In a continuing saga started by a DOJ antitrust lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the folks at ForSaleByOwner.com may have really blundered this time, (sorry private Sellers).

 

These guys have never made it any secret that they aren’t very happy about being “locked out” of the NAR-controlled Realtor.com listing database. Now they’ve come out and claimed that with a new “Silver” listing package a private seller can achieve placement in the Realtor.com website.

 

With over 8 million visitors per year, it’s no surprise that the ForSaleByOwner people (and their clients) want in….who wouldn’t?

 

But membership has is privileges and I’m sure your Mother told you that you get what you pay for, didn’t she?

 

Well evidently these guys don’t have permission to do what they are saying they can do (put FSBO listings into Realtor.com) and the Realtor.com people are making it very clear that is the case. In a press release issued today they made the following key clarifications (amongst many others:

 

• The settlement agreement between NAR and the Department of Justice made no provision to allow unlisted properties, such as “for-sale-by-owner,” to be posted on REALTOR.com.
• ForSaleByOwner.com does not in any way enable home sellers to advertise their home on REALTOR.com without broker representation. Every property on REALTOR.com must be listed by a licensed real estate broker.
• There are no unrepresented homes on REALTOR.com – every property on REALTOR.com must be listed by a licensed real estate broker.

 

The problem really stems from the ever-increasing availability of once private and MLS-controlled information to consumers. The typical Buyer and Seller of the internet age want instant access to real estate listings, statistics, buying/selling tips and more and if they can’t get in from one spot, they will surf on over to another at the snap of a finger.

 

This wild proliferation of quick & free info is creating what I call “information poisoning” and is quickly creating an entire population of attention-deficit consumers.

 

Segue back to the original subject of the FSBO’s wanting MLS access. So much information has been given away for FREE that most consumers no longer have a firm grip on what information has real “value” and what, well, DOESN’T.  

 

Opinions aside, many sellers, both listed and FSBO alike, labor under the delusion that if they “just get in enough websites” like Realtor.com or Craig’s list, then the house will sell. This belief is flawed on many levels, the main being the following reality of the business:

 

The great majority of real estate transactions are handled by LICENSED AGENTS on a LOCAL LEVEL.

 

Why? Because while the average buyer from, say, Los Angeles, CA uses the internet to research our area and pick out homes they may buy, they know darn well that when they physically come to town they can hire a professional realtor who:

·        Knows the area & is unbiased about which home they choose

·        Is familiar with the glut of inventory on the market

·        Understands local market & lending conditions

·        Provides lawsuit & legal protection through “E&O Insurance"

·        And costs them absolutely nothing because most serious, motivated Sellers pay the buyer-agent’s commission

 

Or they could go “deal hunting” at the ultimate expense of the FSBO who:

  • Is inherently biased about the home the buyer chooses (of course)
  • Is fairly un-familiar about the inventory (because they don’t study it to feed their family)
  • Is fairly un-familiar about local market and lending conditions (for the same reason listed above)
  • Has NO protection against lawsuits & very little familiarity with a binding contract
  • And who has, ultimately, no incentive to assist a buyer in making their best purchase because it would of course hurt their position as a Seller.

Private Sellers have their rights and if they can truly save the commission amount by not using a Realtor, more power to them. However, based on what I know about the situation I wouldn’t plan on seeing my home listed in Realtor.com any time soon if I were a FSBO.