After a jam-packed four days, there are a few changes from the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Annual Conference that could impact your business. 

The first set of changes that will impact your business revolves around changes that will need to be made to REALTOR®-owned Multiple Listing Services and will take effect January 1, 2022. 

  1. REALTORS® and MLS participants will not be able to market services as “free” unless they do not receive compensation from any source. Previously, agents were advertising their services as “free” if the client would not be paying them, but this created some confusion. Under the new bright line rule, there will be clarity for the consumer. 
  2. Compensation offered to buyer agents now must be publicly displayed on any MLS consumer-facing website and in the data feeds provided to participants. Participants can decide whether to display the offer of compensation on their websites. The information must also be accompanied by a disclaimer stating that the offer is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed. Under this new rule, consumers will understand what compensation is being offered to their agents while not expanding who the offer of compensation is made to. 
  3. MLS participants will not be able to exclude listings from search results based on the offer of compensation or the listing firm. This ensures that clients will be aware of all relevant properties meeting their criteria. 

These changes were made to ensure pro-consumer, pro-competitive marketplaces. For more information and resources on how to talk to clients, the public, and regulators about the value of REALTORS® and the Multiple Listing Service, visit NAR’s new website 

In addition to MLS policy changes, there are a few changes to the Code of Ethics. 

  1. Standard of Practice 1-8 was updated to require cooperating brokers to confirm, in writing, that any counter-offer has been provided to the buyer or tenant when requested by the listing agent. This duty already exists for listing agents in Standard of Practice 1-7. While we are currently in a seller’s market, this change will become relevant when the market shifts.
  2. Standard of Practice 12-1 was changed to reflect the changes in MLS policies related to advertising services as “free.” Under the new Standard of Practice, REALTORS® cannot represent their services are free or at no cost to the client unless the REALTOR® will receive no financial compensation from any source for the services. 

If you have any questions regarding this article, we encourage you to contact the Virginia REALTORS® Legal Hotline.