OpinionBrokerage

‘My listing, my lead’ philosophy is a disservice to real estate consumers

What right do MLSs have to limit a listing's exposure?

Just a short while ago, nearly every broker reading Inman raged that MLSs could never be replaced, and that as the sole means of supporting co-brokerage agreements and payments between brokers, they argued that MLS companies are the backbone of the entire real estate marketplace.

It was suggested that the whole real estate market will collapse into a maelstrom of pocket listings without the MLSs’ oversight of co-brokerage arrangements. Yet the hottest topic among many real estate brokers is “my listing, my lead.” This philosophy is the antithesis of co-brokerage and yet the mantra of many real estate brokers.

These brokers’ complaints begin with Zillow Group. Exposure there, along with displays on every website possible, offers maximum market exposure for your seller’s home at no cost to you. Yet Zillow has the audacity to offer homebuyers an opportunity of full representation in their home purchase — scandalous!

To hell with co-brokerage when there’s money on the line; sellers’ agents should solely receive the buyer leads on their sellers’ homes, these brokers say. That way, neither the seller nor the buyer can expect full representation in the sale; instead, the agent, brokerage and franchise make more money on each deal.

Does anyone else see why the marketplace is not all that fond of real estate brokers and the system they have created?

Dear seller,

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I know that I promised to fight for your maximum sale price; I know that I swore that I would go all-out and advertise your home in every way possible; I know I promised to negotiate all the way to the point of the other party’s death — but hey, I can double my pay by not doing that. Please sign here acknowledging I am no longer representing you. Oh, would you mind giving me a great reference on these 92 websites?

You say it’s not really like that? Well, what are the major principles of being a transaction broker between a seller and a buyer? You cannot show any favoritism to either party; you cannot advise any advantage to either party; and you are supposed to simply carry out each party’s explicit commands. You’re an order taker who fills out forms.

Let’s place you in the same kind of situation that the underrepresented buyer and seller are in. A past client decides to sue you for $2 million in damages — and their attorney offers to also take your side of the case. Do you feel confident in getting the best counsel possible?

How will this go, on a deal between a first-time homebuyer and a first-time home seller? “Judge, I know the house is a historic 125 years old, but the buyers never explicitly told me to look into finding an engineer on their behalf. It’s not my fault the structural brick was decayed below ground level.”

Transaction brokerage should be a rarity and applied only in cases involving experienced parties, and desired and initiated by both parties while fully aware of the representation they are giving up.

The “National Broker Portal,” made up of franchises, MLS companies and brokerages that are no longer interested in allowing home sellers’ properties full-market exposure or giving home sellers or buyers full representation, is all built on the “my listing, my lead, my greed” philosophy.

Hey, this group of brokers and franchises wants more money from each deal. That’s up to them, as they are the ones legally representing a client and then removing that representation.

But what right do these MLS companies have to purposely limit home sellers’ and homebuyers’ exposure of information and assist in removing their full representation and their liberties? By funding and directing the design, development and deployment of a plot to diminish information to the marketplace, these MLS companies are probably culpable in this deed. This might end up an interesting case before the U.S. Department of Justice. These MLS companies can call NAR’s attorneys for advice, as they have some experience with the DOJ. If it ever comes to this, I bet they’ll want full legal representation.

A home seller deserves to receive 100 percent of the services they contracted for; a homebuyer deserves full representation. The more exposure that a seller’s home has on the Internet, the better the chance it will sell for its full market value. A seller’s agent should attack the preparation, marketing, advertising and negotiations on behalf of their sellers wholeheartedly, singing and dancing with joy with every exposure on every website possible, and pray that a million buyer’s agents and their clients show interest in their seller’s home.

Do you agree with this assessment of the industry? 

Creed Smith is living the creation and implementation of innovation via QValue.net and DemonOfMarketing.com.

Email Creed Smith.