This article covers the current practices and recommendations for handling true listing agreement cancellations and re-list cases, and what types of behaviors are within the MLS Rules & Regulations and which behaviors are not. This article ties together concepts from the "Super Regional" (the NORCAL MLS ALLIANCE reciprocal data share), Clear Cooperation, the NAR Code of Ethics, and our local rules. As a member of SFAR you have agreed to follow all of these rules.
To Cancel or Not
When most Agents say "cancel the listing" they are implying that they are going to cancel the listing in the MLS system, but not cancel the actual listing agreement. This is a serious violation (fine level D: $1000) as it trips over the rules regarding the maintenance of true and accurate representations of the real world contracts in the MLS database.
When you cancel a listing agreement contract, you are starting the 'timer'
on the required 30-day delay period before bringing the listing back on the
market as active with a 0-DOM and a *new* indicator.
It is 100% acceptable to immediately sign a new listing agreement with an On-Market Date that is 30 days out, and in the interim keep the listing out of your public marketing cycle. To do this, you simply get the new listing agreement signed, complete an Exemption Certification, and wait 30 days to re-enter it. You will not need any assistance from the MLS team to use this standard business practice.
Cancel, Re-Sign, and Coming Soon
A workflow that is technically permissible but ethically questionable, is a cycle of Cancel/Re-Sign/Re-Submit. Our MLS system is not designed to let regular members execute this workflow because it should not be viewed as a regular business practice. This workflow generally indicates that the Cancel status is false, because it is a misrepresentation of the intent to continue marketing the listing immediately following the cancellation.
If you are canceling the listing in the MLS, but are electing to use a questionable practice of continuing to market across brokerage/franchise lines it as if it was active on select channels, you are in violation not only of the data accuracy rules, but also the Clear Cooperation rules. Continuing to market the property outside your immediate office indicates that the listing is in principle, Active. It should be maintained in an Active (or Coming Soon, if it was already) status and should not go through this cycle of Cancel/Re-Sign/Re-Submit.
However - we do understand that specific special cases do exist. So, if you are in a position where you are forced to cancel an existing listing agreement (perhaps because of a problem in the agreement that cannot be fixed by simply doing an amendment of some type, or a serious conflict between parties) but you want to market it as Coming Soon within 3 days of the resigning with your client, you can make a request to the MLS department to re-start the listing for you with the basic minimum fields and then we can transfer the listing to you as Coming Soon. Going forward our compliance rules will mandate that we ask for and are given supporting documentation (signed documents) for verification of your exception case when the request is made - please be aware that non-extraordinary requests will not be accepted.
These will be the steps in the unlikely circumstance that you have a case where this is warranted:
- Start by canceling the actual Listing Contract (pen/paper/scan, DocuSign, etc...) and update your listing in the MLS system with Status = Canceled.
- Apply to the MLS Team for an exception to bring the listing back as Coming Soon - you will be asked to provide two things:
- A signed copy of the listing agreement cancelation document (seller's signature required).
- A clear explanation for why you couldn't just HOLD the listing to stop the DOM, or why you don't want to abstain from marketing and keep the listing off of any websites until 30 days have passed.
- If you change your mind or are not approved, you will simply specify a future on market date and execute an Exemption Certification with the MLS and refrain from marketing the listing. If you want, you can have your listing reactivated and set to HOLD status, if you don't intend to completely stop marketing outside of the MLS.
- If the request is accepted, you will provide MLS staff with enough detail to start the incomplete listing for you, and then we will transfer it back to you so that you can submit it as Coming Soon. If the request is not accepted, we will help you reactivate the existing listing and set it's parameters as you need.
The following reasons are not solid cases and will be immediately rejected:
- My seller wants it to come back as new in 30 days. // your action should be to cancel the listing, use an exemption, and refrain from any type of marketing outside of your immediate office to avoid a CC violation
- I want DOM to stop everywhere. // if you really intend not to market it at all, this is the same as the above case
- We're just canceling it in the MLS. // this is a $1000 violation for falsely representing the listing in the database
- I didn't know these were the rules. // this article has been emailed to members, and has been included in Members Edge, and the Office Liaison Report to your office manager
- Other MLSs allow this. // SFARMLS is a chartered MLS that follows State and National Association rules
- I didn't know that's how it worked. // we'll help you reactivate the canceled listing and set it to HOLD, or walk you through the Exemption Certification and you can wait 30 days to re-enter it and restart marketing
The following circumstances are two possible examples of what might qualify as a valid request:
- An error or problem with the current listing agreement necessitates an immediate cancelation, and you would like to start marketing the listing again before the 30-day period completes. Explain to us what's going on, and we will handle this case by case.
- A serious (provable) privacy problem has led to a conflict and the only way to rectify the situation is by completely cancelling the listing. We would need to see evidence of the problem in order for this to qualify. Usually in this case, the listing can simply be set to Status = HOLD and Internet = NO and the same net result can be achieved.
Continuing to Market a Canceled Listing
As a REALTOR community, we must strongly discourage the practice of canceling a listing and then continuing to market it on 3rd party websites, or private channels that cross brokerage/franchise lines. This practice is a violation of Clear Cooperation (fine level E: $5000) and now that we have a common pool of the Coming Soon data through the Super-Regional, and we are resourced for doing checks, we will be issuing violations where it's a clear cut case and we cannot find the listing in any MLS system.
If you have specific questions or concerns about this policy, please email the mls support team at email@example.com so that we can assist. Please see this companion article on Pausing Listings over a Holiday, which also covers this topic.