According to a recent NAR study, 38% of all MLSs offer non-REALTOR subscriptions and 61% of larger MLSs have taken this step. The multiple listing service (MLS) plays a crucial role in facilitating property transactions. However, a common concern arises when MLS includes non-REALTOR subscribers: how are the principles of the REALTOR®  Code of Ethics upheld in such instances? Since non-REALTORS are not obligated to adhere to the code of ethics like REALTORS are, how do MLS entities ensure ethical standards are maintained across the board?

This question sheds light on a significant issue within the real estate community, particularly in MLS systems that have opened their doors to non-REALTOR participants. The conversation often revolves around whether these individuals, not bound by the code of ethics, will still engage in ethical real estate practices. To address this, MLS entities have implemented various strategies to maintain ethical standards within their systems.

The most common approach adopted by MLS organizations is the establishment of a “Code of Conduct” for all participants, regardless of REALTOR status. A Code of Conduct encompasses similar requirements and standards for conducting business ethically. By incorporating this code of conduct into their rules and regulations, MLS entities ensure that all participants are held to a consistent ethical standard. According to the panelists of WAV Group’s Non-REALTOR MLS Subscription session, the Code of Conduct has worked well to level-set ethical expectations. In some markets highlighted, with over 20 years experience implementing the Code of Conduct, there has not been any differences in the behaviors of non-REALTORS vs. REALTORS. 

MLSs require all users to acknowledge and agree to abide by these ethical guidelines as part of their user agreements. This step reinforces the importance of ethical behavior within the MLS community and the MLS’s commitment to creating a level playing field for all participants, regardless of their REALTOR status. 

In our recent webinar on non-REALTOR subscriptions, it was pointed out that in some business models the MLS does not even track the REALTOR status of MLS participants. Nonetheless, the focus remains on ensuring that all participants adhere to the established ethical standards, whether they are REALTORS or not.

It’s important to note that while MLS rules may align with certain principles of the Code of Ethics, they primarily emphasize the practical aspects of ethical behavior in real estate transactions. By prioritizing these fundamental concepts, MLS systems effectively navigate the complexities of enforcing ethical standards.

MLS entities with non-REALTOR members tackle the challenge of upholding ethical standards through the implementation of comprehensive codes of conduct and rules that apply to all participants. By prioritizing ethical behavior and accountability, these MLS systems foster a professional environment conducive to successful real estate transactions, regardless of REALTOR status.

Watch the entire discussion about non-REALTOR MLS subscriptions here

If you would like to discuss the practical path to offering non-REALTOR subscriptions, WAV Group is happy to help. Please feel free to contact me