GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: The Best Defense is a Strong Offense

Richard Haggerty | November 15, 2021

HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty

I don’t think it would surprise anyone when I say that organized real estate is always subject to scrutiny and, sometimes, outright attack, and recently it seems that our industry is constantly under siege. During these periods it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and complain. However, if we are going to continue to effectively service consumers in helping them achieve the American Dream of homeownership, I believe we must be much more proactive.

As we have reported before in Real Estate In-Depth, MLS’s and real estate companies are being challenged in lawsuits across the country on issues related to buyer broker compensation and on clear cooperation policies, among many others. Critics complain that MLS policy is unfair to buyers. Opponents of clear cooperation, policies that stipulate that properties must be placed in the MLS if they are going to be actively marketed to the public, argue that cooperation should be discretionary as opposed to a blanket offer of cooperation. All of this discussion and debate is being played out in legal briefs and in social media, and it’s well past time that we get control of the narrative.

First and foremost, after more than 50 years and in the midst of incredible advancements in real estate technology, MLS’s remain one of the most successful marketplace models that foster both cooperation and competition in the brokerage community for the benefit of consumers. Sellers benefit by having their properties exposed to a vastly expanded pool of potential buyers. Buyers benefit by having greater access to available properties and more choice. It is truly a win-win model that has withstood the test of time, which is why it’s vital that we maintain this tremendous tool.

Recently the Department of Justice announced that it was reneging on an agreement it had reached with the National Association of Realtors concerning multiple listing service policy. I believe that there is a possibility that the DOJ is being swayed by the false narrative that MLS’s exist to solely benefit “big” real estate interests. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and we need to get that word out.

The following is an excerpt from an article written by former NAR President Ron Phipps published by RISMedia: “As more than 31 million small businesses across the country were recognized during National Small Business Week, it’s a good time to look at how small, local operations drive so much of the economy and search for ways to continue to level the playing field for them and for consumers. When it comes to ‘buying local,’ small businesses could not be more front and center than when it comes to purchasing a home. In fact, of the 1.5 million Realtors across the country, more than 1.3 million are small businesses like me who are focused on our local communities.”

That’s the true narrative that we have to help spread. NAR has created a new website, Competition.realtor, which has a wealth of information and tools to help set the record straight about the importance of MLS in the real estate transaction and the fact that Realtors, predominantly small business owners, are at the hub of an industry that helps drive the economy. So, now is the time to play offense. Check out all of the talking points on Competition.realtor and help spread the message about the importance of MLS and the vital role Realtors play in fostering an efficient and transparent real estate marketplace.

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO