Bright MLS updates its platform to conform with NAR settlement 

Bright MLS, the nation’s second-largest multiple listing service, is set to overhaul its platform this summer to align with new standards stemming from the National Association of Realtorsrecent settlement of the real estate agent commission lawsuits.

Starting Aug. 14, Bright MLS will eliminate its commission field, preventing listing agents from advertising any commissions they offer to buyer brokers. A written and signed buyer agreement will also be required to show properties listed on the MLS.

“We are taking these steps to simplify and strengthen our rules, toward the goal of creating greater transparency for consumers and our subscribers,” Rene Galicia, executive vice president of customer advocacy for Bright MLS, told HousingWire.

These changes build on existing rules. Bright MLS already prohibits agents from sorting properties by compensation level and forbids the listing of compensation details in other MLS fields. Additionally, MLS data cannot be licensed to aggregators who inform the public about shared compensation.

Bright MLS also tells agents and brokers that commissions are negotiable. In August, it will introduce new tools, including enhancements to its proprietary listing management software. Currently, listings can be marked as “coming soon,” indicating they are for sale but not yet ready for viewing. Previously, this status was limited to 21 days, but starting Aug. 14, this restriction will be lifted. 

Bright said that extending the time frame for “coming soon” listings increases an agent’s ability to customize the marketing of a property based on their client’s instructions.

Ahead of these changes, Bright MLS will introduce a new field for seller concessions on June 11. Agents will be able to indicate whether a seller offers concessions and specify the amount in dollars. This field is negotiable and not mandatory. 

Bright MLS will also release a new mandatory form to facilitate communication about listing options, so they are clearly outlined for subscribers to discuss with their clients, which will be required to access any showings. 

In March, NAR agreed to pay $418 million in damages to settle the commission lawsuits. Additionally, the trade group agreed to abolish its “Participation Rule” that requires sell-side agents to make an offer of compensation to buyer brokers.

The settlement prevents NAR from establishing any sort of rules that would allow a seller’s agent to set compensation for a buyer’s agent. By extension, all fields displaying broker compensation on MLSs must be eliminated, and there is a blanket ban on the requirement that agents subscribe to MLSs in order to offer or accept compensation for their work.

The settlement agreement also mandates that MLS participants working with buyers must enter into a written buyer-broker agreement. All business practice changes tied to the settlement are poised to take effect on Aug. 17, according to a letter sent to NAR members in early May.  

The trade group also noted that the settlement agreement is not an admission of guilt and that the practice of cooperative compensation is still allowed as long as it is not pursued on an MLS. The Department of Justice contends that “offers of compensation should not be made anywhere“ but has yet to file a statement of interest in the Sitzer/Burnett suit.

According to NAR, buyer brokers still have a variety of ways to be compensated, including via a fixed-fee commission paid directly by the buyer, concessions from the home seller or a portion of the listing broker’s compensation.

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