Have you ever seen a for sale sign on a property, called your local Realtor and had them tell you hey cannot find information about that property in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service)? Well, even if you haven’t, many other buyers have had that experience.

To help make sure all Realtors, and all buyers, know about the properties that are for sale, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) modified its existing MLS Model Rules. As of May 1, members of the MLS are required to submit their listings to the service within one day of marketing the property to the public.

Who cares if properties are submitted to an MLS or not?

“Realtors care, and consumers care,” said NAR general counsel Katie Johnson. “Any trend or business practice that results in less complete and less accurate property information should be a concern for Realtors.”

Sellers can still list their home and then take the necessary time to “fix things up” to get ready for marketing without being required to submit their listing to the MLS. However, once marketing to the public begins, submission to the MLS is now is required to be a part of that marketing plan.

If the seller wants to submit their listing before the paint has dried, the Santa Barbara MLS has created a “Coming Soon” listing status to let other members know the home will soon be marketed.

What about a celebrity or other high-profile seller who does not want the public to know it is their house for sale? The Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service has just initiated a new “Privacy” property type to address these concerns. Privacy listings will not require a full address and will not be displayed on third-party sites like Realtor.com and Zillow.

The new policy that begins May 1, known as Clear Cooperation, restores the initial intent of the Multiple Listing Service: That brokers cooperate with each other to benefit their clients, even though they are competitors. It equally protects sellers’ and buyers’ best interests.

It is flexible to meet the many different circumstances that sellers may have. It adds transparency to the home-buying process by ensuring sellers are fully informed about market exposure and buyers have equal, fair opportunity to buy.

For the vast majority of the members of the Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service, there is no change. They already knew it was in their client’s best interest to submit all listings to the MLS. After all, doesn’t it make sense that sellers should have 1,700 members working together to get their home sold?

Call your Realtor today to find out how cooperation with other Realtor members benefits sellers and buyers. Contact the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors at sbaor.com for access to properties in the Multiple Listing Service.

— Staci Caplan is the president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at stacicaplan@gmail.com.