DOJ Enables ForSaleByOwner.com To Use REALTOR.com
ForSaleByOwner.com issued a press release today that it has become the nation’s first “by owner” real estate website to advertise its listings on Realtor.com without going through a multiple listing service.
The National Association of REALTORS® fired back that that their official Website – Realtor.com has no relationship with ForSaleByOwner.com, and that there are no homes listed on Realtor.com without broker representation.
It’s one of the most interesting “We said – They said” disagreements to erupt since the Department of Justice began interfering with the National Association of Realtors online listings policy.
Why bring up the DOJ? The government enforcer hand-delivered ForSaleByOwner.com a new business model and advertising vehicle through its settlement with the NAR.
Here’s how it works. A FSBO seller can go to the Website or the phone and sign up for an MLS package, say the gold package at $629 that includes six photos, a 1000-word description, yard sign kit, directional sign and brochure dispenser, and a listing on Realtor.com and other “affiliates” for six months.
If the seller is willing to pay a buyer’s agent, they are placed with a flat-fee broker in their own area’s MLS. If they don’t want to pay a buyer’s broker, they are placed in an out-of-area MLS where they can put a token compensation to buyers brokers. Either way, the listing is forwarded to Realtor.com via the MLS and posted on the search by the home’s zip code.
The contact for the listing is an 800-number supplied by ForSaleByOwner that goes directly to the seller, or the flat-fee broker can forward the prospect to the seller.
Greg Healy, Vice President of Operations at ForSaleByOwner.com, explains that ForSaleByOwner.com does not have an agreement with Realtor.com, as correctly pointed out by the NAR. But it does have agreements with flat-fee brokers to place FSBOs into local and out of area MLSs to enable consumers to avoid paying full-fee listing agents.
When asked if this isn’t all a bit, well “icky,” (sellers being encouraged to go out of area to avoid brokers’ fees, using 800 numbers to mask sellers as their own brokers, etc.) Healy responded, “We help facilitate the seller and sharing of MLSs and support different business models. The key point is it helps set the table for different types of brokers so they won’t be discriminated against. Our fight is to open the MLS and work with brokers who have been impacted by NAR actions before the DOJ settlement.”
For full-service brokers who may be angered at being outwitted on their own national association Website, ForSaleByOwner extends an olive branch. They say they’re working within the guidelines of the “settlement,” and that the sellers using Realtor.com are in fact – represented…
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