Backstory Behind the Clear Cooperation Policy Proposal

For years, REALTORS® have debated the risks and merits of so-called pocket listings, "coming soon" listings, and listings that are marketed on private networks rather than being shared cooperatively through a local multiple listing service. Advocates say that sellers’ desire for privacy and advances in technology have led to the expansion of these off-market listings. Others believe that keeping listings off of the MLS reduces buyers’ choice, skews market data, and may not be in the sellers’ best interests.

Watch NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson explain pocket listings and coming soon listings—and the potential legal and ethical concerns they raise:

Back in 2013, a National Association of REALTORS® work group issued a report saying NAR should educate brokers about the risks of discouraging inclusion of listings in MLS without disclosing the potential consequences to sellers.

Now, an advisory board to the National Association of REALTORS® has developed a recommendation designed to foster broker cooperation and address the problems surrounding off-market listings. It has become known as the Clear Cooperation Policy proposal. Members of NAR’s MLS Issues and Policies Committee will be discussing the recommendation during the 2019 REALTORS® Conference and Expo on Saturday, Nov. 9.

The group that developed the proposal, the MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board, chaired by Bellaire, Texas, broker Shad Bogany, concluded that leaving listings outside of the broader marketplace excludes consumers, undermining REALTORS®’ commitment to provide equal opportunity to all. The Advisory Board’s Clear Cooperation proposal calls for all MLS participants to input any listing they market publicly (via websites, yard signs, mailers, Instagram, etc.), into their local MLS within 24 hours, enabling MLS participants to share the listing with the widest possible range of potential buyers.

Member Concerns About the Proposal

The Advisory Board recommended the proposal in September and sought member feedback via a REALTOR® Magazine article by Sam DeBord, NAR's president's liaison for MLS & Data Management. From that feedback, a few recurring topics arose:

  • Timing: Many members have raised concerns about the requirement that any property marketed publicly must be listed within 24 hours. Members have suggested modifications, such as extending the time to 48 hours or changing it to one business day.
  • Privacy: Sellers need a choice to keep their personal matters private. The Advisory Board factored this point into the proposal, understanding that sellers should have the option to work with a professional while keeping their property sale and transaction private.
  • Brokerage office listings: The policy does not prohibit sharing within the brokerage office. Even “coming soon” listings could be permissible, depending on local MLS rules.

Next Steps

The Advisory Board’s Clear Cooperation proposal will first be discussed at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco by the MLS Issues and Policies Committee on Saturday, Nov. 9. That committee, which develops MLS policy, is made up of agents, brokers, and MLS executives.

Should the committee recommend adoption of the proposal, as is or with modifications, the recommendation will be reviewed and discussed by the NAR Executive Committee on Sunday, Nov. 10, and then considered by the NAR Board of Directors on Monday, Nov. 11.