Million Dollar Listing: Don't let Realtors fool you with listing presentation BS

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On a recent episode of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing, Ben Bacal of Keller Williams Realty teamed up with one of the show's stars, Chad Rogers, to sell a potential client on the benefits of listing a house for sale with the pair.

Bacal launches into a spiel about how great his firm is: "Keller Williams is totally tapped into the internet market. . . A lot of the top reasons to move to Keller Williams Real Estate: We also put you on Trulia, Google, Yahoo! Real Estate, HomeScape, Zillow, FrontDoor. . ."Here's the reality: Trulia, Google, Yahoo! Real Estate, etc. are all aggregators of Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data. Every real estate market has an MLS and pretty much every property that is listed through a Realtor in that market then goes into the MLS. Then Trulia, Zillow, FrontDoor, etc. pick up all that data and put it on their sites. That's why houses that are listed with a Realtor in the MLS can be found on all those sites.

True: some high-profile sellers don't want their homes to go into the MLS. But then why would they want to be on Zillow, FrontDoor and Trulia?

Bacal, God bless him, managed to sell a guy on listing a $4.2 million home with him by bragging about internet exposure that the seller could have gotten with any almost any other real estate agency. Bacal's internet exposure spiel isn't untrue, but it's a little bit like advertising your gym with big billboards that say "WE HAVE TREADMILLS!" It preys on the average consumer's ignorance about how real estate sales work.

Bacal did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Real estate agent Alison Rogers, who is also a columnist with MoneyWatch.com, said in an email that "Realtors used to work off index cards. As things computerized, they got VERY used to controlling the data flow into the MLS, and based a lot of the real estate agent "value-add" upon that. Now, MLS data is being picked up everywhere."

Bottom line: Don't let a flashy real estate agent's promises of "internet exposure" fool you. Any real estate agent can get you internet exposure just by popping your listing into the MLS.

Check out my interview with superstar real estate agent Samuel Joseph for more ideas on picking an agent.

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