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In the real estate industry, it’s been referred to as the Coming Soon Rule and the Coming Soon Ban. 

Regardless of what is has been called, it’s a National Association rule that every local MLS is adopting this year: the Clear Cooperation Policy.

At first, we didn’t think it would affect us at all. With a Coming Soon option for the Connecticut SmartMLS, we knew we still had the choice to market as coming soon for up the two weeks before going live. 

But then we started thinking about the builders, investors, and flippers we work with. Being able to tell a story throughout the build is important, especially for larger developments with a specific timeline. 

We started asking questions: Can we still showcase the progress of the build? Can we announce when the project will be complete? 

Kathy Elson, CEO of SmartMLS, recently came on The Real Word to answer questions about the Clear Cooperation policy and what it means for professionals in the industry. Keep reading for some of the highlights of our conversation.

Let’s start with a basic understanding. What is the Clear Cooperation rule?

Kathy: High level, it’s just ensuring every property, every listing that is out there for public consumption, is also in the MLS for professional consumption. 

We were having an issue where the public would see listings. They might see a street sign, and they might drive down the road, call their agent, ask their agent,’ Hey, can I see 127 Ajax?’ And then the agent goes into the MLS and they (can’t find it). So they go to 127 Ajax on Google. They try to see what they can find anywhere else. 

We want the professional to have all the information that the consumer has.

What was happening that made this rule come to be?

Kathy: This is a trend that started probably five, seven, eight years ago. So an agent learned somewhere, that, (you can have) listings…and let people know that a property is going to be on the market in the next few weeks. 

You’re in the process of taking pictures, you’re in the process of refinishing the floors, cleaning up the kids’ rooms, that sort of stuff, and just tease people and send it out in your newsletter, send out an email blast to other agents. This was to say, ‘Hey, keep an eye out on this.’ 

Then one person saw it, then another person saw it, then websites started popping up and then all of a sudden a percentage of the market wasn’t on the MLS anymore. It was just on these emails. They were on Facebook pages, closed Facebook pages, open Facebook pages. So it was all taking away from the cooperation of the MLS, and the MLS is there for the sole purpose of cooperating with each other. 

What is the solution to market for builders, investors, flippers, and tell the story to the public as we approach the project being completed? 

Kathy: So it is definitely a gray area because the vast majority of what we deal with our resale properties is on the market right away. It’s not the 10 -12 month lead time on new construction or the two, three, four-month lead time on flipping. 

The black and white answer is that it can’t be done. It’s out there marketing, and it could cause someone to reach out and contact you, and then you double in the transaction, and get 100% and just sort of keep everything for yourself.

Kathy does explain that within this gray area of telling the story of the development, there is an option for how the property is put on the MLS: 

Kathy: The story aspect of your piece changes the dynamic of the rule a little bit differently and how it can come on. And if your seller goes to you and says, ‘Hey, I don’t want it on the MLS’ for whatever reason, we can’t force a seller to put it on the MLS.

They (can) waive their right to their benefit, and they could put the listing in as a withheld listing on the MLS.

Keep in mind the Realtor Code of Ethics when it comes to withheld listings:

Kathy: It would be against the real estate realtor code of ethics if you have to encourage people to keep it off. But if they’ve got reasons to not put it on the MLS, then it’s their right to not have to put it on the MLS. 

Any time there is a new rule, there are going to be kinks that need to be worked out. At SmartMLS, they are working to figure these specific scenarios out:

Kathy: We’ve got to figure out ways to how to handle the creative market. We don’t want to stifle innovation because if we do someone else from the outside, one of those disruptors or the money that’s flowing into the system might fill that void. So we’ve got to be very cognizant of everything that’s going on, but make it as fair of a market place as possible. 

The bottom line of local MLS?

Kathy: We want to be the gold standard of the data. We want the real estate professional to look professional 100% of the time. 

For more of our conversation, watch The Real Word Episode 106.