By Brian Johnson
2021 President
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

Last year, the National Association of Realtors implemented a new policy across the country called Clear Cooperation. The policy states that within one business day of marketing a residential listing to the public, brokers must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other members. Most people when they learned of this policy would ask, “Weren’t they already doing this?” and “What’s the big deal?” 

To understand why it is a big deal we really start with understanding the first question of was this done previously. As it turns out “pocket listings” or listings that are selectively marketed were becoming very popular across the country. The use of these pocket listings had the effect of excluding consumers and undermined the commitment that Realtors make to providing equal opportunity access to housing. Numerous studies out there show that different demographic groups have different experiences in the housing market and the National Association of Realtors is committed to working to reduce inequalities in housing thus this new policy. It is important to understand why Clear Cooperation is a benefit to both consumers and to our profession.

Clear Cooperation protects the consumer. By marketing a property on the MLS, it exposes the property to the largest group of potential buyers making sure that a seller can achieve the best outcome for their property. It also adds transparency to the home buying process. If it is out there being marketed to everyone then there will not be any questions from a client to an agent about why that agent did not tell their client about the listing. Sellers become better informed about the exposure of their property to the market and buyers have fair and equal opportunity to purchase.

Concerning our profession, transparency is key. We are trusted advisors for a reason. We earn the trust of our clients and that means keeping their best interests in mind. Additionally, we owe that same level of professionalism to our fellow agents. That means making sure that one segment of the public does not have more information than other consumers have. It also means that we agree to follow the rules that we have set up for ourselves. 

By allowing these “pocket listings” it creates a shadow, secondary market that can be controlled by a smaller group of agents who may or may not allow other agents or customers access. to. This creates inequality in the housing market and consumer distrust about our profession. At the end of the day, we have to decide what kind of profession we want to be. One that earns the trust of the public through a transparent transaction process or one that fosters different levels of access and information for different groups. I am proud of my fellow Realtors for having adopted this policy and for their commitment to equality in housing.

Brian Johnson is a California licensed real estate agent and the Managing Director of Radius Commercial Real Estate. Brian handles all types of commercial real estate transactions but has a special focus on multifamily investments. He can be reached at 805-879-9631 or


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