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In November, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Board of Directors approved MLS Statement 8.0, also known as the Clear Cooperation Policy. Aimed at benefitting consumers and ensuring a level playing field for brokers, the new policy requires MLS-participating brokers to share listings with other brokers in the MLS within one business day of marketing the property to the public.

Have you ever seen a for-sale sign for a house that wasn’t in the MLS, or have a buyer ask about a property they found online that you knew nothing about? Low inventory levels and tech-enabled pocket listings have resulted in a growing number of off-MLS listings, leading to questions of fairness and serving sellers’ best interests. Amid mounting frustration, brokers, agents and MLSs across the country asked us to consider policy that would reinforce the consumer benefits of cooperation.

After much deliberation, and with considerable input from members, brokers and MLSs, NAR’s MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board proposed the Clear Cooperation Policy. The board concluded that leaving listings outside the broader marketplace excludes consumers, undermining REALTORS®’ commitment to provide equal opportunity to all.

NAR President Vince Malta explains, “When properties for sale aren’t input into the MLS, it skews market data, makes it harder for our members to serve clients, reduces buyer choice, creates a potential fair housing risk and often hurts sellers’ interests. I’m pleased the Board of Directors decided that’s not who we are, and overwhelmingly approved the Clear Cooperation Policy.”

What Is the Clear Cooperation Policy?
The policy states that within one business day of marketing a property to the public, brokers must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes everything from yard signs and flyers in windows to web marketing and social media posts. Effective Jan. 1, MLSs have until May 1, 2020 to adopt the changes.

Pocket and “Coming Soon” Listings
The new policy doesn’t prohibit these specialized listings, but does change some of the rules. Pocket—or office-exclusive—listings are an important option when privacy and exposure are concerns, such as with divorce or a celebrity client. These listings are allowed when they are in the best interest of the seller and not advertised to the public.

“Coming Soon,” a popular marketing tactic to create exposure ahead of showings, is accommodated if they are shared with the MLS’ participants when the listing is advertised publicly. MLSs have flexibility in creating processes around these listings and can add clarity by defining specific statuses and showing requirements as well as determining enforcement measures.

The Impact of the Clear Cooperation Policy
Our MLS is a rare and unique system in which competitors cooperate for the benefit of consumers. It is an indispensable tool that creates a healthy and efficient marketplace serving the interests of sellers, buyers and practitioners. But it only works when REALTORS® act ethically to cooperate with other REALTORS® and respect their exclusive relationships with clients.

According to Rene Galicia, director of MLS Engagement at NAR, “The intent of the Clear Cooperation Policy is to benefit members, consumers and the industry in general by ensuring access to all available listing data. It reinforces the pro-competitive, pro-consumer aspects of the MLS as a broker cooperative and helps power innovation in the industry by providing a central source of aggregated listing data. I encourage brokers to embrace this new policy and get involved in your local MLS’ implementation process.”

Learn More
Visit nar.realtor/ClearCooperation to see the full policy, a webinar, FAQs, and more.

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