NAR will allow MLSs to charge members for public-facing websites

Reported by Inman News Associate Editor Andrea V. Brambila.

Last-ditch attempt to scuttle policy change defeated by board of directors

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Realtors today adopted a policy that spells out “basic” services multiple listing services can charge all members for — including the operation and promotion of public-facing websites that allow consumers to search for homes for sale.

Many MLSs already operate public-facing websites. But some large brokerages objected to NAR taking a formal stance that MLSs that choose to provide those and other services can require members to pay for them, regardless of whether they want them or use them.

At NAR’s midyear meeting in Washington, D.C., Thursday, a policy committee signed off on an amendment to NAR’s model MLS rules to classify not only the operation, but the promotion of public-facing MLS sites, as a “basic” service.

But NAR’s Executive Committee, which makes recommendations to NAR’s board of directors, stripped language addressing public-facing MLS sites from the amendment on Friday. The move — which some said was made to appease large brokerages that object to MLSs operating public-facing websites — surprised some members of the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee.

The amendment put forward by NAR’s Executive Committee failed to pass today. After a lengthy debate, the amendment was voted down, 275-341. NAR’s board of directors then adopted the amendment originally put forward by the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee, without further debate.

By passing the amendment as originally put forward Thursday, NAR’s board of directors has given MLSs around the country more leeway to decide whether to charge members for operating and promoting public-facing websites.

Bill Lublin, vice chairman of the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee, noted on Thursday that the amendment was not intended to either promote or impede the use of public-facing MLS websites, but to allow MLSs to make decisions on a local basis.

Shad Bogany, a NAR director and chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, said the board’s decision would allow associations to consider public-facing websites without fear that they will be out of compliance with NAR MLS policy.

Craig Cheatham, president and CEO of the Realty Alliance, an association of 70 U.S. brokers, said he was disappointed by the board’s vote.  The debate became a referendum on whether MLSs should have public-facing websites rather than focusing on whether the policy itself was sound, he said.

He predicted lawsuits and disputes would arise from within the industry because of questions regarding tying the MLS website service to MLS participation given that public websites are now classified as a basic, not optional, service that MLSs may oblige members to pay for regardless of use.

“This is not a big broker issue,” he said. “No broker is wanting to be charged for something by the MLS that they do not want and do not use.”

Bob Hale, CEO of the Houston Association of Realtors, supported including public-facing sites as a basic MLS service, but said he would have been content with sites as an optional service, so long as they were included in the policy. But regardless, he said, “In most markets I can’t imagine any broker would choose to opt out” if their MLS had a public-facing site.

The amendment of MLS Policy Statement 7.57, “Categorization of MLS Services, Information and Products,” approved today, started out as a proposed rule change to allow MLSs and Realtor associations to charge members for providing lockboxes as a “basic” service.

Because of antitrust concerns, NAR has required that MLSs and Realtor associations categorize lockbox services as “optional” — meaning they could not require members to pay for lockbox services unless they actually used them.

The amended policy will allow MLSs and Realtor associations in  most parts of the country to classify lockbox and other services now considered “optional” as “basic” services that all members pay for, as long as the MLS or Realtor association is not making a profit in providing those services.

In some parts of the country, courts have ruled against this “economic interest” exemption from antitrust issues, or there is no precedent allowing it. States and territories where MLSs and Realtor associations will not be allowed to treat lockboxes and other services now considered as “optional” as “basic”  include Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.

The amended policy also lists services that MLSs and Realtor associations in all states will be allowed to classify as “basic,” and provide to all members:

  • sold and comparable information.
  • pending sales information.
  • expired listings and “off market” information.
  • tax records.
  • zoning records/information.
  • title/abstract information.
  • mortgage information.
  • amortization schedules.
  • mapping capabilities.
  • statistical information.
  • public accommodation information (such as schools, shopping, churches, transportation, entertainment, recreational facilities).
  • MLS computer training/orientation.
  • access to affinity programs.
  • establishment, maintenance and promotion of public-facing websites.

AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals that have, since 1956, gathered under laws and codes of ethics and conduct to create a reliable, trustworthy an efficient real estate environment in Mexico.

AMPI consists of separate autonomous sections all throughout the nation, as well as more than 4,000 associates and affiliates. Each section is independent and has its own board of directors, only surpassed by a national board of directors comprised of twenty associates from all over the republic.

Developed over the years with the input and knowledge of its members, AMPI is much more than just a collection of offices. AMPI has been a solid and recognized institution in Mexico for the past 27 years. It was originally established in 1956 and was consolidated in 1980. AMPI is currently represented in all the principle cities and regions of Mexico stretching from Tijuana to Cancun.

The Riviera Nayarita, Vallarta and Compostela chapters of AMPI are dedicated to promote the best practices in real estate by providing its members with education to reinforce the standards of ethics that give our industry the credibility which our clients deserve.

AMPI is committed to giving our membership access to a multiple listing service that forms the platform from which our industry can expand locally and into other markets while giving our members precise and up to date information that is vital to continuous improvement and growth.

 

The 10 best and worst real estate practices

Real estate agents representing properties in states where they are not licensed, lying about other interested buyers or offers pending on a property, or failing to identify themselves as agents in their marketing and advertising efforts are among the practices that are most objectionable to real estate practitioners, according to an Inman News survey.

Agents who continue to market already-sold properties in order to attract new clients, and agents who do not identify themselves as agents in online conversations also top the list in drawing opposition from fellow real estate professionals, the survey found.

The good news: Real estate professionals say that such practices are not the norm.

Among the five practices listed above, which at least 85 percent of all respondents agreed are “unacceptable,” none was selected as “common” by more than one-third of survey participants.
About 31.8 percent of respondents said it’s “common” for a listing agent in their market area to tell buyers “that there are other buyers interested or other offers pending on the property when there are not,” for example, with an additional 31 percent of respondents stating that this practice is “infrequent.”
The online survey of over 500 real estate professionals, “Real Estate: Behind the Curtain,” was conducted from April 2011 to May 2011 and featured a series of about three dozen multiple-choice questions on the acceptability of a variety of real estate practices and a parallel set of questions about the frequency of those practices. The survey response rate ranged from 348 to 504 per question.

A majority of respondents agreed that two real estate industry practices are both “unacceptable” and “common”:

  • 50.2 percent of respondents said it’s unacceptable for clients or prospective clients “to be unaware of a real estate agent’s previous real estate licensing violations, suspensions, etc.,” and a whopping 70.7 percent of respondents said this occurrence is “common,” with an additional 16.2 percent stating that it is “infrequent.”
  • 63.5 percent of respondents said it is unacceptable for an agent or broker to make “vague or unsubstantiated claims about market share,” such as claiming to be a “top agent” or “No. 1 agent.” About 56.1 percent of respondents said this practice is common.

A majority of respondents said that following four real estate practices were either “acceptable” or “desirable”:

  • Listing agent is from the same office as the buyer’s agent in the same real estate transaction (67.1 percent “acceptable,” 7.6 percent “desirable”).
  • Major listing brokers in the same market area choose to offer the same commission rate or roughly the same rate to cooperating brokers on the buyside of the transaction (40 percent acceptable, 16.2 percent desirable).
  • Agent is personally engaged in buying or selling homes while working with clients who are also buying or selling homes (49.4 percent acceptable, 5.8 percent desirable).
  • Major listing brokers in the same market area choose to charge the same rate or roughly the same rate for services (41 percent acceptable, 12.6 percent desirable).

And at least half of survey respondents agreed on three practices that are “rare” or “never” occur:

  • Listing agent agrees to represent properties located in a state where the agent is not licensed (45.5 percent “rare,” 41.6 percent “never”).
  • Listing agent offers different level of compensation to buyer’s agent based on that agent’s brokerage company, fee structure or business model (34.7 percent rare, 22.4 percent never).
  • Buyer’s agent shares client’s maximum purchase price with listing agent (40.4 percent rare, 9.6 percent never).

Among the five practices listed above, which at least 85 percent of all respondents agreed are “unacceptable,” none was selected as “common” by more than one-third of survey participants.

About 31.8 percent of respondents said it’s “common” for a listing agent in their market area to tell buyers “that there are other buyers interested or other offers pending on the property when there are not,” for example, with an additional 31 percent of respondents stating that this practice is “infrequent.”

The online survey of over 500 real estate professionals, “Real Estate: Behind the Curtain,” was conducted from April 2011 to May 2011 and featured a series of about three dozen multiple-choice questions about the acceptability of a variety of real estate practices and a parallel set of questions about the frequency of those practices. The survey response rate ranged from 348 to 504 per question.

Why Use AMPI?

AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals that have, since 1956, gathered under laws and codes of ethics and conduct to create a reliable, trustworthy an efficient real estate environment in Mexico.

AMPI consists of separate autonomous sections all throughout the nation, as well as more than 4,000 associates and affiliates. Each section is independent and has its own board of directors, only surpassed by a national board of directors comprised of twenty associates from all over the republic.

Developed over the years with the input and knowledge of its members, AMPI is much more than just a collection of offices. AMPI has been a solid and recognized institution in Mexico for the past 27 years. It was originally established in 1956 and was consolidated in 1980. AMPI is currently represented in all the principle cities and regions of Mexico stretching from Tijuana to Cancun.

The Riviera Nayarita, Vallarta and Compostela chapters of AMPI are dedicated to promote the best practices in real estate by providing its members with education to reinforce the standards of ethics that give our industry the credibility which our clients deserve.

AMPI is committed to giving our membership access to a multiple listing service that forms the platform from which our industry can expand locally and into other markets while giving our members precise and up to date information that is vital to continuous improvement and growth.