The Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) on Wednesday became the latest organization to throw its support behind a polarizing policy proposal that would ban most off-market and pocket listings.

Denee Evans

In a letter, CMLS CEO Denee Evans argued that withholding properties “from the [multiple listing service] for the purpose of marketing them privately pulls our industry, and the consumers we serve, backward toward the world of inside deals, inefficiency and uncertainty from which we emerged decades ago.” Evans then goes on to urge leaders at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to make their off-market listing proposal an official policy.

NAR first proposed banning off-market and pocket listings early last month. If the proposal is adopted, it would require agents to upload properties to their respective multiple listing services (MLSs) no later than one business day after marketing begins. As a result, the rule would effectively end the growing practice of publicizing listings for days or weeks without making it universally available to other agents.

In the CMLS letter Wednesday, Evans also suggests imposing a May 1, 2020, deadline for individual MLSs to implement the policy. Evans argues in the letter that such a deadline would give local MLSs — some of whom may not have the ability to move quickly — time to “consider options through engagement of members and evaluation of their local market.”

CMLS — which functions as a federation of local MLSs and engages in policy work, among other things — emailed the letter to its more than 200 members Wednesday afternoon. The letter is addressed to NAR and its leadership team that will decide how to proceed with the proposal.

In sending the letter, CMLS joins Midwest Real Estate Data and Bright MLS, two regional organizations, in publicly backing NAR’s proposal. In Bright MLS’s case, it actually adopted the proposal as a rule last month. Brokerages Compass and Assist-2-Sell, however, have strenuously objected to Bright MLS’s policy.

Some agents have also pushed back against NAR’s proposal, though other industry leaders, perhaps most notably Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman, have come out in support.

In her letter, Evans says that CMLS members have engaged in a “robust debate” over the issue. But she ultimately argues “CMLS believes that cooperation between real estate professionals on a shared platform creates the confidence, connections and community necessary for an efficient, consumer friendly marketplace.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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