The so-called “pocket listings”, “coming soon” listings and listings marketed on private networks outside the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) have been debated for quite a while. Some believe that keeping listings off the MLS reduces the buyers’ options, distorts market data, and may not be in the seller’s best interest.
The subject has been in discussion since 2013 by a work group at the NAR. An advisory board to the NAR developed a recommendation known as the Clear Cooperation proposal designed to foster broker cooperation and address the off-market listings. Finally, after its revision, discussion, and recommendations, at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco, the proposal was approved on November 11, 2019 by the MLS Issues and Policies Committee.
The MLS Policy 8.0 states as follows:
“Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, 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.”
Jon Colie, vice president of MLS, industry relations for HomeServices of America, and current chairman of the board for Mid-Atlantic regional BRIGHT MLS said: “The policy doesn’t eliminate private-office exclusives, “coming soon” listings, or even pocket listings, instead, it addresses what he called hybrids, meaning, “We’re marketing it everywhere except the MLS.”
All MLSs must adopt the policy before May 1, 2020. Non-compliance of the policy may include warnings and fines, which will be determined by the local MLS. This policy only affects residential real estate, and it requires listings to be submitted to the MLS if they are advertised to a select group of brokers outside the listing broker’s office. It doesn’t prohibit brokers from taking office-exclusive listings, nor does it impede their ability to meet clients’ privacy needs. The policy intends to bolster cooperation and promote a more constructive and procompetitive impact for consumers.
The Clear Cooperation Policy calls for all MLS participants to input any listing they market publicly, into the local MLS within one day, enabling MLS participants to share listings with the widest audience of potential buyers. The distribution of the listing is pro-competitive and pro-consumer. The goal is to ensure that all buyers have fair access to the full range of residential listings and make the business of selling and buying real estate more transparent.
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