NAR approves pocket listings killer

Controversial policy will require brokers to submit listing to MLS within 1 business day of marketing

TRD ARCHIVE /
Nov.November 28, 2019 12:00 PM
NAR President John Smaby and the Chartwell Estate, first shopped as a pocket listing in 2017 (credit: NAR)
NAR President John Smaby and the Chartwell Estate, first shopped as a pocket listing in 2017 (credit: NAR)

UPDATED 11:15 a.m., Nov. 11: The National Association of Realtors’ board approved a controversial policy that could drastically cut down on pocket listings, a popular practice in the world of luxe real estate.

A roughly 120-member NAR committee overwhelmingly approved the Clear Cooperation Policy on Saturday morning, sending it to the organization’s Executive Committee for consideration, according to Inman. On Monday, NAR’s board passed the policy 729-70.

The policy would require brokers to submit a listing to the Multiple Listings Service within one business day of marketing a property to the public. NAR argues it will help make the business more transparent.

Bright MLS Chair Jon Coile said pocket listings undermine the “social contract” that Realtors have with each other. Other supporters say it will help the NAR compete with off-MLS services popping up across the country.

Pocket listings are popular in the higher stratas of residential markets in top-tier cities such as New York, L.A., and Miami for a few reasons. They help obscure ownership and listings for high-profile clients and allow agents to be more flexible with asking prices.

They can be extremely lucrative for agents who have them because they essentially cut out outside agents. Those agents often end up representing both parties in deals.

The proposed policy has a cutout allowing brokers to make a listing an office exclusive and keep it off the MLS and platforms that aggregate from the MLS, including Redfin and Zillow, which could alleviate concerns for celebrity clients.

Last year, Pacific Union International launched an online platform that acts as a pre-MLS listing service. Pacific Union properties go on that platform with limited information starting when an agent signs on to represent a seller until it hits the MLS, which can take up to 10 days or so. Pacific Union says that lets agents gauge interest before listings start to accrue “days on the market.” In 2017, The Agency broker Christopher Dyson partnered with the firm’s CEO Mauricio Umansky and “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” stars James Harris and David Parnes on a new online platform dubbed “The Pocket Listing Service,” or ThePLS.com, which allows brokers to share and search nationally for off-market properties.

The NAR vote suggests there is strong support for such a policy. If approved by the Executive Committee, the measure would go to NAR’s board of directors for final approval, according to Inman. The policy would come into effect January 1, 2020. [Inman]Dennis Lynch


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