Nearly four months after the National Association of Realtors (NAR) opted to ban pocket and off-market listings, a new petition argues the rule violates homeowner rights — and calls for its overturning.
The petition is a response to what is formally known as the Clear Cooperation Policy, which requires real estate professionals to enter their properties into a multiple listing service (MLS) within 24 hours of marketing them. After several months of heated debate over the issue, NAR’s board members overwhelmingly approved the policy in November. The rule effectively prohibits the practice of publicizing listings via private email, websites and on other platforms without making them available to the broader community via an MLS.
Local MLSs have until May 1 to begin enforcing the policy.
However, the petition argues that the policy “stunted off-market (aka Pocket) listings,” and that it violated the rights of property owners.
“A home owner should have the right to work with a Realtor and decide for him or herself whether the home is sold with full exposure to the public, with limited access to the public, in total privacy or through a combination of any of these based upon the homeowner’s personal wants and needs,” the petition argues. “The National Association of Realtors has decided to remove this right from you.”
The petition ends with a call to action: “Sign now to support the recall.”
Jamie Waryck, a Los Angeles-area agent with luxury brokerage The Agency, told Inman that she created the petition last week. She said it came about after speaking with colleagues and finding widespread discontent over NAR’s policy, as well as confusion over how exactly it would be enforced.
“It feels as if it was done without a whole lot of thought for the person impacted the most, which is the seller,” Waryck said during a phone conversation. “I, along with several colleagues, find that very frustrating.”
Waryck is a member of two Southern California multiple listing services, but said that she and other agents still had questions after receiving guidance from those organizations. She added that “everyone that I’ve talked to is frustrated with this policy.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had 77 supporters out of a goal of 1,000. Waryck said she has not started heavily promoting the petition yet, but plans to do so in the coming weeks.
Waryck also said she created the petition on her own, rather than in conjunction with her brokerage or anyone else.
However, the petition is not the first time someone at The Agency has condemned pocket listing bans. Last fall, The Agency founder Mauricio Umansky said at Inman Luxury Connect that he opposed NAR’s policy, which was then still just a proposal.
“I do believe in off-market listings,” Umansky told a crowded room of real estate professionals. “I do believe in pocket listings.”
Umansky is also a founding partner in the Pocket Listing Service, or PLS, which is meant to get pocket listings on the radar of agents. Waryck said that she has a user profile on the PLS, but is not otherwise involved in its operations.
Umansky’s comments last October were part of an ongoing debate within the industry over the role of off-market listings. On the one side, figures like Umansky and Gary Gold — another high-profile Los Angeles agent — were joined by well-known firms like Compass in opposing various pocket listing ban iterations. But on the other side, MLSs, Redfin’s Glenn Kelman and others argued in favor of banning the practice.
The latter camp eventually prevailed.
Asked Tuesday about the new petition, a NAR spokesperson indicated that the trade organization still stands by the policy.
“After brokers and MLS groups had pushed NAR to consider changes to reinforce the consumer benefits of cooperation, NAR adopted a policy that was strongly supported by the NAR MLS Committee and NAR’s Board of Directors,” the spokesperson told Inman in an email. “The association maintains that the policy’s intention of bolstering cooperation and advancing competition benefits consumers throughout the nation.”
The petition does not publicly display signatories’ full names or contact info. However, it does show comments from apparent real estate professionals, identified merely by their first names, who claim the policy hurts their business or violates rights.
“This is hurting our sellers and our very private high networth [sic] clients,” one person identifying as Griffin R. from California wrote. “Privacy and security is being compromised by this outrageous new ordinance.”
“Homeowners should have the right to keep their information private, and we as licensed agents need to protect them,” a man from Arizona going by the name David P. wrote.
The majority of the people who had signed the petition as of Tuesday listed California as their state of residence. Other supporters came from Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and elsewhere.
Waryck said that once the petition gets at least 1,000 supporters she plans to take it to NAR. She hopes the result will be to “at least get them to reevaluate it.” Waryck does not have a target timeline for when that might happen, but said that she’d assess the level of support the petition had received in two or three weeks.
In the meantime, the petition’s very existence shows that the long-running controversy over pocket listings is far from over.