Videos and virtual tours attached to listings are governed by the same rules that apply to photos, and those rules cover both the content of the video as well as the location where the video is displayed online. Prohibited elements of video content and presentations include:
- Agent, broker, or other branding. Videos and virtual tours must be “unbranded.”
- Contact or other information identifying the listing broker, agent, or any other entity.
- Advertising of any kind, including links to additional content or external sites not related to the specific property.
- Comment or contact forms, ratings (such as ‘like,’ ‘favorite,’ or ‘vote’ options), or social media profiles.
The video must be presented in a clean and straightforward manner, containing only information about the specific property, and free of ads, other videos or images, or links to other sites or information. As a result:
- YouTube cannot be used as a Virtual Tour host because the video player, even in embed mode, contains links that will take the viewer to YouTube or to the video’s main page where account details and other videos will be visible.
- Certain file hosting services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, cannot be used as a Virtual Tour host because the name of the account holder can be displayed.
- Agent and broker websites cannot be used as a Virtual Tour host because the video link URL itself contains identifying information.
Here is the applicable section of the MLS Rules and Regulations:
Section 3.05 b
Photographic images and video and virtual tours submitted on listing records shall only contain depictions of the physical characteristics of the listed property and its immediate vicinity. If there are structures on the listed properties, there must be at least one photograph of the frontal view of the primary structure submitted on each listing record. Inclusion of marketing or promotional messages or contact information including phone numbers, email addresses, and web site addresses for any participant or associate subscriber, seller, owner, or other entity is expressly prohibited. Images of “for-sale” signs and pictures of persons are expressly prohibited. This prohibition also bans active hyperlinks and website or URL addresses to websites or web pages that contain marketing or promotional messages, contact information or banned images.
If you are using a video or virtual tour company that specializes in real estate, they will likely be familiar with these restrictions, which are common across the industry. Such companies will typically provide “unbranded” videos or virtual tours as well as provide links to presentations that exclude ineligible content or links.
If you have produced your own video, or engaged a videographer or photographer who provides a video file but not online hosting, you will need to find a suitable video or file hosting service.
Here are a couple of the most popular video platforms and illustrations explaining why they cannot be used for videos and virtual tours in the MLS.
Youtube.com is the most popular video hosting site but unfortunately they do not offer an option that we know of that produces a compliant video page. Here are examples of disallowed content on a typical Youtube video page:
Another violation would be the display of advertisements over the actual video, which YouTube frequently does.
Vimeo.com is another video hosting option and does offer an option to create a compliant video page, if you upgrade to a paid plan. The default video page is not acceptable. Here is an example of Vimeo’s default video page (for free accounts):