A balanced perspective
The dissemination of data from the NWMLS to the public will be limited for a variety of reasons. Safety and protection of potentially personal information of each seller is paramount.
I am uncertain whether the issue of safety and protection of personal information should fall into the category of “transparency” for everyone to see. Some things should be kept out of the general public view. For example, theft has been an ongoing issue for the membership of the NWMLS—meaning that listings are a target for thieves, including new construction (appliances disappearing, furnishings and even mechanical items such as copper and other equipment).
Most sellers probably would not be pleased if the brokerage posted the time the house was on the market. The implications of a languishing listing means it is probably overpriced or there is some other problem such as poor location, poor condition or a combination of factors.
Market Time & Re-listing
There may be companies such as Zip Realty or others that will indicate if a home was re-listed or will post the total time on market. I have not researched this. The idea of disclosing this information, particularly in a slowing market or correcting market as one may define it, has the potential to have a negative affect on the value of a home if you are a seller. As a buyer, this information allows for a more level playing field. Buyers certainly had little to grasp on during the past couple years when the market was so hot. Realtors recommended removing as many contingencies as possible when making an offer or consumers would have little chance to buy the home. For many buyers, this exacerbated an already difficult buying experience. I heard about it first hand from many who sat across from me while going over their closing documents.
From a consumer’s perspective, many want the Realtor community to shape up. Many want full transparency, but the matter is complicated. The issue of agency and representation does not allow for certain facts to be transparent. Agency and representation does have merit.
Tim Ellis is correct. Much of the market time data and re-listing that goes on is manipulated. It is manipulated to assist the seller in having a sound market position. So, the agent representing the seller is doing their job. However, the interesting phenomenon to see is how this issue is being dealt with through the in-house NWMLS membership. The agents were tiring of this routine themselves. Today, we have the cumulative days on market (CDOM) being recently introduced to hopefully reduce the manipulation within the membership of the NWMLS.
As Ardell DellaLoggia and others suggested, there are some techniques that agents utilize to work around the days on market issue—also re-list the same property having the CDOM counter show zero. Sometimes there are good explanations for this. Sometimes it is clear market manipulation.
If I were buying, I would want to know how long a home has been on the market and how many times the home has been re-listed. In addition, I would want my agent to confirm the sales history (which is now publicized on various web sites) and underlying financing (King Co. shut this down via website, but Snohomish Co. is still available via web). In a swift moving market, much of the information gathered could save a buyer from making a costly decision. Buyers are able to discern if the home was recently flipped and whether the improvements merit the asking price.
The benefit of providing a true picture of time on market or re-list history is that it would put pressure on the sellers to market and price the home in an authentic competitive manner. For Realtors, I would think this would be helpful. That type of transparency may trigger phone calls from sellers indicating that they need to make a change—either make it worth what they are asking or drop the price to a level that is more reasonable. Rather than the Realtor initiating the delicate conversation of dropping the asking price, the seller is opening up the door for that conversation first, based upon what the market is dictating.
-S-Crow, your consumer driven Sentinel.