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Opinion Editorials

Banks severely limit how REO agents phrase MLS listing descriptions – outrageous

Truth in advertising is dead. Thanks, banks.

Someone, somewhere, has decided that truth in advertising no longer matters.  Many corporate clients, meaning banks, have started dictating what can, and cannot be said in the MLS.  It isn’t about getting the property sold, but “selling” the property.  This has made working the REO niche a tad complex at times.

Ultimately, a client is going to require certain things; a minimum amount of earnest money, a proof of funds letter, or a pre-approval. Yet, they are not allowing us to put this information out there for buyers and their agents.  Please go back and re-read the first two sentences of this paragraph.  Some REO clients are skittish about potentially disenfranchising buyers, or so it has been said, by specifying what types of financing, if any, a home will qualify for, or minimum amounts of EM they, themselves want.  Many of the banks, servicers, and asset management companies are now saying what they want during negotiations.

Banks forcing agents to fail

As if listing REOs were a drug experiment going on in a secret lab for Big Pharma, we now have “control words” that will kick back a marketing description.  There isn’t exactly a master list of no-no which can’t be used, but it’s basically any ick-tastic phrases in regards to a house.  You know, like if house has mold, damaged or missing mechanicals, missing siding, or perhaps is one of those super special REOs that can only truly be fixed with a Blue Tip and about 5 gallons of Kerosene (sarcasm, kind of) and can only be purchased with cash or a rehab loan.  We are more, and more frequently not permitted to mention these things in the MLS by many of our clients.  Oh, and no photos showing how crappy the condition of a house may be, either.

Since there are about a billion factors that go into the price of an REO listing; it’s not solely up to the discretion of the agent, being able to paint an accurate picture of what is for sale is imperative.  A house may have an awesome kitchen, but it makes no difference if the ceiling has fallen down around it due to a burst pipe, and we aren’t able to say a word about it in the MLS.  When the reins get pulled, and we are hampered by what can be said, the true, provable things, about a home, we are not doing our jobs effectively.

Yeah, we sell houses. But is it really selling when we are not relaying information to buyers, and other agents that they should probably have?  Or is it selling? That cute little spin which often puts Realtors just above or below snakes on the Ten Lists of Most Hated Things.

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Written By

Katie Cosner, occasionally known as Kathleen, or KT, is a Realtor® with Cutler Real Estate and is active in her local Board of Realtors® on the Equal Opportunity & Professional Development Committee. She has been floating around online for a number of years, and is on facebook as well as twitter. While Katie has a few hardcore beliefs, three in the Real Estate World to live and die by are; education, ethics, and the law - insert random quote from “A Few Good Men” here. Katie is also an avid Cleveland Indians fan, which really explains quite a bit of her… quirks.


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