NWMLS to Allow Brokerages to share more Data

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service has announced policy changes that will allow brokerages to display more information on their websites. This means that if brokerages choose to, people will be able to see the length of time a property has been on the market, referred to as days-on-market (DOM), as well as cumulative-days-on-market (CDOM), along with the listing price adjustment history. The NWMLS will only allow the DOM to be shown if the CDOM is also displayed in order to insure that consumers are not mislead.

Another change for brokerages is that they now have access to three download feeds instead of just two. This could be significant for brokerages that want more options and vendors to choose from to manage their data feeds for property searches, which they make available to agents and the public.

Rules for Rain City Guide Contributors

I’ve never been one for rules, but in preparing to take on a new RCG contributor, I thought it might be a good time to articulate some of the informal rules that we seem to have developed on the site in order to bring together such an interesting crew (often with competing interests!) πŸ™‚

But first… Let’s be clear that there are no formal rules. And I definitely enjoy watching contributors “break” the unwritten rules because they almost always get immediate (and rarely pleasant) feedback from the community.

Here are the only two “rules” that come to mind:

  1. If you are going to attack something… attack ideas, not people. (i.e. “your idea sucks”… not “you suck”)
  2. Avoid obvious self-promotion.

The first rule is just a modified version of a rule from my mother with regards to the way I needed to treat my little sisters… (I was allowed to say to them “you did a bad thing”… but never “you are a bad person”). It’s pretty simple advice that I inevitably regret when I forget to obey.

An interesting related piece of advice from my mother is that I was never allowed to say “no” to my younger sisters, but rather I always had to say “instead”, as in “instead of playing with that, here is a toy you’ll find interesting.” Combine those two bits of advice and you get the essence of good blogging: Passionate challenging of ideas while providing interesting solutions.

The second rule is much more art than science and I can’t blame new bloggers for crossing the line on this too often. Obvious self-promotion looks bad and is an real turn-off for most consumers. I’m a huge believer in treating my readers like they are intelligent and savvy enough to know that the typical professional is blogging in order to earn business. If the consumer likes your attitude and style, they will choose you when looking for an professional without the need to constantly prompt them. One of the reasons I put all the contact information for active contributors on the sidepanel is because I think it is classier if I do the promotion for the contributors than if they try to do it for themselves… πŸ˜‰

By the way, one trick I recommend for new real estate agents to help stay away from the self-promotion angle is to make sure there is always at least one link in their posts that references an idea of someone else. The link could be to a news article, but preferably it is another blog post. (A ton of credit for promoting this idea goes to Greg as I’m not sure I would have realized this advice was novel without his encouragement…)

Linking does two things: 1) It adds credibility to your post because it demonstrates that you’re knowledgeable and follow many different real estate discussions and 2) it ensures that you’re part of the larger “real estate” conversation on the web.

This seems like a great topic to turn back on the community. Are these two “rules” sufficient to run a community? Are there other “rules” I encourage/enforce without realizing it? I would definitely enjoy everyone’s feedback! (but remember to attack my ideas and not me or I’ll delete your comment! LOL!)

Rhonda reminded me of a third “rule” I advice to new bloggers. I also request that contributors DO NOT post the same article on their blogs. This has two purposes: 1) It helps ensure that the articles they are writing are relevant to the RCG audience and 2) the duplicate posts are extremely bad SEO for the contributor’s website (There’s a long history behind this as more than one RCG contributor has temporarily lost all Google traffic to their personal blog after republishing all their RCG articles… The search engines, and Google in particular, hate this duplicate content and end up temporarily banning the agent’s site).

Commission double-take

Ok, for those of you thinking from the title that I’ll be going back to the subject of dual agency and taking a seller and selling side of a commission this is about something else. What I’ve got a question about as well as a big concern right now is that I just got mutual acceptance on a deal for a client and I’ve just noticed that the listing agent has changed the commission on the listing data. It was at 3% on the day my clients saw the house and now, tonight when we got MA, it is at 2.5%. Anyone have an idea how the local MLS views this kind of thing? I have a feeling that she changed it just because an offer finally came in (it was full price on a big price tag) and as of 01/06/2007 it was at 3%.

[photopress:washer_dryer_photo.jpg,full,alignright]Considering the listing agent screwed up and had posted a washer/dryer as part of the listing also and then she couldn’t work that problem out with her client (happens to be her father-in-law) I was planning on using part of the commission to buy a set for my clients. That may be shot now with the reduction although (the set they want is $2600) [photopress:pennies.jpg,full,alignleft] but I’m planning on pointing out the change and requesting that she pay the amount she originally noted and submitting the printed copy of the listing as my documentation with the disbursement form. The MLS rules as I see them state that the “commission shall be paid as designated in the listing (or any change thereto).” Which this could mean that I’m hosed the money, BUT, I can’t tell if she changed it before or after we got mutual acceptance – which I find to be a possible ethical violation if it was the agent’s choosing. Furthermore, which rate would apply if it was changed after the fact? The same section of the rules states “consent required to change other member’s commission”. I’m pretty sure the seller or the listing agent decided to drop it when faced with an offer and for no other reason than to save the money even though this has been the SOC for months – this place had been on market for over 100 days. Anyone got a clue on this one?

NWMLS sets its sights on violators

(Editor’s Note: I always get excited when I get the chance to introduce a new contributor to Rain city Guide! Today, I get to introduce Reba Haas who I’ve been following for quite a while over on Judy’s Book. She leads a local real estate team in Seattle and through her comments on RCG, she has proven that she can provide some always welcome insight into the local market! You can learn more about her at Team Reba, contact her directly at reba@teamreba.com , or simply leave a comment below!)

For those that are thinking I’m bringing back up the topic of NWMLS forms, I’m not. What I am interested in bringing up is the topic that the local MLS seems to be cracking down on violators of various rules. Not only are they cracking down and following up more on violations but they’re not providing as many “get out of jail free” cards – meaning they are doing less suspensions on fines even for first time offenders.

[photopress:handcuffs.jpg,full,alignright]Am I the only one who has noticed this? Is anyone familiar with the reasons why they are starting to get tighter on policies now? I’d LOVE to know but that is secondary to my delight in that it is happening. California recently enacted some changes to licensing requirements for new agents in an effort to improve the quality of agents entering the field and Oregon has done so as well – but rather than decreasing new applicants they’ve gone up, most likely because Oregon is still doing well with respect to real estate values increasing. If the local membership groups that we all belong to want to help bring up the standards I am all for it.