by Jim Palmer Jr. - Real Estate Marketplace N.W. Inc.
As a listing agent, it is a regular occurrence to receive calls from buyers who think they must deal directly with the listing agent in order to view or purchase a property. In some cases the buyer just wants to view the property as quickly as possible instead of waiting for the schedule of their agent, but usually the buyer thinks they must deal directly with the listing agent. This false idea may be born from the fact that some real estate companies have For Sale signs that say, “Exclusively (then the company name)”, which many buyers erroneously interpret.
The majority of real estate brokers in the Spokane region belong to the Multiple Listing Service which is owned and managed by the Spokane Association of Realtors. In order to participate, brokers must agree to the rules of this Listing Service. The basic underlying principle of the rules of engagement in the MLS is that real estate companies and their associated brokers will cooperate with each other in the sale of properties listed in the MLS. Brokers are not allowed to shield their properties from cooperation so they have an unfair advantage in bringing buyers to their own listing before other brokers have the same chance. That means each broker gets a fair playing field in terms of gaining equal access to the information immediately and the same ability as the listing broker to access properties. ANY broker or company associated with the MLS has access to ALL of the listed properties, even if the sign says “Exclusive Listing or Exclusively by (company name)”.
The term exclusive, in this context means that they have what is called an “Exclusive Right To Sell Listing Agreement”, which in simple terms, means that the listing broker gets paid no matter who brings the buyer. That means, even if the seller brings a buyer during the course of the listing, the listing agent gets paid the amount agreed upon. This listing contract says, “The broker will enter it into the MLS and offer compensation to any cooperating broker”.
In rare cases, a seller may agree to “exclusive agency”, which is a whole different animal, meaning that ONLY the listing broker may bring a buyer. Such an arrangement is usually not in the best interest of the seller because it limits exposure to other broker’s buyers.
Call your preferred broker first, in order to access any property listed by another broker.