Friday, July 26, 2013

Today's Realtor has it "made" . . .

What we did before MLS!


My mother became a licensed real estate agent in 1961 and I grew up in a real estate office environment . . . but that's an old story.  You've already read it.  But as I prepare myself for an arbitration hearing on Monday -- based on the foundation of what MLS is/was -- I began to "reminisce" about the way we "used to do it."

Really, today's consumer has it made.  With HAR.com, REALTOR.com and REMAX.com (not to mention TheSamTeam.com), consumers can shop for homes on the internet 24/7.  This makes it much easier for them to "weed out" the homes they like and don't like.  But what did we do before the internet?

In the early days, an agent found out about another agent's listings by word-of-mouth or by telephone or flyer delivery.  However, there was no guarantee that the listing agent would share any fee with another subagent (there were no buyer agents back then).  The subagent would have to call the listing agent and ask permission to "co-op(erate)" in the sale of the listing for a fee.  The two would have to negotiate the fee split, and decide whether to work together or not.  Consequently, listing agents tended to sell most of their own listings.

Then along came the MLS with its "automatically assured" fee split.  Listing agents could submit their listings to a central MLS system who would make copies and disperse them on Fridays by delivery truck along with a copy of "pendings" and "solds" for the week.  It was out-of-date, but much better than nothing.  It still required a phone call to confirm.
This is what MLS Books looked like.  Often, the images got "mixed up" before printing!

Then, along came MLS books.  A listing agent would fill out a lengthy listing form, take a Polaroid black & white photo, and send all in to MLS with a check for $10 per listing.  Within two weeks, a giant-sized book of photos and listings would be distributed on Fridays.  In Houston, it was FOUR giant-sized books every Friday.  (Sold/comp books were distributed quarterly, for a small extra fee.)

Along came computers which revolutionized our business -- the first being little terminals with no screen that spit out wax paper listings -- miles and miles of wax paper!  Monochrome screens came in the 1990's and really changed things up again . . . gradually progressing to where we are today.

And to think that I had to file an arbitration claim to get a commission for one of our young agents because some mega-listing company (whose name I won't mention) decided that they don't have to play by the MLS rules.  I don't really think they understand where we came from, and what MLS really is.  But they're about to get a lesson.

If I list a home on MLS with a fee offer to a co-op agent, that fee cannot be modified.  Period.  Plain and simple.  No phone calls.  No negotiations.  The fee is unconditionally offered to any participating member of MLS.  They can't change it except with mutual agreement in writing before any offer is accepted.   They'll learn.

Ah well, when I think about the history of MLS and co-op(erating) with other agents, it brings back a lot of memories.  No answering machines, no cell phones, no pagers, carbon paper, no fax machines, no email.  When you left the office, you went home.  No business until the next day.  Is it better now?  Hmmm.........