The Canadian Real Estate Association is making moves to ensure more equity and transparency on its Multiple Listing Service.

Last week, delegates at CREA's Annual General Meeting voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new "Duty of Cooperation,” to be added to its REALTOR® Code, to be accompanied by a REALTOR® Cooperation Policy.

Under the newly-minted protections, REALTORS® will be required to put residential listings on the MLS® within three days of publicly marketing a property. CREA defines public marketing as “any type of marketing of a listing to the public or to anyone not directly affiliated with the brokers and licensees of that brokerage.”

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The new policy responds to increasing frustration over the misuse of marketing tactics, which were keeping listings off the MLS® and limiting the exposure of available properties to REALTORS® and their buyer and seller clients.

“We engaged in many discussions and consultations with membership to help us land on this REALTOR® Cooperation Policy as a solution to growing concerns amongst consumers in the market,” said Jill Oudil, Immediate Past Chair of CREA, in an announcement made Monday. “Cooperation is central to what we do as REALTORS® and protecting and enhancing the comprehensiveness of MLS® Systems is in the best interest of the market. The REALTOR® Cooperation Policy ensures REALTORS® have access to the most comprehensive property data for their clients, and at the same time, it maximizes selling opportunities for home sellers. This exciting addition to our REALTOR® Code not only benefits REALTORS®, it’s in the best interest of Canadian home buyers and sellers.”

In addition, the revised policy invites enhanced disclosure and consent requirements into realtor-client relations. Once the policy goes into effect, REALTORS® will be required to disclose the benefits of listing on the MLS® to their seller clients, which is expected to result in better exposure for listings, more offers, and more competitive selling prices.

Yesterday’s announcement also acknowledges that not every seller wants their property to be advertised on the MLS®. As such, the new policy does not bar exclusive listings. However, sellers that decline to list on MLS® will be required to provide confirmation they understand the disadvantages of doing so and confirm their decision in writing.

The new policy -- which will focus for now on the purchase and sale of residential properties -- will come into force on January 3, 2024. This is expected to provide sufficient time for real estate boards and associations time to review their current rules and ensure compliance with the new policy.

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