Operational Issues, Section 8: Categorization of MLS Services, Information, and Products
The services, information, and products that multiple listing services provide to participants and to subscribers affiliated with participants may be categorized as core, as ancillary to the core but included in a basic package of MLS services as determined locally and provided to all MLS participants and subscribers automatically or on a discretionary basis, or as optional and available to participants and subscribers at their discretion. The following will guide MLSs in categorizing their services, information, and products.
Core: Core MLS information, services, and products are essential to the effective functioning of MLS, as defined, and include:
- active listing information
- information communicating compensation to potential cooperating brokers
Core services include the mechanisms (print or electronic or both) by which this information is communicated between participants and the MLS.
Where MLS participation is available to non-member brokers or their firms, either by law or by local decision, the information, services, and products available to such participants may be limited to those categorized as core.
Basic: In addition to core services, an MLS may automatically or on a discretionary basis provide additional information, services, and products substantially related to the purpose and function of MLS such as, but not limited to:
- sold and comparable information
- pending sales information
- expired listings and “off market” information
- tax records
- zoning records/information
- title/abstract information
- mortgage information
- amortization schedules
- mapping capabilities
- statistical information
- public accommodation information (e.g., schools, shopping, churches, transportation, entertainment, recreational facilities, etc.)
- MLS computer training/orientation
- access to affinity programs
- establishment, maintenance, and promotion of public-facing websites
Optional: An MLS may not require a participant to use, participate in, or pay for the following optional information, services, or products:
- lock box equipment including lock boxes (manual or electronic), combination lock boxes, mechanical keys, and electronic programmers or keycards
- advertising or access to advertising (whether print or electronic), including classified advertising, homes-type publications, and electronic compilations, including participant, subscriber, or firm homepages or websites
Not withstanding the foregoing, where permitted by law*, an MLS may treat Optional information, services, or products as Basic provided that the MLS does not receive an economic benefit from the arrangement as demonstrated by satisfying both of the following conditions:
- The MLS or its shareholder(s) is not the seller, lessor, or licensor of the information, service, or product (i.e., the information, service, or product is sourced from an independent third party); and
- The MLS does not make a profit or receive a commission or rebate based on the sale, lease, or license that exceeds the operational costs of providing the information, service, or product.
While no participant can be required to use, participate in, or pay for information, services, or products defined in this policy statement as optional, an MLS may, as a matter of local determination, bill all participants (or, where appropriate, subscribers) for optional information, services, or products provided that participants (or, where appropriate, subscribers) may decline such information, services, or products and not be charged for them. In such cases, the MLS must make all participants and subscribers aware, in advance, of their right to decline any such service, product, or information.
None of the foregoing precludes an association or MLS from utilizing association or MLS reserves, dues, or fees or special assessments (as otherwise provided for in the association or MLS governing documents) to acquire assets (including hardware and software) necessary to make optional information, services, or products available to participants and subscribers, provided any funds used to acquire assets or initiate services will be reimbursed out of the proceeds realized from the sale or lease of such information, services, or products. Associations of REALTORS® and MLSs may make nominal administrative expenditures out of reserves, dues, or fees to initiate or maintain optional services and products. M
*MLSs in the following states/territories may not treat Optional information services or products as Basic: States within the First, Second and Eighth United States Circuits, that include Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont. M