For Sale By Owners on Realtor.com?

J Philip Faranda February 5, 2010

A client called today asking about a listing she found on Realtor.com. It was there in her zip code, but she couldn’t find it in her client IDX portal. The MLS number did not match our MLS. We contacted the phone number on the Realtor.com write up, and it is one of those companies that will list a house on the MLS for a flat fee. I’ve dealt with them before and closed a few transactions. I was paid, and they were on our MLS. No issues there. 

What was peculiar about this listing was that the home was on an out of state MLS specifically so that it would be on Realtor.com in the sight of consumers but off the local MLS so it would be out of sight to brokers. In other words, the object is to get Realtor.com exposure without offering compensation to buyer agents. When I asked how they could circumvent an offer of compensation on whatever MLS they house was actually on, they told me that they just filled in $1.00 in the commission field. One dollar. All commissions are negotiable right? If the buyer brought a broker, they said, they would have to pay the broker fee. 

This strikes me as contrary to the spirit of the Multiple Listing Service. MLS is an offer of compensation for cooperation. Gaming the system so compensation can be avoided may make them clever, but it doesn’t have integrity to me. 

Is this what our MLS is all about? 

Is this an honorable way to get a home on Realtor.com? 

Is this what the NAR settled for with the DOJ over Virtual Office Websites? 

It seems to me that a private organization like the NAR has a right to determine what they can put on the public portal within a reasonable parameter. The MLS and Realtor.com are not a public network, nor are they a social utility. They are a private database that should be allowed to operate within its own rules. 

For me, I consider this practice cyber subterfuge.  

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