CMLS brainstorms new approach for MLS Rules

by Victor Lund on November 12, 2012

CMLS Brings It To The TableThe CMLS meetings (Council of MLS) were held on Wednesday, November 7th. There were numerous presentations but one in particular seemed to engage the Nation’s leading MLS executives in attendance – ReThink MLS. The question before the panel was “What If We Started from Scratch?”

As we all know, MLS rules (including Broker Reciprocity) provides structure for how brokers and agents will behave when sharing listings with one another: Two problems have arisen since these rules were first crafted more than a dozen years ago.

  1. The MLS rules have become cumbersome in length and somewhat unwieldy to manage and enforce.
  2. Technology is advancing at a faster pace than the development of the rules.

As the title to this article would suggest, the purpose of the session was to brainstorm, and contemplate ideas that might frame a more perfect union. It is upon this premise that Art Carter, CEO of America’s largest MLS – CRMLS proposed a thesis framed like a constitution or list of commandments. Disclaimer: Mr. Carter had feedback from his panelists and others on the creation of this list – so do not be alarmed – it is merely a thesis to promote discussion. The notion for discussion is that by creating a one page set of rules that outline the spirit of cooperation within the MLS – life may improve.

  1. You shall compensate other Brokers within the MLS if they bring a ready, willing and able buyer to your seller. You shall present offers in a timely manner to your seller and pay the compensation as published in the service if an agreement is reached regarding the sale of the property.
  2. You shall not place your listings in other places prior to your home MLS and this must be done within two days of getting the listing, unless your seller designates in writing otherwise.
  3. You shall not publish the listings of other Brokers via the Internet unless they have given approval and the listing brokerage is given credit for the listing on your website. Only fields that the Service allows for publication can be shown on the Internet unless the Brokerage operates as a virtual office website, then the Broker must show electronic evidence of a relationship with the viewing consumer.
  4. Remember the rule of cooperation, when placing a listing in the service, you are agreeing to help other brokers bring a ready, willing and able buyer to see your listing and place an offer on it. You must disclose other offers, provide a timely method for inspecting the property and update the service within 48 hours of any change to the status of a listing.
  5. Honor your broker as they own your listing and control its use.
  6. You shall not fail to pay your fees and fines or allow others to use your access. Failure to pay and allow others to use your access could lead you to termination.
  7. You shall not place anything within your listing or on photos or media (branding) that is misleading in remarks or any remarks and/or photos or media that advertise the listing Brokerage.
  8. You shall not steal buyers from other agents.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor or his listings in public forums.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s listing (unless your neighbor is involved in an “open” situation, then merely protect thyself…)

Joining Mr. Carter’s panel to discuss these 10 covenants were a diverse group of leaders from around our industry. Curt Beardsley, VP of Industry Relations for MOVE; Jim Harrison, President and CEO of MLSListings; Debbie Wey, Assistant Director of MLS Policy at Carolina MLS; Bob Bemis, VP Industry Relations at Zillow, and Kristen Carr, VP Industry relations at Realtors(r) Property Resource.

Suffice it to say that the conversation was stimulating and that it was impossible for 5 people to discuss these 10 points in less than 1 hour. Upon each step of the discussion was the recognition that albeit that we all agree on the intent behind the MLS Rules and Regulations, Participating Brokers and Subscribing Agents could not operate in harmony without the detailed rule set that we have. Moreover, the rules and fines committees and staff would be overwhelmed with arbitration.

Perhaps these 10 ideas should be viewed as a preamble to our MLS rules and regulations. I should only hope that we would all pledge ourselves to adhering to the their spirit.

I belonged to a Country Club for many years that did not have rules – only customs and traditions. From my experience there, I can tell you that rules and laws are easily broken – but customs and traditions are held sacred by those who choose to embrace them.

The CMLS workshop was well intended. Some attendees were a little stirred that some of the conversation was not concretely aimed toward providing MLS executives with action items that they could implement today to improve their services….bunch of talk and no actions…..I empathize with some of that feedback, but would add that it is never a bad practice to remind your board of directors and staff of the presiding goals of your MLS. Take these 10 ideals and share them with your board and with your staff in remembrance of why MLSs were formed. Developing strong ideology within your company is a fundamental component of your leadership.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael Erdman November 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Victor. I almost feel like I was there.

Given the start from scratch approach utilized at the session, I’m curious if, notwithstanding numbers 1 and 4, there was any discussion of alternatives to the cooperation/compensation model?

Michael

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