The State of Cooperation

For roughly 10 years, we’ve had the privilege of working with REALTORS® and learning about the sometimes mystifying process of connecting people with real estate.

June 1, 2000

At its core, a real estate sale--even a residential sale—is a financial transaction. But people’s connection with their home makes it so much more. Homebuyers tend to operate at a high emotional pitch.

We received a call not long ago that reminded us just how emotional a home purchase situation can get. The caller had made an offer on a house, which she claimed was rejected out of hand. She later discovered, she said, that “in-house” buyers who had made an offer with the same terms were given the opportunity to counteroffer. In the tight market she lived in, the caller not only lost out on her dream house but also couldn’t find a house to replace it. Although her buyer’s representative assured her that another house would eventually come her way, she said she’d lost her trust in both the listing company and the company she was working with.

We’re sure this kind of story isn’t new to you--it’s certainly common for companies to want to sell their own listings. But it got us wondering about the state of cooperation in the real estate industry. At least since the advent of MLS books, hasn’t cooperation been the bedrock of residential real estate? Is competition getting so fierce, we wondered, that it’s becoming difficult for practitioners from different companies to cooperate?

We asked around. Some of you said the level of cooperation varies from market to market. Some suggested that the growth of buyer representation is making deals more confrontational and discouraging cooperation. And still others told us that technology and Wall Street money have combined to raise the stakes, putting profit growth ahead of cooperative practices.

On the other hand, many, many people we talked with insisted that intercompany cooperation is alive and well. When inventory expands, they said, you won’t hear the kind of complaints you’re hearing today.

Despite the contradictory explanations, all of these opinions sounded valid to us. But we’d like to learn more. Why not visit us and register your opinion in this month’s news poll? While you’re there, take a moment to see what NAR’s Code of Ethics says about cooperation and send us an e-mail about cooperation in your market. As real estate changes, we want to be sure our coverage reflects reality in your world and helps you operate better in it.

Pamela Geurds Kabati is the former publisher of REALTOR® Magazine and senior vice president of communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor in chief of REALTOR® Magazine.

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