Real Estate Roundup Column: Real estate companies are small businesses

A few weeks ago, right after Thanksgiving, was “Small Business Saturday.” It is held to remind us to shop locally and to support the businesses that support local fundraisers, youth sports, charities, and other community charity events. It is important to note that most real estate companies in our area are small businesses with brokerages and appraisal firms averaging four to seven people in each office. Many of these offices, and the individual brokers, appraisers and agents in them, assist a multitude of organizations and causes in our area while also working with clients and customers.

Our area’s independent, local broker marketplace creates a highly competitive market that is friendly to small businesses and new market entrants. One of the ways this marketplace works is through the two Multiple Listing Services (MLSs), and, which list most of the properties for sale in the tri-county region.

MLSs are independent broker marketplaces that focus primarily on residential real estate in local real estate markets, but also have commercial entries as well as property listings for land.

It allows real estate professionals to learn about and share local property listings in support of the interests of clients and customers. REALTORS® enjoy an economical, efficient system of sharing real property information and facilitating cooperative transactions, while their clients and customers have access to the most accurate and up-to-date property information available.

There are hundreds of MLSs across the country, which use a common set of rules to enable a smooth exchange of information in their local communities. MLSs provide a means for participants to offer compensation to other participants and enhance cooperation among them.

As applications of internet technology to the real estate business have increased in number, quality and acceptance by the public, most real estate brokerage firms have established “online identities.” MLSs have adopted Internet Data Exchange (IDX) programs as a means of enhancing cooperation between REALTORS®. Under IDX, brokers exchange consent to display each other’s listings on participants’ websites and using applications for mobile devices that participants control. Many MLSs, as a service to their members, also provide listing information to third-party aggregators such as realtor®.com and others through syndication or other similar agreements.

Access to inventory and free advertising, as well as the practice of the listing broker paying the buyer brokers’ commissions, incentivizes participation in these local real estate marketplaces and creates the largest, most accessible and most accurate source of housing information available to consumers. That levels the playing field among brokerages, allowing small brokerages to compete with large ones, and provides for unprecedented competition among brokers, including different service and pricing models.

How does this assist the seller and the buyer? When a seller lists with a company that is in the MLS, the listing is distributed to all of the agents that participate. The agents can then pass the listings onto to buyers that meet the buyer’s criteria in terms of price, geography, size and type of property, the property’s characteristics, etc. This is why it is important for a buyer to work with only one agent in the MLS.

Another benefit of the MLS is it helps to ensure equity, transparency, and market-driven pricing options for the benefit of buyers and sellers. The U.S. model of local broker cooperation has long been – and is still – viewed as the best value for consumers around the world. Local broker marketplaces provide sellers equal access to the largest possible pool of potential buyers and create the greatest number of housing options for buyers in one place without hidden or extra costs. Sellers making offers of compensation to buyer brokers also gives first-time, low/middle-income and all homebuyers a better shot at affording a home and professional representation. The free market organically establishes commission costs within local real estate markets based on service, consumer preference and what the market can bear, among other things.

Local real estate professionals, who know the market and know the clients, are one of the best resources for buyers and sellers. REALTORS® in our area have access to training, tools, and expertise to assist both sides in a transaction. Just like other small, local businesses in our area, real estate firms are your local source for real estate.

In errata – Last month I listed the Jefferson-Lewis Top Producers and inadvertently left several of the Gold Producers off the list - Ashley Scanlin, Marcia Slocum, Wendy-Jane Smith, Tania Sterling, and John Stevens.

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