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Top 10 Changes to the RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement Rules and Regulations
January 26, 2018
1. Eliminate the Definition of “Customer”. We eliminated the definition of the word “Customer” since many found it confusing and ambiguous. Accordingly, the UCB uses the more commonly understood terms of Seller, Buyer, Owner, Landlord, and Tenant throughout the document.
2. New Article 1, Sections 12 and 13—Regarding the RLS’s ability to remove listings. Section 12 allows the RLS the ability to remove listings based on the suspension, expulsion or resignation of an Exclusive Broker from the RLS. Section 13 allows the RLS to automatically remove expired or released listings from the RLS database. These new provisions will continue to keep the quality of the RLS information high, and help to avoid the backlog of stale listings in the RLS that has occurred in the past. With the introduction of Syndication, and the sending of listing information to Realtor.com, the New York Times and other leading portals, keeping the number of stale listings to the absolute minimum is a must.
3. New Article 1, Section 5—Distribution of RLS Listings. One of the main complaints we used to receive from firms was the belief that some firms did not send out listings in a timely fashion. Accordingly, we sought to provide for clarity on the timing of the distribution of listings—the new Article I, Section 5 eliminates the 24-hour rule completely, and requires that an Exclusive Listing must be distributed either simultaneously with any public dissemination of the Exclusive Listing, or simultaneously with the first showing of an Exclusive Listing to a Buyer.
4. Revised Article 1, Section 6—Changes to Exclusive Listings. Similarly, changes to the listed price and other information must now be entered by the earlier of: 1) simultaneously with any change made over a public website or portal; or 2) within 24 hours after the change is received by the Exclusive Agent. Changes made to any information fed to any public website should also be reflected at the same time over the RLS—the information in the RLS should be as accurate and current as the information in the public domain.
5. New Article II, Section 5—Buyer/Tenant’s Right to be Represented. This new provision memorializes the Attorney General’s opinion that a Buyer or Tenant always has the right to be represented by the agent of their choice, and that Landlords and/or Sellers cannot deprive a party of their right to representation.
6. New Article II, Section 7—Communications with Owners. We revised this provision to make clear that no “Former Exclusive Agent”—in other words, an agent who changes firms—can speak to an Owner, unless the Owner initiates the communication with the Former Exclusive Agent. The Owner also must provide a document stating that they want to continue speaking with the Former Exclusive Agent. That document from the Owner must be sent to both Exclusive Brokers for both the Former Exclusive Agent’s new firm and old firm. There are similar changes to Article III, Section 3. Additionally, we have added language that makes clear that the Former Exclusive Agent cannot do anything to interfere with any Exclusive Listing belonging to their prior firm.
7. Revised Article II, Section 13 and 14. These changes relate to the “broker protection clauses” whereby a firm can receive a commission by “protecting” a certain number of people who visited a property during the term of the exclusive. We have received numerous complaints regarding firms seeking to put 20 (or even more) names on the list, or seeking to extend the time period to six months or a year. These types of unreasonable extensions hurt consumers as it makes it materially more difficult for them to find a new broker after an exclusive ends. Thus, we have eliminated the ambiguity and possibility for improper gamesmanship with respect to the provision by stating that firms cannot exceed the limits set forth in the sample provision.
8. Eliminating the “3-line Rule”. We have eliminated the old rule which required the placing of another firm’s name on a report containing more than three lines of listing information. The old rule appeared antiquated in the current technological age, where listings now appear on public portals. In short, the “3-line rule” made the dissemination of listing information more cumbersome—unnecessarily.
9. Revised Article III, Section 2. We revised this provision relating to advertising of listing information so that it conformed with Section 175.25—the advertising regulations we helped to support. In addition, the definitions of “advertising” and “advertise” now track Section 175.25.
10. Definition of “Ours Alone Listing”. While the prior version of the UCB mentioned “Ours Alone Listing,” it did not include a definition upon which the community could agree. The new UCB provides a clear definition of “Ours Along Listing.”