By Debbie Wey
VP, MLS Administration
At the beginning of each year, association-owned MLSs must implement the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) mandatory and optional MLS rules and regulations changes approved by the NAR Board of Directors in the prior year. Local adoption is required by March 1, unless a different implementation deadline is specified by NAR.
There are eight MLS policy changes for 2022. Six of the eight changes required revisions to the Canopy MLS Rules and Regulations and were approved by the Canopy MLS Board of Directors on February 24. Participants and Subscribers can review NAR’s “Summary of 2022 MLS Changes,” and see the edited Canopy MLS Rules and Regulations that shows the changes. NAR also published FAQs with additional guidance.
The purpose of the changes is to:
- reinforce transparency for clients and consumers working with Participants and Subscribers in real estate transactions, and
- empower Participants with the information and data they need to better serve their clients and customers.
This update is to share where Canopy MLS stands with respect to complying with the eight policy changes, and provides references for each NAR MLS Policy Statement, NAR Model Rule, and the Canopy MLS Rules. The final section provides our progress toward adhering to NAR’s MLS Best Practices which is referenced in the Canopy Realtor® Association Strategic Implementation Document.
- Requiring Property Addresses (NAR MLS Policy Statement 8.9, NAR Model Rules Section 1.16, Canopy MLS Rules Section 1.24): All listings must include an address, parcel ID, or legal description at the time of filing, and Canopy MLS requires all three. We have always required a property address, if one exists. The rationale for this rule change is that the property’s location is a key piece of listing content that Participants and Subscribers use to serve the interests of their clients and customers. Disclosure of this information at the time of filing the listing is consistent with the MLS’s core tenets of efficiency, transparency, and collaboration.
- Non-filtering listings based on offers of compensation or name of the brokerage or agent (NAR MLS Policy Statement 8.5, NAR Model Rules Section 18.2.4 and 19.12, Canopy MLS Rules Appendix A #9, Appendix B #13): MLS listings provided to consumers cannot be filtered out based on cooperative compensation, listing firm, or listing agent. As stated in the NAR Code of Ethics, Standard of Practice 3-10, Participants and Subscribers must share information about any MLS listing when it serves the best interests of their client or consumer. This prohibition does not apply to listings obtained from other sources.
- We monitor IDX and VOW websites for compliance.
- We modified the Matrix system to disallow the use of the “not” operator with agent and office listing search criteria.
- We removed from Matrix all commission/compensation fields from listing search criteria, including saved searches and Auto Emails to prevent searching by commission directly.
- We removed commission/compensation fields from single-line displays.
- Enhancements to Listing Broker Attribution (NAR MLS Policy Statements 7.58 and 7.91, NAR Model Rules Sections 18.2.12 and 19.18, Canopy MLS Rules TBD): Canopy MLS is delaying implementation of Policy Statement 7.58 until after the NAR meetings in May. Listing Broker attribution on IDX websites (e.g., Listing Courtesy of ABC Realty) has been part of the IDX rules from the start. This new rule now requires the addition of an email or phone number of the listing broker, which will be provided by the listing broker, to be displayed on each listing as well. The phone number or email address to be used on each listing will be made available in the IDX Web API used by IDX vendors to create IDX websites for brokers and agents. The rationale for this change is that listing broker attribution with contact information provides a more accurate representation to the public about the listing and improves the public’s ability to seek additional property details.
- Sold Data Display (NAR MLS Policy Statements 7.58 and 7.91, NAR Model Rules Sections 18.2.12 and 19.15, Canopy MLS Rules Appendix A #29): The MLS can only limit the display of the sales price in nondisclosure areas as a matter of local discretion. The policy is reflected in the Canopy MLS Rules because of our participation in MLS Grid, but this rule change has no impact on us. Canopy MLS provides sold data including sales price in all of our data feeds going back to Jan. 1, 2012.
- Services advertised as “free” (NAR MLS Policy Statement 8.4, NAR Model Rules Section 4.5, Canopy MLS Rules Section 5.5): NAR also amended SOP 12-1, which enhances the “true picture” requirements of the NAR Code of Ethics. Do not use “free” or “no cost” in advertising services to consumers unless there is no financial benefit to the Participant or Subscriber. Complaints received will be referred to the Code of Ethics complaint process. This rule reinforces Participants and Subscribers’ ethical duty to be truthful and accurate in their advertising, marketing, and other representations. This rule does not prohibit Participants and Subscribers from offering free CMAs, BPOs or other services to consumers. Participants and Subscribers can continue to offer services for free if they do not receive compensation from any source for those services. Even though a broker or agent may not charge a client or customer, they cannot represent those services as free if they will receive compensation from another source such as their listing broker.
- One Data Source (NAR MLS Policy Statement 8.6, No NAR Model Rule nor Canopy MLS Rule): Through MLS Grid, we can consolidate multiple data feeds into a single data feed upon request from the Participant. NAR has clarified that an MLS may continue to offer the listing broker a separate feed of their own data. The intent of the One Data Source Policy is to create efficiencies with multi-Participant data feeds received from the MLS, like IDX, VOW, BBO, etc.
- Brokerage Back Office (BBO) Feed (NAR MLS Policy Statement 8.7, No NAR Model Rule nor Canopy MLS Rule): Through MLS Grid, we provide BBO data feeds. Today’s brokerage community utilizes many productivity tools, and proprietary reports and resources that call for enhanced access to and use of MLS data. This new policy statement will empower Participants with the information they need to better serve their clients and customers.
- Display of listing broker offer of compensation (NAR MLS Policy Statement 8.8, NAR Model Rules Sections 5.4 and 18.3.1, Canopy MLS Rules Section 6.7 and Appendix A #20): MLSs must display the cooperative compensation on MLS public-facing websites. MLSs must provide cooperative compensation in MLS data feeds. Participants and Subscribers may display cooperative compensation at their discretion. This policy reinforces transparency for clients and consumers working with Participants and Subscribers in a real estate transaction. The change bolsters transparency and Realtors®’ existing duties and practices to talk with their clients about the services they provide and how they are compensated.
- MLS Grid – Added the compensation fields in the IDX data feed.
- CarolinaHome.com – Added the compensation fields and required disclaimer: The listing broker’s offer of compensation is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed.
- Syndication – Added the compensation fields to syndication data feeds.
- Matrix –
- We are adding the required disclaimer to all displays and reports that display compensation.
- We are adding a field named Compensation Remarks that will be distributed in data feeds. We also adopted a rule stating that any necessary comments regarding compensation can only be provided in the Compensation Remarks. Providing a dedicated field for Compensation Remarks reduces ambiguity and clarifies for agents where they need to put remarks about the compensation.
NAR created 12 recommended best practices that every MLS should strive to voluntarily comply with to ensure a high level of service and engagement for Participants and Subscribers, while ensuring that MLS leadership and staff have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and duties to the MLS. To see all 12 best practices, visit: https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/policies/mls-best-practices.
Canopy MLS complies with all 12 best practices; however, we are striving to improve upon these three:
Compliance: “MLSs should issue discipline for violations of local MLS rules consistent with the guidance provided in Part Two, F, Enforcement of Rules, found in the NAR Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy.”We are planning to streamline the compliance guidelines in the Canopy MLS Rules Section 9 to make them easier to understand and administer. The Canopy MLS Advisory Group has formed a subcommittee to work with staff to develop recommendations.
Data: “MLSs should post on their website written instructions for requesting MLS data feeds that are available to Participants and their vendors, including an explanation of the different feeds and the information provided in each feed. This includes contact information for administrative and technical support. The data transport method should be RESO Web API compliant.” We recently updated our data licensing webpage – check it out! https://go.canopymls.com/Data/default.aspx
Data: “By July 1, 2022, MLSs should create with their vendors and leadership, a written plan with a timeline to convert all Participant, Subscriber, and Participant designee data feeds to RESO Web API compliant services.”We have converted 97% of all data feeds to the MLS Grid Web API. Only a few custom data feeds remain to convert. More will transition to the MLS Grid Web API when we convert our underlying MLS database to be fully RESO compliant. The Canopy MLS Advisory Group has formed a subcommittee to work with staff to provide feedback on data mapping.If you have questions about these or any other Canopy MLS rules or policies, contact email@example.com, or 704-940-3159, Opt. 4.