Moderator: Chris Kelly, 2022 Broker Relations Liaison, National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); President & CEO, Ebby Halliday Companies, Plano, Texas
Rosey Koberlein, Chairperson, Long Realty, Tucson, Arizona
DeAnn Golden, Senior Vice President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, Atlanta
Mike Burns, Broker/Owner, RE/MAX Professionals, Denver
Shad Bogany, Team Leader, Shad Bogany Team, Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene Real Estate, Houston
Chris Kelly: Controversial at the very least, property listings held as exclusive often evoke a visceral response, both from those who condemn them as “never appropriate” and those who reason that they have a place in the scheme of all things real estate. In today’s prolonged low-inventory market, with prices soaring and competition keen, the issue merits examination. Do exclusive listings benefit anyone? If so, whom? And what are the downsides in the view of broker professionals committed to ethical business? We’ve invited a panel with long-term tenure and a willingness to speak their minds. Rosey, can you start us off?
Rosey Koberlein: I suppose you could make a case for keeping a listing exclusive if that is what the seller demands—celebrity sellers with custom properties maybe, who don’t want to open up to looky-loos. But no matter the reason, an off-market listing must always be the seller’s decision, because, as any right-thinking agent will tell you, the more eyes that are on a property, the more offers, and the better the price it will command.
DeAnn Golden: I respect the privacy issue, and under unique conditions like this, we will respect what the sellers need for this properly—so long as that seller has been fully informed of exactly what “exclusive” means and what the consequences may be, and we follow MLS and other legal guidelines. But the MLS is the bedrock of our industry, and as purveyors of the American dream for all, I think we owe it to buyers and sellers and to each other as agents to cooperate and share the pool of available properties to all.
Mark Burns: I’ll go further than that. I think so called “pocket listings” are the single biggest threat to this industry. They threaten the core of what keeps us in business, and any seller who chooses to go exclusive is the victim of poor advice. Especially today, with listings hard to come by, exclusives not only cheat consumers, they damage credibility between agents.
Shad Bogany: There’s another, maybe unintended consequence of keeping a listing exclusive, and that’s maybe a not-so-blatant attempt to keep out a certain segment of buyers—and that’s a practice that flies in the face of fair housing. I can’t even buy the celebrity seller angle because the truth is, most celebrities have their homes in a trust or held by some corporate entity. Even in the most exclusive areas, buyers go in to look at a house—they don’t know it belongs to Oprah or Denzel or Joe Shmoe. All they know is, it does or does not suit their needs, but they can never make an offer if they haven’t seen it.
CK: So, the problem is abuse of the system, one way or another, if I’m hearing you right. Consumers don’t get the full picture of what’s available, agents lose professional credibility with each other, and sellers may be missing out on good potential offers.
MB: Transparency is key. If we believe in the rule of supply and demand—that the more eyes on the property, the better the value—then there is no place for exclusive listings, ever.
SB: It’s a bad business model, and I don’t think there’s any place for it in this or any market.
DG: I second Shad’s point about the threat to fair housing. As facilitators, we know that competition is healthy—and more than that, in today’s fast-moving market, we do no one any favors—not our customers, or their neighbors, or even our appraisers, when we withhold properties from the MLS.
RK: Besides, most MLSs have rules in place regarding “coming soon” and off-market listings. If you show to one, you must be open to all.
CK: Good point.
RK: And actually, when you think about it, the whole issue may resolve itself by this summer. As rates go up, and buyers either can’t qualify or become a bit more hesitant, we could find ourselves with a bit more buildup of inventory, especially at the lower price points.
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