First Friday Broker Forum Recap – May 4, 2018

Thanks to those of you who attended our second “First Friday Broker Forum” on May 4, 2018. Another great discussion, with lots of ideas, resources, and insights shared. The following is a summary of that discussion for the benefit of all brokers.

Coming Soon and Office Exclusives

We heard that many brokers and agents would use the “Coming Soon” status if CDOM wasn’t calculated. Because of this, many instead opt for the office exclusive option, basically recreating the issue the Coming Soon rule was trying to solve. That feedback will be shared with the IMLS Coming Soon Task Force for consideration.

The question was raised, “Then why even offer the option of office exclusives?” MLSs affiliated with the National Association of REALTORS® (like IMLS) must allow this option in accordance with NAR’s 2018 Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy’s MLS Antitrust Compliance Policy (on Part Two Section A; page 7). According to that policy, not allowing a brokerage to have office exclusive listings (or pocket listings) could be seen as an MLS interfering in a broker/client relationship or restricting how a broker conducts their business.

However, we know not all agents submit the Waiver of Benefits form required by IMLS on office exclusive listings — possibly assuming an office exclusive does not require notice to IMLS. That is incorrect. NAR policy (Section 5 Policy Statement 7.63) allows MLSs to require certification from the seller or their agent that a property is being withheld from the MLS, which the IMLS Rules and Regulations do (Page 4 of the FAQs).

This is a complicated topic and one that the IMLS Board of Directors and Rules Committee will continue to discuss and refine. Please feel free to share your feedback with IMLS CEO Glenn Christoph and check out these related articles and resources for more: NAR “Coming Soon” Information and Resources and IREC “Coming Soon Listings” Guideline #8.

Home Inspector Keys — No Agent, No Buyer Present

A recent legal review of the IMLS Home Inspector Key Agreement reconfirms that home inspectors “shall not allow third parties into the home” and that homebuyers are considered third parties in this situation. Homebuyers, of course, can attend a home inspection, but only with a real estate agent present. If the real estate agent leaves, so must the buyer. We know some brokers do not allow their real estate agents to attend home inspections for liability purposes, just know this may also prohibit the buyer from attending the inspection. BRR recommends brokers speak to legal counsel to create their own policy around home inspections, to clarify rules regarding agents’ presence at a home inspection and, further, that homebuyers are only allowed at an inspection when a real estate agent is present.

“Seller will only pay if ABC Title is used…”

The question about MLS remarks like the one above popped up and (luckily?) it’s one we’ve shared info on previously. In the blog post “RESPA Section 9 & Title Company Selection,” Hawley Troxell (BRR’s legal counsel who researched this per our request), they do conclude the following…

A seller can stipulate they will only pay for a title insurance policy if ABC Title is used, however, a seller cannot require ABC Title to be used solely as a condition of the sale. If the buyer doesn’t want to use ABC Title, that’s fine, but they understand then the seller may not the pay for that title insurance policy. It’s a tricky situation for sure, and one that you may want to consult your own legal counsel on (as this is not meant to be legal advice in and of itself).

Another safeguard for agents in and out of the MLS remarks is to avoid referring to any vendor as “preferred,” “partners,” or something similar. Agents can make recommendations to clients about certain vendors, though. Semantics are fun!

One more tip (based on a practice from my former broker in Minnesota) is to disclose to clients any marketing partnership, service arrangements, in-house affiliations, etc., you or your brokerage may have with any vendors, whether or not your clients choose to use them. It’s a good CYA practice that I implemented, in which my clients sign a form stating I disclosed that information to them.

“I exclude my listings from AVMs when inputting listings, but still see an AVM on my listing when it hits the portals. What’s up?”

Selecting this option only excludes your listing data from being used in the AVM algorithm used to produce an AVM on the portals. It does not exclude your portal listing from having an AVM on it.

Other IMLS Tips… use the Collab Center, Homesnap Pro Mobile, CRS Tax, and ShowingTime. As one broker said, “It’s life-changing.” You’ll just have to try them all to see which one she was talking about!


  1. Mary-Edith Hill says:

    Well done recap and not too long. Thanks.