In a new blog post, Glenn Kelman argues that exclusive listings lead to discrimination and urged real estate professionals to take a stand by supporting a proposed ban.

Citing the potential for greater racial equality in real estate, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman on Wednesday reiterated his support for a proposal that would ban off-market and pocket listings — and called on other members of the industry to join him.

Glenn Kelman

Kelman explained his position in a new blog post, arguing that the still-under-consideration proposal from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) represents “a crucial protection for consumers, especially members of minority groups who, research shows, are often the last to find out about pocket listings.”

“We hope it’s approved,” Kelman wrote of NAR’s proposed rule. “After years of giving visitors early, exclusive access to Redfin listings, we wholeheartedly support this policy.”

The blog post expands on comments Kelman recently made to Inman, when he was perhaps the most vocal supporter of the pocket listing ban among real estate executives who took a position on the issue.

Kelman’s blog post also comes just a month after NAR first floated its possible ban, and weeks after East Coast multiple listing service Bright MLS adopted a version of the proposal as a rule for its nearly 100,000 members. Both the NAR proposal and Bright MLS’s rule require agents to post their listings to the multiple listing service soon after marketing them.

Thanks to these recent developments, the last month has seen pocket listings become a hotly debated topic with partisans on both sides of the issue.

Most recently, brokerages Assist-2-Sell and Compass have strongly objected to Bright MLS’s version of the policy, with the latter company threatening legal action.

Kelman, however, has been unwavering in his support for NAR’s proposal. In his blog post Wednesday, he cites an economist who appeared at a recent Redfin symposium and argued that eliminating pocket listings is the best way to give people of color equal access to housing.

“Exclusivity has always been the currency of any broker, in any industry: work with me, and I’ll show you merchandise others don’t get to see,” Kelman continues. “But who’s being excluded? Academic research shows that it’s would-be buyers who are disproportionately people of color, immigrants and outsiders.”

Kelman also suggests ways to address concerns raised by agents and brokerages, some of whom have suggested the rule would limit their ability to market properties. For example, Kelman said that multiple listing services “can support coming-soon listings with different levels of detail about the home, its price range and its availability to be bought.”

“The MLSs can waive requirements that the seller offer a commission to a buyer’s agent,” Kelman also suggests. “Many MLSs already do this. Home sellers get to market their listings as coming-soon, and homebuyers see those listings on every website, not just the one preferred by the listing agent.”

Kelman acknowledges in the post that Redfin posts its own listings early, but describes that practice as a reluctant concession to consumers. And he ultimately argues that Redfin and other brokerages would be better off without marketing properties off the MLS.

“In a life of paper-or-plastic decisions of little consequence and varying shades of gray,” Kelman concludes, “this is the place for people who love real estate to take our stand.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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