AEs with questions on how to implement and plan for the upcoming change to MLS membership policy, also called MLS of Choice, gathered at the March AE Institute for a question and answer session with Caitlin McCrory, MLS manager at the National Association of REALTORS®.
MLS of Choice (or MLS Policy Statements 7.42 and 7.43) passed by the National Association of REALTORS®͛ Board of Directors in November and effective July 1, requires MLSs to offer REALTORS® an opt-out waiver if they don't use the MLSs' services but join another MLS.
For many brokers and agents, who no longer have to join and pay for multiple MLS memberships, this policy shift is a financial and managerial win. For many MLSs, however, the change will require new administrative duties to track where licensees subscribe. Currently, no complete database exists to show where brokers and licensees receive MLS service, but NAR is reviewing NRDS, the National REALTORS® Database System, database to determine potential methods of tracking where members have MLS subscription privileges.
Although many MLSs have had waiver programs in place for years, the policy is new for others, prompting concerns and questions that McCrory sought to answer at the AE Institute meeting. For example, How do we police that non-subscribers are not accessing the system using someone else's log-in?" one AE asked. In fact, several questions related to uncovering and stopping the various ways that non-subscribers might devise to circumvent the policy, such as putting information in the comments field that directs MLS subscribers to contact a non-subscribing REALTOR® for showings.
In response, McCrory noted that the Carolina MLS has had a waiver policy in place for 17 years, and out of 11,500 subscribers, it averages just a handful of violations a year. To catch violations, including password sharing, Carolina MLS uses a technology that is "not inexpensive," McCrory said.
Some AEs expressed concern over the financial impact of losing subscribers to neighboring MLSs that have a more active market. Overall, however, members lost to other MLSs should balance out with new members gained from neighboring MLSs, McCrory predicts.
Other questions McCrory fielded related to MLS access by real estate teams, co-mingling of data in IDX feeds, and MLS of Choice at broker-owned MLSs. Answers to these questions and many more are posted in the regularly updated FAQs at nar.realtor. Search "MLS of Choice."