The Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR), which includes over 13,000 members in central Texas and operates its own multiple listing service, has come out against a proposed pocket listing ban, suggesting that as currently envisioned the proposal is “not pro-consumer.”

In a letter last week, ABoR argued that the proposed rule from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) “aims to honor the value of cooperation between brokerages within the” multiple listing service (MLS) system. Nevertheless, the letter goes on to state that the current iteration of the policy is ultimately “inconsistent with the NAR code of ethics.”

“Cooperation is foundational to the MLS and threats to MLS cooperation are many,” the letter also states, “but a policy that hinders a seller’s marketing choices is not pro-consumer.”

The letter is a response to NAR’s announcement that it was considering a new policy that would effectively ban off-market and pocket listings in many circumstances. The policy is designed to bolster competition and give everyone access to listings in their respective areas. It would require agents to post their properties to an MLS within 24 hours of marketing them.

Though the policy would still allow for things like office-exclusives, it would for example prevent agents from marketing properties on things like email lists or websites for days before adding them to the MLS. It would also ban the practice of leaving listings entirely off the market if they receive any publicity elsewhere.

The proposal, which has not yet been adopted as an actual rule, is controversial, with several MLSs coming out in support even as some high profile agents have pushed back.

In that context, opposition from ABoR is significant because it is represents a departure from the position adopted by similar organizations, such as Midwest Real Estate Data, in other parts of the country.

ABoR has been around since 1926, and as of this summer included 13,133 members with 7,133 listings. It also runs the Austin/Central Texas Realty Information Service, or ACTRIS MLS.

NAR did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for comment about ABoR’s letter.

ABoR’s letter ultimately argues that NAR needs to further “refine” its off-market listing proposal so that “sellers have a clear waiver process” and local organizations have choices. The letter further encourages ABoR members to reach out to NAR before a policy committee discusses the proposal on November 9.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” ABoR’s letter concludes, “to the rise in limited exposure listing activity.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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