New MLS field: Showing Start Date

A new “Showing Start Date” field is being added to our MLS to enable members to enter an exact date when showings will begin.  Target date for implementation is December 1.    

This new feature has come after years of member complaints and over a full year of MLS task force study.  The coming soon marketing that is used by real estate brokers and agents across the country and in our own market prompted serious research and investigation.  Our MLS has developed a solution to assist our members in promoting those listings “not quite ready for showing” while still entering them in MLS.  It should be noted that this is not just a solution to address “coming soon” listings, but a policy clarification and addition to allow for as many premarketing options as possible. This new field will bring sellers all the advantages of listing their property in the MLS.
Already Existing MLS Rules and Regulations

  1. MLS Rules and Regulations already require that any listing entered in MLS must be either an Exclusive Right to Sell listing or an Exclusive Agency listing. The listing agreement must also be in writing.
  2. MLS Rules also already require that the listing be either entered in MLS or an Office Exclusive Waiver Form must be filed with the MLS within 48 hours.

How the Showing Start Date Works

  1. The new Showing Start Date field will be a required entry (on the Add/Edit screen) for every new listing added beginning December 1.  Any already existing listing that is modified on or after December 1 will also require entry of the Showing Start Date.
  2. The date entered in the new Showing Start Date field must either be the current date or a future date.
  3. The Showing Start Date, after initially set, may later be revised, but revised only to a date further in the future.  For example, if the Showing Start Date was originally entered as December 15, it may later be revised to a date further in the future such as December 30.  It may NOT be revised to a date prior to December 15.
  4. The Property Description field may be used to explain why the property is not yet available to show.  Examples of appropriate language might include: “No showings until Dec 14 - floors being refinished,” or “No showings until Dec 14 – until tenant vacates.”
  5. Members will be able to search the MLS for these listings by the Showing Start Date just as they can search using List Date or Sold Date.
  6. The Showing Start Date field will not contain data for any listing originally entered prior to December 1. Beginning December 1, the listing agent will be required to enter a date (again, either the current date or a future date) whenever they add or edit such a listing.  Listings that are either cancelled expired or closed (any status that indicates it is off the market permanently) prior to December 1 will not require entry of a Showing Start Date.  

An Example of Proper Use of the Showing Start Date

The following is one example of how the Showing Start Date could properly be used:

A member has a new listing where repairs are being done. New carpet is being installed or floors are being refinished. The seller does not want showings until that work is completed, but they still want to make as many buyers as possible aware that the property will soon be available.  Using the Showing Start Date, the member may set that future date when showings are available and show the listing active in the MLS.  The Showing Start Date field will give that property the widest possible exposure to buyer agents and their clients. It will enable that member to better fulfill their duties and obligations under the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics.  He or she will be better able to share information about their listing, avoid misrepresenting the availability of the listing, and fulfill their duty to their seller by making information about listed property available to all other MLS members and their prospective buyers.  

It is also very important that the member clearly explain to their seller that showings CANNOT occur until the Showing Start Date arrives.  If a property is shown to some buyers and not to others, it may create suspicion. It may even lead to an investigation for potential violation of fair housing and Ohio’s license laws.  

Ohio Division of Real Estate Policy
In response to years of complaints received by the Ohio Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing, Division Superintendent, Anne Petit, recently issued a position statement about coming soon signs.  To read Superintendent Petit’s full statement about the risks of not sharing listing information, see the following link.

NAR Policy
Katherine Johnson, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Association of Realtors®, also has published guidance in response to what NAR considers to be inappropriate use of Coming Soon marketing and pocket listings.  Katherine Johnson’s article discusses the REALTORS® obligations under  NAR’s Code of Ethics, MLS rules and fair housing.  See the following link.

Note:  The MLS standardized data work sheet is currently being revised to include the Showing Start Date.  If you have questions about Showing Start Date, please contact Bryan Dean, MLS Director.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Must I use the new Showing Start Date?
A: Yes.  The listing agent will be required to enter either today’s date for immediate showing availability or a future date for delayed showings.

Q: Is there legal liability for me, for my broker, or for the MLS if I use the Showing Start Date and property description field as described?
A: No.  NAR General Counsel, Katherine Johnson, was asked this specific question.  Her response was that the proposed MLS rule does not create additional legal liability for any of the above.  She went on to say that with such use the property information is now viewable by other MLS participants and subscribers on non-discriminatory terms since all participants are able to view the listing and all participants will be able to show it at the same time.  To read Katherine Johnson’s full memo see the following link.
Q: Our brokerage received a curb offer on a listing not yet available for showing.  What should we do?
A: Both the NAR Code of Ethics and Ohio license law require timely presentation of all offers.  

Q: My seller wants to accept the curb offer.  What should we do?
A: If the seller accepts the curb offer, pursuant to current MLS rules you must change the status of the listing to Contingent or Under Contract.

Q: My seller has accepted a curb offer subject to a satisfactory showing (or inspection.)  What should we do if the Showing Start Date has not yet arrived?
A: Listings should not be shown prior to the date entered in the Showing Start Date field.  If the listing is shown prior to that date, both the REALTOR® and seller should obtain legal advice in regard to potential fair housing violations. The REALTOR® should also obtain legal advice in regard to potential ethics or license law violations. 

Q: How far into the future can the Showing Start Date be set? 
A: A: The “Showing Start Date” is limited to a date no more than 30 days in the future. If originally set to less than thirty (30) days in the future, it can be extended. The extension cannot be further out than thirty (30) days from the  from the original list date.

An important note:  Article 3 of the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics specifically states that REALTORS® shall not misrepresent the availability of access to show or inspect a listed property.    

Q: May I, as a broker, decide to exclude listings that are not yet available for showing from the IDX display on my website?
A: Yes.  NAR’s IDX policy provides that a broker may choose to exclude certain listings from their IDX display, as long as the decision is based on objective criteria.  For example: a broker may select the listings they choose to display on factors such as geography, list price and property type (residential, multi-family, etc.)   The listing filters used on IDX displays must be independently chosen by each participant broker.  NAR has specifically confirmed that availability for showing does meet the test as objective criteria.