If mega-broker Edina Realty pulled their listings from Realtor.com and Trulia, despite the fact that both real estate portals are have millions of site visitors each month, will other mega-brokers, like Coldwell Banker, Century21, RE/Max, and Keller Williams follow? If listings are disappearing from Realtor.com and Trulia, will Zillow be next? Thanks to CAARE.org, a nationwide, non-profit consumer advocacy organization based in Minnesota, for raising those questions in our guest editorial.
This isn't the first time the Real Estate Cafe has exposed how listing practices can harm home buyers and sellers. In 2003, we organized an informal coalition of real estate consumer advocates to launch an iPetition to protect access to MLS listings.
It's too early to argue that any other listing agency is practicing undisclosed dual agency by sending buyer leads directly to listing agents via their web site, but it's not too early -- in fact, it's overdue by more than a decade -- to demand that industry regulators to develop "smart disclosures" and require that they be embedded into real estate portals and brokerage sites alike. If pop-up screens warn home buyers about conflicts of interest and loss of their ability to work buyer agent of their choice, fewer buyers will inadvertantly become victims of undisclosed dual agency, designated agency, and other forms of counterfeit buyer agency. Regrettably, surveys show that majority of agents don't see anything wrong with dual agency, so it's essential that industry regulators develop smart disclosures that automatically warn home buyers online!
What's a stake? Not just the ability for individual home buyers to have their own advocate to negotiate for the lowest possible price and best terms, but a massive cost to society as seen in the aftermath of the housing bubble.
Home buyers and sellers, if you are confused by broker babble and fine print about dual agency, designated agency, and other forms of counterfeit buyer agency, use this Pledge of Allegiance developed by the New York Department of State more than 20 year ago to reveal who’s really on your side! If "YOUR" agent won't sign this form or include the loyalty guarantee in their buyer agency agreement, walk away!