The nation’s largest multiple listing service is narrowing what some consider a loophole in a policy designed to curb pocket listings by declaring Saturday a business day.

As of May 1, the California Regional MLS, which has more than 104,000 agent and broker subscribers, will consider Mondays through Saturdays business days, not including holidays, according to a notice the MLS put on its website.

CRMLS is also adding a policy that says MLS staff may modify any field or data point within a listing if it’s done for the enforcement of MLS rules and regulations or as otherwise needed to correct listing information.

The new rules will be effective May 1, but not enforced until June 1 to allow time for workflow adjustments and education, the notice said.

The business day rule change was made to “ensure that the information in the MLS is as accurate as possible as soon as feasible,” CRMLS CEO Art Carter told Inman via email.

“Some agents were concerned with properties that had signed purchase agreements were not being changed to Pending until after the weekend,” Carter said. “This would cause buyer brokers to continue to submit offers and send listings as potential properties to their clients, when in fact, that property was already under contract. The proposal went through our normal Rule Committee and Board of Directors review process.”

It is well-known in the industry that the National Association of Realtors’ Clear Cooperation Policy requires listing brokers to submit a listing to their MLS within one business day of marketing a property to the public.

The controversial rule was meant to effectively end the growing practice of publicizing listings for days or weeks without making them universally available to other agents, in part to address fair housing concerns. The Clear Cooperation Policy went into effect on January 1, 2020, and its implementation deadline was May 1, 2020. Some MLSs have instituted hefty fines to enforce it.

But Carter said the CCP “was not the main purpose” of the rule change.

“CRMLS Rule 10.2(a) requires a listing with an accepted offer to be reported to the MLS as Pending or Active Under Contract within two business days of the acceptance,” Carter said. “In this very tight market, many additional efforts in sharing properties, and drafting offers on properties already placed under contract, were occurring, to the frustration of the buyer brokers and their clients.”

He added, “Less than 5 percent of any time spent on this rule discussion was related to CCP impact. It was almost entirely on the impact to brokers and their clients getting critical information about a home being sold in a timelier matter, and how the current market conditions have highlighted this need.”

The notice on CRMLS’s site about the rule change does not refer to CRMLS Rule 10.2(a), but does mention CRMLS’s version of the Clear Cooperation Policy.

The change in the business day definition shortens the maximum amount of time between when a CRMLS member agent publicly markets a listing to when it is submitted to the MLS to two days, if the listing is marketed on a Saturday and submitted on a Monday. According to CRMLS’s notice, MLS staff may modify the days on market count of any listing in violation of the “mandatory submission upon marketing” rule, per the upcoming rule change regarding data modifications by MLS staff.

CRMLS also requires listing brokers to input into the MLS any and all properties located in the MLS’s service area within two business days of the “effective date” of any listing agreement, which CRMLS defines as “the later of all necessary signatures of the seller(s) have been obtained, or at the beginning date of the listing as specified in the contract.” Violating that rule could also result in MLS staff modifying the days on market count of a listing, according to the notice.

The “one business day” stipulation was included in the Clear Cooperation Policy in recognition that many agents have transaction coordinators that only work on weekdays enter listings into the MLS for them.

Asked how such agents would be affected, Carter said, “I do not know about Transaction Coordinators, but you may be referring to brokerage firms that have internal policies that do not allow their individual agents to add or make changes to a listing. This system allows the brokerage firm to have more oversight into each individual listing before it goes Active in the MLS. This limitation is placed on our AN [Agent Limited] user class upon request of the broker and only represents about 2 percent of the CRMLS Subscribers.”

Since a “business day” is typically defined as occurring between Monday and Friday — despite the fact that real estate agents typically work one or both weekend days — some agents and brokers take advantage of the “one business day” caveat to tout listings that appear on their own or third-party sites up to three days before being marketed elsewhere, since a home can be posted there on a Friday and doesn’t have to be submitted to the MLS until Monday.

Former private listing network The PLS, which has filed an antitrust suit against NAR and CRMLS over the Clear Cooperation Policy, re-launched in January as a public-facing website that did exactly that, even incorporating the timeliness of its listings into its slogan: “Where Real Estate Happens First.” The site allows the public and agents to search exclusive “PLS only” listings that automatically convert to just active PLS listings after one business day has elapsed.

Inman has reached out to The PLS to ask how the site will be affected by the rule change and will update this story if and when we hear back. CRMLS did not respond when asked whether the business day change had anything to do with ThePLS.com advertising “PLS only” listings before they’re submitted to the MLS.

Carter said CRMLS did not do any research prior to making the rule change on the percentage of new listings that are publicly advertised on a Friday but not submitted to the MLS until Monday or on whether some brokerages do this more often than others.

“Buyers and their brokers will benefit by having better, more accurate data sooner than under the existing rule,” Carter said. “This will assist them when making showing, offer, and other buying decisions.

“It also helps sellers and their listing brokers since Rule 10.2(b) requires that any property closing escrow must be reported within 2 business days of the closing. This rule change will help listing brokers give better, more accurate pricing recommendations by having access to the most up-to-date sale information. The rule will also help appraisers in the same way.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from CRMLS CEO Art Carter.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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MLS | NAR
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