Panelist on Clear Cooperation Objections: ‘Nothing We Can’t Handle’

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More than a year after the National Association of REALTORS® implemented the Clear Cooperation Policy, Bill Lublin, CEO of Century 21 Advantage Gold in Southampton, Pa., noted that confusion and concern about the policy have “mellowed out ... and people are doing more of the right thing.”

Lublin, who spoke in a panel discussion at the Multiple Listing System Forum Thursday during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings, attributed the success to open communication and training.

The policy, which became effective last May, requires that a listing be submitted to the MLS within one business day of the listing being publicly marketed.

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California Regional Multiple Listing Service CEO Art Carter agreed education was key and noted a “big win” with the policy in his area: “Our members gained access to around 9,000 additional listings over a period of a year that they wouldn’t have had access to previously.”

Lublin also referenced a recent MLS study in his area that found an “astounding financial difference” in the sales price between MLS and off-MLS listings.

Chris Kelly, president and CEO of Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®, in Texas, added that besides raising fair housing concerns, “if we keep listings in our jacket pocket, we exacerbate the inventory shortage. Requiring every consumer to go to 100 places to find what’s really on the market will exasperate them and lead them to a disrupter rather than to a REALTOR®.”

Panelists were asked about “coming soon” practices in their area, and how those jibe with Clear Cooperation. Carter said some MLSs aren’t counting days on the market while properties are under “coming soon” status, which is causing consumer confusion. His organization is trying to establish a fair and consistent policy on the issue since ”listings literally across the street from each other are under different rules,” he said.

Lublin says his East Coast market has used “coming soon” for years to accommodate properties being repaired or readied. The policy’s success is about ensuring there’s no access to the property for anyone until the listing is active, he said. “Some bad actors will use ‘coming soon’ without even-handed access. That’s not coming soon; that’s a violation of everyone’s rules.”

What have the panelists learned about Clear Cooperation in the past year?

We have to provide hybrid (in-person and virtual) opportunities for engagement on the topic, Kelly emphasized, because then we hear from a wide variety of our members, which is key.

Lublin meanwhile believes there’s no scenario that can’t be dealt with in the MLS creatively while enforcing the policy. “None of the objections we got were anything we couldn’t handle,” he said. “It becomes a matter of doing the right thing for clients and the industry even if it’s not the most profitable for the agent.”

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