Dear Anne: With inventory so tight these days, I don’t have any listings of my own – but the MLS has a plethora of listings I can advertise. If you ask me, I’m doing listing brokers a favor if I promote their listing elsewhere – it’s like free advertising for them.
I always thought that the MLS was for sharing – that when you put a listing in the MLS, anyone who participates is free to advertise that home.
Today, however, I received a nasty cease-and-desist email from a listing agent, telling me that I have no business advertising her listings or anyone else’s without permission. She said she already reported me to compliance at the MLS.
This doesn’t make any sense – we can advertise her listings on our IDX (Internet Data Exchange) displays via our website, so why can’t we advertise in another advertising medium? I’m confused. – Just Wants to Sell Real Estate
Dear Just Wants to Sell Real Estate: By virtue of putting a listing in the MLS and consenting for the listing to appear in an IDX feed, the listing broker is giving other MLS participants and subscribers permission to advertise their listing via IDX – and only via IDX.
This permission doesn’t extend to advertising in other mediums.
If you want to advertise by other means, you must obtain permission from the listing broker – and when doing so, it’s a good idea to ask for that consent in writing and then keep it in your “just in case” file.
MLS rules state, and I quote: “A listing shall not be advertised by any participant other than the listing broker without prior consent of the listing broker.“
Some MLSs do give listing brokers an option: They allow them to authorize other brokerages to advertise their listings on a carte blanche basis. Since not all MLS’s offer this option, you need to check with your MLS first.
If the listing broker does give you permission to advertise, be careful: Consumers and real estate professionals must be able to discern in the ad that you’re not the listing broker. You don’t necessarily have to identify the listing broker’s firm, but it must be obvious that you do not have the listing on this property.
To be clear, IDX rules do not apply when advertising outside of the IDX. If you choose to attribute the listing to the listing brokerage in their advertising, as you are required to do on your IDX display, that’s fine; but it’s not necessary to meet the true picture test required by Article 12, which obligates Realtors to present a true picture in all representations. Standard of Practice 12-4 states: “Realtors shall not offer for sale/lease or advertise property without authority…“
The listing agreement gives the listing broker authority to advertise the listing and place it in the MLS. The flow of authority comes from the seller to the listing broker, and from the listing broker to real estate professionals, if given at all.
The bottom line: If you advertise another broker’s listing without permission, you risk being found in violation of the MLS rules and the Code of Ethics as well.
Anne Cockayne is Director of Policy Services for Florida Realtors
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