Clear Cooperation and rules

Most people don’t know this and they would never guess but there are a lot of rules that Realtors have to follow. We can’t for instance list a house and put a sign in front and keep it off the MLS because that violates the “clear cooperation” policy.

We can list a house and get the owner’s permission to withhold it from the MLS but that means it can not be advertised publically, which means it can not have a for sale sign or be put on the internet for all to see.

We can not put a for-sale sign in front of a house if we don’t have a signed contract with the seller to put the house on the market.

There are rules about providing accurate information about the houses we list through our Multiple Listing Service (NorthstarMLS)

The MLS really is the source of information about homes for sale. All of the real estate company websites like Zillow get their data from the MLS as do websites like Realtor dot com. The data is also used by appraisers which is another reason why accuracy is important.

We police ourselves. If we find that a rule is being broke we can click on a link send an email or make a phone call to a compliance department that evaluates the complaint and then fines the offender if applicable.

NorthstarMLS® is responsible for fairly enforcing MLS rules and regulations for all NorthstarMLS® participants. MLS rules compliance is important to our business:

  1. Ensures the offer of compensation, making sure you get paid.
  2. Ensures you have current, accurate, and complete property data.
  3. Ensures professional data sharing and cooperative behaviors.

It is against the rules to increase the square footage of a house or to call a room a bedroom if it isn’t a bedroom. One of the more common violations I have seen is calling a story and a half house a two-story house.

Sometimes people make mistakes and there isn’t a fine or disciplinary action. The agent is asked to immediately correct the mistake.

There is a statement at the bottom of the page for information shared with consumers: “Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. Copyright (c) 2021 Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota., Inc. All Rights Reserved”

Most of the rules are easy to follow but it can get complicated because there are so many rules.

Fancy language and flowery words

As a Realtor, I get to use the real estate forms and contracts that are available exclusively to members of the Minnesota Realtors association. They are all current and legal and when we write an offer we can fill in the blanks.

There are spaces to write extra stuff and we can attach additional documents to any of the contracts.

In some states, like New York for instance lawyers do the paperwork and make the legal contracts to purchase a home. Here in Minnesota real estate agents take care of the paperwork and most are not lawyers.

Real estate agents and real estate brokers can not give legal advice.  Sometimes we recommend consulting an attorney.

Sometimes home buyers and sellers ask their agents to write crazy things into those contracts.  The more anyone who isn’t a lawyer adds to the contract the more likely it is to cause trouble later on. When it comes to legal contracts less is often best unless a lawyer is drawing up the contract.

There are times for creativity and legal contracts are not one of those times. Our contracts are kind of fill in the blank and check this box or that which is a good thing. Everything is standard and legal.

Practicing real estate agents and brokers are experts when it comes to real estate contracts. We get new contracts on August first of each year and we usually don’t get to see the new contracts before that date. We usually get an overview of the changes and can review it before we use the new contracts.

It is just advertising

There is a sign in the neighborhood with a picture of a real estate agent on it. It says that he is number one in the neighborhood. I didn’t recognize the name or the face even though I have lived in the neighborhood for 39 years.

I have no idea what number one means innumber 1 this context, so I did some research. I looked in the MLS and the agent has sold a few houses in the neighborhood but is fairly new and I can honestly say I have sold more houses in the neighborhood.

Misleading advertising is against a standard of practice in the Realtor Code of ethics. Yet the real estate industry is full of what I’ll call tricky advertising because if I call it misleading that will open a can of worms that could keep me busy for months.

Is claiming to be number one misleading? Being number one is vague and hard to prove or disprove which is why there are so many number one real estate agents. What are they number one in? Why aren’t there any number two agents?

When it comes to being number one we could count transactions or sales dollar volume.

The agent who sells the most homes usually has a higher number of canceled and expired listings too and is often slower to answer the phone and sometimes clients end up working with a low paid but efficient assistant instead of with the agent.

If you meet with a real estate agent who claims to be number one ask a lot of questions.

Our clients are always number one.

To wear a mask or not?

In addition to coping with the pandemic this past year, I have also had to make policies and safety guidelines for my company. We are required to be in compliance with theFace mask Minnesota Health Department guidelines if we want to stay in business. There are now pages and pages of rules.

Last Thursday the CDC stated that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks indoors or outdoors except in certain situations. Every business I have visited since then is still requiring customers and employees to wear masks.

The governor of Minnesota lifted the mask mandate but the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis decided to keep the mandates. Masks are required when indoors in most places in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In real estate, we have all sorts of rules and guidelines. There are still people who believe that the SARS virus is spread by touching doorknobs that have been infected so there is a lot of doorknob cleaning and sanitizing going on.

The CDC says that the virus is spread through airborne particles. I totally understand why people might not believe the CDC at this point.

For now, even though I am fully vaccinated I am following the rules that businesses have put in place. Most of the time I will need to wear a mask when indoors in public places. The number of people with Covid-19 in Ramsey county is still very high. Higher than last year at this time.

We will continue to wear masks when we go inside private homes. I prefer not to ask our clients if they have been vaccinated but usually, they volunteer their status when I let them know that I am fully vaccinated.

I do my best to keep up with local guidelines and regulations.

Not working from home

In the last few months, rush hour traffic has gone back to the way it was during the before time.  Last year at this time it seems like the streets were lined with cars, now the cars are gone.

I have talked with friends and family who are going back to the office and so far none of them really want to go back. One family member lucked out when his company was purchased by a company that is located out of state. He gets to stay employed and work from home.

There is a lot of traffic in the area in the evenings and on weekends too. People walking, driving, and riding on those little electric scooters.

It is easier for me to plan where I want to live than it is for others. I just need to live in an area where there are houses. I have been working out of a home office for 15 years and can work from almost anywhere if I have internet access.

I have to pay my own health insurance and I don’t get paid during vacations and there is no pay for sick days. That might seem like a bad thing but it is a trade-off. It would be nice to have benefits and freedom but that isn’t a thing.

It will be interesting to see if the pandemic has any kind of long-term impact on where people want to live.  I don’t have any advice on this except to say that buying a house is more of a longer-term commitment than most employers will make. I still live in the house that was close to jobs but I haven’t had any of those jobs for 20 years.

view of downtowns
View of St. Paul and Minneapolis from Indian Mounds Park in St. Paul

The number of Realtors continues to grow

Not everyone who has a real estate license sells real estate. The number of licensees in Minnesota increased by 4500 during the first quarter of 2021. Not all real estate licensees are Realtors. Realtors are members of the national association of Realtors. (NAR). The NAR is experiencing a lot of growth. Home sales this year in the US may be as high as 7.1 million in 2021. I have seen some predictions that they will be lower in 2022.  This means we probably have more Realtors right now than we have houses on the market.

Spread out across the country half a million or so newish Realtors probably isn’t that many but if you are getting a lot of calls and texts from people offering to sell your house it is because there are many agents who don’t have any listings right now. There are more real estate agents than there are homes for sale.

If you would like to work with a Realtor you can choose one who has a lot of experience and you should be negotiating those commissions. The competition for listings is intense and no matter what “experts” say there is no “going rate” when it comes to commissions. They are all negotiable.


Graph with the number of Realtors
Number of Realtors

The numbers I used to make the graph are from the NAR.

If you do have a house to sell, feel free to contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.