CREA is made up of over 96,000 paying members (real estate brokers and agents) and part of CREA’s mission statement is “to formulate, promote and foster consistent professional standards of business practice, integrity and ethical conduct among the membership”. As such, when you get your real estate license and become a member of this association, you agree to adhere to certain standards and to follow the rules.
I recently ran into this type of listing. I was arranging showings for several homes a buying client wanted to see, paging listing agents with the requested showing times. One of the houses (here on the Island) was listed through a company on the mainland.
- I called the long distance number, was told the agent was not in and it would be best if I called his cell phone instead of leaving a message.
- I called the cell phone and spoke to the agent who, in turn asked for my cell phone number. I gave it to him (this is not common practice here) but asked that he just page me through the office with the showing confirmation, as I was making these calls on a break during a course.
- I called the seller. She wanted to know why my client (who works 9-5) wanted to see the house at dinner time? We could see the house after 7pm, or during the day or maybe sometime on the weekend. There was no lockbox on the house, she would be there to let us in.
- I called my client to see if he wanted me to try to change the showing times for all the other houses so we could end up at this one at 7pm, or wait for another day.
- I spoke to the seller again to say that my client had decided to skip her house (the house was only a ‘maybe’ online, and the difficulty in arranging the showing gave my client no confidence in negotiating a sale with this seller.)
6 phone calls, 2 of them long distance, to not show a house! I am all for innovative business models – we are, all of us in this industry, entrepreneurs and business people. However, I believe a large part of the success of the MLS system is due to CREA’s efforts to set and enforce standards of professionalism. I agree that discount brokerages should be allowed to offer a la carte real estate services. I don’t agree that the MLS system is the place for this to happen.
It would be great if there was the for-sale-by-owner listing website equivalent to the MLS. Lots of agents, myself included, are happy to approach privately listed homes on behalf of buying clients. Obviously, the real estate agents who pay for the MLS system are not going to fund the creation of a separate site for the consumers who don’t want to use their services. And the discount brokerages are not going to either because it would take a lot of work and money (MLS has been around for 50 years) and they wouldn’t make a go of it with their discounted fees.
So fine, bring on the discount brokerages and the for-sale-by-owners - they are not my main concern. My concern is that the end result of the Competition Bureau’s shake-up is going to be a step backwards in information sharing. The fact that you can currently go onto one site and expect accurate information regarding the majority of homes for sale across this huge country of ours is amazing. I think there is a very real possibility (in fact I know there is talk of) brokerages moving away from the MLS and putting the focus on their own sites. In this age of instant communication and increased information sharing we all want advances in co-operation not a retreat into individual brands.
We will just have to wait and see how it all plays out next spring…