In the comments to my 30 May 2008 post on the rise of the American virtual real estate agent, there was plenty of confusion about what exactly a virtual agent is. The details of the settlement of the lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors also created lots of confusion.
A friend just pointed me to an article about how the Realtors lawsuit empowers virtual agents on MarketWatch.
Online Real Estate Agents Get Advantage
It’s the best written description of what’s going on that I’ve seen. Here’s the essence of it. For anyone wed to the traditional business model, it’s scary stuff.
“The Justice Department reached a tentative settlement with the National Association of Realtors that essentially forced traditional real estate brokers to give Internet-based agents access to home-listing information that they had previously been denied.
“Online real estate agents often charge discounted commission fees and let buyers review listings at their own pace, but for years those Internet-based brokers in many parts of the country could not access more than 800 Multiple Listing Services nationwide affiliated with the national Realtors group. An MLS is a database of regional properties for sale.
“The traditional argument against opening the MLS system to online brokers was that it would result in a significant cut in commissions for traditional real estate agents. Indeed, that’s precisely what government officials wanted.”