NAR’s Board of Directors met on November 11, 2019 to vote on a number of issues that will impact REALTORS®. We’d like to address some of the most common questions we’ve beeb getting regarding the MLS Clear Cooperation Policy.

This new policy must be adopted by all REALTOR®-owned MLS’s no later than May 1, 2020. MLS’s may adopt the policy prior to May 1–in fact, Bright MLS in Northern Virginia has already adopted the policy–and non-REALTOR® MLS’s are not required to adopt the policy at all.

The policy states “within one 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.”

The policy was originally published by NAR in September and members were invited to provide input regarding the policy both online and in person at the Convention in San Francisco. NAR took that feedback and tweaked the policy slightly from its original language.

So let’s talk about what this rule does and does not require you to do. It’s pretty straight forward–if you market a property outside your own firm, that property must be listed in the MLS.

The policy does not prohibit office exclusive listings. These listings are ones in which the owner has opted out of having their property entered into the MLS. But, if the owner has selected this option, then the property cannot be marketed outside the firm or the firms existing clients.

This means that private listing networks can only be used if the property is also entered into the MLS.

The policy does not prohibit “coming soon” properties, and leaves the specifics of “coming soon” policies up to the local MLS. Additionally, a “coming soon” status will alleviate a lot of the concerns that we’ve heard about. Because a “for sale” sign in a yard is considered public advertising, triggering the requirement to put the property in the MLS, if you’re not sure when the sign will go up, you can always use “coming soon”. So, when you order the sign, enter the property in the MLS and mark it coming soon.

That leads to another misconception we want to address. The new clear cooperation policy does not require the property to be immediately “active.” The new policy doesn’t change when you must enter the property in the MLS after signing the listing – it simply adds a new layer to the equation saying that you must enter the property within 1 business day of publicly marketing the property.

NAR has a lot of resources, including FAQs, a place to submit questions, on their website. Just search “Clear Cooperation Policy”. If you have additionally questions, we encourage you to contact the Virginia REALTORS® Legal Hotline.