Reaffirming the longstanding and obvious procompetitive benefit of the Multiple Listing Service, the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”) board of directors voted 729-70 on Monday to pass a restriction on “pocket listings” and “private listing networks.”
The following policy was adopted as MLS Statement 8.0 in NAR’s Handbook on the Multiple Listing Policy:
“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.”
This new policy will be effective January 1, 2020, and all MLS’s and brokers must implement it by May 1, 2020.
Under the new policy, if a listing is marketed to the public in any way, the listing must be submitted to the MLS by the next business day. “Public marketing” is any public notice that the property is “for sale” or that it will imminently be “for sale.”
Put simply, when a yard sign goes up, or your social media blast goes out, NAR will soon require that the property be submitted to the MLS. “Pocket listings” will be restricted.
Public Marketing v. Office Exclusive
The new rule does not affect “office exclusive” listings. NAR clarified that “an office exclusive listing, direct promotion of the listing between the brokers and licensees affiliated with the listing brokerage, and one-to-one promotion between these licensees and their clients, is not considered public advertising.”
However, listings identified within “private listing networks,” where members of multiple different brokerages share access to certain “off-market” listings, will soon be subject to mandatory MLS submission.
Therefore, if a property is not ready for market, its status can be shared within the listing agent’s brokerage without being placed on the MLS. However, once publically shared on social media, in email blasts, within a network of competing brokerages, or in other outside advertisements, the property must be submitted by the next regular business day.
What if the Client wants to advertise “Coming Soon?”
Listings are sometimes held off the MLS during the initial staging, inspection, and clean up/repair phase of the sales process. This happens because photos and marketing statements called for on the MLS typically are not ready at this time and sellers want to prepare the listing appropriately. NAR’s new policy generally disallows the practice of placing a yard sign out front with a “coming soon” rider while delaying submission to the MLS. Going forward, these properties will need to either 1) not have a yard sign erected out front, or 2) they’ll need to be reported immediately to the MLS with a disclaimer that the property is “Coming Soon.”
Many local MLS’ already have a feature to promote “coming soon” or “delayed showing” listings, and those that don’t will have one added shortly which can be utilized to meet the requirements of the new policy. It will be incumbent on agents to start using their MLS’ respective coming soon feature.
What about the “MLS Exclusion Form?”
The MLS Exclusion Form will remain necessary if the seller intends to hold the property “off market” for some time after execution of the listing agreement. However, the property must be completely “off-market.” Once a NAR member’s listing is publically advertised “for sale,” this new NAR policy will require exposure on the MLS.
If you market a listing in any way on social media, even if your personal social media page is “private,” this policy very likely requires that the listing be reported to the MLS. For instance, if an agent has a private Facebook page with hundreds of “friends,” including many agents of other brokerages, that page could very likely qualify as a “Private listing network” under the policy. As such, best practice will be to submit your listing to the MLS within a day of telling your Facebook friends “I just won the listing on 123 Candyland Street!”
Maximizing the MLS’ Pro-Competitive Benefit to Residential Consumers
NAR has stated that the adoption of this new rule is to promote the “distribution of listing information” and “cooperation among MLS participants,” and further, the policy is “intended to bolster cooperation and advance the positive, procompetitive impacts that cooperating fosters for the consumer.” It is expected to have a beneficial effect on the residential real estate market.
The Policy does not apply to commercial listings.
For more information, please refer to NAR website.