How Agents Will Game the MLS 8.0

The MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy is ‘a lightweight, middle-of-the-road policy that will just make the problem worse’ because it doesn’t go far enough.  It’s so full of holes that it will only exacerbate the problem, and by the time they figure it out, it will be too late to fix it.  It might be too late already.

The new policy just helps to define the ways that agents can avoid putting their listings on MLS:

  1. Office Exclusives Are Allowed. Agents will shop around their new listings for days or weeks among their fellow agents in the office. Only once that avenue is totally exhausted will listings find their way to the MLS.
  2. Submitted to MLS Within One Business Day.  From now on, all listings will be signed on Fridays (or postdated).
  3. Sellers Can Market Publicly. The listing agent isn’t supposed to publicly advertise the home, but……..
  4. Showings Aren’t Required. Just because a listing is in the MLS doesn’t mean agents can show it. This is the oldest trick in the book.  When an outside agents calls to arrange a showing, he/she is told that the property can be seen any time….as long as it’s between 5:00-5:05pm next Thursday.
  5. No Penalties Mentioned. There has never been a MLS police, so any enforcement will be sketchy at best. But realtors love to rat out their fellow agents so complaints will be flying – but what will be the penalty?  Most likely it will be the usual, which is a letter in the offender’s file for six months. Will it be that much?
  6. Stop Using the MLS. If it gets too complicated to navigate the rules, agents will just stop using the MLS.  This is why being on the right team is so critical now – if all the hot deals are sold in-house, then working at a small brokerage or being an independent broker will be detrimental. Those agents will only see the leftovers as the MLS becomes an afterthought.

Local compliance was first scheduled for March 1, 2020, but they pushed it back to May 1, 2020 so agents have six months to contemplate.  Will we be sitting around discussing how important it is that we share our listings with each other via the MLS?

What’s missing is that no one in the industry is demanding that we share our listings with one another because that is what’s right for consumers and agents alike. Instead, our leaders come up with a lukewarm policy full of holes and no teeth. The spotlight will cause more people to find ways around the 8.0, and proudly conduct off-MLS sales because now they are the even-sexier option.

MLS Statement 8.0 Clear Cooperation Policy

Yesterday, we entered into the final phase of the MLS implosion, with the latest blow being delivered by the National Association of Realtors themselves.  Instead of strictly forbidding Off-MLS sales, they have tried to appease everyone by concocting a lightweight, middle-of-the-road policy that will just make the problem worse:

The National Association of REALTORS®’ Board of Directors approved MLS Statement 8.0, also known as the Clear Cooperation policy, at its meeting Monday. The policy requires listing brokers who are participants in a multiple listing service to submit their listing to the MLS within one business day of marketing the property to the public.

NAR’s MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board proposed the policy as a way to address the growing use of off-MLS listings. The advisory board concluded that leaving listings outside of the broader marketplace excludes consumers, undermining REALTORS®’ commitment to provide equal opportunity to all. The policy doesn’t prohibit brokers from taking office-exclusive listings, nor does it impede brokers’ ability to meet their clients’ privacy needs.

Here’s the full text of MLS Statement 8.0:

Within one (1) business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker must submit the listing to the MLS for cooperation with other MLS participants. Public marketing includes, but is not limited to, flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public.

MLSs have until May 1, 2020, to adopt the policy.

Rationale: Distribution of listing information and cooperation among MLS participants is pro-competitive and pro-consumer. By joining an MLS, participants agree to cooperate with other MLS participants except when such cooperation is not in their client’s interests. This policy is intended to bolster cooperation and advance the positive, procompetitive impacts that cooperation fosters for consumers. The public marketing of a listing indicates that the MLS Participant has concluded that cooperation with other MLS participants is in their client’s interests.

https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2019/11/11/nar-passes-mls-proposal-to-strengthen-cooperation

Listing Agents Blowing Deals

Our assistant Brittnie is a licensed realtor, and for months she has been working with a couple in search of the right entry-level home. Buyers at the low-end of every market have had no negotiating power for the last ten years, but some of the softness in our soft landing can be attributed to pilot error – the listing agents are still (too) cocky.

They made an offer that was 8% below the list price on a home that had been on the market for 3 months with no price adjustment. It was easy to figure out why it wasn’t selling – it hadn’t been remodeled (the type of homes that might have gotten lucky before, but now are struggling to sell).

The sellers counter back at 2% under list, and the agent tells Brittnie on the phone, “Don’t even think about countering the price”.

But that’s not all.

He also included the usual terms left over from the high-flying days:

1. Sold as-is, no repairs.

2. No termite.

3. No home warranty.

The buyers walked.

Previously, all buyers who were frustrated enough by bidding-war losses and rapidly-rising prices would succumb to the demands of the listing agent just to get it over with.

And it’s not just the terms, it is the attitude of the listing agents that is a turn-off too. Buyers aren’t going to put up with it when they see houses languishing on the market these days.

Another favorite is for listing agents to crank down the contingency period from 17 to 10 days.  I had one do that to me yesterday on a house that we already confirmed had no permits on record at the city (it’s an older house).

I asked him if he was going to cancel the deal if we didn’t release contingencies after 10 days.  His answer? “Hmm, well, I don’t know.”

Is it worth it to put the screws to the buyer in the middle of November on a house with no permits just so you have the option to go back on the market around Thanksgiving?

If the market sluggishness continues, some of it will be self-inflicted.

Get Good Help!

Leucadia Bidding War

Word on the street is that there are 11 offers on this new listing in Leucadia, and it’s up to $1,200,000:

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/460-Parkwood-Ln-Encinitas-CA-92024/16709568_zpid/

It goes to show you that you don’t have to worry about under-pricing a home…..as long as you put it on the open market so every buyer gets a crack at it!

Segovia Listing Report

One of the main reasons to set up shop at the La Costa Resort is to help support our efforts in the area.

When my current listing on Segovia came on the market, we were the only house for sale in the area.

But since then, TEN other similar – older one-story – homes have hit the market nearby:

We had listed for $888,000, and with a uniquely large backyard, we thought we had a shot at attracting a buyer who had a vision.

But now that we’re vying with eight others for the next buyer, we had to adjust on price.  The house on Cima came on at $899,000, but lowered quickly and found a buyer on Monday – so we did the same thing, and lowered to $859,000.

The number of views has been incredible – there is no shortage of lookers:


Note that there are twice as many views on Zillow as there are on the MLS!

The auto-valuations are close too, so it shouldn’t be long now:

When a flood happens, adjust early and often, because you don’t want to get left behind.

Why Commissions Are High

My general rule-of-thumb is that if two people send me the same article, then I should blog it.

Not only did two people send this in, but Henry Fung also mentioned to the article’s author on twitter that she should read my blog, and as a result, she followed me.

Now I really need to comment!

Here is Lydia’s article, which is more coverage of the latest lawsuit that intends to bust up the realtor cartel:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/economy/real-estate-commissions/index.html

The lawsuit alleges collusion between brokerages to make sellers pay 2.5% or more to the buyer’s agent.

The National Association of Realtors shrugged it off, and by the time the case gets to court, the current way we sell houses could be long gone anyway.

But let’s discuss being paid by commission.

The reason commissions are high is because of the home-selling process, and the amount of work involved just to have a shot of earning an actual paycheck.

Though I have a written listing contract with every seller, I can’t force you to sell your house.

I don’t do buyer-broker contracts with buyers, but if I did, you still don’t have to buy a house.

Whether I have a contract or not, there is no assurance that I will ever get paid, regardless of how much time I invest, and though I have a commission agreement with a seller, I have no control of the outcome – only the sellers decide if they can live with the resulting offers.

If an agent does get paid, it’s at the end – there’s no pay received along the way.  Plus, the commission gets treated like a slush fund with many people trying to nibble away at it throughout the process. Then the brokerage and other parties take their cut, and the agent gets what’s left.

Given those conditions, shouldn’t there be a bonus, or reward attached?

Would you work for your current pay today if you knew you might not get paid anything?  Or would you expect an additional bonus to live with that risk?

Just because buyers look at houses online doesn’t change the problem with being paid on commission.  We’ve had these same issues before and after the internet.

Should we devise new pay structures for realtors?

The problem with a pay-as-you-go system is that you don’t know how long it could take.  Consumers (both buyers and sellers) aren’t really sure what to expect in the beginning, and aren’t going to start writing checks unless, and until they get a good feeling that it would pay off.  Flat-fee and salaried companies only provide transaction-processing services – which is only a small part of what I do.

There are two solutions:

A. Burn the business to the ground. This is the path we’re on, and the one-percenters will impose the systems they decide are good for you.  They will also offer you their houses at prices they tell you are fair.

B. We convert to a free-market auction system.

The reason agents deserve big commissions is because of the all-encompassing nature of the service we provide.  I handle every one of your real estate wants and needs all day, every day.  I have skillfully navigate every possible issue/event that happens, because any one thing can kill the sale – and then you don’t get what you want, and I don’t get paid.

If the business was more predictable, less time-intensive, and had guaranteed pay, would I work for less? Absolutely, and the auction solution is the best answer.

It would take a major player like Google or Amazon to bring enough brand and reputation so consumers would consider the auction format.  But if that were to happen, here are the benefits for everyone involved:

  1. The selling process becomes structured – everyone knows how and when a house will sell.  Post the auction date 30 days in advance so buyers can inspect the property – because the house is sold as-is, no repairs.  On auction day, conduct the bidding out in the open where all have a fair shot at buying.
  2. A real auction removes the agent shenanigans – no tilting the table in favor of anyone.
  3. Sellers get a little more than retail value, and know the close date in advance.
  4. Buyers know exactly what to expect, and have a fair shot of buying any home.
  5. A streamlined, predictable process means less work for agents.

The hardest part? Convincing sellers that there aren’t two in the bush who will pay more.

P.S. If the current business does crash and burn, I’m thinking of being an artist:

More Private Listing Clubs

The disrupters can tinker around with whatever gadget they can think up next, but if sellers believe that selling their home off-market is the way to go, there won’t be any MLS/traditions to disrupt.

Check out https://aaltohomes.com/

The private listing clubs are evolving as a natural defense mechanism and give agents a new advantage.  Everyone is in it for themselves now as the industry gets picked apart by the one-percenters.

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