The MLS Rules exist to protect your rights as a real estate professional and to protect the accuracy of MLS data. Receiving a citation for an MLS Rules violation is something you want to avoid. A citation can cost you money and potentially hurt your standing with your association/board. Most rules violations are unintentional and can be easily avoided. Follow these tips to steer clear of the most common violations!
1. Exterior Photo Requirement – MLS Rule 11.5.1
Description of Violation: This violation occurs when listings are entered in the MLS and a compliant exterior photograph is not uploaded within two (2) calendar days.
Per Rule 11.5.1, within two (2) calendar days of entry, listings input into the MLS are required to have at least one (1) photograph accurately depicting a substantial portion of the exterior of the property. Additionally, a compliant exterior photograph must remain on the listing at all times for all statuses.
How to avoid the violation: Once a listing is entered in the MLS, you must add at least one (1) compliant photo or rendering of the exterior structure of the listed property within two (2) calendar days, regardless of the listing status. If a property is sold within five calendar days of entering the listing into the MLS, it is important that you add at least one compliant exterior structural photo prior to closing the listing.
This photo requirement does not apply to (1) Business opportunity listings, or, (2) listings that are Canceled within five calendar days of entry.
2. Branded Photos/Media – MLS Rule 11.5(e)
Description of Violation: Branding of any Media submitted to the MLS is prohibited. Photos, virtual tours and any media submitted to the MLS must not contain any branding or promotional information related to the listing broker or agent.
How to avoid the violation: Photos and media uploaded onto the MLS must not contain any of the items below.
- Agent, Broker, or Brokerage names or photos or logos
- Phone Numbers
- Website addresses
- Email Addresses
- • For sale or for lease signs, billboards, open house signs, promotion signs, or any other advertising material with identifiable information
- Messages or solicitations
- People that are not incidental and/or are identifiable
- Example: A scene that features people who can be identified or a photograph of only a person.
- Photographs of children will be pulled immediately by CRMLS Staff.
- Animals with no relation to the property being listed
- Example: A photograph of only a horse, dog, chicken, etc.)
- Items not directly related to the listing
Note that CRMLS reserves the right to remove any media found in violation or inappropriate.
Consequently, if a photograph is removed for violation of Rule 11.5(e) and that photograph is the only photograph that fulfills the requirements of Rule 11.5.1, an additional citation may be issued on that basis if the issue is not timely corrected. Refer to section 1 for more details regarding the exterior photograph requirement.
3. Copyright Issues – MLS Rule 11.5(b) and 11.5(d)
Description of Violation: This violation occurs when media that is not owned by the listing agent or broker is uploaded to the MLS without prior written authorization from the content’s creator. Rule 11.5, subsections b and d read as follows:
By submitting any media to the MLS, the Participant and Subscriber represent and warrant that they own the right to reproduce and display the media or they have procured such rights and all necessary licenses from appropriate parties.
Use of media by any subsequent Participant and Subscriber requires prior written authorization from the submitting Participant and Subscriber or other appropriate
party with the legal right to grant such authorization.
How to avoid the violation: The listing agent and broker must obtain written documentation which authorizes the use of the images. This documentation may include but is not limited to the C.A.R. PIA (Property Images Agreement) form, or an otherwise acceptable assignment of rights or license agreement. Whichever document is used, it must provide an irrevocable, unrestricted, transferable, perpetual, royalty-free, and non-exclusive (with right to sublicense) right to the MLS to use, store, reproduce, compile, display and distribute the media as part of its compilation. CRMLS has observed that nearly all photographer-created license forms fail to provide the necessary license language even where they include reference to the MLS and should be used with caution.
Remember – Verbal permission to use media subject to copyright protection is insufficient for purposes of the MLS, and/or for your protection in general.
4. Late Entry of Listing & Exclusions – MLS Rule 7.8
Description of Violation: This violation occurs when a listing is not entered in the MLS nor is a compliant exclusion form filed with the MLS within two (2) business days of the effective list date.
How to avoid the violation: You must either enter a listing into the MLS or submit a compliant exclusion form with the MLS within two (2) business days of the effective date of the listing. The effective date of a listing agreement is either: 1) the beginning list date, or, 2) the last date in which all necessary signatures were obtained, whichever is LATER.
If the seller wants their property listed on the MLS, but the property is not ready for marketing or showings, it is recommended that the listing agent utilize the CRMLS Exclusion form. The seller has the option of utilizing the CRMLS Exclusion form to delay the marketing of the property, so that the time where no marketing occurs will not be included as Days on Market when later entered in the MLS. Please see the detailed instructions at https://kb.crmls.org/knowledgebase/how-to-exclude-a-listing-from-the-mls/.
Listing Exclusion Forms are to be submitted online at https://go.crmls.org/crmls-exclude-listing/.
5. Misuse of Public Remarks – MLS Rule 12.5
Description of Violation: This violation occurs when prohibited information or verbiage is placed in any public remarks field.
How to Avoid the violation: It is important that the remarks in the Property Description and any other public facing field are limited to the physical and aesthetic characteristics of the property.
The Property Description and other public facing fields may not include:
- Gate codes
- Showing Instructions
- Compensation Information
- Lockbox information
- Occupancy status of the property such as “vacant”
- Email addresses
- Website addresses
- Phone numbers
- Agent or brokerage information
- Open house information
- Language that violates applicable fair housing laws and guidelines
CRMLS reserves the right to remove any remarks within any field that are found to be inappropriate.
6. Inaccurate Information – MLS Rule 8.3
Description of Violation: All fields within the MLS are to disclose accurate information to the best of the listing agent’s and listing broker’s knowledge.
Auto Sold Violations
An Auto Sold violation occurs when a listing is automatically changed to Sold status by the MLS system (appears as), which is a result of not manually updating a listing in Pending/Active Under Contract status. An Auto Sold listing is considered an Inaccurate Information violation, because the listing is Closed and displays estimated and unconfirmed sales information.
How to avoid the violation: Make all necessary changes to the listing within two (2) business days of being advised of an inaccuracy and watch for the multiple email and pop-up reminders that the MLS sends you regarding any upcoming status change deadlines.
To help avoid an Auto Sold violation, you must properly and manually manage your listings in the Pending/Active Under Contract status. When a listing is changed to the Pending/Active Under Contract status, you are required to enter an estimated close of escrow date (“Estimated COE date”), as well as estimated sales information. Within two (2) business days of your Estimated COE date, you must either: (1) extend your Estimated COE date if escrow has been delayed, (2) update your listing to the appropriate status if a status change occurred, or (3) confirm the sales information and manually update the listing to Sold.
Courtesy notices are sent via Matrix pop-up and email 14 days prior to, 7 days prior to, 1 day prior to, and on the day of your Estimated COE Date, as reminders to manually update your listing. After the close of escrow date passes, you are provided with 2 additional notices.