Price Fixing & Boycotting:
Across the country, and even here in the Virginia area, there are reports of agents trying to steer potential buyers away from low or no commission competitors in an attempt to keep real estate commissions high. This is not legal.
Price fixing - Trying to keep commission rates high by boycotting or steering customers away from, companies that offer less than high commission rates.
The 1890 Sherman Act prohibits any agreement among competitors.
If an agent ever tells you not to list your property with a broker who offers discounted commissions, they are breaking the law. If an agent ever tells you that no agent will show your property because you are currently listed with a discount broker, they have broken the law. Violation is a felony. Restitution to victims: civil recovery up to 3 times damages, $10M corporations and $350K and/or imprisonment for individuals.
Please report this illegal activity immediately to the
Department of Justice
Antitrust Division - New Case Unit
601 D Street NW, Ste 10107
Washington, DC 20530
PH: 1-888-647-3256 or 1-202-307-2040
This type of price fixing is taken very, very seriously.
If an agent leaves a message on your cell phone or home answering voice mail, save the message! Bring the message to us and we'll get it to the FBI and/or Justice Dept and we will press for immediate prosecution. Price fixing is to be taken very, very seriously. Price fixing can be as simple as them saying that "nobody uses agent "A" because they are a discount broker" or "you are currently using agent "A" but no agent will show your house because they are a discount agency". This is in an attempt to try and keep real estate commissions high. Any of these, or similar statements are blatantly illegal and must be reported.
Justice Dept sues National Association of Realtors
On Thursday, September 8th, 2005, the Justice Department filed an antitrust (price fixing) lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors over the group's new Internet listing policy, saying it restricts competition from web-based brokers. We'll keep you posted on the outcome of this landmark case.
Sept 8th Lawsuit Update: Immediately upon the Justice Department's filing, the NAR backed down and revised their policies pursuant to the Justice Department requirements. Now, brokers have until the summer of 2006 to include all MLS listings on their web sites - not just cherry-picking the high commission listings.
Do-Not-Call Update:On Feb 18th 2005 the FCC issued an order that clarified that calls to FSBOs by real estate agents to get your listing, is illegal. Despite their prolonged and expensive efforts to be exempted, the FCC has ruled that agents can not call you to solicit your listing if you are on the list. It is illegal for real estate agents to call FSBO sellers to solicit their listing. If an agent calls you, trying to convince you to list with them and you are on the national Do-Not-Call list, they broke the law. They are subject to an $11,000 fine. Get the agent's name, phone number and office and report them online www.donotcall.gov or via phone 1-888-382-1222. You can also use these contacts to put your telephone number(s) on the national Do Not Call list.
Millions of so-called "FSBO" web sites, real estate agents, mortgage companies and others use every trick in the book to capture your FSBO business - and then leave you feeling foolish. Here are some common tricks to watch out for:
Due to our FSBO customers success over the past 12 years, and the power of For Sale By Owner, many mortgage and real estate companies have started FSBO-like sounding names of their businesses. In fact, most are real estate brokers who charge commissions and high up-front fees. Many are also start-up mortgage companies trying to fool you into using your FSBO home as bait so they can sell mortgages. A lot of these sham companies also sell your name to agents as "leads" so you'll be hassled by agents to list with them.
Our sole mission is to help you buy or sell real estate without paying a commission to us ...no hidden objective.
Mortgage Company Scams
Today, it seems like there is a mortgage company on every street corner. Competition is fierce for mortgage loans. They know if somebody is looking to buy a home, they'll probably need a mortgage. So in an effort to get buyers, they have started several scams directed at FSBO sellers.
Banks & Mortgage Cos pretending to help FSBOs : New banks, trying to sell mortgages, often pretend to help FSBO sellers with "free" seminars, or signs, or flyers. Be very leery of these offers. These struggling new banks have one and only one objective, that is to sell mortgages - not your house! Rest assured, the "free" signs or flyers will be loaded with advertising for their loans, their loan officers, their bank, etc to sell their services - not your house! The last thing you want when you sell FSBO is to interject another middleman between you and a buyer! Stay clear of these loan predators.
Yard Sign Scam: Many struggling mortgage companies have started scams to place a sign in your yard, next to your FSBO yard sign. Their objective is to use your home as bait, to attract buyers, so they can sell them a mortgage (and in most cases not a mortgage for your house). They are simply interjecting a middleman in-between you and your buyer exactly what you do not want! We strongly suggest that you NOT allow any mortgage sign in your yard.
Internet Advertising Scam: In this scam, these mortgage companies offer "free" advertising of your house on their web site, if you allow them to place their mortgage sign in your yard. Don't sit by the phone waiting for their buyers to call off their web site. Most of their sites are worthless because buyers do not know they are there! Remember, they did not make the site to attract buyers, or to help you sell, they made it to attract sellers to let them put their sign in your yard! Their objective is to sell mortgages, not your house. FREE is worth exactly what you pay for it.
Pre-Qualified Buyer Scam: These mortgage companies promise to "unleash" hundreds of their so-called pre-approved and pre-qualified buyers to your house to buy it. The fact is, they don't send buyers and more importantly, our FSBO customers have no problem with their buyers not getting financed. They will try to scare you into believing that all your buyers are deadbeats and you need them to pre-qualify them - wrong! By far, most, if not all, of your buyers will be able to purchase your house without their "assistance". In reality, they'd like to see your home stay for sale forever so they can get unlimited buyer leads! Their objective is to sell mortgages, not your house.
Unbelievably low FSBO internet prices:
There are millions of FSBO web sites on the internet, most are like billboards in the desert, that is, nobody knows they are out there, especially home buyers! Most of these offer FREE, $10 or $50 or $100 FSBO "listings" - unfortunately, nobody will respond to your "listing" because nobody is looking at it. Don't sit by the phone waiting for their buyers to call off these web sites, you get what you pay for. Some of the national web sites claim high buyer traffic and listings, but on average, 75% or more of the homes they are showing have expired months or even years ago. They leave the expired listings viewable to make it look like they have a lot of "active" homes for sale. In reality, the number of active listings is very, very small. Our web sites are kept current, active and accurate everyday. Our web sites have thousands of local, ready, pre-qualified buyers looking to buy, everyday, in the Virginia area.