Committee: Property Addresses Should Be Mandatory in MLS

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After some debate, the National Association of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Issues & Policy Committee Friday passed a motion requiring property addresses be filed in the MLS when listings are submitted. If no address exists, the listing must include a parcel identification number or legal description of the property’s location at filing.

This recommendation will be considered by the NAR Board of Directors on May 14. The committee met during the virtual 2021 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings. 

Proponents of the measure noted addresses shouldn’t be hidden, in keeping with the three tenets of the MLS: efficiency, transparency, and collaboration. In addition, they argued, the rule only stipulates addresses be shared with fellow MLS participants and subscribers. The rule wouldn’t preclude sellers who request privacy, such as victims of domestic abuse, from excluding property addresses from display on the internet.

Opponents countered that only a number of listings in their markets are submitted without addresses, and if mandated, some of these listings wouldn’t “make it to the MLS at all.” Therefore, other MLS participants wouldn’t know this inventory existed.

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A second committee motion, passed without debate or opposition, modifies existing policy allowing MLSs to prohibit posting a sold price in areas where that information isn’t publicly accessible through government records. But the policy would allow participants and subscribers to display other sales data in IDX and VOW feeds, creating a richer experience. Any local rules or limitations about the use of listing photos from historical data are unaffected by this change. 

Finally, the committee adopted six MLS best practices intended to deliver a high level of service to participants and subscribers. Although these aren’t required, the committee stressed that “every MLS should strive to comply with them.” The items, summarized here, will be posted to with supporting documentation.

  1. MLSs should provide, at minimum, annual policy updates to subscribers and participants to ensure understanding and compliance.
  2. Starting Jan. 1, 2022, MLSs should offer the RESO Web API as the primary data access method and move to retire other systems (like RETS). The committee and MLS Advisory Group, which put forth the best practices, believe it’s important for MLSs to embrace the RESO standard as the future of the industry.
  3. Before serving in MLS governance, members should complete training and onboarding to best understand the many complex issues facing the MLS.
  4. To avoid conflicts of interest, MLSs should maintain a board of directors separate from the association. As decision-makers for the MLS, the board should have no other allegiances.
  5. MLSs should routinely and proactively discuss industry issues with participants and subscribers, so they understand the policy “whys.”
  6. MLS executives and key MLS staff should fulfill 12 hours of education every two years that covers policy, technology, and customer service. Conference attendance is one way to achieve this training. 

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