The board of directors of the National Association of Realtors, on Monday, passed a controversial pocket listing policy — dubbed “Clear Cooperation” — by an overwhelming majority. In the wake of the ruling, comments among rank-and-file members, albeit in a small sample size, seem to suggest the 729-70 vote may not be indicative of the industry at large.
The ruling, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, with a May 1, 2020, implementation deadline, requires that within one day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the multiple listing service (MLS) for cooperation with other MLS participants.
The initial story on the passing of the vote set off a firestorm of comments, both in favor of the proposal and against it, as well both critical of NAR and in praise of the organization.
“Big mistake – what if your client doesn’t want it on MLS,” wrote Pamela King Wachholz, a Realtor in Texas. “The only choice we have with this new policy is no public marketing. Where is the consumer’s choice?”
Paul Scheufler, the managing broker at Expert Realty Services, said he feared more restrictions will lead to fewer consumers opting to use Realtors. “This would seem to be a restraint of trade in more ways than one,” Scheufler said. “Sellers are being forced to use the MLS, even if they do not wish to.”
Others celebrated the decision. Kevin Bailey, a Realtor with eXp Realty, cheered both NAR and Bright MLS, the first local multiple listing service to implement a policy governing pocket listings.
“This is good for all Realtors, all clients, all buyers, all sellers, everyone,” Bailey wrote, adding that off-MLS marketing is not pro-consumer.
Bailey’s opinion fell in line with many in the space. Brokerages Compass and Assist-2-Sell, strenuously objected to Bright MLS’s policy, while Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman came out in support of the policy. Sotheby’s International Realty CEO Philip White told Inman on Wednesday that he believes the transparency of the policy is beneficial to the consumer.
“It helps protect the underlying pinnings of the MLS as it was designed which was to create an efficient marketplace where brokers can cooperate with one another,” White said. “This brings it back to where it should be.”
Even the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, which has not been shy about criticizing the industry’s practices, is in support of NAR’s decision, while also calling on NAR to restrict use of “office exclusives,” or listings that are marketed within a firm before appearing on the MLS.
“Allowing agents to privately market new home listings to other individual agents does not serve the interests of either the seller or buyer,” said Stephen Brobeck, a CFA senior fellow and author of the analysis. “Sellers may miss out on opportunities to sell for a higher price and buyers are limited in their selection of properties.”
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