The Secret Open House in Seattle ... Courtesy of the MLS

By
Real Estate Agent with Dove Realty Inc.

I don't know what the rules and regulations are in other parts of the country, but the MLS in Washington State will not allow agents to include any information regarding open houses in their marketing remarks. Now the marketing remarks consist of 500 characters that are swept by all other web sites. So essentially we cannot use the MLS to notify buyers of an open house!

Their reasoning is the multiple is not supposed to be used to promote an agent. They act as if the agents are going to include in their marketing remarks "come meet the fantastic Susan Peters who by chance will be hosting an open house at xxx this Sunday" as opposed to a simple "open Sunday 1 - 4".

I don't know if this makes any sense to you, but to me it certainly doesn't serve the best interest of the seller, the agents, or buyers! It definitely helps the dominate brokerages who contract significant ad space on a weekly basis. By forcing their agents  (and consequently all other agents) to advertise and pay for it in print it certainly cuts down on the broker's budget. It's also a huge boon to print media.

As we've discussed on Active Rain almost ad nasuem, the print media is the least effective way for us to advertise. A simple "OPEN SUNDAY 1-4" in the marketing remarks is infinitely more efficient and impactful.

My final question is ... who does the MLS really serve?

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Rainmaker
116,470
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Jo: Forward this on to your fellow agents. I wonder how many people it would take to turn this thing around?

Colleen: We know who dominates the board. 

Mar 01, 2008 11:46 PM #31
Rainer
8,005
Jim Tutton
Windermere/ Professional Partners - University Place, WA

The MLS is a coop op site not a public advertising site.  If you are worried about paying for print ad, which I feel is still the best way to advertise an open house find a brokerage that has ad space avaible to their agents at no extra charge or atleast the first couple of print ads.  Maybe get Re/Max to start advertising Opens on their websites.  I know Windermere does and I believe JLS as well.  The MLS does not care who sweeps their info, their main goal is provided information between license agents and creat an agreement for compensation.

Mar 02, 2008 12:08 AM #32
Rainer
8,005
Jim Tutton
Windermere/ Professional Partners - University Place, WA
Get on the Board
Mar 02, 2008 12:09 AM #33
Ambassador
642,494
Courtney Cooper
All Seattle Homes for Sale: CooperJacobs.com - Seattle, WA
206-850-8841
Good points Susan - the public open info is good, but we really should be able to put a simple line in there if it is open or not...
Mar 02, 2008 12:22 AM #34
Rainmaker
359,159
Lori Mode
Keller Williams Realty - Elk Grove, CA Homes for Sale - Elk Grove, CA
Mode and Durham, Your Elk Grove Real Estate team
Susan - our MLS has a special section for open houses and it's picked up in the local paper's website this way - SacramentoBee.com.  I can't imagine not using it for our open houses.  We also put our open houses on Realtor.com and our website.  By putting them on our own website, we now have buyers looking at our site weekly for the coming open houses.
Mar 02, 2008 12:30 AM #35
Rainmaker
134,415
Paul Francis
Prudential Americana Group - REALTORS - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate - Summerlin Homes - 702.592.

Interesting question... we certainly have a category for our company, corporate and personal websites to advertise up coming open houses.

However, I can certainly see why it would not be allowed with adding it to the remarks in the MLS. Working with buyers and setting up several auto searches that automatically sends properties over in a brochure view could cause problems if buyers just showed up to the open houses without us.

I don't know about your area, but in ours many of the agents sitting open houses are not the actual listing agent, they are agents in the same office as the actual listing agents looking to pick up buyers. Agents holding the open house automatically think they are the "procurring cause" because they were sitting the open house when buyers came wandering in without their agent.

My opinion, but there are several sources to promote open houses for absolutely free including R.com, websites, AR, etc.. etc.. Which as you've stated... are far more effective then print media.

Mar 02, 2008 02:27 AM #36
Rainer
199,932
Richard Lecinski
Long Realty Company - Oro Valley, AZ
I think the agents in your area need to talk with the MLS officers. They certainly seem to be out of step with the real world.
Mar 02, 2008 07:06 AM #37
Rainer
431,618
Maureen Francis & Dmitry Koublitsky
SKBK Sotheby's International Realty - Birmingham, MI
SKBK Sothebynulls - Metro Detroit
We have a field that we can fill out for open houses.  It is rarely used other than for broker opens.  It feeds though to the public facing site, but I don't see people using it.  I've put my open houses in Realtor.com too and dont get much result from that.  I don't think that open houses should be in the general remarks field for the reasons so many have mentioned above.
Mar 02, 2008 07:38 AM #38
Ambassador
2,418,149
Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Wow!  Susan, that pretty much sucks! We even have an "Add Open House" function that buyers can tap into.  I use it in addition to the Washington Post and Craig's List, and we're starting to get a lot of visits from the MLS thing.  I mean, that is what MLS is for as far as I'm concerned.  You should check out the Houston Association of Realtors public site.  I think it's the best one I've ever seen, because it includes open information right on the pubic listing page.

Tell you MLS to grow up! 

Mar 02, 2008 08:33 AM #39
Ambassador
1,476,786
Renée Burrows
Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - www.urLVhome.com

When the market turned sour, so did the MLS.  Abuse not only in the remarks but OOPS, branded tours, OOPS a propertly listed in the wrong community, OOPS the wrong square footage, OOPS four bedrooms instead of two. 

I report data errors all the time, they never seem to get fixed.

Data entry errors my hind end!

Mar 02, 2008 08:55 AM #40
Rainmaker
311,526
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Renee - I see those "mistakes" all the time lately.  I also report them, and the MLS does get them fixed.  Not sure if they fine the people, too, or not.

My favorite is a picture of the listing agent's sign with their phone # and web address mixed in among the pictures of the house.

Mar 02, 2008 09:43 AM #41
Rainer
122,017
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
They serve themselves of course. We simply pay for their existence. The fact that we pay doesn't mean we get any perks...lol. I wonder about the mls and nar sometimes.
Mar 02, 2008 08:46 PM #42
Rainmaker
116,470
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

John, Len, Don, and Anne: 

1. First of all I want thank you for your thoughtful comments. The only thing I can say about your concern with your buyers going to open houses on their own is to stress the importance of a buyer agency agreement.   I think if the only thing that's keeping a buyers loyalty to their agent is access to information then that agent has bigger problems than published open houses. 

2. I hold all of my listings open the first weekend; more as a courtesy to my fellow agents. I would never think of trying to steal their buyers. On the contrary I want to make it as easy as possible for my fellow agents to show and sell my listings and even though there are a few bad apples, I think most agents have the same respect for these relationships. 

2. I do agree that the MLS shouldn't be used for agent promotion. I just don't happen to think posting the time of an open house is promoting an agent. I see it as a more transparent way of doing business.

 

Mar 03, 2008 12:46 AM #43
Rainmaker
311,526
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate

Susan - here in Connecticut, buyer agency agreements are mandatory when we're working with buyers.  So, that is not the issue.

The issue is that IDX is now a part of our profession.  When prospects are using our personal websites, if they see on the listings that there is an open house, then our personal website may have just generated a client for the agent who is hosting the open house.  Possibly not even the listing agent.  Keep in mind that we market our websites.  Prospects that we have not met with will be searching our sites.  Why should the IDX feeds on our sites direct them to another agent?  That's not the intent of IDX.

On the other hand - I welcome all agents' clients to my open houses.  I will gladly let them view the home during the open house.  And I will gladly accept an offer on that home from the other agent with no issues at all as to who was the procuring cause.  A sale from an open house is still a sale, no matter who the buyers' agent is!

 

Mar 03, 2008 06:55 AM #44
Rainer
24,612
Adam Bogle
TEN Realty Group - Ashland, OR
CRS, Southern Oregon... The Most Recognized Realto

 

It sounds to me like you should contact your MLS board, get involved somehow, and try to change the rule.

You certainly have a lot of support for your arguement about Open Houses.

I know that before I joined the board of our local MLS, I wondered what they did.

Now I know, and am working on changing the things I don't like about it.

 

Mar 03, 2008 11:31 AM #45
Rainmaker
116,470
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Patrick: That's great for the buyers who are searching Windermere's site but what about the buyers who are on JLS,  CBB, Re/Max or God forbid Redfin? Everyday it seems like there's a new website for buyers and it would make all of our lives a lot simpler if we could just post our open house time on the most searched site and have it swept.

Debbie: Your in the majority so far.

Michael: I think we need to start questioning.

Joe: I agree completely.

Lisa: I'm going to do that too. 

Mar 03, 2008 03:39 PM #46
Rainmaker
116,470
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Melina: I appreciate your point but since the majority of the MLS's allow open house info to be made public I think we should have that ability as well.

Gary: That seems to be the case here.

Shannon: I think you're going to miss your Yakima MLS.

Bob and Carolin: Thanks for the feedback.

Wayne: That's all I'm looking for. 

 

Mar 03, 2008 05:14 PM #47
Rainmaker
116,470
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

This blog kind of got a way from me and I want to appologize for taking so long to respond to all of the thoughtful and engaging comments. It has certainly given me a lot to think about.

James: I think I'll look into that.

Courtney, Lori, Richard and Christy: That's 4 more for transparency.

Paul: I have my buyers present one of my busines cards to every open house agent, the minute they walk through the door. It saves a lot of trouble.

Maureen: That's 1 more for the MLS.

Patricia: Our Mls has actually grown old and stogdy.

Renee and Don: I just saw that sort of thing this morning.

Don: Thanks for your considered comment.

Adam: Good Advice!

Apr 20, 2008 01:22 AM #48
Rainmaker
208,460
Terrylynn Fisher
Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com - Walnut Creek, CA
HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CEP Realtor, Etc.
Oh yes, this discussion in our area is pretty much the same.  It's as if we created the monster and now it is biting off it's limbs...UGH.  We sometimes are our own worst enemy with this type thing.  We just keep fighting that fight here too. 
Apr 20, 2008 01:50 AM #49
Rainmaker
116,470
Susan Peters
Dove Realty Inc. - Seattle, WA
The Better it Looks the Better it Sells

Terrylynn:  I think it's a case of the tail wagging the dog!

Apr 23, 2008 02:09 AM #50
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