Can A Lawsuit Preserve The Super Secret Pocket Listing?

Back in November I wrote about how the National Association of Realtors’ new Clear Cooperation Policy was going to finally crack down on the shady pocket listing practice and the super secret realtor networks that enabled them. As my use of adjectives and that previous post hints I’m clearly no fan of pocket listings. I see them as undermining the primary goal of most home sellers – i.e. get the highest sales price as fast as possible.
When I wrote that post linked to above I clearly expected that we would see the demise of those underground networks but that didn’t happen – at least not in the Chicago area. So I called our area MLS and asked them what was going on. Their position seemed credible at the time: the Clear Cooperation Policy (CCP) prohibited public advertising of listings without also listing them on the MLS. However, our MLS did not consider those networks to constitute public advertising since they were only available to realtors. Therefore, they were fine with realtors listing properties on these private networks without listing them on the MLS.
So I accepted that answer until I found out about a lawsuit filed by the Top Agent Network (TAN) against the NAR which claims that the Clear Cooperation Policy is tantamount to stifling competition for listing services. In other words many of the MLS groups around the country have clearly interpreted the rules differently than the Chicago area MLS and it’s causing a problem for the TAN – which, BTW, is the top secret listing network.
Hmmm. So I just checked out the NAR’s CCP page and it clearly states in the FAQs:

“Private listing networks” that include more brokers or licensees than those affiliated with the listing brokerage constitute public advertising or display pursuant to Policy Statement 8.0. Listings shared in multi-brokerage networks by participants must be submitted to the MLS for cooperation.

Clearly the Chicago area MLS is not complying with this new policy by turning a blind eye to area realtors restricting certain listings to the private networks.
The lawsuit does bring up a valid point though. The new policy is in fact anti-competitive. With a rule like this in place nobody could ever challenge the dominance of the MLS. On the other hand I think you need a rule like this in order to prevent a lot of realtor mischief (which I’ve written about before) and home sellers getting screwed in the process. A clear compromise would be to allow property listings on other networks, provided that those networks were available to the public. That would not be as efficient as having all listings in a single database but it does enable competition. And, of course, the super secret networks wouldn’t be so secret any more.
I’m getting the popcorn ready for this one.
#PocketListings #ComingSoon #OffMarketListings #PrivateListings #RealEstateAgents
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service real estate brokerage that offers home buyer rebates and discount commissions. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market or get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.

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