Multiple list rules can vary by region


June 27, 2008|By ILYCE GLINK

Ilyce, we live in Baltimore and are trying to sell our house," writes a reader. "My agent tells me that my listing has to be withdrawn from the local multiple-listing service (MLS) for at least six months, otherwise the number of days on market will carry forward from my old listing to a new listing. Our house has been on the market for nine months and we're trying to find a way not to show that in the MLS."

It's a rough time to be a home seller. Unfortunately, there are more people trying to sell their homes than folks who want to buy them.

Sellers are desperate to show their homes off in as good a light as possible. One sticking point is that today's MLS systems track how long a home has been for sale. And, as the reader points out, there is some concern that the technology employed by the systems will continue to monitor a property, even if it has been pulled off the market.

So does a Baltimore house listed in the local MLS have to be off the market for six months in order to get a new number? Nope.

According to Jonathan Hill, vice president of business development for Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS), which is the MLS that includes Baltimore, the reader's agent is providing incorrect information.

"At MRIS, if a new listing for a particular property is added 91 days after any previous listing was withdrawn or expired, it will be considered a 'new' listing. The history of days any previous listing was on the market will not attach to this new listing," Hill wrote in an e-mail.

A spokesman for the National Association of Realtors says that each MLS develops its own rules regarding how long a property is tracked after it is pulled off the market. In some markets, you'll have to wait a month, in others several months. You can double-check the accuracy of your agent's information on this point by chatting with the managing broker in the office or by calling the local MLS directly.

Whether the listing is old or new probably won't make as much of a difference as the condition, price and how the local neighborhood economy is functioning.

Baltimore, like Miami, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and virtually the entire state of Michigan, among other metro areas, has too many sellers and not enough buyers. Relisting your home might entice some people to take another look, but it doesn't mean that the house will sell any faster. If you hire a real estate agent who belongs to the MLS, you'll have to live by the MLS rules regarding relisting your property. But if you're a seller, there are a few things you can do to try to help your situation:

*Stage your house. If you haven't already hired a pro to come in and help you stage your house, you might want to. Staging is the art of taking what you have and either moving it around or packing it away to show off each room's best feature.

*Re-evaluate your price. Even if your house is staged perfectly, you won't be able to compete if six similar houses on the block are priced 20 percent or 30 percent below your list price.

*Make better use of the Internet. More than 85 percent of buyers start their search for a home on the Web. *Offer something extra. Offer to buy down the buyer's mortgage. Offer a bonus to the agent who brings the successful buyer to your door. Raise the commission you're paying and give the buyer's agent a bigger share (rather than an equal share).

If you and your agent are already doing these things, and you still haven't sold, then you may just have to postpone your plans to move until the market in your neighborhood turns around. But I wouldn't give it up without a good fight.

Contact Ilyce Glink at, or by mail at Real Estate Matters Syndicate, P.O. Box 366, Glencoe, Ill. 60022, or call her radio show at 800-972-8255 from 11 a.m. to noon Sundays.

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