This is a re-publish of a post from last year on common Penalty Policy myths.
Myth: You Only Get One Entry Mistake in Your Lifetime
Not true as most unintentional data entry errors are not violations or are non-penalty violations / self-reported violations where no fine is issued. The first time each calendar year an error is made that results in a penalty-violation, no fine will be attached. After that, fines will be issued but only for penalty violations.
Myth: All Violations Have a Fine
Nope, more than half of violations issued are non-penalty violations, which do not include a fine.
Myth: All Fines are the Same Amount, $500
No! Penalty violations range from $50 – $500 and are based on severity as outlined in the policy. However, the rare Access Credentials 7.2 violation, ranges from $500 to $15,000 as it has in the previous policy.
Myth: ARMLS is Trying to Make Money
No, actually the opposite is true. The goal of the policy is to reduce errors thus collecting less money in the long run.
Myth: ARMLS Hasn’t Tried a Mandatory Class or Giving Warnings
Actually, we have tried both. The last penalty policy was a level system. The first two violations in a six month period were warnings and no fine. The third violation in six months gave a $50 penalty or the option to take a rules class for most violations. The 4th violation in a sixth month period gave a mandatory class and a $100 fine for most violations. That system did not lower data errors to an acceptable level.
We urge all subscribers to read the policy for themselves to avoid issues in the future, if can be found here: https://armls.com/docs/data-integrity/armls-penalty-policy.pdf.
Trying to water down the severity of this change will not work. The first "Myth" you speak of is where the objections are being raised. You say yourself, "The first time an error is made that results in a penalty-violation, no fine will be attached. After that, fines will be issued but only for penalty violations." THAT IS THE PROBLEM!
Every penalty-violation an agent receives after just ONE mistake will result in that agent being fined by ARMLS for the rest of their life of membership. You can't sugarcoat this terrible idea. Most agents are hard working, honest people. They are also human. They make mistakes. It should not be ARMLS' right to fleece them every time they make more than one. Please change this bad idea NOW!
The penalty after the first mistake will burden the Realtor for the rest of their career in real estate as there for every violation from that time on. The rules should be reset at least each year or more often to not punish the Realtors who are making every effort to comply but we all make mistakes and also MLS rules change and that also takes time for some Realtors to catch up on the change.
Who exactly is complaining about data errors that lead the board to fine members?
ARMLS talks like data integrity is a great big deal but I just don't buy that. If someone is doing comps does ARMLS really believe that an Agent is dumb enough to actually use that comp?
If ARMLS finds that a single member is entering incorrect information and not correcting mistakes that are brought to their attention why not report that agent to their BROKER… after all it is the BROKER that should be supervising the agents not ARMLS. A Broker IS responsible to train their agents and if the agents can not follow the rules then perhaps the penalty should be on the BROKER because they have the duty to supervise.
Any type of ARMLS policy changes that result in fines to the members should be put up for a vote by the members, or at least a vote by officers of the shareholder associations, so that if we members don't like how they are voting we can discuss that directly with them or if that does not work we as members can eventually vote them out of office. Today there is no transparency as to why rules are being changed and who specifically the decision makers are.
Everyone just points to a Committee and no votes even by the Committee members are made public.
The sentence about comps should read: If someone is doing comps does ARMLS really believe that an Agent is dumb enough to actually use the $1 Sold price that is your example?
Gary, thank you for your feedback. Quality data is a core value at ARMLS and when bad data affects the business of your peers we must act. There are several things being proposed at the moment and we plan to reach out more to you in the future.
Thanks for the feedback Jack.
Denny, thank you for the feedback. We'll be in touch on your points this week.
I am in favor of having a system that educates us to make us better at what we do and that we should all strive to work to 100% but that is not feasibly possible. What you are in essence doing, is fining us if we are not perfect, which none of us are. I believe that generally, we as realtors are diligent in doing what we need to do to stay in compliance with all rules and regulations that are mandated by ARMLS and other regulatory agencies. No one intentionally wants to do sub-standard work. That being said I also know that there needs to be a system in place that brings the mistakes to the forefront. However imposing a one time grace error and having lifetime fines is setting people up to fail. I sincerely hope that you review this policy and find other possible solutions to the problem without it being just a monetary punitive policy. Smaller fines, mandated class time after so many offenses on what is being done incorrectly, resetting the penalty period, possibly on a rolling 12 months.
I appreciate your efforts regarding data integrity but ask that you reconsider your new policy. Certainly there are agents who abuse the system but most agents try to do things right and only occasionally make mistakes.
Perhaps instead of such severe Fines, offenders should have an option of education to either lessen or eliminate the fine. Is not the goal educating the members to prevent errors?
Jodi Boling, Surprise AZ Real Estate
If you have ever received a moving violation, your driving record is expunged after a certain amount of time. If you declared bankruptcy at some point in your life, your record is expunged after a set amount of time. Come on ARMLS, give us a break. We are human after all. Only one freebie for life as a Realtor? That really is not fair. A reset at least every year would be a much better proposition.
Hey James. Just for the record, the policy we moved away from did that. The first warning was an education piece, the second warning had a $50 or the option to take a class (regardless of the penalty with the exception of Lockbox violations which have not changed). The policy was ineffective in lowering data errors.
Jodi, thank you for expressing your opinion.
Hey Chris, which fines specifically do you find are too high?
Realtors who don't know the rules shouldn't be practicing real estate. Realtors should set high standards for themselves and they should strive to meet them. Part of our job is staying current with new rules and regulations. You won't be penalized if you abide by the rules.
Realtor at BHHS AZ Properties
Why not tolerate these same types of errors being made in the Title & Escrow industry, the Banking & Finance industries or Medical professions or Space & Military professions?
Because inaccurate data leads to damages.
We're an industry that guides itself, you wouldn't want to be under the care of a Hospital that hires laymen as caregivers that are allowed to practice Medicine year after year because those doctors' errors get overlooked year after year would you?
Realtors in Arizona are expected to maintain professional standards – hence Arizona does not require "re-licensing" annually. If our industry wanted to "re-set" some period of time every year for the failures of our peers, perhaps that's OK. But the period should be longer than just a single years' length. A 1-year reset period is too short and creates twice as much work as a 2-year period. It creates three times as much work as a 3 year period. Do you catch my drift?
If your continual errors didn't matter, then we wouldn't need an error reporting system would we? I don't want to have to clean up the errors in your data in order to utilize it. Frankly, if ARMLS decided to impose a standard penalty of $500 per error w/o any further qualification – I bet we'd see our Subscriber fees go down, the accuracy of the data would improve and us professionals would be earning more.