MLS Clear Cooperation Policy: FAQ

The basis of the Clear Cooperation Policy is straightforward: Brokers who are MLS participants must share listings with other brokers in the MLS if those listings are being publicly marketed.

Passed in November 2019, the changes to the NAR model MLS rules are as follows:

Section 1.01 – Clear Cooperation
Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public. (Adopted 11/19)

Note: Exclusive listing information for required property types must be filed and distributed to other MLS Participants for cooperation under the Clear Cooperation Policy. This applies to listings filed under Section 1 and listings exempt from distribution under Section 1.3 of the NAR model MLS rules if it is being publicly marketed, and any other situation where the listing broker is publicly marketing an exclusive listing that is required to be filed with the service and is not currently available to other MLS Participants.

Section 1.3 Exempt Listings
If the seller refuses to permit the listing to be disseminated by the service, the participant may then take the listing (office exclusive) and such listing shall be filed with the service but not disseminated to the participants. Filing of the listing should be accompanied by certification signed by the seller that he does not desire the listing to be disseminated by the service.

Note 1: Section 1.3 is not required if the service does not require all (indicate type[s] of listing[s] accepted by the service) listings to be submitted by a participant to the service.

Note 2: MLS Participants must distribute exempt listings within (1) one business day once the listing is publicly marketed. See Section 1.01, Clear Cooperation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do ALL REALTOR® Association MLSs have to adopt the MLS Clear Cooperation Policy?
Yes. By establishing a national policy, it is mandatory that all REALTOR® Association MLSs adopt the policy and have the same consistent standard.

Can a seller or the listing broker “opt out” of the policy’s obligations?
No. The new policy does not include an “opt out.” Any listing that is “publicly marketed” must be filed with the service and provided to other MLS Participants for cooperation within (1) one business day.

How does the new deadline of “1 business day from marketing a property to the public” correspond with the existing local MLS’s filing deadline, which varies from MLS to MLS?
The local MLS’s filing deadline, typically found in Section 1 of the MLS rules, is the amount of time that a broker has to file the listing with the service after receiving all of the appropriate signatures on the listing contract. Once a broker begins to publicly market the property, they have 1 business day to file the property with the service. Specific questions about filing deadlines can be directed to your local MLS.

Can a seller or the listing broker “opt out” of the policy’s obligations?
No. The new policy does not include an “opt out.” Any listing that is “publicly marketed” must be filed with the service and provided to other MLS Participants for cooperation within (1) one business day.

Is the new policy consistent with Article 3 of the NAR Code of Ethics?
Yes. By joining the MLS, Participants agree to be bound by the MLS Rules and Regulations. Per the policy’s rationale, the public marketing of a listing indicates that the MLS participant has concluded that cooperation with other MLS participants is in their client’s best interests.

Does Policy Statement 8.0 prohibit office exclusives
No. “Office exclusive” listings are an important option for sellers concerned about privacy and wide exposure of their property being for sale. In an office exclusive listing, direct promotion of the listing between the brokers and licensees affiliated with the listing brokerage, and one-to-one promotion between these licensees and their clients, is not considered public advertising.

Common examples include divorce situations and celebrity clients. It allows the listing broker to market a property among the brokers and licensees affiliated with the listing brokerage. If office exclusive listings are displayed or advertised to the general public, however, those listings must also be submitted to the MLS for cooperation.

Does Policy Statement 8.0 require listings to be submitted to the MLS if they are advertised to a select group of brokers outside the listing broker’s office?
Yes. “Private listing networks” that include more brokers or licensees than those affiliated with the listing brokerage constitute public advertising or display pursuant to Policy Statement 8.0. Listings shared in multi-brokerage networks by participants must be submitted to the MLS for cooperation.

Does Policy Statement 8.0 apply to non-active listings
Yes. Policy Statement 8.0 applies to any listing that is or will be available for cooperation. Pursuant to Policy Statement 8.0, “coming soon” listings displayed or advertised to the public by a listing broker must be submitted to the MLS for cooperation with other participants. MLSs may enact “coming soon” rules providing for delays and restrictions on showings during a “coming soon” status period, ensuring flexibility in participants’ listing and marketing abilities, while still meeting the participant’s obligations for cooperation.

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