A few people pointed out this national story that ran on last night’s Nightline: Buyer Beware: Unsold Homes Are Often ‘Re-listed’.
It’s a tactic called “re-listing,” which is legal and more common than you think.
“Re-listing is just refreshing the home on the market,” Niece explained, “making the home look like it just came on the market.”
“When you re-list a home, you know, it’s still been on the market for X amount of time, but a buyer that comes in with another agent very likely won’t know,” Niece said.
Here’s how it works: Niece cancels house listings when they reach 70 days on the market, and then re-lists them as new, with 0 days on the market.
Here in the Seattle area, the NWMLS began tracking Cumulative Days on Market (CDOM) in the summer of 2006, but I believe that information is available only to agents with direct access to the MLS (though since I don’t have such access, I could be mistaken). As regular readers may recall, we had an ongoing discussion about pulling homes off the market and relisting them to appear “fresh” back in January 2007. It was finally explained to us that while canceling a listing and relisting it (without a change in price) is against the rules, writing a short contract with the seller and letting the listing expire, then relisting it is 100% permissible.
From the description given in the Nightline story, this appears to be exactly what the agent in Minnesota is doing. And just like in Minnesota, despite CDOM being tracked in the NWMLS, this tactic will still result in a listing appearing on the home search websites as “new.”
Apparently it’s still legal for multiple listing services to engage in what would in any other industry be considered blatant false advertising. This doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon, so it’s always good to keep this in mind if you’re browsing the online home search sites looking for a deal in a slow market.