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PLS.com v. NAR: Inventory Decentralization on the Horizon?
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is currently facing multiple lawsuits, but one, in particular, has the potential to change the real estate industry as we know it.
PLS.com is a platform developed that allows real estate agents to list properties they may not want on the MLS. Most recently, it successfully filed an appeal reversing the district court's dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit it had brought against NAR on April 26th, 2022.
You may be thinking to yourself, "Why would an agent not want to put their listing on the MLS?" Good question! Some agents claim that listing "off-MLS" will allow them to:
- Test the market before putting the listing live on the MLS
- Continue to solicit buyers while the home is being prepped and staged for public sale
- Protect the privacy of public figures/celebrity clients or other luxury home sellers
PLS.com argues that NAR's Clear Cooperation Policy, mandating that all REALTOR®-listed properties be posted to the MLS within one business day of marketing to the public, violates antitrust regulations. The Clear Cooperation Policy was instituted by the NAR just two years after PLS.com launched.
With Clear Cooperation in place, PLS.com feels their business model as a private listing platform was undermined by NAR's policy because even if an agent chose to list on PLS.com, they are still required to place that property on their local MLS as well.
But don't be quick to write off Clear Cooperation and its benefits. The policy:
- Minimizes opportunities for housing discrimination
- Ensures listings reach a broad audience
- Provides a level playing field for agents & their clients; equal access to information
- Agents get more accurate comps in a particular area, allowing them to determine a competitive listing price
- Appraisers can do their job better with access to most sold comps in a single place
Furthermore, NAR argues the Clear Cooperation Policy does not go against antitrust regulations because it doesn't restrict access to other platforms. Meaning: brokers are not prevented from posting their listings to private platforms in addition to their MLS.
Some MLSs have halted making any new decisions regarding Coming Soon/Private Listings until the suit is over. If Clear Cooperation stays, then we could see an increase in MLSs adopting Coming Soon/Private Listing statuses to support agents in their obligation to post all listings in the MLS, even if they're not ready to go live on the market yet.
In the event that Clear Cooperation ends, the industry will likely start to see a fragmentation of listing inventory across multiple platforms. This means buyer's agents will have to search more than one site to ensure their clients are viewing all available properties.
No matter the outcome, Zenlist is prepared for either scenario. We have become the industry expert in navigating the web of already-fragmented listing inventory, and we believe the agent and consumer are best served with a comprehensive, streamlined home search experience. We have an established history of working with a variety of Coming Soon/Private Listing rules and regulations, not to mention strong relationships across many MLSs. However the market moves, we'll be prepared to listen and adapt to whatever is most valuable for agents and their clients.
As we all know, the legal system runs on its own time. So until a ruling is made, the industry waits with bated breath to see what the future of real estate holds.