REALTORS® Adopt New MLS Rule Aimed To Eliminate “Off-MLS” Listings

Yesterday, the board of directors for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) approved a new policy dubbed the “Clear Cooperation Policy” which goes into effect January 1, 2020, and Multiple Listing Service’s (MLS) have until May 1, 2020, to adopt and implement.

While the vote by the board of directors, 729 in favor of it to 70 opposed, may not reflect it, there is a lot of controversy about this policy among real estate agents and brokers that are members of NAR. The two main changes this new policy bring about are that agents would be mandated to put, for all intents and purposes, 100% of their listings in the MLS system within one business-day of marketing the listing (marketing is defined to include putting a sign in the yard, telling someone about the listing, etc) and “MLS-exempt” listings will no longer be permitted.

Better for the consumer?

Proponents of the new NAR MLS policy say that this will be better for consumers by:

  • Making all available listings show in the MLS;
  • Giving more exposure to sellers of their listings by not permitting “MLS exempt”, “off-MLS”, “Coming Soon” or other marketing methods that may not include putting the listing in the MLS, or at least not initially;
  • Leveling the playing field, making all listings available to all consumers since listings could no longer be marketed through just social media, private networks, etc, but, instead, would be required to be put in the MLS;
  • Eliminating practices that may violate Fair Housing Laws by limiting what audience a particular listing is exposed to;

Opponents of the new NAR MLS policy argue that it is not better for consumers because:

  • It eliminates the opportunity for an experienced listing agent to determine, in cooperation with their seller client, the best means and methods to market their home to obtain maximum exposure and the highest price;
  •  Pre-marketing, such as a coming soon promotion on social media before the listing is ready to go in the MLS in an effort to generate buzz and hype over the listing, would be prohibited.  This is a method of marketing that, in our current low-inventory market, has been extremely effective in getting maximum exposure, and the highest price, for the seller.
  • Agents would not be permitted to quietly “test” the market to see how the listing, and/or it’s price, will be received by the market.  This is often done by marketing the home before entry in the MLS to establish the right price.  Once in the MLS, the days on market start working against the seller, as do price reductions, so coming into the MLS at the right price is essential for the seller.
  • It prevents a seller from using a REALTOR® when they wish to have their property marketed in a private manner and not publicly.  This happens often when the seller is a high-profile individual that for security and/or privacy reasons, does not want photos and details about their home (including that they are selling it) publicly known.  It can also occur in the case of a divorce, a distressed-type sale, etc;

Time will tell whether this proves to be good, or bad, for the industry and the consumer.

Stay tuned.

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