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LEGAL UPDATE: August 13 Deadline for Austin Board of Realtors MLS Rules & Business Changes


George-Vance, this is a critical communication for your business. Please read this in its entirety. We’ve included a printable PDF if that’s easier for you. If you manage agents, please share this information and make sure they’re aware of the upcoming changes.

Dear George-Vance,


Now that NAR has released the necessary guidance on mandatory MLS policy changes, we’re able to share detailed information about the MLS rules and broker business practice changes required in the NAR settlement and how they specifically impact our marketplace. 


ABoR and Unlock MLS are required to make these changes regardless of the outcome of the settlement and we’re committed to helping you navigate this transition as smoothly as possible. We’re doing what we can to help you navigate this moment. We’re putting forms and resources in your hands so that you have as much time as possible to update your business practices and prepare your clients ahead of an August 13 implementation date.


This will be a dynamic period of change. We have intentionally chosen to communicate early knowing this situation is evolving and more changes are ahead. We are committed to adapting as necessary and updating our guidance accordingly. We ask for your flexibility as we navigate this together.


This email contains the following important information:

  1. Find Opportunity in the Change
  2. What Your Role Is
  3. When the New Rules Take Effect
  4. What’s Changing: MLS Field & Rules Changes

  5. How We’re Supporting You


A fundamental shift is happening right here, right now in our industry, but the truth is that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to own your value and gain a competitive edge in the market. Consumers are paying close attention to agent value – don’t miss this moment to communicate yours.


We encourage you to adopt a mindset geared towards embracing this change to communicate your value to your clients. Mindset is important here. Change brings opportunity when you focus on what’s ahead and not behind, so don’t let industry chatter and angst knock you off course. Stay focused and take this opportunity to strengthen your client relationships and expand your services.


Everyone has a role in this transition. As you move forward, keep an eye out for opportunities to amplify your value proposition and strengthen your client relationships. 

  • Brokers: Your role is to adjust and implement your own business practices and train your agents accordingly.
  • Agents: Your role is to stay in lockstep with your broker regarding any changes to your firm’s business practices as well as which forms to use and when. Your role is also to prepare your clients for the change by communicating what’s coming and how the change might impact their transactions.
  • Team Leads: Your role is to reinforce your brokerage’s business practice changes with your team and ensure all team members are up to speed on the changes.
  • Unlock MLS: Our role is to provide the resources and information for agents and brokers to make those decisions as smoothly as possible.


The timeline shared earlier this month has been slightly adjusted to allow you greater access to Member Success Team support around these milestones. NAR’s mandated date of change lands on a Saturday and we believe it’s important the field and rules changes are not implemented on your busiest workdays. 

May 30 | Today, we’ve launched a suite of new forms, resources, classes, and events designed to help you navigate this transition confidently and as smoothly as possible (see “How We're Supporting You” below). 

  • Everyone, bookmark this is your new home base for resources and support around these changes from Unlock MLS.
  • Brokers, start updating your business practices now. Allow as much time as possible for you to train your agents and for your agents to explain these changes to their clients. 
  • Starting Tuesday, Unlock MLS subscribers will receive a weekly email – MLS Market Pulse – with the latest updates on these changes as well as need-to-know housing market news.

July 11 | Unlock MLS will release the final versions of the MLS Rules and Terms of Use that will take effect on Tuesday, August 13, along with updated compliance processes on how Unlock MLS will enforce these changes. We will offer dedicated trainings and new resources to ensure you have ample opportunity to read through these materials and get your questions answered.

August 13 | The new Unlock MLS Rules and Terms of Use go into effect. The field changes listed in “What’s Changing: MLS Field & Rules Changes” below are live in Matrix and compliance enforcement of the new rules begin.

  • Brokers, your updated business practices and internal policies must be updated and fully in effect by this date. We have several resources in the Right Here, Right Now Information Hub that will help you prepare for this transition, including how to handle existing listing agreements in effect on August 13.


The business practice changes required in the NAR settlement agreement can be summed up as follows:

  1. Unlock MLS must eliminate and prohibit requiring offers of compensation in the MLS between listing brokers or sellers to buyer brokers or other buyer representatives.


  2. Brokers are required to provide compensation disclosures to prospective sellers and buyers. 


  3. Buyers will be required to sign a written agreement outlining how much they will pay their agent for their services when doing business together, before touring a property.

Within Unlock MLS, the required MLS rules changes can be summarized into nine key changes (see “Executive Summary” on p.1). NAR has left it to MLSs to determine what exact modifications must be made and how to enforce them locally. Below are the modifications that will take effect in Unlock MLS on August 13. 

1. All compensation-associated fields will be removed from Unlock MLS listing data, including displays, historical data, and data feeds. This includes: 

  • Sub Agency Compensation
  • Buyer and Leasing Agent Compensation
  • Bonus to BA or LA Amount
  • Dual Variable Compensation (Y or N)
  • Buyer Incentive (Multi-Select) 
  • Residential Lease: Invoice Submission (Single-Select)
  • Residential Lease: Commission Paid (Single-Select)

2. A new field will be added – “Seller Contributions” for sales listings and “Owner Contributions” for lease listings – in which sellers/lessors can advertise a total dollar value contribution to the buyer or tenant that can be negotiated in the offer process. 

  • Field requires a total dollar amount and can equal $0
  • Sellers and owners can negotiate this amount with buyers or tenants, but this amount cannot be limited to or conditioned on the retention of or compensation to a cooperating agent.

3. All closing-related fields will remain as is and will not change, including Buyer Closing Costs Paid By Seller (BCCST). 

  • BCCST is only intended to capture routine concessions from sellers and cannot include any agent compensation amount. 
  • It's critical for future appraisals that this field NOT include any agent compensation amounts. 


Today, we’ve launched a “Right Here, Right Now” campaign that will run through the rest of the year and offer support and resources through this transition. All the resources listed below – plus any more we release – will be accessible at the Right Here, Right Now Information Hub.


NEW! UNLOCK MLS FORMS: We are releasing a series of optional, proprietary forms to give brokers more options to address the required changes. These forms will be loaded into TransactionDesk and ZipForms as soon as possible.

  • Buyer/Tenant Representation Agreement (Long Form): This form includes the necessary protections and transparency offered by a traditional buyer’s rep agreement and clearly discloses how much a buyer/renter will pay their agent for their services.

  • Buyer/Tenant Representation Agreement (Short Form): This form includes all the above elements in a one-page version, providing an easy-to-use form that complies with the new rule of obtaining a written agreement prior to touring a property. Note: Intermediary section has been omitted. As a result, there is currently no authorization in the short form for the Buyer's Broker to act as an intermediary (and show the broker's own listings).  

  • Buyer/Tenant Representation Agreement (Limited Services): Also known as a touring agreement, this is a tool for agents to initiate negotiations with buyers and work with them to sign a full Buyer/Tenant Representation Agreement. This form has a single-day term and allows agents to list multiple property addresses to be shown as well as list the provision of services in addition to showing the property(ies). 

  • Brokerage Fee Confirmation Addendum: This addendum to sales contracts confirms who will pay each portion of the compensation to be paid to the brokers in the transaction associated with the contract to which it is attached. This form will also serve to inform the title company how to disperse funds and could offer important information about compensation associated with the transaction to appraisers. The addendum can be used upfront when making initial offers or throughout the negotiation by either party. It should be fully signed at the final execution of the sales contract. 

  • Addendum for Existing Listing Agreements (COMING SOON): Agents should use this form to amend any existing listing agreements when these changes go into effect on or before August 13 to ensure they are compliant.

TOOLKITS & CLIENT RESOURCES: We will be launching a steady stream of informational toolkits and brandable one-pagers that will help you gear up for these changes. The following are available NOW:

WEEKLY TRAININGS, CLASSES & EVENTS: We will host weekly, dedicated classes and events on this transition from now until Thanksgiving. These activities are open for registration NOW and include:


Ultimately, this transition will amplify the immense value you provide as an agent. The industry will come out of this season stronger and all the better from these changes.


And most importantly – you’re not alone. There are decisions you must make on your own, but you’re never on your own. Unlock MLS is here for you and here to stay, always.


Onward Together,

Emily Chenevert, ABoR & Unlock MLS CEO

ABoR & Unlock MLS Boards of Directors

We’re bringing you relevant updates and resources on this transition early and often. That includes communicating any further changes in guidance or timelines as the mandated MLS rules and broker business practices are rolled out nationwide. Thank you for understanding as we navigate these changes together.


© 2024 Austin Board of REALTORS®  & Unlock MLS |

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