What Is the REBNY RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement (UCBA)?

The REBNY RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement (UCBA) governs the behavior of member agents of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) with respect to listings advertised in the RLS (REBNY Listing Service).

The UCBA does not apply to new development properties listed in the RLS. Instead, these listings are governed by a separate policy framework called the REBNY Universal New Development Brokerage Agreement (“RUNDBA”).

Click on the sections below to learn more about the most important elements of the REBNY RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement (UCBA).

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Arguably the most important component of the UCBA is its mandatory co-broking (i.e. commission sharing) provision for REBNY member agents.

As per ARTICLE IV., Section 1. Commissions (PDF pages 13 & 14 accessible here), the UCBA requires that listing agents and buyer’s agents share commissions equally:

ARTICLE IV.

COMPENSATION

Section 1. Commissions. With respect to the sale of an Exclusive Property, if a sale is consummated with a Buyer procured by a Co-Broker, unless the Exclusive Listing specifies otherwise or absent some other written agreement, the Exclusive Broker and the Co-Broker shall each be paid an equal share of the commission as specified in the Exclusive Listing.

This means that a REBNY member listing agent may not keep more than 50% of the total commission paid by a seller in the event that the buyer is represented by a broker who is a RENBY member.

For example, if a seller has agreed to pay a total of 6% commission as per a signed listing agreement and the buyer is represented, the listing agent may not keep more than 3%.

The REBNY RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement governs the behavior of member agents of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

By extension, it would be a violation of the UCBA for the listing agent to keep 4% while the buyer’s agent receives 2% based on a total commission bill of 6%.

While the buyer’s agent cannot be paid anything less than 3% in this example, the UCBA does not prohibit a seller or listing agent from offering more than 50% of the total commission to the buyer’s agent. For example, the buyer’s agent can be paid 4% while the listing agent receives 2%, for a total of 6%.

If, on the other hand, the buyer’s agent is not a REBNY member, the listing agent is not obligated to share at least half of the total commission unless otherwise stipulated in the listing agreement.

Timely Submission to RLS

The REBNY RLS Universal Co-brokerage Agreement prohibits REBNY-member listing agents from ‘front-running’ a new listing by publicly advertising or showing it prior to the dissemination to the RLS. In other words, REBNY members must upload a listing to RLS simultaneously with any public advertising or showing of the property, whichever is earlier.

This is outlined in ARTICLE I. Listing Procedures, Section 5. Obligation to Distribute and Timing for Distribution of Exclusive Listings.:

ARTICLE I.

LISTING PROCEDURES

Section 5. Obligation to Distribute and Timing for Distribution of Exclusive Listings. The Listing Information set forth in Exhibit A for any Exclusive Listing must be disseminated to all other Participants via the RLS: a) simultaneously with any public dissemination of such Exclusive Listing; or b) simultaneously with any showing of the Exclusive Listing to any Buyer, whichever is earlier.

Public dissemination includes, but is not limited to, the display of the Exclusive Listing on the Exclusive Broker’s public website, any Exclusive Agent’s public website, any social media application (including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), any third-party website (including but not limited to Zillow, Streeteasy, New York Times, Realtor.com, etc.), or any other public disclosure, promotion or other dissemination of the Listing Information, including but not limited to, disclosing the Exclusive Listing to any Participants outside of the Exclusive Broker’s firm.

This provision is designed to stop listing agents from having a head start in finding a direct buyer compared to buyer’s agents. Naturally, NYC listing agents are incentivized to find a direct buyer because typically that means that the agent will collect the entire 6% commission as opposed to just 3% in the event the buyer is represented.

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With few exceptions (such as 1% Full Service), sellers in NYC typically agree to a fixed total commission rate of between 5% and 6% which is payable upon closing regardless of the representation status of the buyer. The only variable is whether the listing agent keeps the entire 6% or if it’s split with a buyer’s agent.

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The REBNY RLS Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement also regulates the days on market calculations for listings being marketed by REBNY member listing agents. This is an important provision, as sellers and listing agents in NYC are notorious for trying to reset the days on market to avoid the perception of a listing becoming stale.

This is outlined in ARTICLE I. Listing Procedures, Section 11. Days on Market Calculation.:

ARTICLE I.

LISTING PROCEDURES

Section 11. Days On Market Calculation. The calculation of the “days on market” for an Exclusive Listing shall commence on the date that the Exclusive Listing is transmitted by the Exclusive Broker over the RLS to all RLS Participants. The calculation of “days on market” shall be reset to zero (0) should an Exclusive Listing be (a) sold and the transaction has closed; or (b) taken off the market for ninety (90) consecutive days. Exclusive Brokers and/or Exclusive Agents cannot circumvent this Section by attempting to re-name or re-list the Exclusive Listing.

In short, an active listing’s day count may only be reset if the property is delisted for 90 consecutive days.

REBNY member agents are prohibited from directly contacting or soliciting any owner/seller who has a current exclusive listing with another REBNY member.

This is outlined in ARTICLE II. SELLING/LEASING PROCEDURES, Section 7. Communications with Owners.:

ARTICLE II.

LISTING PROCEDURES

Section 7. Communications with Owners. No Participant may contact the Owner regarding a current Exclusive Listing without the Exclusive Agent’s prior consent.

If an Exclusive Agent leaves the brokerage firm with whom they are affiliated (such firm shall be referred to as the “Former Firm” and Exclusive Agent as the “Former Exclusive Agent”), prior to leaving that firm, the Former Exclusive Agent may advise an Owner that they are leaving the firm. After the Former Exclusive Agent joins another firm participating in the RLS, then the Former Exclusive Agent may not initiate any communication with the Owner regarding a current Exclusive Listing without the Exclusive Broker’s prior written consent. For the avoidance of doubt, the Former Exclusive Agent must not in any way interfere with any Exclusive Listing to which their Former Firm is a party.

For clarification purposes only, interference shall be deemed to include, but not be limited to, (i) directly or indirectly encouraging any Owner to terminate or breach the terms of any listing agreement between the Owner and the Former Firm, (ii) advertising any property subject to a pre-existing listing agreement with the Former Firm, (iii) disseminating, or attempting to disseminate via the RLS, listing information for any property subject to a pre-existing listing agreement with the Former Firm, or (iv) suggesting, directly or indirectly, that an Owner may unilaterally terminate a valid property listing agreement with Former Firm when the Former Exclusive Agent knows or should know that the subject listing agreement provides no such termination right.

This means that REBNY member agents may not solicit a seller who has already signed a listing agreement with another agent.

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