Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Manipulation. Who Cares?

According to convicted real estate agent turned extortionist Kevin Tomlinson, one of the top Miami Beach luxury real estate team, The Jillsmanipulated "dozens of MLS listings, hundreds of times, erasing more than 20,000 days on market". According to testimony from one of the Jills, “We didn’t think it was wrong,” And apparently she was correct in that thinking. Tomlinson has been sentenced and barred from working in the real estate industry over his attempted extortion of $800,000 from the Jills but the Jills are free to continue manipulating MLS listings to their and their clients' benefit, or detriment. This serves as a green light to listing agents everywhere to continue their shenanigans. Does this happen here in the Cocoa Beach area? Yes. All the time and in many different ways.

The most common form of MLS manipulation is cancelling and relisting a property to reset the days on market clock. Misrepresenting sold prices happens when furniture is included in the sale but not noted on the closed listing. A prospective buyer looking at an unfurnished condo might think he's getting a good deal if the unit is priced at the exact same price as the last identical floor plan unit to sell in the building. If that other unit's price included $40,000 of new furniture that was not noted in the closed listing, he may be overpaying. I'm aware of developers propping up prices by issuing "decorating credits" of tens of thousands of dollars back to the buyer at closing. For instance; the recorded selling price of $650,000 included a $60,000 decorating credit effectively making the actual price paid $590,000.

Our MLS has strict rules including fines up to $15,000 for relatively minor infractions but there aren't rules that prohibit either of the above manipulations. The Florida Real Estate Commission has instituted a new rule that addresses another common manipulation, that of crediting sales of an entire group of agents to one team member to artificially boost that agent's production numbers which doesn't really hurt anything. What it does accomplish is boosting that agent's recent transaction numbers at Zillow which is most agents' best source of new prospects. If you see an agent with hundreds of recent transactions in Zillow, you might be seeing the benefit of this type of team strategy. For the record, every team that I know of in our area that is doing this is top notch and providing great value to their clients. They are using a perfectly legal (until now) method of generating business. I personally have no problem with it but someone must have complained to FREC to get this new rule considered and passed. The new rule reads:

I hope is everyone got all the waves they wanted the week and a half of Hurricane Florence swell and are ready for the next, should we get one this season. We still have time for more and October is generally productive for large, clean surf. Be safe out there and share the waves. There are always enough for everyone.

I tried so hard and got so far
but in the end it didn't really matter.  __linkin park