REBNY will fine agents $500 to $5,000 for listing violations

RLS will have mandatory fields, and the system will reject incomplete listings

Jan.January 29, 2019 07:00 AM

John Banks (Credit: iStock and Jhila Farzaneh)

In an effort to clean up its listings feed, the Real Estate Board of New York on Monday said it would fine agents between $500 and $5,000 for violating new data-sharing rules.

The penalties are part of a new compliance system designed to improve information submitted to REBNY’s residential listing system (RLS), the board said in an email to agents. The new system will “read” all listings entered into the RLS and automatically notify agents if they violate new rules.

The fine for a first offense is $500; $2,000 for a second offense and $5,000 for a third offense. For a fourth offense within any 12-month period, the broker will be suspended from the RLS for 30 days and notice of the offense will be posted to REBNY’s website. After that, violators can be expelled from REBNY.

Sources said the program is several months in the making, and is part of a “Clean Data” initiative spearheaded by the real estate trade group.

But the penalties also come amid turmoil in the industry over who controls residential listings. Last week, StreetEasy faced fresh backlash over a new program that allows listing agents to pay $333 per listing per month to avoid Premier Agent ads on their exclusive listings.

REBNY’s new fines — first announced in November — were disclosed Monday in an updated version of its universal co-brokerage agreement, the document that governs how listings are shared.

According to the UCBA, agents entering listings to the RLS will now have mandatory fields, including maximum financing permitted, contract date and contract-signed status. Listings also must comply with fair housing rules. And, they cannot contain the agent’s personal contact information.

Sources indicated that agents will be fined for fair housing violations, but not for submitting incomplete listings. That’s because the RLS will automatically reject those listings with missing information.

In recent months, residential members have clamored for REBNY to tighten up its enforcement of the UCBA rules — particularly on hot-button issues like interference with another firm’s listing. (This fall, Douglas Elliman chairman Howard Lorber accused Compass of unfairly going after other firms’ listings.)

To that end, the new UCBA contains language that offers guidance on that issue. “Interference includes

encouraging an Owner to terminate the prior firm’s listing agreement, or advertising a listing that is subject to an existing exclusive listing agreement without the other firm’s permission,” said an email sent Monday to REBNY members.

The new UCBA also offers new rules on teams, and it contains a new written policy on whisper listings. The UCBA discourages the practice and said agents would be penalized for “excessive” use of pocket listings. “Agents will face potential penalties, if an RLS panel determines that pocket listings are a consistent pattern or practice by the agent.”

Clelia Peters of Warburg is now co-chair of the RLS committee alongside John Wollberg of Halstead.

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