Commercial Information Exchange Comparison

The National Association of REALTORS® has established two types of Commercial property services ("Services"): the Commercial Information Exchange and the Commercial/Industrial MLS. While both are designed for the orderly correlation and dissemination of listing information so that participants may better serve their clients and the public, there are distinct differences between them. The following summary highlights their similarities and differences. A "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) section regarding the operation of CIEs may be found at the end of this document. Unless otherwise noted, the following are excerpted from the 2009 Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy, Commercial/Industrial Supplement.

Please Note: This is a comparison and should not be considered a replacement for the official documents established by the National Association of REALTORS® that govern the rules and regulations for developing and operating a REALTOR® property service. All inquiries regarding CIE & C/I MLS policies and procedures should be directed to the NAR Member Experience Team at 312.329.8399.

PURPOSE The CIE is as an information exchange. Participants who have been retained by sellers of commercial or industrial property to market those properties may submit information on those properties to the CIE and Participants who have been retained by buyers of commercial or industrial property may submit information on the type(s) of property sought to the CIE. (CIE: Part 6, Section 2) A Commercial/Industrial MLS is a means by which authorized Participants make blanket unilateral offers of compensation to other Participants (acting as subagents, buyer agents, or in other agency or non-agency capacities defined by law). (C/I MLS: Part 1, Section2)


A CIE is not an MLS. No offers of cooperation and compensation are communicated by filing information on a property with the CIE. Any compensation agreements related to property included in the Exchange compilation must be made on an individual basis outside the CIE between the Participants involved. (CIE: 6,2) In filing a property with the C/I MLS, the Participant is making a blanket unilateral offer of compensation to the other Participants for their services in the sale or lease of such listing. Such offers are unconditional except that entitlement to compensation is determined by the cooperating broker’s performance as the procuring cause of the sale (or lease). The listing broker retains the right to determine the amount of compensation offered to other Participants, which may be the same or different. (C/I MLS: 2,5)

Any REALTOR® (principal) is eligible to participate in the Service upon agreeing in writing to conform to the rules and regulations and to pay the costs involved. (CIE: 6,3; C/I MLS: 2)

Brokers and salespeople other than principals are not "members" or "participants" but may use the Service through the Participant (principal) with whom they are affiliated. (CIE: 7; C/I MLS: 2)

No individual or firm, regardless of Board membership status, is eligible for participation or membership unless they hold a current, valid real estate broker's license and offer or accept compensation to and from other Participants. (CIE: 6,3; C/I MLS: 1,3)

NON-MEMBERS In states where law requires non-Board members be admitted to the Service, any limitations or restrictions imposed on participation or membership shall be no more stringent than permissible under the National Association’s Membership Qualification Criteria. However, in states where non-Board member access to the Service is not a requirement of state law, Boards may at their discretion, establish additional qualifications for non-Board member participation and membership. (CIE: 6,3; C/I MLS: 1,3)

Current Property Information: Only Participants and their affiliated licensees may have access to and use of the current property information generated by the Service. (CIE: 7; C/I MLS: 2)

A Service may, as a matter of local determination, make statistical reports on sold information available to REALTORS® who don't participate in the MLS and to governmental agencies. (Policy Statement 7.3, 2009 Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy)

LISTINGS It is not essential that a Participant retained by a property owner to market the property have an exclusive right to sell, exclusive agency, or open listing. Other forms of agreement to provide certain marketing services may be the basis for authorizing the submission of property information to the Exchange. (CIE: 7) The Service shall accept exclusive right to sell or lease listing contracts and exclusive agency listing contracts, and may accept other forms of agreement, (except open listings – unless required by law – and net listings) which make it possible to offer compensation to other Participants acting as subagents, buyer agents, or both (C/I MLS: 2,1)
FILING PROCEDURES Participants acting on behalf of buyers may submit information describing the type of property sought even though the Participant may not be the buyer’s exclusive agent. Participants acting on behalf of sellers or lessors must submit their written authorization. (CIE: 7)
Submission of any property information to the CIE is voluntary. However, any property information submitted must include written authorization for submission to the CIE. (CIE: 7) Listings of real or personal property located within the territorial jurisdiction of the MLS must be delivered, usually within 48 hours, after all necessary signatures of seller(s) or lessor(s) have been obtained. (C/I MLS: 2,1)
PROPERTY TYPES Types of properties which may be submitted (depending on local rules) include: subdivided vacant land; land and ranch; business opportunity including some interest in real property; motel/hotel; mobile home parks; commercial income; industrial; investment; and office space (additional categories of commercial, industrial, and investment property may be added by the Service.) ( CIE: 7; C/I MLS: 2,1)
OWNERSHIP OF INFORMATION By submitting property information, Participants represent that they are authorized and grant authority for the Board to include the property information in its copyrighted Exchange compilation and also in any comparable report, sold report, or other historical or statistical report unless expressly indicated otherwise in writing at the time the information is filed with the Exchange. (CIE: 7,9) By the act of submitting any property listing data to the C/I MLS, Participants represent that they are authorized and grant authority for the Board to include the property listing data in its copyrighted C/I MLS compilation and also in any statistical report on comparables. (C/I MLS: 2,11)
DISPUTE RESOLUTION By becoming and remaining a Participant, each Participant agrees to arbitrate disputes involving contractual issues and questions, and specific non-contractual issues and questions defined in Standard of Practice 17-4 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics (with participants in different firms.) (CIE: 7,15; C/I MLS: 2,13)


Q: May the CIE allow brokers who are not REALTORS® to participate in the CIE?

A: Allowing participation by licensed brokers who are not REALTORS® is completely a local CIE decision. This is somewhat similar to a local MLS deciding whether they will allow participation in their MLS by non-member brokers. In those states where nonmember broker access to the MLS is required by state law, associations should consult with legal counsel to determine if similar access should be provided to a CIE.

Q: May the CIE allow REITs and other property owners to participate in the CIE?

A: Whether a CIE wants to allow REITs and other unlicensed property owners to submit properties to the CIE is completely a local decision. Similarly, any other CIE privileges that are extended to these individuals (beyond the right to submit their properties for publication in the CIE) are a matter for local determination. CIEs are not precluded from publishing, at their discretion, properties submitted by unlicensed individuals or entities.

Q: Institute Affiliate (IA) members are not REALTORS® but belong to the National Association of REALTORS®. May they be allowed to participate in the CIE?

A: Whether participation in the CIE is available to Institute Affiliate (IA) members is completely a matter for local determination.

Q: Will participation by those who are not REALTORS® disqualify the CIE from NAR insurance coverage?

A: A decision by a local association to provide limited or full participatory privileges to any or all of the groups listed above or, alternatively, a decision by a local association that none of these individuals will have access to the CIE is consistent with NAR policy and does not jeopardize insurance coverage, unless criteria for determining eligibility for a particular class of Participants are not applied consistently.