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Friday, January 19, 2007

Update: Anecdote: Reloaded

Sarah Reed, the listing agent of the still-unsold $1.275 million-dollar home left a comment on my recent post about her listing. I feel it is only fair to reprint her comment here on the front page so that more people are able to read her defense.

So here it is, word for word.

Regarding my listing on Avondale-I wanted to set the record straight about my intentional relisting of the property. I try to always write a shorter listing agreement than the average agent as it better serves the client/seller. I do not "cancel and relist", or intend to deceive the consumer or other agents. I wanted the listing to expire contractually, and be relisted after the first of the year so that it would have an MLS # starting with 270. Largely because so many agents only search the new listings for their clients, overlooking perfectly fine homes with a bit of market time. Buyers always ask how long a property has been on the market, and I am always honest with my clients in every way. The Days On Market is clearly available to all agents, though the MLS does not print it to the consumer. My sellers always get a detailed explaination of my reasons for writing a shorter listing contract, and the benefits it gives them. Ultimately, the descision is theirs.

Certainly, I have had a few issues to overcome with this property, as the last agent blantantly overpriced it since he does not live in or do much business in the area. Also, he had it in the zip code for the city of Sammamish. Finally, the school district was wrong, and the photos were lack luster. The former agent really SHOULD have relisted the home with each of the massive price drops he was forced to do by his lack of accurate info and pricing, and did the sellers a huge disservice by not. He was likely afraid that they might cancel his service, which they were eager to do in the end. The home is very well constructed and finished nicely, and is finally appropriately priced. There was an appraisal done this summer for value only, and it came in at $1,550,000.

The current listing contract is written to expire the first week of March. I did this to appeal to the lazier agents out there that only search for "new listings". More paperwork for me, but I'm not lazy.

One more thing. I agree that there are alot of unprofessional agents out there harming the public. It would be valuable to the industry and the safety of the consumer if we had stricter regulations surrounding the obtaining of a real estate license in this state. If you ever get the chance to vote for stricter guidlines and laws for real estate professionals, PLEASE DO! We try to be a self-policing industry, but not everyone shares the high ethics that we all should subscribe to. Unfortunately, there are alot of people that get in the business to take advantage of the public.
I'm not really sure what point Ms. Reed is trying to make here. Again, I'm no real estate professional, but the rule seems pretty clear-cut to me: "You may not cancel and relist a property, even with a new listing agreement and new listing input sheets, unless there is a material change to the listing" (emphasis mine).

I don't understand how "I try to always write a shorter listing agreement than the average agent" excuses Ms. Reed from the rules.

Perhaps one of our readers from Rain City Guide can enlighten me?

P.S. (Please refrain from making personal attacks on Ms. Reed in the comments. Thank you.)

31 comments:

Kaleetan said...

Shes hot.. and if she sells that house for 1.2 thats a nice comission. 25K - good for her.

John Doe said...

Duh... it's different there.

Besides, there's never a conflict or harm to the publich when they don't have full information about the product for sale... such as how long it has been on the market. This is just another way that agents are showing they are more important than the truth, and of course their clients. The fact that a normal person (without an agent) cannot access this information puts that person at a disadvantage to negotiate for the property.

Remember, when you are the buyer, even though you have an "agent", they are still trying to get the deal done so they can get paid. Anything that convinces you to buy is good for everyone but you.

John Doe

biliruben said...

Well, she implies, though doesn't state directly, that she didn't cancel the listing.

I got a similar explanation a few days ago from Marlow.

Basically, a lot of agents are listing houses for short periods of time so they can "freshen it up" after it expires. This deceives everyone but those with MLS access.

She claims that days on the market extends across MLS numbers, so other realtors see the cumulative days, but the general public doesn't get to see it on sites like Redfin, unless we hire those with a password.

The letter of the law is probably preserved, but the spirit?

Nice to see they get some hefty fines when they do violate the actual letter, though unfortunately the general public could never know enough to turn them in. They have to be spotted by another Realtor, and it doesn't sound like that happens very often, though again, how would we even know.

Personally, I believe that this lack of transparency is harmful to the industry and will only serve to harm the industry and bolster representatives to consider legislative remedies. These shenanigans will probably speed the call for greater competition and a more even playing field with regard to proprietary information.

This system is broken.

Merger Dog said...

This is no different from top posting on craigslist. If you don't do it, your ad gets pushed to the bottom.

biliruben said...

Well...

On CL your classified expires in 7 days, making reposting mandatory.

Not so on the MLS.

Sarah Reed said...

Thank you to Marlow for your great posts.

I need to clearly state that I did not Cancel and relist. The listing Expired and I relisted it. There is a difference, and I do understand how that might be confusing to the public or those without quality agent representation. This practice is not intended to deceive anyone, and is considered legal and ethical to the MLS and agent to agent.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

One minor correction to Tim's article. The SOLD strip will go up today. It is in escrow.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

P.S. Details, of course, are confidential until they become public record after closing.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

Sorry to post three times with my smiling puss...but I read the article and see Tim's request for "an RCG writer" response.

From the buyer consumer's vantage point, there really is no difference. For one to understand the rationale, one has to step back and understand that the mls is an agent to agent communication and also, we must balance buyer objectives with seller objectives. To understand the real estate market, one most always view it from both sides at the same time, and not a one way mirror view as first time buyers tend to do.

That the buying public can now see a bit of the mls, not all, but some of it, has and will continue to cause modifications. But only to the extent that we can, as the system must still function for the agents and the seller too.

The buyer consumer public hates getting emails as "new listing" when something is entered in the mls that has been on market. I don't blame them. We hate it too :) But there is no way around that when a listing changes from one company to another or the seller comes off market for a family gathering or illness and then comes back on.

The way the mls HAS changed is to make the Days on Market cumulative. This is a new change as of 2006. Not infallible, but helpful to all except the seller.

Now to Sarah. As the seller's agent, her duty is ONLY to the seller and not the public at large. She is correct that agents who show property will often eliminate or reduce to a reasonable number by listing date.

Say I'm showing property today just as an "overview of what your dollar can buy" kind of "tour". I will only show three to five of the many. I will more likely pick 3-5 of the most recent mls#s, than one with a six month old mls#. I won't be looking too closely, as I am not showing for the buyer to pick one...just an overview of the best the market has to offer in their price range. Not analyzing the properties the same way I would if the buyer were my client, this is a "just getting to know each other to negotiate the buyer agent fee" tour.

Sarah's method of short listings helps ensure that her seller client's property is "in the tour" most often. That is her job. She ONLY has to worry about the seller's objective. It is the buyer agent's job to worry about the buyer's objective and the mls' job to maybe modify their rules to accommodate the public peeking in to "our world - the mls". The general public's perception, the one most focused on here...is really the least of our concerns. The system does not exist for the public at large. It exists for the agents to function for their respective clients. So we must keep our objective at the forefront.

Sarah is doing an excellent job for her seller client. She takes the risk of being replaced as the seller's agent by having short contracts. She takes that risk for the seller's benefit and to her possible detriment. And so she is putting her client's interest above her own.

I can't fault her for that.

It is the buyer agent's job to do a full history of the property to double check the cumulative days on market. We have a button for that IN the mls system that is not available to the general public. So the buyer agent can and always should check all ways of determining property history for their buyer client. Example, someone who has been trying to seel for four years from April through September EVERY year. New listing numbers for all and no cumulative days on market in that case. The Buyer Agent must protect the buyer's interests. The seller's agent must protect the seller's interests. The public vantage point is not our concern at all, however we do try to make new rules to accommodate this relatively new event. But not at the expense of the real purpose of the system.

The mls cannot make a rule that the seller not have short listings. So Sarah is doing her job very well, and at her own risk to the seller's benefit.

Hope that sheds some light on this. It may not make people happy who only look at it from the buyer consumer or real estate voyeur side of things. Try not to do that and the real estate industry will become more transparent and clear to all.

Rob Dawg said...

So much protestation. So much apology. So little credibility. DOM has a direct financial influence on potential buyers. That the true DOM is not the DOM the consumer sees is a clear attempt at deception. The proposed solution is to pay more and use an agent with access to the full MLS,

I'm sorry but under pressure to post data the MLS participants have chosen to lie. Well? What is another word for knowing true DOM and actually posting a different number? What's next? Publishing the higher of per assesor or approx square footage even though the agent may know which is more accurate? Oh... wait....

These Enron type excuses don't fly.

Nolaguy said...

Ardell,

Why is the cummalative days on market available to Realtors, but not to the general public that is looking for a home?

Just about all other data on a home listing is available on any MLS site. Why not have cumulative days?

Technically, it would be very simple.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

Nolaguy,

Every good agent knows they have to be Sherlock Holmesish to truly determine the seller's "efforts to sell". There really is just no way around that, and has always been true. There are just too many variables to warrant the days on market.


1) If the house is off market for some period, the system must erase previous days on market. The reason for this is a property purchased and then resold in a short period of time, should not pick up the previous days on market.

2) I actually saw someone list a property in Seattle as Kenmore to circumvent the days on market function the other day. The mls pulled the bad listing, but the person is simply waiting out the 30 or 60 days or whatever to get around the "cumulative" system.

3) Sometimes showing the property address as an abbreviation vs. spelled out affects days on market. First agent says 9th Pl. and second agent says 9th Place SW, can cause the system to not pick up the previous days on market.

It is not meant to be an infallible system, and since days on market is so very important to valuation process, mls requires agent to verify by their own means.

I am sorry that no one wants to understand that the mls system is not meant for the public to use as a means for purchasing property without an agent. But the system is agent to agent...that is what the mls is. I can't make it not be that.

Cumulative Days on Market is a new feature, relatively speaking, for the mls. I am sure as time goes by, the reliability will improve. But there will always be people (seller people) who will hold their property off the market for over 60 days and bring it back on market. So there really is no way to warrant the accuracy of days on market.

If the public wants to believe the DOM is fact, the only way to handle that is to not show it at all. There are many things in the mls that do not show on public sites. DOM would be just one of many, like price changes...dates of those price changes, etc.

Say a property was 160 days on market, but was reduced in price from $899,000 to $699,000 over that time. That is very important to know and agents can access that info within the mls with actual dates of every price change.

The public's view is an "advertisement" for the most part, and not a "sharing of the agent tool".

Same for lending industry. You see rates are 6%. You don't see that rates are 6% if credit score is at least 720 and 6.25 if your credit score is 620 and 6.5% if your credit score is 610, etc...

Public view of info for any industry, will never be as detailed as the info to those in the industry. It is just a small view of the big picture and one to give the public an "idea" of what is out there...not the whole story. And basically it is an advertisement of homes for sale.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

I have a question. I remember a property showing as "new in the last 7 days" on a broker site. It actually was one of those where the seller had it on every year for four years from April until September. I had fallen out of escrow on inpsection a few times, telling me there were some "issues" for sure.

If a buyer relied on "new in the last 7 days" and bought it, couldn't they maybe sue the brokerage who showed that on the site? Even though that brokerage was not involved in the sale?

Why take the risk of being sued if it isn't your seller client or your buyer client involved in the sale of the property?

Towelie McTowel said...

Yes, the MLS system was not meant for use by the public. If we had all the information, then maybe we'd make different decisions. However, the RE community wishes continues to sell by emotion rather than fact. Full disclosure is obviously seen as a huge threat. Since a buyer is typically also a seller, we can try to spin statements all day that sound like the agent is favoring one or the other. The true person that is favored is the agent. I'm fine with that because my eyes are wide open, and RE agents need to make a living. Please, let's be honest about who has the most to gain or lose by fixing the MLS now much of its data _is_ being used by the public.

CRichard said...

Ardell,

Thank you for summarizing the some of the Anti-Consumer arguments against the MLS in the Fed's anti-trust suit.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

You comments are indeed valid from the public's perspective, but not from the buyer's perspective.

Clearly the buyer will get more information IF they are making an offer on THIS property, than will appear in an advertisement.

Expected a seller to air negative issues over the internet, is not practical. Yes, THE BUYER or the potential buyer is entitled to that information...but not the public at large.

The "Fed's anti-trust" suit has absolutely nothing to do with this issue.

christiangustafson said...

I'm going to enjoy buying a house in a couple of years after this shakes out, without the services of a glorious, professional REALTOR.

No six-percent for you!

greenthum said...

I guarantee you Ardell, as soon as the house buying public finds a way to do an "end around" all you real estate agents, realtors around the country will go the way of the airline travel agent and the American auto worker.

Go ahead and protect your precious MLS. A lot of good it will do you when you're standing in the unemployment line.

meadows said...

Real estate brokers are as necessary as marriage brokers.

Nolaguy said...

"The general public's perception, the one most focused on here...is really the least of our concerns."

Then what is this all about?:

http://www.itsapriority.com/

Megalodon said...

Why do so many agents spend so much effort putting their "glamour shot" photos on everything? Does anyone actually select a agent based on their Photoshop skills? Anyone?

Aaron said...

Someone's obviously shown Ardell the "blur" feature.

And thank heaven for that!

T,V & Mr.B said...

That's not necessary and not cool. Ardell came on to state her point of view. Thanks for that Ardell. having a debate about methods etc, is what it is all about. not stupid comments like aarons. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Rob Dawg said...

Ardell DellaLoggia said...
Clearly the buyer will get more information IF they are making an offer on THIS property, than will appear in an advertisement.

You are incorrect. The true information is only available IF they use an agent with MLS. This is not a prerequsite to making an offer and is a bad assumption on your part.

I was wondering if you'd like to buy a used car using standard real estate practices from people held to the same ethical standards as real estate agents?

Disintermediation cannot come fast enough for some of us.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

Megaladon,

People like to have a face when they call someone. Helps them visualize the person they are speaking with and it does help with communication.

As to it being a filtered photo, tell that to the photographers. We don't ask for it, nor tell them how to do their job. Just turns out that way.

I think it's better than some people who hold their digital camera up to their fact and click. YMMV

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

Robert,

There are many levels of information available. One is information available through the seller and seller's agent, as on the Seller Disclosure Statement. One is through the home inspection process. On a condo, it is in the resale certificate regarding money in reserves and available for operating costs and life expectancy of common area components.

Much information is available to the buyer, without a buyer's agent, for the buyer who makes an offer. That same information is not available to someone who is not making an offer.

If a buyer wants someone to look at the resale certificate to determine the liklihood of future special assesments, not currently known to the HOA, then they need a buyer's agent for that. A seller's agent will tell you what is, not what may be coming down the pike. Granted, many buyer's agents do not know how to do that either. So merely having a buyer's agent does not necessarily afford someone an advantage over someone who does not have a buyers agent. Depends on the agent.

The seller's agent will not tell you if the home appears to be overpriced. The buyer can come to their own conclusions in that regard, or seek the advices of a buyer's agent. Of course if there are four offers in on the property...it's a given this house is priced at market value regardless of comps and data.

The DOJ suit is about a provision that permits some members of the mls to withhold their properties from the mls feed to companies like Redfin and MLS4U. There is an exchange of data agreement. You can show mine if I can show yours. So one big broker can say, that company can't show mine and I won't show theirs.

That is the issue of the DOJ suit, as originally filed, and it is to protect the new business models from being boycotted.

I left the Realtor Organization after 14 years, as I do side with the DOJ. So your attacking me as if I am a Realtor Member is inappropriate. I am not a Realtor Member.

Same goes for the "it's a priority.com". I am not a member of the group who sponsors that commercial.

Not all real estate agents are members of WAR and NAR. I personally am not.

B said...

I am strongly biased towards FSBO, for all the obvious reasons.

The corruption/monopoly issues just make the issue more visible.

Putting Realtors in the unemployment line: It's A Priority (for educated buyers)

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

Actually b, sometimes a for sale by owner is someone who wants a higher price than the agents tell him his house is worth. Or someone who is trying to conceal a defect and the agent won't be involved.

Buying ONLY for sale by owner limits your choices and is a childish philosophy. Why would you limit your choices to only those homes not listed in the mls?

Not a very smart move. Hugely diminished choices in a market that requires much more care in the buying process than that. Better to spend your time finding the person you respect (they can't ALL be bad) than limiting yourself to ONLY properties with no agents involved. Sounds like a formula for disaster.

Really, as a buyer, what do you care if the seller hires an agent to represent him? Doesn't limit you...

More choices for consumers does not equal disregarding 95% of the homes for sale.

B said...

Thanks Ardell for your patience and good humor :)

(But those arguments will not fly in this forum).

I did overstate my case: I'd also be very likely to use a discount broker like Redfin.

My "childish" approach is that I'd rather negotiate the difference between price+commission (seller retains agent commission) and price-commission (buyer retains agent commission). More and more properties are FSBO or available via online (discount) broker these days.

By the time the median house price in King County is affordable at the 80th percentile income level, there will be even richer online and discount/by owner listing services availble.

S Crow said...

B-

If more consumers (buyers) realized that they are coming to the table with the money to generate commissions, then I think consumers would gladly hire an experienced and knowledgeable agent---ie, you are paying for it in the sales price of the home. Yes, I'll save the subject of who is paying commissions for another time, just food for thought. People may find it odd that an escrow guy such as me, not in the sales end of real estate, raises this issue here, but it's really important.

Ardell DellaLoggia said...

b

I have sold listings where the buyer was given the whole 3%, since he had no buyer agent. Why do you think that is not an option?

I have assisted buyers purchase homes for over a million dollars for a minimal flat fee, given their ability to proceed without needing full representation. i.e. representing themselves, minimal service needed.

Why do you think these things can not be negotiated in the marketplace? Everything is negotiable. In fact, I do not wait for the consumer to want to pay less. I tell them up front if they have to pay full rate or not. The factors are price of property and difficulty of client. Some pay less than 1/2 of 1% and some pay 2% and some pay 3%. Why the perception that all pay the same?

Some people need full service, some don't. Some people get full service for less, some don't. Why this perception that there are no negotiations? Just because it is confidential between the consumer and the agent, does not mean there are not negotiations every day.

It is a misperception to think that all consumers pay the same rate or dollar amount for services.

I will shortly post the actual cost of services in a manner that retains client confidentiality. By end of January.

I absolutely do credit companies like Redfin for the changes they are making in the industry.

While I do not fault Ms. Reed for that which you do, I do fault her for "the Redfin clause" on the commission description.

If only you (Seattle Bubble) would target the real issues, you could have a strong voice and promote good changes. To that end I hope to enlighten.