Rule Updates

Rule Updates

Posted on 29. Jul, 2022 by in News, Rules and Regulations/Policies

Keep up-to-date on the most recent rule changes.

Advertising of Listings
As of June 2022, the following rule changes (indicated in bold) will be in effect regarding advertising of listings:

Section 2.8
Advertising of Listing Filed with the Service
Advertising of any listing by a Participant/Subscriber prior to closing, other than the listing office, is permissible only with the written consent of the listing office Participant. Advertising includes display of any listing in print or electronic form, including on any social media or other web sites, with the exception of consent to display listings on IDX sites where permission of the Participant is obtained electronically by the Service.

 


No Further Showings
As of April 2022, the following rule will be effective:

Section 2
Discontinuation of Showings During Review of Multiple Offers/Attorney Review:
If the owner(s) of a listing in the Service requests no further showings during review of multiple offers/Attorney Review, the Agent Remarks/Showing Instructions and Showings Instruction Field of the listing must be updated accordingly in the Service within 24 hours. The NJMLS “No Further Showings During Review of Multiple Offers/Attorney Review Period Form” must also be signed by all owners and the listing broker and uploaded to the MLS system of the service within 24 hours of the discontinuation of showings. Failure to comply with this rule will result in a $500 fine.

 

Office Exclusives
As of March 2022, the following was added to the rule on Office Exclusives:

Section 1.4
Exempted Listings – paragraphs (a) and (b)
A listing may not be taken as an Office Exclusive with the Service if it is disseminated by another Multiple Listing Service.

 

Contact Information
As of March 1, 2022, the following rule changes (italicized in the rules below) will be effective regarding Contact Information:

Section 2.10
Contact Information
Participant’s or Subscriber’s contact information shall only be placed in the “Showing Instructions/Agent Remarks” or “Internet Remarks” sections of the listing. Contact information entered in the Internet Remarks section must be limited to the listing office name, listing agent name, listing agent’s email address, listing office phone, and listing agent’s phone number. Any Subscriber having contact information anywhere else in the listing shall be issued a $150.00 fine. Contact information is not allowed within any graphic image, including virtual tours, displayed within any listing in the MLS.
 
MLS at its sole discretion may delete photographs which include marketing or promotional messages made on behalf of the Participant/Subscriber or seller or which are deemed to be inappropriate.
 
Section 16
Fines
Contact information in Customer Remarks, Images, or Virtual Tour First: $150.00 Subsequent: $150.00
 
Section 13.1
Use of Listing Information on Internet for IDX (Internet Data Exchange)
(d) All listings displayed pursuant to IDX shall identify the listing firm (and the selling firm if solds are displayed), listing agent, and the email or phone number provided by the listing participant in a reasonably prominent location and in a readily visible color and typeface not smaller than the median used in the display of listing data. Displays of minimal information (e.g., “thumbnails”, text messages, “tweets”, etc. of two hundred (200) characters or less) are exempt from this requirement but only when linked directly to a display that includes all required disclosures. For audio delivery of listing content, all required disclosures must be subsequently delivered electronically to the registered consumer performing the property search or linked to through the device’s application. Subscriber’s names may appear with written consent of Participant. The word “Advertisement” shall prominently and clearly accompany any business name of any person/entity other than a Participant or a Subscriber (and who is not a licensee affiliated with a Participant) at any time that a Participant’s or Subscriber’s site displays a listing by smart framing or other electronic means. If sold listings are included on a Participant’s or Subscriber’s website, only the first photo may be displayed.

 

The following rule changes were made in November 2021.

Section 1.21
Property Addresses
At the time of filing a listing, participants and Subscribers must include a property address available to other participants and Subscribers.
 
Section 4.4
Services Advertised as “Free”
MLS participants and Subscribers must not represent that their brokerage services to a client or customer are free or available at no cost to their clients, unless the participant or subscriber will receive no financial compensation from any source for those services.
 
Section 5.4
Display of Listing Broker’s Offer of Compensation
Participants and Subscribers who share the listing broker’s offer of compensation for an active listing must display the following disclaimer or something similar:
“The listing broker’s offer of compensation is made only to participants
of the MLS where the listing is filed.”
 
Section 5.5
Prohibition on Filtering out Listings
MLS Participants and Subscribers must not, and MLSs must not enable the ability to, filter out or restrict MLS listings that are searchable by and displayed to consumers based on the level of compensation offered to the cooperating broker or the name of a brokerage or agent.
 
Section 13.1
Use of Listing Information on Internet for IDX (Internet Data Exchange)
(c) No Participant or Subscriber shall display confidential information intended for cooperating brokers rather than consumers including showing instructions, property security information, etc. A determination by the MLS as to whether any information shall be treated as confidential information shall be at the MLS’s sole discretion. Each Participant and Subscriber acknowledges that confidential information is intended for cooperating Participants rather than consumers.
 
(m) Participants may select the listings they choose to display through IDX based only on objective criteria including, but not limited to, factors such as geography or location (“uptown,” “downtown,” etc.), list price, type of property (e.g., condominiums, cooperatives, single-family detached, multi-family), type of listing (e.g., exclusive right-to-sell or exclusive agency). Selection of listings displayed through IDX must be independently made by each Participant.
 
Section 13.7
Use of Active Listing Information on Internet for VOW (Virtual Office Website)
(k) Listings from the MLS may only be excluded from display on Participants’ VOWs based on objective criteria, e.g. type of property, listed price, geographical location.

 

Changes to Policy on Violations
After a recent review, the Board of Directors has made changes to Section 9.1 Violations of Rules and Regulations. This section has been updated in the NJMLS Rules and Regulations and is listed below:

Section 9.1
Violations of Rules and Regulations
In any instance where a Participant in an association multiple listing service is charged with a violation of the MLS bylaws or rules and regulations of the service, and such charge does not include alleged violations of the Code of Ethics or the Standards of Conduct for MLS Participants, or a request for arbitration, the Service may impose administrative sanctions. Recipients of more than 8 category 1 administrative sanctions/rule violations, more than 3 category 2 administrative sanctions/rule violations, or more than 3 category 3 administrative sanctions/rule violations will be required to attend a hearing of the Rules Committee of the MLS. The Rules Committee shall consist of three members of the NJMLS Board of Directors, Technology Committee, or a combination of both. The Service will send a copy of all administrative sanctions/violations against a Subscriber to the Subscriber’s Participant and the Participant will be required to attend the hearing of a Subscriber. Failure to attend a hearing within 60 days of receiving written notice of a required hearing will result in a $500 fine and may result in Participant’s and Subscriber’s suspension of membership in the Service.
 
Category 1 violation means a rule violation related to listing information provided by Participant or Subscriber.
 
Category 2 violation means a rule violation relating to IDX and VOW displays.
 
Category 3 violation means a rule violation relating to cooperation with a fellow Participant or Subscriber, and mandatory submission of listing to the service.
 
Failure to attend required training within 60 days as per the outcome of a hearing will result in a $500 fine and may result in Participant’s and Subscriber’s suspension of membership in the Service.

 

Virtually Staged and Enhanced Images
The following new rule has been approved by the Board of Directors regarding modified photos. A system change has also been released to watermark modified photos as either Virtually Staged or Virtually Enhanced.

Section 1.20
Virtually Staged and Enhanced Images
Photos, virtual tours, and video (hereinafter referred to as images) may be modified using software to create a conceptual rendering of what the property could look like if certain items or elements were added or enhanced, so long as the images portray an accurate representation of the property and are not deceptive to potential buyers. Altering images that change the accuracy of the property’s depiction or representation is prohibited.
 
Modified images may include the following:
a)    Virtually Staged Images, such as images of furniture in an empty room or removal of non-fixed home elements or furnishings from a photo and replacing them with digital images of furnishings, mirrors, artwork, plants, etc.
b)    Virtually Enhanced Images, such as making a sky blue or creating a twilight photo.
 
Disclosure required: Disclosure of Virtually Staged or Virtually Enhanced Images is required by checking the “Virtually Staged” or “Virtually Enhanced” field, which will watermark the photo accordingly.
 
Note:  Virtually Altered Images are prohibited. This includes, but it not limited to: removing, altering, or adding permanent fixtures of the interior or exterior, modifying photos to exclude negative visual elements, or adding views from the property that do not exist.
 
The service may remove photographs, virtual tours, videos, or any other media that do not adhere to these Rules and Regulations.

 

Registration of Teams
The NJMLS Board of Directors approved a new rule regarding registration of office teams. The new rule requires Brokers to register all teams in their office, and defines guidelines for identifying teams:

Section 1.18
Registration of Teams
Participants must register all teams in their office with the Service. Teams may consist of two or more Participants/Subscribers associated with the same company who pool resources to list and sell/lease properties. Registration must include the team name, name of the team leader, and names of all licensed members of the team who are Subscribers to the Service. Team names cannot contain terms that imply that the team is offering brokerage services independent of the broker or violate state licensing laws. Some prohibited terms are brokerage, company, and associates. Before using a team name in an advertisement, the Participant must register the team name with NJMLS. All transactions by team members accrue to the Team for Market Share rankings and are not credited to the Subscriber’s Agent Market Share ranking.
Note: Subscribers who work as a partnership to co-list or co-sell/lease property are not required to register as a team provided all Subscriber names appear on the listing or sale/lease in the Service where credit in Market Share Statistics will be split equally among all parties to the transaction.

 

New Policy on Violations
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently introduced a new policy outlining procedures which may be taken for violations of our Rules and Regulations by Participants (Designated Realtors) and Subscribers (agents), which are as follows:

Section 9.1
Violations of Rules and Regulations
In any instance where a Participant in an association multiple listing service is charged with a violation of the MLS bylaws or rules and regulations of the service, and such charge does not include alleged violations of the Code of Ethics or the Standards of Conduct for MLS Participants, or a request for arbitration, the Service may impose administrative sanctions. Recipients of more than five category 1 administrative sanctions/rule violations, more than three category 2 administrative sanctions/rule violations, or more than three category 3 administrative sanctions/rule violations will be required to attend a hearing of the Rules Committee of the MLS. The Rules Committee shall consist of at least two members of the NJMLS Board of Directors and one member of the NJMLS Technology Committee. The Service will send a copy of all administrative sanctions/violations against a Subscriber to the Subscriber’s Participant and the Participant will be required to attend the hearing of a Subscriber. Failure to attend a hearing within 30 days of receiving written notice of a required hearing may result in Participant’s and Subscriber’s suspension of membership in the Service.
 
Category 1 violation means a rule violation related to listing information provided by Participant or Subscriber.
 
Category 2 violation means a rule violation relating to IDX and VOW displays.
 
Category 3 violation means a rule violation relating to cooperation with a fellow Participant or Subscriber, and mandatory submission of listing to the service.

Hearings will be conducted by members of our Board of Directors and Technology Committee, and will be done virtually at this time. Possible outcomes include completion of appropriate training; appropriate, reasonable fines; suspension or possible termination of MLS rights, services, and privileges. Please refer to the NJMLS Rules and Regulations for complete description of possible outcomes from a hearing; they can be found in XL Paragon > Toolkit > Forms, Docs & Gen Info.
 

Market Share Data in Advertising
The NJMLS Board of Directors recently approved an amendment to Section 13 of the NJMLS Rules and Regulations regarding the use of Market Share Statistics in advertising. In addition to disclosing whether ranking is based on individual, team, office, or company statistics, and disclosing the criteria upon which the ranking is based, the rule has been further amended to prohibit identifying competitors by name or other identifiable characteristic; comparisons can only be made generically. This additional amendment to the rule is highlighted below:

Section 13
Limitations on Use of MLS Information

In addition, advertisements which contain Market Share Statistics must indicate whether the ranking is based on individual, team, office, or company statistics, and must include all the search criteria used to determine the published ranking. Further, when competitive statistics are used in advertising, whether agent, team, office, or company statistics, the competitor cannot be identified or inferred in the advertising, either by name or by any other identifiable characteristic such as company color scheme, logo, tag line, etc. Comparisons can only be made generically, with permitted language such as Office 1, Office 2 or Agent 1, Agent 2, etc. Failure to comply will result in a $500 dollar fine for the first offense, $1000 fine for subsequent offenses.

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