i) What is the goal of your proposed gTLD in terms of areas of specialty, service levels, or reputation?
The goal of the .MLS TLD is replicate the standards by which MLS® professional services are known for. CREA is best situated to ensure registrants of .MLS domains are those able to meet this standard.
The trademark MLS® has been used by organized real estate extensively throughout Canada since 1954. Consequently, consumers associate “MLS®” with the provision of professional real estate services and accurate, comprehensive, real estate listing information. The .MLS TLD will reinforce this meaning of MLS® with consumers and easily enable them to identify website that will provide quality information about real estate services and property listings.
ii) What do you anticipate your proposed gTLD will add to the current space, in terms of competition, differentiation, or innovation?
Initially, the creation of the .MLS TLD will provide competition to existing TLD’s in the form of a new name space for CREA member Boards and Foreign Affiliates to register domain names. Over time, we anticipate a single dedicated name space under the unique .MLS TLD to resonate with users of the Internet creating differentiation that otherwise could not exist in the very same manner. Internet users will come to know that the information on .MLS websites is guaranteed to be about MLS® real estate services or listing content that originates from an MLS® System, both of which require a high level of professionalism and accuracy of information, whereas no such guarantee exists when accessing a .com or .net real estate website.
As the Registry Operator of the .MLS TLD, our goal is for users to experience robust DNS industry standards for technical back-end operations including but not limited to 100% uptime, timely zone file dissemination, searchable WHOIS capabilities, and additional security measures such as for DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC). Over time, our goal is for users to interact with registrants of .MLS domain names Change to same as general application.
Part of CREA’s mandate is to act as a technological resource for its members. CREA has done this in the past by providing technology products, such as an online forms service, an intranet, a data distribution facility, and public facing websites like REALTOR.ca (previously MLS.ca). REALTOR.ca, which CREA owns and operates, is currently the most successful real property website in Canada. This website contains hundreds of thousands of property listings from the MLS® Systems of member Boards all across Canada. From 1994 until approximately 2008 (i.e. some 14 years) this website was known as MLS.ca. CREA is still the owner of the active MLS.ca domain.
Owning and operating the .MLS TLD is yet another technology product that CREA wishes to offer its members to help them conduct their businesses and is consistent with CREA’s long-standing technological association with MLS® Systems.
iv) Provide a complete description of the applicant’s intended registration policies in support of the goals listed above.
Only members of CREA will be permitted to register .MLS domains. The .MLS TLD will initially be made available to CREA’s member Boards and foreign affiliate members. After undertaking any required assessments, CREA may enter into a second phase where the TLD would be made available to REALTOR® members of CREA.
Each application will be manually reviewed to determine if the applicant is a member of CREA. The applied-for second level domain will also be reviewed to determine if it would make clear to Internet Users what geographical region the MLS® services or listing information on the website represents.
v) Will your proposed gTLD impose any measures for protecting the privacy or confidential information of registrants or users? If so, please describe any such measures.
We would institute all privacy protections as required by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada. PIPEDA requires companies that collect and maintain “personal information” to obtain consent for the collection and use of that information and to take measures to safeguard the information. CREA will obtain consent from domain name applicants to include their personal information in a WHOIS database, and will take all required measures to protect that information.
vi) Describe whether and in what ways outreach and communications will help to achieve your projected benefits.
The primary outreach and communications that will occur for .MLS will be through CREA’s existing communications and marketing channels. CREA currently communicates to its members through electronic newsletters, its intranet website www.realtorlink.ca, and directly at conferences and meetings. CREA also communicates to consumers through its National Advertising Campaign, namely television and radio ads, and public facing websites. CREA will use these methods to communicate information about the .MLS TLD to its members and to consumers.
vii) What operating rules will you adopt to eliminate or minimize social costs (e.g., time or financial resource costs, as well as various types of consumer vulnerabilities)?
A significant operating rule will be the requirement that all registrants of .MLS domains be members of CREA. Consumers will know that the information provided on .MLS websites relates to MLS® services or listing information that originates from an MLS® System, both of which require a high degree of professionalism and of accuracy of information. REALTOR® members are subject to a high ethical standard set out in the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
viii) How will multiple applications for a particular domain name be resolved, for example, by auction or on a first come⁄first serve basis?
Boards will only be allowed to use the TLD with their business name or an acronym of their business name. For example, the Toronto Real Estate Board could register www.torontorealestateboard.mls or www.treb.mls. As no two boards use the same name or acronym, and as these are the only .MLS domains that will be issued in phase one to Canadian applicants, there will not be multiple applications for the same domain name in Canada.
All Foreign Affiliate members will be required to include a geographical modifier in the second level domain that relates to the geographical area that is serviced by their MLS® System or to clearly indicate the geographical area served by their system on any site page. For example, the Durham MLS would not be able to simply register Durham.mls, as this domain could be confusing with Durham, Ontario. The Durham MLS would be required to include a geographical modifier, like DurhamNorthCarolina.mls, or they would have to display something like a map of North Carolina on their home page. As there are very few areas serviced by more than one of CREA’s Foreign Affiliate members, it is unlikely that there will be many duplicate .MLS domain name applications by applicants outside of Canada.
In the event that there are multiple applications for the same .MLS domain name, which we consider to be a very limited pool for reasons described above, CREA will default to an auction process for resolution. Any such auction would be performed by an experienced domain auction provider under best auction practices.
ix) Explain any cost benefits for registrants you intend to implement (e.g., advantageous pricing, introductory discounts, bulk registration discounts).
Our plan is to market test the elasticity of the wholesale fee for a .MLS registration in order to gather the market evidence necessary to best determine strategies that have to do with advantageous pricing, introductory discounts, etc.
CREA does not intend to make contractual commitments to registrants regarding the magnitude of price escalation.
x) What other steps will you take to minimize negative consequences⁄costs imposed upon consumers?
The .MLS TLD will be used by CREA members to market their membership in CREA, their professional services, and their real estate listings. All of this information will be provided to consumers in the context of a group of highly skilled professionals, all of whom belong to an integrated system of real estate Boards across Canada that provide national support for those services. Consumers will have the benefit of being able to recognize quality MLS® services and accurate MLS® listing content in a competitive and open environment where they will be able to make informed choices in terms of representation. This encourages healthy competition for consumer loyalty and benefits all consumers from both a cost and service level perspective.