In the Beginning…The Multiple Listing Service was established for Brokers and Agents to communicate listings and publish a "unilateral offer of compensation" by a listing broker to other cooperating broker participants in their MLS. Being a member of an Association of Realtors® was and still is a privilege. Brokers and Agents were once the sole source of data and services to their customers and clients. Prior to the early 1990s, Brokerages would receive paper listings on a daily or weekly basis and insert them into an “MLS book” which was available in the office for the agents to access.
In the mid 1990s, the MLS was presented online for agents to be able to communicate listings to each other. This provided simpler access along with the ability to provide our clients listings via email. MTRMLS, our Middle Tennessee MLS which is now named Realtracs, made the decision in the early 2000s, along with other area MLS providers, to provide this information to the online public. This was not widely accepted by agents and many felt threatened that the Real Estate Agent would suffer the fate that the Travel Agent did.
Shortly thereafter, the Associations decided to share our listings with Realtor.com® which became the public go-to for information but, at that time, the Realtor’s® contact information was available with listings at no charge other than being a Realtor® member. Eventually, other third party MLS websites were permitted to feed from our MLS and, soon, if you wanted the public to view your contact information, you had to pay for a membership. Realtor.com®, eventually, began to charge Realtors® for membership to the website if they wanted their contact information to be seen on their listings. Third party websites then began to offer paid memberships so that, essentially, we could buy the leads that were generated from our own MLS. Oh, we were all angry at first but, in time, most agents accepted this as progress and the way we did our business changed, forever. It is progress and it will continue to change as new ideas develop.
In 2007, the market took a turn for the worst. Unscrupulous mortgage companies, “special” loan programs and uneducated, hopeful buyers had resulted in real estate transactions failing to close and many homeowners being foreclosed on due to having no equity in their homes. Prior to this fall, agents would mark their listings as "Pending". If they were uncertain that the transaction would go through they would keep their listings showing as Active but marked with a “Contingency” (on financing or inspection) for other agents to see but, because of so many known, failed transactions, more and more agents stopped marking their listings as “Pending” when under contract and, little by little, most agents began to mark all of their listings to continue to show as Active to the public (just in case or for liability purposes) while only agents can view that they are under a contingency contract. When we view these listings now that the market has picked up, we realize that most will close now that there are tighter Federal Guidelines for lenders and that the statistics show that it may be a waste of a buyer’s time and emotions to view a property that has a contingency contract.
Agents, this knowledge that we have is a good thing and an opportunity to reclaim our power!
With the public websites not being able to provide precise information anymore due to a number of imperfections, when a prospect calls on a listing that is under contract, it’s our privilege and responsibility to become the source of proper information once again. While consumers keep learning that the listings they find online are not available, they are becoming confused and frustrated and they need our help more than ever. Take the time to form a relationship and educate buyers so you can show them how much expertise goes into a successful transaction and be grateful that computerized information is NOT perfect. Embrace imperfection.
Change is good!