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October 2019

Northwest MLS updates SOC, agency agreements

October 7, 2019

Effective October 1, Northwest Multiple Listing Service updated several rules pertaining to selling office commissions (SOC).  The changes are intended to increase transparency and flexibility for consumers and the 30,000-plus real estate brokers the MLS serves.

Northwest MLS also reformatted the Buyer's Agency Agreement (Form 41A) and the Buyer's Representation Agreement (No Agency) (Form 41B) to make the forms more user friendly.

In announcing the SOC rules revisions, Northwest MLS said the changes allow real estate firms to publish the amount of commission the seller is offering to pay a broker representing the buyer (known as the "selling office commission" or "SOC") on the firms' public websites along with the other listing information (e.g. list price, square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other detailed property information). Making this information readily available to consumers allows for complete transparency with regard to buyers' broker's compensation and provides consumers with additional information at the outset of the transaction. 

The MLS also noted the changes support cooperation among member firms while providing consumers with more information and options when buying and selling homes.

"Consumers want greater transparency and flexibility in the home buying and selling process," said NWMLS CEO Tom Hurdelbrink. "We believe these changes encourage member real estate firms to continue to innovate and evolve their business models to better serve consumers."

"Transparency in real estate transactions benefits everyone," commented Jason Wall, Lake & Company and NWMLS board member. "Why shouldn't a buyer know, in advance, how much his or her broker will be paid for the broker's services? NWMLS's rules changes are welcome. Flexibility and choices for consumers and brokers are good things."

To help brokers better understand the modernization of SOC rules, Northwest MLS has produced an 8-minute video, Legal Bulletin (#217) and published a Frequently Asked Questions document, all of which are available on its website.