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NAR General Counsel Warns About Dangers of Failing to Syndicate

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Katie Johnson
Katie Johnson, General Counsel of NAR

In case you haven’t seen this yet, Katie Johnson, the General Counsel of NAR, has written an article that comes as close to a formal legal opinion on dangers of failing to syndicate listings.

Well, actually, she warns about the practice of pre-marketing, also known as “Coming Soon” but the logic that she uses applies with full force to the practice of not syndicating listings to major portals.

The full article is here.

Since I’ve had fun with Sam DeBord’s Inman article in the past in which I draw parallels between “pocket listings” and syndication, I find the paragraph below super interesting:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to national websites without also making it available to other area brokers and agents and their buyer-clients through the MLS results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

If we take for granted that best interest = highest possible price, and that highest possible price results from maximizing exposure… the above paragraph could be rewritten this way:

For most sellers, getting the highest possible price on the best terms is their “best interest,” and maximizing exposure of their property to potential buyers advances that interest…. Restricting the marketing of a seller’s property to only small networks, private clubs, or even to the MLS without also making it available to national websites with their tens of millions of buyer visitors results in the property not being exposed to the widest group of potential willing and able buyers, and may not provide the seller the best opportunity to attract offers at the highest price. [Emphasis added]

Yes, yes, I know — the MLS is different from national portals, because shut up. Just like how it’s a terrible evil when an agent can pay to be advertised next to a listing about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, but if she pays an IDX vendor to setup a website on which she can put listings about which she knows nothing located in an area 30 miles away she has never worked, why, that’s completely different, because shut up.

But hey, Katie Johnson writes:

It’s important that sellers understand the implications of various ways of marketing the property so that they can knowingly determine the choice that best serves their interests.

Yeah. Well, let’s hope there aren’t any trial lawyers reading this blog who might become super interested in just how much a seller was briefed about the implications of not sending listings to some of the highest trafficked websites in real estate, and knowingly determined the choice that best served his interests.

As an industry, we could continue going down this path, of course, and we’re likely to do that, because… well.. masochism, I guess. Or we might ask why these pre-marketing tactics and private clubs and so on are happening and take a hard look at underlying causes.

Heh, I know. I know.

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Rob Hahn
Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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