With 11 different home Styles in NorthstarMLS, it’s not always easy to pick the correct one, especially with Condos and Townhouses. In this extremely informative 21-minute video, Realtor/appraiser/instructor Zoe Liston reviews all the NorthstarMLS residential Styles and how to distinguish among them.

Check out the video below!

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All Square Footage Fields to be Required

(Open this announcement in PDF format for printing)

Starting August 4, the following square footage fields will become required entries for all listings in the property types Single Family Residential, Multi-Family Residential and Farm.

  • Above Ground Total Square Feet
    (The total of any upper plus main floor square feet. Bonus room above garage included only if accessible from interior of house.)
  • Below Ground Total Square Feet
    (The total of all lower square feet. Do not include tuckunder garage.)
  • Main Floor Total Square Feet
    (Total square feet on the main floor only. For a 1, 1.5, or 2-story, or split, include foundation size plus any overhang. Do not include 3-season porches, or any outside amenities, even if covered—porches, decks, patios, etc. For a split level, include the entry/foyer area.)
  • Garage Square Feet (not required for Condominium styles)
    (Total square feet of the entire garage. Do not include add-on portions, such as loft or upper level. The purpose is to help buyers determine the number and size of vehicles/items that will fit.)

These “Total” square footage fields count both finished and unfinished square footage.

A reminder on already required square footage fields:

  • Above Ground Finished Square Footage: Total finished square footage measured at and above ground level; ground level as it appears from the front view of the building. Includes all floors and levels above this line.
  • Below Ground Finished Square Footage: Total finished square footage measured below ground level. For appraisers, that’s any area below ground, even if it’s only one wall, means the whole level is below ground. Finished area must have flooring, wall covering (trimmed) and ceiling.

Appraiser TIP When you describe above/below, look at where your feet are at any place in a level – if your feet are below the ground outside the wall (at ANY place in that level), the level is regarded as being below grade (i.e., basement).

Why is NorthstarMLS going to start requiring these fields?
The new requirement to complete these fields is based on continued feedback that we need to provide the most accurate information about currently finished areas as well as possible expansion of living areas. It helps to sell the house if buyers know how much additional space could be finished.

What should be included in the unfinished portion of the Total Square Footage?
Any unfinished portion that has the potential to be finished should be included. Do not include crawl spaces, cellars or other similar spaces that could not be made livable. Areas with mechanicals (furnace, a/c, laundry, etc.) may be included.

Where can I find these square footages?
Depending on the County, they may be available in the public tax record (available here through Realist or the County website). Please note that quality and accuracy can vary by County or even within a County. Your best bet is to conduct your own measurements.

How do I measure square footages?

  • NorthstarMLS has a couple popular measuring videos featuring a local appraiser. These are a webinar on The Basics of Measuring, a measuring demo of a 1920s bungalow, and a measuring demo of a 4-level split.
  • Review how-to guides from Standards organizations such as ANSI and AMS.
  • Hire a licensed appraiser to do the measurements. Many experienced appraisers offer this service and can save you the trouble and uncertainty.
  • Monitor your Association’s course offerings in case square footage measurement courses are offered.

What about current listings where I have not completed these fields?
The fields will not become required until August 4, allowing you time to obtain or measure them for your existing listings. Starting August 4, you will not be able to make and save changes to existing listings until the new required fields are also completed.

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Safely navigating showings has become one of the more challenging aspects for real estate professionals. At NorthstarMLS, we hear about these challenges and the need for extra diligence and cooperation among agents to keep everyone safe. While we cannot dictate how agents and sellers manage their showings (except that you have a confirmed appointment to access the property), we offer these hopefully helpful suggestions from your fellow agents:

  • Per the Code of Ethics, follow the guidelines set by the seller and their agent. If requested, wear a mask, use sanitizer, wear shoe covers, touch as little as possible (wear gloves), etc. Consider whether leaving a business card may make the seller feel uncomfortable. You may want to take these and other precautions regardless of whether asked.
  • Do not run over your allotted appointment time. Aside from a possible Code of Ethics complaint (and potentially fineable), if you stay past your scheduled time, you are affecting the next appointment who likely needs to wait outside until you are finished (or the ability of the owner and their family to return).
  • The default setting in ShowingTime is to not allow overlapping showings. Though not recommended, if you override this setting to allow overlap, please inform your showing agents.
  • If you are the List Agent and have guidelines, communicate them clearly to all showing agents. Set the home ahead of time to facilitate, for example interior doors open and lights on (to minimize need to touch), provide sanitizer at key locations, etc.
  • Notify the List Agent (or click “Done Showing” in the ShowingTime app) if you leave significantly earlier than your scheduled finish time.
  • Consider the optimal time for your showing appointments. As List Agent, what should you set as the maximum appointment time given the current high demand? We hear that a lot of appointments allow up to an hour, causing available appointments to fill very quickly and limiting the pool of buyers. Also, some showing agents schedule for only 15 minutes and then run into overlapping with the next appointment because they did not allow enough time.
  • Review this Open Houses Guide with tips from Minnesota Realtors Association
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Virtual Open vs Virtual Tour

We are pleased to see many of you taking advantage of the new live stream virtual open house options on NorthstarMLS.

There has been some confusion between these new virtual open houses and virtual tours, as well as the rules around them. Some of you are incorrectly uploading your Virtual Tours as live stream Virtual Open Houses. We understand—it’s all new and gets confusing! Here is a quick guide to help you navigate the differences.

Live Stream Virtual Open House vs. Virtual Tour

  • Virtual Open House: a live stream event set for a specific day and time. May be set to Public (available to all, including clients, consumers and IDX/third party data feeds) or Broker (available to agents and viewable only within the MLS). Check out this list of live stream vendors.
  • Virtual Tour: a pre-recorded tour of the house.

 It is important to note that different rules apply to each as follows:

Live Stream Virtual Open House
While the public face to face open house has been suspended, agents may use the virtual open house fields to advertise their public live-stream events. 

  • Must be a live event. Usually, consumers may participate and ask real time questions about the property.
  • Someone (typically the agent) will walk through the home, live, at the scheduled time for collective viewing
  • Use the virtual open house fields in NorthstarMLS to specify the date/time of the live event and provide a URL for access to the live stream event.
  • Because the live stream virtual open house is in place of a face-to-face open house, the agent may introduce him/herself and be visible during the live event.
  • On NorthstarMLS, you may promote the virtual open house only in the designated open house fields and in Agent Remarks. Outside NorthstarMLS, you are free to promote the event through your usual marketing channels.

Virtual Tours
With the addition of live stream virtual open houses, no changes were made to what constitutes a virtual tour or the rules around them.

  • Agents may upload up to 2 virtual tour URLs per listings.
  • A virtual tour on the MLS is a link to pre-recorded videos and/or photo slideshows of the property. 
  • The video (and everything displayed around the video) must be unbranded and cannot link to any other websites.
  • Because YouTube and Google Docs do not allow the branding or links to be suppressed, they do not meet MLS display requirements.
  • Options for hosting the video include using a page on your broker or agent website that displays only the video or using a third-party photographer or video service to host the video.  The video hosting site Vimeo allows all links and branding to be suppressed if you have a Vimeo Pro or Vimeo Plus account.

Questions? Contact our Help Desk at help@northstarmls.com, 651-251-5456 (1-877-251-5455). We are available M-F, 8:00-5:00.

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Are you working with a seller who would rather not schedule showings over the holidays? If the property is going to be unavailable for showing for more than 24 hours, the listing must be changed to TNAS (Temporary Not Available for Showing) Status.

Those days won’t count toward the Days On Market and the listing can go back to Active Status when the seller wants to show it again.

Questions? Contact the NorthstarMLS Rules & Regs Department at 651-251-3210 or click here take a look at the NorthstarMLS Listing Status Definitions Guide. 

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With Fall season here, showings are on the rise and so are complaints about rules violations (such as entering a listing without an appointment) and serious etiquette violations (such as failing to lock the door when you and your client leave). We thought it a good time for a reminder for all of us about the importance of following showing rules and etiquette.

While this is not an official or complete list, our infographic illustrates some common showing etiquette behaviors that you can share with your office or team members. 

Etiquette Quick Tips: 

  • Be on time
  • If the showing gets canceled or postponed, let the listing office know immediately so the seller can be contacted
  • View the home together with your potential buyer — avoid letting them roam the home by themselves
  • Never allow buyers to enter a property unaccompanied
  • Leave your business card in the house after the showing as a courtesy to the seller
  • Make sure you’ve confirmed the showing so you or your clients are not waiting or turned away
  • Use your own lockbox or e-key to open the property for a showing
  • Take your shoes off before you start the showing — a good sign of respect to the current homeowner
  • Honor the listing agent’s relationship with the seller and encourage the seller to direct all questions to his or her agent
  • Have a listing sheet ready with all the info of the property for buyers to easily refer back to
  • Respect you client by limiting your use of cell phones or computers to the business a hand
  • Don’t allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash or bring pets into the property
  • Double check that all doors & windows are locked before you leave the property
  • Report any problems with the property to the Listing Agent

The video below offers showing etiquette tips that we’ve received from agents, along with some plain common sense, to help ensure a pleasant house hunting experience. Give it a view if you have two minutes – you might get a chuckle!

Are Your Clients Seeing “Coming Soon” Listings? We introduced Coming Soon Listing Status this past November. This status in Matrix allows you to pre-market your listing through the MLS for a limited time until it is ready for showings. If you send your clients Auto-Emails in NorthstarMLS Matrix, they will not receive Coming Soon listings in their Client Portal unless you select that Status in your search criteria. You might want to update any Auto-Emails you created before November if you want to include Coming Soon’s. Some Stats Since its release, over 600 listings entered in NorthstarMLS Matrix were listed as Coming Soon with an average length of seven days in the status before being moved to Active. Before you set a listing to Coming Soon Status, please ensure you are educated on how it works and its proper use. We have these materials to help you: You can also watch the quick video below to see how it works!
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Are you working with a seller who would rather not schedule showings over the holidays? If the property is going to be unavailable for showing for more than 24 hours, the listing must be changed to TNAS (Temporary Not Available for Showing) Status.

Those days won’t count toward the Days On Market and the listing can go back to Active Status when the seller wants to show it again.

Questions? Contact the NorthstarMLS Rules & Regs Department at 651-251-3210.

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Away for the holidays? Update Your Projected Close Dates!

Getting ready to head out to celebrate or take a vacation this holiday season? Take a few minutes and make sure the projected closed dates (PCD) on all your pending listings are updated. Currently, NorthstarMLS has over 2,230 listings that have a projected closed date between 12/18/18 and 1/2/19.

During this busy time of year it can be easy to forget to update listings.

We kindly ask that you double check your pending listings and remember to close the listing after the sale or update the projected close data if it doesn’t close. Make the holidays worry free and update your PCD!

Questions? Contact the NorthstarMLS Rules & Regs Department at 651-251-3210.


Like any industry, real estate has its own language, with plenty of jargon, specialized terms and abbreviations used daily by professionals in the biz. But lingo used by real estate professionals in the MLS system can sometimes be confusing when you’re selecting the proper status for a listing in the MLS.

Inaccurate listing statuses and untimely listing updates in the NorthstarMLS database continues to be one of the most common complaints to our Rules and Regs Department. It’s frustrating to everyone involved if you have to back track and tell an interested buyer that a property isn’t available because it’s listed wrong on the MLS.

In the first half of 2018, the NorthstarMLS Rules and Regs Department reported over 460 violations for listings in the NorthstarMLS system with an incorrect status. It’s an easy violation to avoid, and having listings in the correct status helps keep the MLS as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

Our definitions infographic can help! It provides clarity with a definition and an example/situation of each Listing Status available in NorthstarMLS Matrix and when it should be applied. Give it a quick view!

Questions? Our rules & regs staff is here to help! If you have questions about NorthstarMLS rules and regs, contact us at help@northstarmls.com or call 651-251-3210.

Rules Roundup On Demand Want to check out older Rules Roundup topics? Click here to view an archive of previous Rules Roundup entries.

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