TO: Shareholders, Participants and Subscribers
FROM: Kathy Condon, CEO
DATE: May 14, 2004
Recently, MLS Property Information Network, Inc. (“MLS PIN”) has received requests from participants to become involved in the ongoing debate regarding “entry only” listings. In response, MLS PIN asked its Rules and Regulations Task Force to study the issue. As a result, MLS PIN’s Board of Directors amended its Rules and Regulations to adopt certain new requirements. MLS PIN believes that these new requirements strike the appropriate balance between its goal of protecting the integrity of its database (including the ability of participants to effectively use the data) and its goal of maximizing access to the listing service by appropriate users. The updated Rules and Regulations, dated June 4, 2003, were sent to all participants on June 13, 2003 and are posted on MLS PIN’s website, www.mlspin.com, as well. This notice shall serve as a reminder that all participants and subscribers need to familiarize themselves with the updated Rules and Regulations.
As the debate regarding dangers to consumers from “entry only” listings has continued, MLS PIN has found it desirable to provide a further statement of its position.
MLS PIN was formed to provide a multiple listing service to participants and subscribers in order to permit them to serve their clients and customers in the sale, purchase and leasing of real property. However, its Rules and Regulations specify that it acts as “a neutral facility”, as well as that the integrity of its database is essential to its purpose. Since its formation, MLS PIN has consistently strived to maximize access to the service, while protecting the integrity and usability of the data. We believe that MLS PIN’s growth and success is attributable to its consistent effort to balance these often competing concerns.
By requiring that “entry only” listings be identified as such and that the listing broker/agent be required to respond to inquiries by other participants regarding the nature and extent of the agency relationship with the seller, MLS PIN believes that it has taken sufficient steps to protect the integrity of the data, while allowing access by new and creative competitors in the real estate industry.
We are well aware of reports of instances where consumers have been misled by “entry only” agents. While that certainly is a serious matter, we do not believe the solution lies in an across the board denial of access to this service. Instead, we suggest that anyone who becomes aware of possible consumer deception arising from an “entry only” listing file a complaint with the appropriate governmental authorities, as one would in any case of consumer deception. If “entry only” listings consistently lead to consumer deception, the appropriate Massachusetts authorities, if advised of that deception, should take action through regulation or prosecution. MLS PIN does not believe that it should assume that function, and particularly not by denial of access to participation in the multiple listing service.
In the case of consumer deception arising from an “entry-only” listing, one should contact (i) the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons located at 239 Causeway Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114. The phone number is (617) 727-2373, or (ii) the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400. Thank you.