Business & Real Estate

On the Market: New rules target home-sale listings

There has always been a fairly robust “off-market” component of local real estate. While some would argue that selling a house without exposing it to a fuller audience of buyers allows for a degree of seller privacy or limits the number of “looky-loos,” it also shrinks the pool of potential buyers, theoretically decreasing demand and potentially the final sales price as well.

While there are a few exceptions, I have always argued that the best way for a seller to get the highest possible price for their house is to expose it to as many buyers as possible. You never know where the next person to fall in love with your house will come from.

The local Multiple Listing Service ( has implemented a policy dubbed Clear Cooperation that is being adopted across the country. Following are some details about the new policy.

Q: What is Clear Cooperation?
A: Clear Cooperation states that once a property is marketed in any way outside of a brokerage, it must be put onto the MLS for all to see.

Q: Why was Clear Cooperation implemented?
A: One of the reasons was to address concerns about the unintended consequences of “off-market” listings. If brokers and agents were allowed to share listings only with certain groups of buyers, were there other groups of buyers that were being excluded?

Q: What if I am getting my house ready for sale and I don’t want it to go on to the MLS just yet?
A: No worries. Your agent will explain the advantages and disadvantages of going on to the MLS, and then you can choose to exclude it from the MLS until such time as you are ready for it to be shown to the general public.

Q: I’ve read that some brokerages offer access to their list of “broker exclusives.” What are those?
A: The Clear Cooperation policy allows brokers to share “excluded listings” with agents within their own brokerage. While this might seem like an advantage to some potential buyers, it may do a disservice to the sellers by limiting exposure to a much smaller pool of buyers.

Q: What does the new policy require?
A: Once your house is marketed outside your brokerage, it must be put onto the MLS within one day.

Q: Does this mean I have to start allowing people in to see my house?
A: No. You can still partially or completely eliminate showings of your house. What it means is that if you start marketing to one potential buyer, you have to market (through the MLS) to all buyers.

Owen Halliday is a Los Altos resident and realtor who manages the Sereno Group office. For more information, call 492-0062.

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