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November 2015

Rules Revisions, Service Enhancements Highlight Latest MLS Member Meetings

NWMLS member meetingsLike prior gatherings, the latest rounds of Northwest MLS Membership Meetings had a full agenda. These meetings, held at least twice each year, provide important updates on services, rules, governance and other topics, and also enable face-to-face interaction between MLS staff and member brokers or their branch managers.

The meetings being held during November at locations around the NWMLS 23-county service area are covering nominations for positions on the board of directors, proposed bylaws changes, recent rules revisions and a preview of forthcoming service enhancements.

Revisions affecting NWMLS Rules 2, 11, 20, 50, 86, 101, 123, 180, and 192 became effective October 28, 2015. Also revised with same effective date were rules to improve the efficiency of the discipline process.

The changes, as summarized by attorney Justin Haag, the MLS director of policy, include:

  1. Rule 2 - Floating On-Water Residences. This rule clarifies members' ability to list and sell any interest in a floating home of "floating-on-water residence."  Like other listings, NWMLS will rely upon the listing firm to determine if a certain property is eligible to be listed.

  2. Rule 11 - In-Person Offer Presentations and Delayed Showings. This rule requires the listing member to obtain a seller's written request or use of a NWMLS form to impose restrictions on offer presentations and showings.

  3. Rule 20 - Legal Descriptions. Under this rule, the listing member is required to attach a property's correct legal description to the listing. This description must be uploaded when the property is listed. It covers residential, condominium (legal description or declaration recording number), manufactured home, vacant land, farm and ranch, multi-family, and commercial/industrial properties. 

  4. Rule 50 - Keys and Keyboxes. This new rule provides that when previewing or showing a property with a NWMLS keybox installed, the subscriber who accesses the property must register the subscriber's key with the MLS keybox whether or not that keybox is used to gain access to the property. This enables tracking and recording all persons who access the property. Other "clean-up" revisions were also made to Rule 50 to modernize the rule's language.

  5. Rule 86 - Billing Verification Report (BVR).  Under this rule clarification, NWMLS may issue an automatic fine and suspend a member's services when a member fails to timely return a completed BVR report.

  6. Rule 101 - Division of Commissions. The selling member's share of commission must be a "bona-fide offer of compensation" under provisions of Rule 101.

  7. Rule 123 - Contingencies.  This rule, which relates to transactions involving a Buyer's Sale of Property Contingency Addendum (Form 22B) was simplified with significant revisions.

  8. Rule 180 - Information Left in Listed Properties. Rule 180 requires subscribers to leave a business card, containing the subscriber's contact information when previewing or showing a property.  It also prohibits solicitation of brokerage services on the business card and bans the listing firm from displaying solicitation information inside the listed property.  This revised rule does not prohibit members from displaying such information at broker and public open houses. 

  9. Rule 192(b) - License to Use Listing Data and Photos. This rule was revised to allow NWMLS to affix a visible watermark on all photos submitted to NWMLS to allow better tracking of the use of listing data by members and third parties. It affects only listings input on or after Oct. 28, 2015.

  10. Discipline Rules - New Rule - Offer of Resolution.  In an effort to resolve more routine discipline matters more efficiently, the Discipline Rules were revised to include a new Rule, titled "Offer of Resolution."  It allows NWMLS to offer to resolve a discipline matter with the responding party prior to the matter being presented to the Disciplinary Review Panel. Resolution may be in the form of a reprimand, education, fine, a suspended fine, or any combination of these options. It further provides that NWMLS will not make an offer to resolve discipline matters that involve egregious Rule violations, novel issues, or unusual circumstances. If a member accepts the Offer of Resolution, the disciplinary action will be final.

    All the revised rules are summarized in Legal Bulletin 206.

In addition to being briefed on rules revisions, members also considered proposed bylaws amendments. During the member meeting in Bellevue, Northwest MLS president and CEO Tom Hurdelbrink said if approved, the changes would modify the schedule for general membership meetings and the election process for directors, including allowing mail or electronic voting.

To conclude the meeting, Bob Gent the director of business development and member relations at NWMLS, provided a service update, including a new "Showing Time" service.  This enhancement - customizable for every listing - is expected to be rolled out with a soft launch in early 2016. It will be available on Matrix listings with a link, a NWMLS mobile app, and a Showing Time mobile app.

Selling brokers and buyers can anticipate several benefits, including:

  • Easy to schedule showings
  • Ability to plan multiple showings and customize route
  • Multiple showing carts for different clients
  • Displays showing instructions
  • Great time saving features
  • Able to quickly respond to feedback requests

Sellers and/or listing brokers can confirm showings via email, two-way text messages, automatic phone call or a mobile app notification. It will work through the Apple Watch and integrates with Homespotter, the NWMLS mobile app.  

Gent said Showing Time is a very intuitive product and is used by nearly two dozen multiple listing services elsewhere in the country.  As the launch date approaches, NWMLS will be providing online training.