REMINDER: Don’t Tell Buyers Your Services Are “FREE”

Last year, NAR reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to develop rules that more explicitly state what is already the spirit and intent of NAR’s Code of Ethics and MLS policies regarding providing information about commissions and MLS participation. 


The National Association of REALTORS Board of Directors this week approved several new policies: 

Display of listing broker offer of compensation. Requires MLSs to include the listing broker’s offer of compensation for each active listing displayed on its consumer-facing websites and in MLS data feeds provided to participants and subscribers; also requires MLSs to permit participants or subscribers, at their discretion, to share offers of compensation through IDX and VOW displays or through any other form or format provided to clients and consumers. Information about offers of compensation must be accompanied by a disclaimer stating that the offer is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed.

MLS Policy Statement 8.4: Services advertised as “free.” Prohibits MLS participants and subscribers from representing that their brokerage services to a buyer client or customer are free or available at no cost to their client, unless the participant or subscriber will receive no financial compensation from any source for those services.  Similar language is being considered for Standard of Practice 12-1 as part of a recommendation from the NAR Professional Standards Committee. A comprehensive summary of board actions will be posted on shortly after the meetings.

MLS Policy Statement 8.5: Non-filtering listings based on offers or compensation or name of the brokerage or agent. Prohibits MLS participants and subscribers from filtering out or restricting listings, in listing information that’s searchable and displayed to consumers, based on the level of compensation offered to the cooperating broker or the name of a brokerage or agent; also prohibits MLSs from enabling the ability to filter out listings on the basis of compensation or name of brokerage or agent. Policy Statements 7.58 and 7.91 are amended, too, to bring IDX and VOW policy in line with this rule. The rule doesn’t prohibit participants, on their IDX displays and virtual office websites, from sorting listings to show their own listings first.

To summarize:

  • The amount of commission being offered to the buyers’ agent will now be made publicly available. 
  • Agents must provide consumers access to ALL properties that fit their criteria, regardless of the amount of compensation being offered to the buyer-side agent. 
  • Agents CANNOT claim or make any representation that their services are free or that the cost of their services is paid for by the seller. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 



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