The nation’s multiple listing services are under intense scrutiny today. Lawsuits, transparency demands, and national policy edicts all scream for attention. A marketplace mandate has been laid at the feet of the MLS: Earn and keep the consumer’s trust.
A philosophy of affirmative transparency can be your guide. Seeking ways to shine sunlight on the MLS’ pro-competitive and pro-consumer processes and benefits has never been more important.
While you’re shining that light, why not look at ways to improve the experience you give participants and consumers? In a five-part online series for REALTOR® magazine, I covered a range of issues MLS's should be addressing. Here are three potential trouble spots:
- Coming Soon listings.
Does your MLS have a policy around Coming Soon listings? Do Coming Soon listings go out to broker participants but not consumers? If so, for how long? Has your MLS defined how long a listing can be Coming Soon or in a delayed showing status?
Examples derived from real current situations highlight the inconsistencies. Take the case of Sally Seller, who wants to delay showings and internet advertising for a few weeks so she can prepare her home. Amy Agent lists the home in both the Sunny MLS and the Breezy MLS, but the systems have different rules for Coming Soon status:
- The property can’t be shown to buyers in Sunny but can be shown in Breezy.
- Days on market do not accrue in Sunny but do in Breezy.
- The property is not published to brokers’ IDX websites in Sunny but is in Breezy.
Bobby Buyer sees the listing on a Breezy MLS IDX site and requests a showing. Sunny MLS’ rules say Amy can’t show the property, which confuses Bobby, since Breezy MLS’ website shows the property is open to showings.
Once the house is moved to active status, Bonnie Buyer finds it on Sunny MLS’ website. That site shows that the listing has been on the market for one day, but Bonnie’s agent is a subscriber to Breezy MLS and tells her the listing has actually been on the market for 23 days.
The different rules begin to feel like market manipulation. Sally is disappointed by the listing’s inconsistent advertising and showing communications. Bobby is frustrated that a property advertised as available for showings on one site is unavailable. Bonnie feels lied to. And Amy is perplexed because her client and the potential buyers have been let down, and it looks like her fault.
“Can’t we all just do this the same way?” agents ask. It’s a question worth exploring: When should local flexibility give way to national rules? In Part 5 of the online series, I offer a framework for deciding when uniqueness takes precedence and when consistency should be prioritized.