Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How Do You Sell A Home?

Last year, the National Association of Realtors entered into a settlement with the Department of Justice that defined how the associations along with multiple listing services were limiting how brokerages were operating on the Internet.

Many of the old school real estate services wanted to continue to control client information and force potential home buyers go through extensive broker arrangements to access information. Basically there are two ways for you to see homes for sale on the Internet, IDX and VOW. The IDX method is a data transfer; most individual agents have these types of feeds on their personal websites. The data is supposed to be limited to price and address.

The second method, VOW, is a virtual office that allows customers to see the details of the property as if they had walked into an office and spoke to an agent. This type of operation had Realtor freaking out in the early days of the Internet. The value was always perceived to be in controlling the information in the listing.

Back in 2005 this is what NAR Had to say about the suit.
No doubt you have read the news about the U.S. Department of Justice's decision
to sue NAR over its new policy governing the display of multiple listing service
data on Internet Web sites.

NAR is disappointed that its multi-year
attempt to develop a Web listings policy that's a win for consumers and also
preserves the rights of real estate brokers will end up in court. We worked long
and hard to understand and accommodate the government's demands. In the end,
however, it proved impossible to do so without fatally compromising our members'
interests. We know we stand on firm ground legally, and we are very confident
the issue will be decided in our favor.

At stake is a principle that's vital to our members and central to the cause of organized real estate: We believe REALTORS® should be free to market their customers' properties as they see fit and that consumers who wish to have their property listed in the MLS should have the right to choose whether their homes are displayed on the
Internet or not. After all, MLSs are not public utilities; they are private databases created for and maintained by real estate professionals for real estate professionals.

Personally, I do not think it was marketing their customer’s property as they see fit, but controlling information. The industry has always had a tough time with transparency and the Internet has forced the real estate industry hand.

But the settlement did end the practice of controlling information and creating transparency for clients. This control of information led the DOJ to file a complaint and after nearly four years the settlement allowed for VOWs to continue operating, but one thing that came out of the settlement was a listing client online opt out. This allows the person listing a home for sale two ways to opt out online. The first is from comments and rating of homes. The second opt out is a completed elimination of the home from online listing. This includes everything from Realtor.com, Craig’s List to the brokerage website.

U.S. Department of Justice, resolving the litigation between NAR and the Government over the display of listings from the MLS on brokers' virtual office Web (VOW) sites. The final order validates NAR's long-standing Internet data exchange (IDX) policy and strengthens the membership rules governing multiple listing services. The order caps a three-year long battle between NAR and the Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit against the association in 2005 calling it anti-competitive for brokers to have unlimited say in where, and how, their clients' listings are displayed on other brokers' VOWs.

I bring this up because since the implementation of the opt out policy, I have seen in many places that a large percentage of people are beginning to opt out from online as the implementation of the settlement has begun. I believe that the policy is unclear to Realtors, Clients and the industry as a whole because there is no standardized opt out policy. Each MLS has its own policy and wording so it appears that many not know what they are agreeing too.

In this day and age with more than 70 percent of people beginning their home search online, it is inconceivable to me that a homeowner would not want their home market online but this practice is continuing. I want to know would an Alameda homeowner really want to opt out of Internet marketing.

Also would you list your home for sale with an agent that did not include an Internet plan?

Just some thoughts before you get ready to sell a home.

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