What the MLS Clear Cooperation Policy means for Off-Market Listings

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MLS Clear Cooperation Policy Off-Market Listings

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has adopted a rule change that will require all members to submit their listings to the multiple listing service (MLS) within one business day of marketing the listing to the public. The rule change was prompted by MLS members hoping to generate more exposure in the marketplace for listings, which can be limited by “Off-Market” listings such as Pocket, Coming Soon or Private Network listings which are not shared through the MLS service.

A pocket listing is a listing that the listing agent makes a property available for sale without entering the listing into the MLS. Sellers seeking privacy or a simpler deal with a friend or agent referral, see the pocket listing as more advantageous than putting the property in the MLS.

Supporters of the rule change argue that such Off-Market listings hurt consumers by restricting what information is given to the general public (and other MLS members) about a new listing. In a seller’s market, buyers can be frustrated to learn of a sale after the fact and without ever having the opportunity to see or make an offer on the property.

Once implemented, all properties for sale in an area that are listed by an MLS member will have to appear in the MLS service within one business day of any public marketing of the property. The rule defines “public marketing” as including, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public-facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public. MLS Statement 8.0.

The rule change is not without opposition. One such opponent, Compass real estate, argues that the rule change is anti-consumer and anti-competitive because it restricts the ability of agents to market a property outside the MLS service. Others argue that Off-Market listings allow agents to test the market for their sellers or generate buzz about a listing and increase competition (and thus sale price) among buyers.

The NAR has published answers to Frequently Asked Questions concerning the rule change on its website. Included is a statement that the rule does not require listings to be included in an MLS’s IDX display, that “office exclusives” will still be permitted, and that both active and non-active listings must comply with the rule. The NAR has also clarified that the new rule applies only to residential listings, not listings for commercial real estate.

Regional MLSs have until May 1, 2020, to formally adopt and implement the new rule.

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