They came for bilateral deals – then a pocket list debate erupted
Despite its title – “The End of the Bilateral Agreement: Will It Be the New Normal?” – a panel at Inman Connect quickly turned into an intense debate on the role of pocket listings.
Do pocket registration bans “devalue” agents or benefit consumers?
They intended to talk about bilateral deals, but stayed to discuss pocket announcements
Today is the day: Join us for Inman Connect today to delve deeper into key topics such as tomorrow’s forecast, the key to unlocking a new inventory, the “new normal” and much more. Register now to watch the rest of the day live and catch up on what you missed on demand.
It’s been a year and a half since the National Association of Realtors largely banned handheld ads, and Jeffery Sibbach doesn’t think it’s going well.
“It devalues the agent because now everyone is doing the exact same thing,” said Sibbach, an Arizona-based team leader with eXp. “And so now maybe we don’t need agents.”
Sibbach made the comment Tuesday during a session of Inman Login now dubbed “The end of the bilateral agreement: will it be the new normal?” Despite the session’s title, however, the conversation quickly turned into an intense debate over the role of pocket lists – which earlier that same day, Inman founder Brad Inman had argued he remained a problem because of greed.
During the conversation, Sibbach argued that NAR’s pocket-entry ban – which is officially known as the Clear Cooperation Policy – is like “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” He went on to say that the policy limits consumer behavior by requiring sellers to place their properties in multiple listing services (MLS). And while Sibbach said he believes all properties should end up in an MLS at some point, that limits choice and can lead to higher costs.
Sibbach also argued that the pocket enrollment ban is a policy that primarily helps less productive agents, while limiting the options available to top performing agents.
“Unfortunately, we’re focused on a policy that helps agents who don’t spend a lot of money on marketing,” he said. “Unfortunately, this agent may not be doing a great job.
Elise Fay, also an Arizona-based eXp team leader, also appeared in the Connect Now session and agreed with Sibbach. She said she found “ironic that people say pocket lists are based on greed,” and added that the clear cooperation policy “devalues the industry as a whole.”
“For me, Clear Cooperation doesn’t really uplift the industry or help weed out bad players, it’s actually designed to get more licensees,” Fay explained, adding a moment later that “we’d love to to see it expand or widen again in it was like that.
This isn’t the first time successful members of the industry have spoken out against restrictions on pocket listings. In 2019, before a national policy was put in place, Los Angeles super agents Mauricio Umansky and Gary Gold both indicated they did not want a ban. Compass then threatened legal action against an MLS that rolled out its own policy, and in February 2020, members of the industry circulated a petition calling for the cancellation of the Clear Cooperation Policy.
Despite this controversy, however, pocket entry bans also have many advocates.
For example, Sam DeBord – CEO of the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) – also appeared in Tuesday’s session and argued that research indicated that properties on an MLS net were selling more money and on better terms. . With that in mind, he wondered how many sellers really wanted to keep their homes out of MLS versus how many their agents advised them to do so.
“How can we expect to get better terms? Well, a bigger pool of buyers, ”DeBord said. “In the vast majority of cases you will see better options for sellers, so you must be asking yourself how do we actually advise sellers?
DeBord also said the current market involves very limited inventory and agents have already paid MLS dues, which means the costs of publicly listing a home are minimal. And he finally said that “everyone’s foundations are up” by giving everyone access to all the announcements.
“It’s really hard to argue that [homesellers are] really hurt by this exposure to MLS, ”he said.
DeBord is not alone. In addition to Inman’s speech on Tuesday and the policies of the NAR and various MLS, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has repeatedly spoken out against the pocket announcements, saying they “interfere with the equality of access to housing ”.
Ultimately, the debate has not been settled among Tuesday’s Connect Now panelists, and it is not likely to be settled more broadly in the industry anytime soon. But DeBord captured a faction’s point when he argued on Tuesday that handheld ads are “exclusive” and ultimately “degrade seller exposure.”
Email Jim Dalrymple II