MLS Misleads Re: Days on Market

The underbelly of the real estate industry is the "low barrier to entry" into a career as a Realtor. But after 26 years as a Realtor myself, I've concluded that ethics is related to character as much as education.

mlslogo2In Massachusetts, we have a mandatory continuing education requirement along with the National Association of Realtors' mandatory ethics class. However in my local board, it is common practice to mask the true days on market for listings. The software authorized by our MLS is oblivious to the connection between street address and days on market.

A listing can be handled consecutively by several agents, and at each change of agency the days-on-market counter is reset to zero. When a neighboring MLS (MLS PIN) corrected its software to prohibit this, a 30 percent discrepancy was noted. Since our MLS data is represented to the public as a true mirror of the market and a reflection of the local and state economy, such an error has major implications.

A variation of the falsification of days on market is when the listing agent himself/herself suggests to the owner that the listing be withdrawn and then re-listed as a new listing. Of course these agents will claim that the owner suggested this ploy and they are only doing what the owner wants. ("Just following orders" -- where have we heard that defense before?) Whatever shortsighted gain might accrue to the individual, the wider effect is to mislead other people and corrupt an important database.

This situation is not addressed in any of our continuing education or ethics training. We want the public to look to us as experts and some of us can't even count right!

Marietta Nilson
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