The NorthstarMLS Board of Directors recently approved the following changes:

  • DOM (Days on Market) and CDOM (Cumulative DOM) will be made available on all Matrix Full Displays/Reports for both the property/agent versions and the customer versions (in Matrix and on the client Portals outside of Matrix sent by agents to their clients). The CDOM number will be shown directly on the display/report without having to open a separate pop-up. A link to the property history will still be on the agent-only versions. These changes are on the property/agent displays now and will be made to the customer versions early next week.
  • DOM, CDOM and Contingencies are now available through the IDX/Broker Reciprocity data feed. All vendors have been given advance notice to prepare. If you would like any of these fields added to your agent/broker Website, contact your vendor. These fields are being made available to agent/broker sites only and are not available for listing syndication to third party sites (such as Zillow, Trulia or

Why the changes? Both DOM and CDOM are relevant material facts about a property that potential buyers need and want to know. Agents should still take a role in providing context, particularly with CDOM. Adding them, along with Contingencies, to the agent/broker website data feeds helps answer some of consumers’ most common questions. In the case of Contingencies, it reduces the consumer’s disappointment and frustration with discovering that an offer is already accepted on a property that otherwise appeared available. It also gives consumers important information available on Realtor/Broker sites only and not on third party sites.

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Keep Status Updates, Updated – In a Timely Fashion

Inaccurate listing statuses and untimely listing updates in the NorthstarMLS database continues to be the most common complaints to our Rules Department. It has an adverse effect on your sellers, buyers and the entire NorthstarMLS community who rely heavily on this information to be reliable and accurate.

As a buyer’s agent, if you have to back track and tell an interested buyer that a property listed as ‘Active’ is actually ‘Sold,’ it is sure to:
• Anger your client who now has to disregard this dream home & wait to find another
• Waste your time and their time
• Frustrate everyone involved
• And could even lead your client to find another agent

Here’s a common scenario of a frustrated agent:

I booked a showing earlier today with clients who are ecstatic and can’t wait to see the home. Although the property showed as Active (with no contingencies). The showing was denied with the comment: Showing denied by seller directly. On Book A Showing, the showing comments state the home is Sold, but on the MLS it still shows as Active. It is a real hassle when showings are denied without appropriate reason. It forces the buyer’s agent to rearrange the other showings for the day. If the property has an offer on it, the listing agent should be required to state so on the MLS.

NorthstarMLS rules require that you update listing status within 2 business days. Anytime the property is unavailable for show for 24 hours or longer, you must have it moved to the TNAS status. As a member of the MLS community, it falls on each member to take responsibility to completely and accurately enter and maintain listings. This small but important act helps to maintain a reliable and resourceful MLS database, which is critical to you, your clients and your business.

We appreciate your help in keeping listing information accurate, timely and cooperative.

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Bedroom Level Information

About 10% of the listings on the MLS do not include Bedroom Level information. While these fields are not currently required under MLS rules, adding this extra detail can help other agents when selecting properties to show. Buyers sometimes have specific requests about bedrooms. For example, if they want the children’s rooms on the same floor as the master bedroom. The more information buyers and their agents have, the better the showings are going to be for your listings.

Including Bedroom Levels can also help with appraisal values. Appraisers cannot use a property as a comp if they don’t know where the bedrooms are located throughout the property. This means that an otherwise good comp, and perhaps the most favorable one, has to be excluded for lack of information.


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Agent-Only Supplements

Agent-Only Supplements allow you to mark any supplement you upload to a listing as intended for other NorthstarMLS subscribers only. Supplements you mark as “Agent-Only” will not be included in the “Customer” version of displays and emails. You may include appropriate contact information, company logos and third party names or contact information.

To mark an uploaded supplement as Agents Only, click the “Edit” link.

In the pop-up box, select Agents Only in the “Viewable by” drop-down. Click the “Update” button. Finally, click the “Save and Close” button.

If you want the supplement to be available to prospective buyers through Customer display emails, Select “All” in the Viewable by drop-down menu. Selecting “All” means the public remarks rules apply and no contact or marketing information should be included.

If you currently have any public supplements on your listings that contain branding or contact information, please edit these to mark them as Agent Only.

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NorthstarMLS rules are designed to ensure that every listing is current, complete, and accurate. Complying with the rules ensures a better system for all participants and their customers. Three commonly missed rules are:

1. Accurate Data: All information must be accurate and complete. Incorrect information may include designating a nonconforming bedroom as a regular bedroom, or an incorrect PID number or square footage.

2. Enter a listing or submit a Certification to Withhold within 2 business days:
You rely on timely access to listings to serve your buyers, and your sellers rely on you to make their property available as quickly as possible. Listings must be entered on the MLS within 2 business days. If your customer wants to withhold from the MLS, you must submit a Certification to Withhold Form to NorthstarMLS within 2 business days of the contract effective date.

3. Update listing status: If you’ve ever called to schedule a showing only to find that the property is pending, then you probably understand the importance of timely system updates. Enter any status change (cancellation, pending sale, closed sale, change in price, TNAS) as soon as possible but always within 2 business days. If there is a contingency on the sale and you want to continue showing the property, you may leave the listing in Active status, but the purchase agreement must be disclosed using the field titled “Contingency.”

Please contact the NorthstarMLS rules department with any questions at 651-251-3210 or

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Public Remarks Fields

NorthstarMLS subscribers should feel comfortable sharing listing information with their clients, knowing they are not promoting another agent or service. The public remarks field is available on customer reports and to broker and agent websites. It’s important that this field not be used for advertising agents, builders or any third party.

The fields designated as public fields include: Public Remarks, Open House Remarks, Public Supplements, Virtual Tours and Driving Directions. The Public Remarks fields should be used to describe only the property, its vicinity, and any incentives provided by the seller to the buyer specifically related to the property.

Common mistakes include:

  • Do not add the listing agent’s name, contact info, or any agent, broker or third party promotional material (such as incentives to use a mortgage or title company).
  • Unbranded virtual tours are the only allowed web link in the virtual tour field. The tour must only describe the property for sale and its vicinity and cannot link out to another site.
  • You may list the name of the builder or brand names (for example “Acme Windows”) only to the extent that it describes the property. It is acceptable to add, “Built by Acme Homes,” but not to add, “Built by Acme Homes—premiere builder of quality homes.”
  • Open House information is restricted to the designated fields, not in public remarks.
  • Buyer incentives are acceptable when they are from the seller, relate specifically to the property, and would typically be allowed on the HUD statement. Acceptable: Seller will pay $3,000 closing costs or Price Reduced by $15,000. Unacceptable: Seller will give a free HDTV with Blu-ray player. Seller will give a trip to Hawaii. Seller will give a $500 Gift Card.
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SQI Survey Results: Rules and Regulations

Ask any agent/appraiser and they will say there is nothing more frustrating to their clients and themselves than realizing they’ve relied on incorrect MLS information. In order to ensure every NorthstarMLS customer has the most current, accurate and complete property data, MLS rules and regulations have been created and will be enforced on an as needed basis. These guidelines ensure professional data sharing and warrant cooperative behaviors between all MLS users. By doing so, users can maximize their value to their customers and help keep the MLS an effective real estate business tool.

“Our staff works hard at maintaining a reliable database and to prevent listing infractions. But the success of these efforts depend greatly everyone’s cooperation,” said Michael Bisping, Director of Customer Service, who oversees the Rules Department which consists of three technicians that respond to nearly 500 notices from other agents every week. “Everyone in the NorthstarMLS community is in this together. If we all do our part to cooperate, it will reduce inaccurate information and surely make it easier on everyone to reach their real estate goals more efficiently and effectively.”

SQI Survey results revealed that 74% of respondents have an “excellent” or “good” understanding of the current MLS rules that are in place. Even the most adept agent can make an innocent mistake every now and then. But if agents comply with these four simple rules, nearly half of NorthstarMLS Compliance Notices and Fines would disappear:

1. Enter a listing within 2 business days of the listing contract effective date;
2. Enter a photo within 2 business days of entering the listing;
3. Ensure all public fields and supplements are free from agent and 3rd party promotion;
4. Update pending listings after the closing or when the closing is postponed.

“Ninety five percent of all notices to correct a listing or cure a violation result in no fine, or I waive it,” Bisping said. NorthstarMLS President and CEO, John Mosey, is frequently quoted as saying that someone has to be “bound and determined” to get fined by the MLS. These numbers show that most of our service’s users want to do what is right.

If you have any questions about MLS rules, please contact the NorthstarMLS Rules Department at 651-251-3210, 8-5 PM (Monday-Friday). You can also check the NorthstarMLS “Rules Roundup” page. A new feature where we will periodically spotlight an MLS Rules topic to educate users on some of the most commonly misunderstood issues of the NorthstarMLS system. Are you on Facebook? The “Rules Roundup” page can also be accessed through the NorthstarMLS Facebook page.

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Property Photo Required 

Property photos enhance the value of your listing to potential buyers, other agents and the abundance of websites that will display your listing. Photos are required for ALL listings except: Lots and Land, Under Construction, To Built/Floor Plan and Models. Ideally a photo will be added at the time of entry, but NorthstarMLS rules allow two business days in the event that is not possible. Photos are required regardless of the listing status (even if the listing is cancelled, goes pending, or the status is TNAS).

Reminders about your photos:

  • No text (regardless of message) allowed.
  • Do not copy photos from the listing of another participant without permission.
  • The photo may not be digitally altered so that it no longer accurately reflects the property.
  • The photo must be appropriate — nothing of obscene nature. Nothing that you wouldn’t post on your own professional real estate website.
  • No broker/agent/builder signs or promotion allowed.
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Planning to book a showing? It’s important to remember these two key criteria:

  • Access to a property MUST be arranged and approved by the Listing Broker.
  • The buyer’s agent must be present at the time of the showing, even if the property is vacant.

ONLY when specific authority prior to the showing has been given by the Listing Broker may anyone else conduct the showing. If you’ve allowed access to an unauthorized person by mistake, be sure that you contact the Listing Agent immediately to let him/her know what has happened. This will reduce the chances the violation will be reported to NorthstarMLS (section 4.1) and hopefully avoid a $1,000 fine.

If you have any questions about MLS rules, please contact the NorthstarMLS Rules Department at 651-251-3210.

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