Multiple Listing Service
Local MLSs have recently struggled to adopt and adapt to NAR’s quickly changing policies. You may recall in November, NAR new mandates included the requirement to make data available to MLS participants for the purposes of performing automated valuation models, requiring all data feeds to be updated at least once every 12 hours, allowing participants to co-mingle IDX data from their MLS’s, including sold listings in an IDX data feed upon request and be RETS/RETSO Data Dictionary compliant. These are no small changes for technology processes, and we are ever grateful for an MLS vendor like FlexMLS who can help us make these changes. At this meeting this May, the NAR board amended the MLS Policy Statement to ensure timely implementation of future MLS changes by requiring MLSs to implement any change in policy within 60 days of their effective date, unless the NAR Board of Directors allows a different timeline.
In other changes, the Board passed provisions to allow MLS participants to augment IDX displays with property information from an outside source as long as the source is identified in immediate proximity to the data. The other changes help ensure that MLSs timely process requests for IDX data feeds and clarify the term “publicly accessible” sold information. The term, as it applies to IDX policy and model IDX MLS rules, refers to data available electronically or in hard copy to the public from city, county, state, and other government records.
Commitment to Excellence
In other actions, the Board adopted the REALTORS® Commitment to Excellence under which NAR members strive for excellence in a number of competencies, including the NAR Code of Ethics, the laws and regulations affecting real estate, and one’s advocacy efforts on behalf of strong real estate markets and healthy communities. The Commitment to Excellence also extends to the way REALTORS® interact with one another and with consumers and to the need to maintain one’s professional education. The Commitment also requires broker-owners and principals of real estate companies to maintain an environment that promotes excellent customer service, consistent with the new standards.
To help oversee the Commitment, the Board created an advisory board comprised of nine members of the Professional Standards Committee. The board will develop systems to ensure the competencies remain relevant and to provide the tools to administer the Commitment.
The Board made a number of changes to the NAR Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to improve the arbitration process, among other things. They would—
- Shift the burden of initiating litigation from the prevailing party to the non-prevailing party. The goal is to reduce instances of REALTORS® refusing to pay arbitration awards. The change also requires adoption of state association recommended arbitration award enforcement procedures that maximize enforcement and payment under state law.
- Establish that complainants and hearing panels cannot bar each other from adding Articles of the Code of Ethics or respondents to a pending complaint before or during a hearing.
- Establish that directors hearing an ethics appeal, if concerned with a substantial procedural will be required to refer the decision to the association’s professional standards committee for a new hearing and recommendation by a different hearing panel.
- Provide guidance and shorter time frames for arbitration case administration.
- Clarify that the citation process is confidential, and ensure consistency with Professional Standards Policy Statement #19, Confidentiality of determinations rendered in ethics and arbitration hearings, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.
- Ensure consistency between the NAR Model Citation Policy and Sections 7 and 32, Notices, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, which provides that notice is deemed given, served, or filed when handed to a party, mailed to a party, or sent to a party via email. These amendments also reference “transmission”, as email service of notices is strongly recommended in Sections 7 and 32, Notices, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.
- Clarify that the ombudsman process is confidential, and ensure consistency with Professional Standards Policy Statement #19, Confidentiality of determinations rendered in ethics and arbitration hearings, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.
- Ensure that parties concerned with interpretation of settlement agreements that include stipulations on withdrawal of pending ethics complaints must enforce the agreement in court rather than rely on associations to dismiss the complaint.
- Require a shorter time frame for implementation of new and amended policies in order to ensure timely, efficient responses to changes in professional standards policy.