Data Use of Listings in the MLS – Don’t Get Caught up in Misuse!

We’ve learned lately that some members are contacting the clients of other agents by using the MLS to mine for data.  The intent of the MLS is to offer cooperation and compensation.  There is no intent to make available a ready pool of sellers for those in search of a new listing.  As spelled out in the Code of Ethics, a REALTOR cannot contact the client of another broker prior to expiration of their contract without their express permission.

Code of Ethics, Article 16:  REALTORS®shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS®have with clients. (Amended 1/04)  (Link to the Article and supporting Standards of Practice)

Use of the MLS is specifically mentioned in Article 16 through Standard of Practice 16-3:  …information received through a Multiple Listing Service or any other offer of cooperation may not be used to target clients of other REALTORS to whom such offers to provide service may be made.

In addition to this being a violation of the Code of Ethics, it is also in violation of the Multiple Listing Service Rules and Regulations:

Section 4.3 – Solicitation Of Listing Filed With The Service:

Participants shall not solicit a listing on property filed with the Service unless such solicitation is consistent with Article 16 of the REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics, its Standards of Practice, and its Case Interpretations.

This Section is to be construed in a manner consistent with Article 16 of the Code of Ethics and particularly Standard of Practice 16-4. This Section is intended to encourage sellers to permit their properties to be filed with the Service by protecting them from being solicited, prior to expiration of the listing, by brokers and salespersons seeking the listing upon its expiration.

Without such protection, a seller could receive hundreds of calls, communications, and visits from brokers and salespersons who have been made aware through MLS filing of the date the listing will expire and desire to substitute themselves for the present broker.

This Section is also intended to encourage brokers to participate in the Service by assuring them that other Participants will not attempt to persuade the seller to breach the listing agreement or to interfere with their attempts to market the property. Absent the protection afforded by this Section, listing brokers would be most reluctant to generally disclose the identity of the seller or the availability of the property to other brokers.

This Section does not preclude solicitation of listings under the circumstances otherwise recognized by the Standards of Practice related to Article 16 of the Code of Ethics.

Staff always encourages that you ask questions before a mistake is made.  If you have such questions, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to speak with you!