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MLS Listings Must Be Pending If Under Contract Right
MLS listings must be ‘pending’ if under contract – right?
By Anne Cockayne
July 3, 2017 – Question: Yesterday, I spent a considerable amount of time searching the MLS to find a listing that ticked all the boxes on my very picky buyer's "must have" list, and I finally got lucky. I was so excited I called my buyer right away to arrange possible showing appointment times. When I contacted the listing agent to schedule the appointment, however, I was told the property has been under contract for a week.
It's still showing active in the MLS! This is not the first, second or third time this has happened to me. This really ticks me off. Inventory is tight enough, and now my buyer is disappointed because I got his hopes up. Doesn't the MLS have rules to prevent this type of thing?
Answer: The short answer to your question is "yes."
Listing agents must report listing status changes within a specific timeframe to comply with MLS rules, and failure to change the status could result in an administrative fine. Timeframes to submit status changes – as well as varying categories used to identify pending sales – may vary from MLS to MLS. It's a good rule of thumb to contact your local MLS to find out what your MLS rules say regarding status changes rather than rely on hearsay.
Why would a listing agent wait to change a status from active to pending? Sellers always like to keep their options open, especially when signing a contract riddled with unresolved contingencies that give sellers a reason to fear changing the listing status from active to pending. To avoid the worst possible scenario, sellers may instruct listing agents to keep the property active until the unresolved contingencies are resolved.
This puts the listing agent in a quandary, though: Do they follow the seller's instructions or risk paying a fine? But the answer is clear: Seller directives cannot override an MLS rule to change the listing status – and don't be surprised if another MLS participant reports you to the MLS if you leave the status active.
In addition to MLS rules, Standard of Practice 3-6 under the Code of Ethics says, "Realtors shall disclose the existence of accepted offers, including offers with unresolved contingencies to any broker seeking cooperation."
Before taking the listing, it may be best to explain how the pending status works to the seller before he signs the listing agreement.
Have an ethics or rules question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Cockayne is Director of Policy Services for Florida Realtors
© 2017 Florida Realtors