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March 29, 2021

Cooperation & Common Benefit

Cooperation (noun) – associations of persons for a common benefit. [1]

People think of a lot of things when they think of a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – data feeds, syndication, agent rankings, CMA’s, statistics, agent standard report, and client portals, to name a few. Still, at the heart of an MLS is one word: cooperation.

Without cooperation, an MLS does not exist. Other vehicles and systems for sharing information on properties do exist, but they are not the MLS.

In times of more frequent change, unrest, a pandemic, and a prolonged, unprecedented inventory shortage, cooperation becomes strained.

So, how can an association of persons work towards a common benefit while protecting their clients’ best interests? Focus on the simple things that matter:

  1. Clear Cooperation Policy (CCP):
    • You are part of the co-op called the MLS. If your listing is publicly marketed (anywhere, in any form, including in response to Facebook inquiries),you also agree to advertise in the MLS within one business day.
    • We have a resource for the most commonly asked CCP questions here:
  2. Agent Remarks:
    • When it comes to showing instructions, treating cooperating agents differently can land you in hot water with MLS rules and the Code of Ethics.
    • Buyers Agents:
      • Agent remarks were the expectations at the time of listing; verify they are still accurate if it makes a difference for your clients or strategy.
      • Don’t wait! Assume the seller may change their mind at any time prior to an offer presentation deadline.
    • Listing agents:
      • Keep it simple.
      • Set expectations you can keep.
  3. Clarifying some misunderstandings about statuses:
    • You can learn more about each status as well as how and when to use them here:
    • The biggest issues occur when listing agents focus on marketing more than seller needs and accurate representations of the property and its availability. Remember, if any showings are allowed on the property, then showings should be available to all MLS participants.
  4. Coming Soon Status:
    • To be clear, there is no MLS rule that says a seller cannot accept an offer in Coming Soon status. If you are setting expectations that contracts will not be presented for a period of time (or at all),consult with your broker, legal counsel, or your state’s legal hotline before adding these types of comments.
    • Understand that MLS status rules and license laws rules regulating contract presentation are not the same thing.
  5. Showings:
    • If there is one thing that has highlighted our differences during this pandemic, it’s showings. Some feel showings are not safe enough. Some feel showings are not available enough. There is a default that does not allow overlapping showings but that can be changed at an office, agent, or listing level. For instructions on updating these settings, click HERE
    • If you are highly concerned about overlapping showings, clearly communicate your needs with the listing broker. You both may have different motivations, and there is no guarantee that the showing appointment you booked will remain exclusive to you in such a hot market – plan accordingly.

Lastly, the Golden Rule still applies: Treat others as you expect to be treated – even when running fast and working hard. You all have a fiduciary duty to protect your clients’ best interests, but you all play in the same sand box.


[1] Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Cooperation. In dictionary. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from