MLS Rules Reminder – Do the Right Thing and Avoid Fines

Basic MLS rules should be familiar to most subscribers. However, they continue to be the most frequently reported violations and a source of frustration with many users of the MLS. In order to maintain a system that provides subscribers accurate and timely information, it is important that subscribers comply with MLS policies and reporting procedures, especially in regards to reporting status changes.

HAR utilizes an automated listing compliance system to detect certain rule violations, but we also rely heavily on agents using the system to report infractions in order for us to maintain and enforce MLS guidelines in a fair and unbiased manner. While many infractions provide a five-day period to correct the violation before a fine is issued, there are a few violations in which the subscriber is fined immediately (failure to change status from “Active” to “Pending” or from “Pending” to “Sold,” showing a property without an appointment when one is required or sharing your Supra key or MLS password). Please take a moment to review the following guidelines to ensure your business practices comply with MLS rules and assist HAR in providing an MLS system in which all agents can benefit from reliable and timely information.

Report Pending Status within Five (5) Days:
Once a contract is signed, the listing should be placed in one of the following pending statuses (PS, OP, or P) within five days of the signed contract, even if both parties agree to allow the seller to continue showing the property. Properties that have a signed contract with a contingency and are available to show and take back-up offers should be placed in “PS” (Pending Continuing to Show) status. While some sellers wish to keep the listing in “Active” status while taking back-up offers or until the option period expires, MLS rules require that the status be updated from “Active” to “Pending” within five days, regardless.

Report Sold Status within Five (5) Days:
All sales closed must be entered within five days of the actual closing/funding date. There are no exceptions to this rule, even if a buyer brings a contract with a provision indicating their desire to withhold the closing information from the MLS. If the MLS is used to market the property, the listing Participant is obligated to report the sale. Withdrawing, terminating or reporting a listing as expired to avoid reporting the sales price and closing information is prohibited and subject to fines and suspension of MLS services.

Make a Showing Appointment when Required:
Appointments for showings and negotiations shall be conducted through the listing Participant except where the listing Participant gives the cooperating broker specific authority to contact the owner directly for showing. If the listing’s showing instructions indicate “Appointment Required,” then you must have a confirmed appointment before entering the house. Make sure to arrive at the property during the specified appointment time and never provide a client access to a home without you being present. It’s a difficult situation when a homeowner is surprised by strangers entering their house unexpectedly.

Property Showing Etiquette:
Review the agent remarks and showing instructions prior to entering the home. This will ensure you don’t let the pet out or wake up a homeowner that works nights. Remember to wipe off your feet, stay close to your clients, turn out the lights and lock the doors behind you. Do not leave a business card unless requested by the seller or listing agent and try to be responsive to requests for showing feedback. While these reminders may seem obvious and of common courtesy, MLS has received calls from angry homeowners that feel agents showing their home have been inconsiderate in regard to not leaving the property as they found it.

Listing Agreements Required for All MLS Listings:
Before a listing can be entered in the MLS, the listing Participant must have a signed listing agreement with the seller giving the listing Participant authorization to submit the listing to MLS. It is inappropriate to enter a FSBO listing where the listing Participant has not entered into an agency agreement with the seller. It is also against MLS rules to enter a listing after it has already been sold outside the MLS where the listing Participant did not have a signed listing agreement with the seller prior to closing.

Physical Property Description – Public:
The “Physical Property Description – Public” field is intended to only describe the physical characteristics of the property and its grounds. Agents should not enter contact information such as names, phone numbers, email addresses, web site addresses, service provider information, the words “FSBO” or “For Sale by Owner.” Information related to the transaction, such as available financing, cash back at closing, bonuses or incentives are also prohibited. Agents must also be careful not to enter confidential information, such as showing instructions or security codes since this field is displayed on buyer reports and available to consumers on HAR.com. Agents should utilize the “Agent Remarks” field for the above referenced types of information.

Shawn Dauphine

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