The Future of MLS – MLS, The Clear Cooperation Policy, and You

Written by Posted On Sunday, 10 November 2019 05:00

MLS is the most valuable tool of those who list and sell residential real estate, and it is being threatened on multiple fronts.

What would you do if the MLS had only the listings brokers cannot sell themselves inhouse (Dual Agency)?

If you have followed me at all, for any length of time, you know I am an advocate for the miracle of MLS, a system that is the envy of the rest of real estate the world, around the world.

It is a system where competitors cooperate for the benefit of consumers. Over a million independent contractors, tens of thousands of companies, hundreds of different business models...a coming together of competitors who, with the power of MLS, make homeownership happen. The result of MLS is the creation of an efficient and healthy real estate marketplace.

MLS is dynamic and alive. The rules of MLS have changed over the years, based on best practices, legal advice, and litigation. This is a fact lost to many.

Two major pillar of MLS success is Cooperation and the expectation of timely submission of listings and new listing information to the system, for all of the members (known as Subscribers and Participants), a level playing field for access to inventory.

One of the major issues eroding the benefits of MLS is referred to as "Off MLS" or Pocket Listings" (and a few other things).

Have you had a buyer ask you about a property they found on 'your competitor's website that you knew nothing about because you could not find that property in the MLS?

This problem has been around for many years and in the last 8 years or so, especially in tighter inventory markets, it has become a big problem and a threat to the existence of the REALTORS most valuable tool, the MLS.

Today, with the activity of a few firms, Compass in particular, the problem has morphed into what I refer to as a "stake in the ground" issue...the timely submission of new listings, and enforcement of the rule.

While some MLSs have worked diligently to satisfy their varying constituents, non-submission or later submission of listings to the MLS is still an issue, with possible severe negative consequences. If one broker holds back listings, so will others.

The NAR MLS Advisory Board proposes MLS Policy to Fuel Broker Cooperation - To be discussed and voted on at the NAR Conference and Expo next Monday.

The MLS will not work without rules that set expectations of the Subscribers and Participants. It is held together by cooperation and the agreement that, with a few exceptions, everyone will submit their listings within a short period of time after the listing contract is signed to thr MLS for others to see. If there was no rule for submission in a timely manner, the only properties to make the MLS would be the properties brokers and agents can't sell themselves. If you have ever looked at a "commercial MLS," you know what I am talking about.

In recent years, we have seen some bending of the rules by some MLSs so as not to aggrevate some of an MLSs major members. Stretching the rules is not a good policy, and it is time to address this threat head on, which is what will be done next will be addressed, with no promise of a satisfactory outcome.

REALTOR Directors will be voting a week from today. Not NAR...but the REALTOR Directors who govern NAR.

Brokers who are MLS participants must share listings with other brokers in the MLS within 24 hours of a listing being publicly marketed.

If 24 hours seems unreasonable, remember that when MLS was created 100 years ago....before cars and the Internet, the time allowed for submission was then 24 hours

Consent - Informed or uninformed?

There is a legitimate reason for not submitting a listing. This is when the seller understands the implications to them when the home they wish to sell is not submitted to the MLS, and the seller requests the withholding of their property.

If the truly informed seller requests nonsubmission with a full understanding of the potential consequences of nonsubmission to the MLS, withholding their property is allowed.

However, this exception is being abused. A problem with this exception is that when a seller gives their consent to withhold, it is almost always "uninformed consent" they are giving, and that does not count as consent.

Remember the term, "uninformed consent." You will see it in the Agency and Dual Agency Discussions as well.

Enforcement - What is fair?

If you abide by the rules, the fines and enforcement are not a problem for you. If you do push the envelope, then fines may just be operating expenses, but it is not in the best interest of the consumer or the members of this industry.

If you have read this far :-), how would you vote? 

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Saul Klein

In 1948, doctors told my father that his life aboard submarines on war patrol in the South Pacific and the depth charging he experienced had rendered him sterile. Although controversial and not widely applied, he was treated with an Ayurvedic therapy called “shivambu.” If you are unfamiliar with this term, I recommend you Google it because against all odds, I came to exist.

That was a loony segue into my life but is a fitting precursor to a career that would be just as incredible.

Like my father, I joined the Navy. However, due to a medical inconvenience, I was honorably discharged after 6 years of commissioned service, all on Sea Duty. This was an opportune misfortune that led me down the path to a successful career in real estate. Both my father and grandfather flirted in real estate brokering and flipping part-time, and I followed suit but making a lifelong career out of it.

With over 40 years in real estate, it is impossible to talk about my experiences in this small window. But I can proudly say that I am well-recognized as an industry pioneer, especially in real estate syndication and education, and one of the few luminaries that paved the way for real estate’s transition to the online world.

Some highlights of my life’s work:
● Co-created ePRO, technology certification course that certified 70,000 students
● Created the first online communities for real estate professionals to network, learn, and sell
● Created "Opt Out" Listing Syndication, aggregating over 1.4 Million Listings in 18 months
● Built the #2 National Listing Syndication Service, Point2 Technologies, sold to Yardi in 2010
● Founder of the California Association of Buyer’s Agents
● Member of the first Team, pre-IPO, responsible for obtaining first 500,000 listings
● Helped Zillow and Trulia build up their MLS data inventory

Today I continue to lead efforts that bring new technologies to the real estate industry. Feel free to reach out and learn more.

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