Wouldn’t it be great if high schools started a Driver’s Education kind of class for real estate? At some point—I think it was in the 1930s—Americans realized that it would be a good idea for the public schools to offer Driver’s Ed, just as a matter of public safety. If you’ve ever tried to deal with a clutch and stick shift built before the mid-50s, you’ll understand the need. Too bad the damage that can result from lack of real estate knowledge isn’t as obvious as a dented garage door.
The first Realty Ed class session could deal with the history of MLS listings. Even given the void in the school system, a teenager wouldn’t need much real estate exposure to have at least heard of “the listings.” “The Multiples” is more obscure, as is “MLS” (when you Google that, you get a lot of major league soccer sites).
They are all jargon that refer to the information published by “the” Multiple Listing Service. “The” is in quotes because there isn’t just one Multiple Listing Service in the United States; there are many different ones, run by different companies. Our area MLS Listings are produced by our local MLS Listing publisher, who cooperates with others across the country to come up with the not-quite-exactly-uniform format you see when you go searching online for town homes for sale.
If the high school kids’ first homework assignment is to go online to check out the town MLS listings (like the ones I provide), what they find looks quite straightforward and self-explanatory. They see pictures and descriptions of each property for sale, an asking price, and details that a future owner would want to know. Square footage, lot size, the year built, number and types of rooms are all there, making it easy to compare properties. There may be more details in some of the listings than in others, but the real estate agent who prepares the MLS listing makes sure the most important elements are covered.
What will not be obvious to the students (but what will make excellent Friday quiz material) is how the local MLS listings embody other elements that are commercial and legal. Behind each of the listings (under the hood, in Driver’s Ed terms) is the fact that an MLS listing ordinarily represents a contractual offer by the listing brokerage to compensate other real estate professionals who represent potential buyers…which means it also is ordinarily evidences that the owner of the listed property has made a separate “listing agreement” with the listing broker.
Later on in the semester, there will need to be a discussion of FSBOs and the whole “For Sale by Owner” situation. It’s likely that one of the more troublesome ‘A’ students will then certainly raise her hand to ask something like, “Well then what happens when there is a town MLS listing for a FSBO property? Doesn’t that mean there isn’t a listing broker to make the offer to compensate other real estate professionals who represent potential buyers?”
That will be the moment when it is again demonstrated why teachers need three months off every year.
Our local MLS listings are a superb way to organize today’s active real estate offerings—but they are only one of many elements. Call me for expert assistance in getting all those elements fall into place!