Every great once and a while a concerned home seller asks us about this: "Do buyer agents boycott flat fee MLS listings?" or "Will an agent refuse to show a flat fee brokers'' listings?" The short answer is no, for the reasons listed below. Often, the only time a seller asks us this question is that they were talking to a traditional agent who wants them to pay a huge commission. The seller mentions they may use BuySelf.com to list their home. The agent can't think of a good reason to justify the commission that is 10 to 20 times more than ours so the agent desperately tries to scare the seller into listing with them.
We don't have a problem with boycotts. We recently looked at a number of lists of the largest real estate companies in the United States, including Realtor.com magazine's "Top 100" and found that all of those companies had sold one of our sellers listings. This didn't surprise us at all. Name a big real estate company and our sellers have received an offer from them. You could probably also mention a medium and small company and they have sold our sellers home. That is the simple fact that dispels this false rumor.
As for the threat of a boycott, it is an empty threat that only desperate and unprofessional agents use as a last ditch effort to scare a seller into paying their high commission rate. Consider:
The agent's statement is false: Numerous agents from all the large real estate companies have sold our homes recently (probably all of the top 5 largest companies in your metro area have sold one of our homes in the past few months).
The agent's statement is unprofessional: Would you want to work with an agent as a buyer who was going to hide home listings that meet your criteria? What relevant information are they going to hide from you for your transaction?
The agent's statement doesn't make sense: Today, the internet has overtaken newspapers as the primary source for buyers choosing the properties they want to see. Most buyers tell the agent which properties they want to see from searching online, so the agent doesn't have the opportunity to "hide" a listing from a buyer. How many buyers buy a home because their agent tells them to? Buyers make up their own mind, agents aren''t as influential as you may think.
The agent's statement is unethical: Agents working for buyers under a buyer representation contract legally commit to representing the buyer and showing them all homes that fit the buyer's needs-this agent is telling you she/he violates her/his legal responsibilities to their clients by hiding listings. When a buyer looks on the internet and discovers listings an agent has been hiding, the agent loses that buyer, the commission they would have earned, and is looking at a possible licensing complaint.
Agents who boycott would pay a heavy price: Agents helping buyers are motivated to find a home for their buyer that meets the buyer''s needs and pays the agent a competitive commission. An agent who refuses to show a home that meets his/her clients need is wasting time and reducing their income. There is a heavy economic penalty for an agent representing the buyer to participate in a boycott. An agent who chooses to spend weeks and weeks unnecessarily waiting for another home that meets their buyers needs wastes their most precious commodity-the agent's time. This is too high a cost for an agent to pay just because they don't like the manner in which the home was listed--after all, they get paid the same/similar commission as if it was listed by a traditional agent.
The agent's statement is illegal. Alleging a group boycott is a federal criminal offense and violation of anti-trust laws. Realtor Associations have been sued for violations in the past, so the Association Executives police anti-trust issues. Here are a number of examples of Realtor Association Executives and Attorneys clearly instructing agents not to boycott, to threaten to boycott, or to tell consumers that they will boycott. More importantly, the Realtor Associations strictly police their agents because the associations are the first ones to be sued. Most are available to the public: http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-antitrust
One from the Indiana Association of Realtors says it best "Two or more firms should never agree to refuse to deal with or cooperate on less favorable terms with another competitor (usually a discount broker) or attempt to drive such competitor out of business. Boycotts such as these are illegal. Nothing can be done to intimidate "discounters" so that they will abandon their alternative marketing strategies. You should never indicate that other brokers would not do business with the discount firm.[emphasis added]"
We are members of the same Realtor Association and MLS that all of the big and medium sized real estate companies belong to. We input the listings in the same exact way that they do.
In the unlikely event that this happens to you, we would love to have this agent's name, because unprofessional, unethical, and law breaking agents hurt the whole real estate marketplace. And run, don't walk away from an agent who suggests or even implies this falsehood.