Some South Carolina agents and brokers will no longer get a two-day grace period for home listing inaccuracies and violations of multiple listing service rules and regulations.

As of Aug. 2, members of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina will be fined if they clearly violate their multiple listing service’s rules. Fines range from $50 to $1,000 depending on the offense, and members will not receive warnings before being fined once the new policy goes into effect.

Examples of violations the association is especially eager to prevent include an agent putting his or her contact information in the public remarks, the absence of photos (unless the seller has requested no photos), and misrepresentation of listing status. A full list of violation fines is below.

Some South Carolina agents and brokers will no longer get a two-day grace period for home listing inaccuracies and violations of multiple listing service rules and regulations.

As of Aug. 2, members of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina will be fined if they clearly violate their multiple listing service’s rules. Fines range from $50 to $1,000 depending on the offense, and members will not receive warnings before being fined once the new policy goes into effect.

Examples of violations the association is especially eager to prevent include an agent putting his or her contact information in the public remarks, the absence of photos (unless the seller has requested no photos), and misrepresentation of listing status. A full list of violation fines is below.

"One of the goals we established as an association and MLS for 2010 was increasing the value of the MLS for our members. Accurate data is an essential component of a Realtor’s success in a challenging market," said Meghan Byrnes Weinreich, the association’s director of communications and marketing.

Typos and similar mistakes will not incur any fines if corrected within 48 hours of being notified of the error by MLS staff, Weinreich said.

"It’s our responsibility to make sure the data is accurate for our members as well as consumers who can access this information on any number of websites," she added.

The association’s MLS data is distributed to thousands of members’ Internet Data Exchange (IDX) websites, the association’s own public website, third-party websites, and national sites like Realtor.com, Weinreich said.

The association’s MLS provider, Solid Earth, has a built-in system that gives the association the ability to search listing inventory for keywords and other parameters that allows it to identify potential violations to certain rules, she added.

"I think it’s a great idea. We’re not in the babysitting business. Realtors should be capable of following the rules," said Howard Arnoff of AgentOwned Realty Co. in Charleston and a member of the Charleston Trident MLS.

"Years ago when you had you had to take photos to Wal-Mart to get them developed, it might have been OK to put a listing up without a picture. But now, you don’t need 48 hours."

Arnoff said he personally makes sure a listing is completely ready to go before putting it into the MLS.

"So many buyers have listing alerts set up for them and they look forward to getting an e-mail the day when a new property gets on their market that meets their criteria," he said.

"It’s an injustice to your client if you don’t have it ready. I’ve seen listings come out with ‘remarks to follow’ (written in the description). You don’t have to have it listed at 8:30 in the morning and the remarks put in three hours later. It’s silly."

The new policy also protects an environment of fair competition for members, Weinreich said.

"We have rules in place to ensure that the cooperative system of the MLS serves all members equally. Given that it is a user-driven system, we have a responsibility to ensure that no one member is gaining an advantage over another by purposefully violating these rules," she said.

Arnoff agreed. In addition to including contact information in public remarks, some agents will include photos that feature their sign in front of the for-sale property, he said, or include links to their website.

"People have been trying to skirt the rules on that one for a long time," he said.

With the previous policy, the association "would send a courtesy e-mail to the agent, but they wouldn’t necessarily fine the agent. With zero tolerance and high fines, people won’t try to get away with it."

The association has nearly 4,000 members and did receive some complaints about the new policy, Weinreich said, but "many were supportive of the decision and commented that this type of enforcement was welcome and appreciated."

Violation

Fine

Late Entry of Listing

$50

Misrepresentation of Listing Status

$250

Contact Information in Public Remarks

$250

Website Links in Public Remarks

$250

Financing Information in Public Remarks

$50

Inappropriate Photo Content

$50

Missing / Late Photo Entry

$50

Missing Seller and/or Lead Based Paint Disclosure

$50

Inaccurate Directions

$50

Inaccurate Information following notification from MLS Staff

$125

Public Distribution of Agent Report*

$500

Password Sharing*

$1,000

*May also result in suspension of services for up to six months.

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