A critical foundation of American homeownership is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
These independent, local broker organizations create highly competitive markets that are
friendly to small business while ensuring equitable home ownership opportunities, superior
customer service and greater options for buyers and sellers.
Simply put, local real estate organizations provide sellers access to the largest possible pool
of potential buyers while creating the greatest number of housing options for buyers in one,
Leveling the playing field
For people trying to break into this real estate market, MLSs level the playing field, allowing
small brokerages to compete with large ones by creating hubs of local real estate market
information where all broker participants have access to the same reliable and trusted data.
As a byproduct, these data hubs spur entrepreneurship and innovation, allowing consumers
to choose the type of broker they want to work with and what fee options they prefer,
including those who provide many different service and fee options, from varied commission
models to flat fees.
Without the associated broker cooperation — where the listing broker pays the buyer broker
— countless first-time homebuyers and low- and middle-income Americans would find
themselves unable to afford both a down payment and professional representation if these
homebuyers had to pay a buyer commission out of pocket at closing.
For many, saving for a down payment is difficult enough. For example, on average,
American households have about $8,800 in the bank. That’s barely 50% of the median down
payment on a starter home. And since most lenders don’t allow real estate broker
commissions to be financed, every 1% of broker commissions that first-time buyers might
have to pay out of pocket would put their home more than $2,000 further out of reach.
Clear Cooperation Policy
Together with the hundreds of MLSs around the country, NAR is working to ensure
guidelines for the MLSs allow for that kind of affordability as well as accessibility that better
enables all Americans the opportunity to achieve the American dream of home ownership.
Part of that ongoing fight is NAR’s recent adoption of its Clear Cooperation Policy (CCP),
which was intended to promote transparency and fairness in the U.S. housing market by
addressing concerns about so-called “pocket listings.” These listings allowed brokers to
market properties themselves before placing them on a local market MLS.
The CCP requires a listing broker to submit his or her listing to the MLS within one business
day of marketing a property to the public. The CCP is especially important in competitive
markets where properties sell extremely fast, and also help protect against circumstances in
which properties are only marketed to particular groups of people in America. NAR
determined this guidance was needed as a crucial consumer protection, and it was
overwhelmingly adopted by NAR’s board of directors in November 2019.
NAR believes everyone should have the opportunity to purchase the home of their dreams,
wherever it may be. Local broker organizations and the CCP help facilitate that opportunity
and promote equity and accessibility in the housing market while creating a fertile ground for
small businesses to flourish. NAR is proud our guidelines play a critical role in promoting the
pro-consumer and pro-competitive American housing market.