own time, the Department said. This allows brokers to reduce the time that their agents spend searching the MLS database or showing homes the customer dislikes. Because the Internet can be used to deliver brokerage services more efficiently — resulting in better service and lower costs to consumers — brokers who utilize the Internet represent a competitive challenge to traditional brokers, the Department added.

All brokers advertise their business to attract prospective clients, but VOWs themselves are not advertising, the Department's letter advised. A VOW broker's customer can access the information distributed by the VOW only after establishing a customer relationship with the broker.

New Mexico MLS's currently have rules that prevent brokers from advertising another broker's listings without that broker's consent.

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