In May the National Assoc. of Realtors (NAR) implemented what they euphemistically called the Clear Cooperation Policy, a crackdown on off-MLS (Multiple Listing Service) “pocket listings.” To reiterate: May 2020 was NAR’s choice of timing to restrict its Realtors in hunting for homes for buyers and marketing homes for sellers.
Antitrust lawsuits against NAR, MLS, and the California Assoc. of Realtors followed, challenging the pro-competitive policy that benefitted buyers, sellers, and well-connected agents over those who didn’t have a deep bench of other agents feeding them pocket listing information.
The new policy marked a quick death of “private” or “coming soon” listings and required brokers to submit a listing to an MLS within one business day of marketing a property “privately” (a.k.a. sharing it on a Realtor’s website, social media, or via a digital newsletter like this one). If they did not comply–and some didn’t, at first–4-figure fines per infraction were imposed, followed by 5-figure ones.
So next time you ask your Realtor to “pocket” something for you or to look for “off-markets,” know that you are, essentially, asking them to break ranks with their local, state, and national oversight organizations–and potentially put their licenses at stake. However, we as agents, still have ways of communicating off-market property information (mainly on the phone). Pickings can be slim, but connecting a willing seller with a willing buyer off-market is legal (as long as no one is posting the property on The Gram) and is done often.
As of this publication, the lawsuits filed earlier this year are continuing. We’ll see if one or more of the legal challenges might succeed in reanimating pocket listings in 2021.
Interesting information in challenging times. Contact me if you would like to talk it through.