MLS Compliance Resources Kit
Welcome to your home base for all things related to MLS compliance! On September 1, 2021 new ACTRIS MLS Rules & Regulations went into effect as part of our renewed focus on compliance in our marketplace. The new MLS Rules are easier to understand and follow, but also have clearer escalation pathways for repeat rule offenders.
Check back weekly for updated resources that will ensure you stay on top of compliance changes to create the Accurate, Complete, Timely, and Reliable marketplace we all desire.
Questions? Check out our FAQs at the bottom of this page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLS Compliance Resources
Frequently Asked Questions
We get it! Big changes = big questions. Below are answers to some burning questions you may have about the new MLS Rules and Regulations, and what it means when we say we're championing a new compliance culture for our marketplace.
Providing a clear ruleset, education, and transparent penalty escalation of repeat rule-breakers are core tenants of what an MLS should provide a marketplace. After hearing consistent feedback from our members, the ACTRIS Board of Directors decided to give the ACTRIS Rules and Regulations an update to modernize the rules document and explore other updates to help the rules contribute to an orderly marketplace. This update created a more approachable rules document, an expanded list of rules-focused resources for members, and education overall as to why MLS rules matter and why they’re important to follow.
The updated rules are designed to protect data integrity within the MLS while also letting your business run efficiently. Not many of the long-standing rules have changed (although there are some), but overall you will see a lot more education and communication about what we all need to do in order to meet the needs of our marketplace. Keep on the lookout for routine communications about our rules to always stay on top of any updates and also know how to help your peers understand the rules as well!
We understand that a “shift in compliance” can feel like an overwhelming ask and task, but ABoR staff is here to help you! We ask for some simple principles to ensure you’re staying in compliance:
- Always take an extra minute to review your listings BEFORE submitting to Active (A) status. If you have the time, save the listing as Incomplete and you can even ask staff to take a look at any of the most important fields we look for—if we catch something ahead of time, that means no violation and cleaner data from the start!
- When a mistake IS made…don’t panic! Our goal is always to reach out, educate, and try to correct the data in a timely manner. So our ask here is to always prioritize our notices that come to your inbox from email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org—we’re reaching out to ask for a correction to be made within one business day, and if you have questions we’re here to educate you on why the update needs to be made.
- Learn from your previous violations. Within a majority of violations, escalation only occurs when the same rule is broken multiple times (or requests to make fixes are ignored). If we flagged one listing for a rule violation, we hope you’ll keep that in mind for your next listing.
Nope! Through our new categories and escalation path within each one, you’ll see that we only focus on fines and more severe penalties when the same rules are broken again and again within a short time frame. If you promptly respond to staff and make an effort to correct the incorrect data, there will be no escalation to further monetary penalties. To avoid any fines, we ask that you are mindful of previous violations and remember to double-check that data point on your next listing.
While no one ever wants to be the bad guy, it’s important to remember that the MLS is a self-policing organization. If our members do not flag errors, they may go uncorrected and threaten the integrity of the data. If you come across a violation in the MLS, there are three main ways in which we recommend reporting an MLS violation.
- We strongly encourage peer accountability, especially if it’s a minor error. We recommend reaching out to the agent to notify them of the error and kindly asking them to correct it. Look for ABoR resources to give some tips on how to approach those conversations.
- Another option is to email email@example.com to manually report possible data violations. Your identity will not be shared with anyone. Sending an email to compliance staff will be most useful for reporting issues that need immediate attention, require documentation specific to the violation, or if you discover a violation that's not in the MLS system (such as Clear Cooperation Policy violations).
- The last option is to click on the “ReportIt” button (the bright yellow triangle) in the upper right corner of the Listing Detail screen in ACTRIS MLS.
Violations stay on your record for one rolling year from the date of violation. Once one year has passed from a violation, it no longer counts towards your violation total. Escalations within a category pertain to violations that occur within one year of each other.
ACTRIS applies the same ruleset to all Participants and Subscribers and has expanded the compliance staff to more proactively monitor violations and track repeat rule-breakers in our marketplace.
The ACTRIS MLS Board of Directors approved the changes to this ruleset on August 4, in addition to the approval of Clear Cooperation Policy compliance on August 20. The main changes are:
- VOW/IDX website will now only display one photo of a sold listing and will no longer display sold price.
- Active listings must be available to show within four (4) business days. Previously the Active status meant that showings must start immediately.
- Instances of “days” within the MLS Rules & Regulations have been updated to “business days.”
- The changes to the ruleset approved the addition of the “Compliance of Rules” section and the “Administrative Procedure for Discipline” section.
- Training on MLS Rules & Regulations will now be part of the required training during the orientation program.
- Within each Category of rules, an escalation path for repeat offenders has been clearly defined with a focus on education of the rule(s) when violations occur.
Be a partner with us and help us establish this new compliance culture. That means talking to your office and peers about why the rules matter and holding your team and your peers accountable. Be willing to ask a question about data directly to a listing agent, or let ACTRIS staff know if we should take a look. We all have an important role to play in making this shift happen
Going into 2021, the ACTRIS Board of Directors selected an MLS Compliance Task Force to analyze the ACTRIS Rules and Regulations and look for areas of improvement regarding clarity and education of the rules. While working with staff, the task force modernized the ACTRIS Rules and Regulations and proposed recommendations to the Board of Directors, which passed in August. The recommendations included adopting an updated ruleset, asking staff to proceed with a revamped approach to rules education and the creation of an MLS Compliance Committee.
The Clear Cooperation Policy is now its own category within the rules: Category 2. When staff confirms that a required listing has been publicly marketed without being submitted to the MLS within one business day, staff will send a courtesy notice to the listing brokerage. This notice will require a submission of the Seller’s Authorization to Exclude form (or a similar form) to ACTRIS. Once the form is submitted, the listing agent will be fined $100. If the form is not submitted or if the request is ignored, the penalties will escalate further.
ACTRIS has applied a flat fine structure to CCP violations. This structure is consistent with how many MLSs address specific types of MLS violations and is the most responsive choice to the needs of our marketplace and the consumers we serve.
Each listing in violation of the CCP will result in a fine of $100 and require a submission of the Seller’s Authorization to Exclude form (or similar form) to ACTRIS. Fines that are ignored will be escalated to the broker and double every 10 days until payment is submitted and the form is submitted. Continuing to disregard CCP violations can result in additional penalties, such as required MLS education.
Brokers may submit their own version of the Seller’s Authorization to Exclude within two (2) business days of a Courtesy Notice. At that time, the MLS Compliance staff will review the submitted form to determine whether it meets the requirements of the exclusion. If it does not meet the requirements, staff will notify the broker to submit a revised form.
Our goal is to bring you the most complete and accurate data for this market. Listings found in social media groups or private listing networks that have not been entered into the MLS are violating the CCP. You can submit examples of these violations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions can be maintained anonymously.
We’re working to bring you the most complete and accurate data for this market. Private listing networks can be seen as creating barriers to effectively providing all listing options for your clients. ACTRIS seeks to avoid a disjointed and inefficient experience for your clients. We’ve aligned the ACTRIS Rules and Regulations to protect the privacy consumers expect and deserve in the MLS marketplace. These policies include not displaying the sold listing price and removing all but the primary photo of a sold listing from internet display. These efforts ensure a most complete and accurate dataset for the market, without compromising the privacy of your clients.
Displaying this information on IDX and VOW sites has unintended consequences that has led to misuse of the data in the past. We’ve made this change to give your clients peace of mind when using the MLS to buy or sell a home in Central Texas.
The changes approved by the ACTRIS Board will ensure sold prices are not displayed on the internet. MLS participants and subscribers will continue to have access to this data to share with their clients and make informed decisions about their real estate needs. By limiting the widespread access to the data across the internet, we’re ensuring this information is used only for the buying and selling of property. Brokers can do the same by checking their agreements with advertising portals and ensuring they’re limiting the display of sold prices as well.
We’ve heard loud and clear that consumers don’t like the photos of their new home to display on the internet after they have moved in. It creates fear around the privacy of their home. This change gives a greater sense of security to consumers and encourages confidence in the direct benefits of marketing their home for sale in the MLS marketplace.