“The listing that appears on the MLS is fundamentally an ad that is placed by the sales rep,” says Bruce Matthews, the deputy registrar of regulatory compliance for the Real Estate Council of Ontario, “and they have to assume accountability for the information that’s there.”
Coldwell Banker Real Estate, however, is opening the process to sellers, enabling them to leave a personalized message or experience about the property, to be approved by their sales rep and incorporated into the listing.
“Seller participation fills a void in the real estate process,” says Sean Blankenship, senior VP of marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “Up until now, digital real estate platforms have lacked the tools to truly capture a home’s character and personality. Our new platform will now solve the age-old question ‘what if the walls could tell a story?’”
But some argue the process could enable greedy and dishonest sellers, leaving agents with no way to prove the veracity of a seller’s claims. However, one anonymous commenter on the REP forum says it should be left to the buyers – not the selling agent – to verify the information on the MLS and cut through any white lies in the listing.
“What ever became of the old system ‘Buyer needs to verify for himself,” the commenter asks. “The reality is: we as agents do not need to provide information to buyers – so why do we mandate that we have to provide specific information … which opens the door to our assuming liability…”
The system also negates the first rule of staging – de-personalization – by promoting the seller’s experiences in the property. This could leave buyers unable to imagine cultivating their own memories in the home.
Currently, the Coldwell Banker platform acts as more of a social network, encouraging open communication between buyers and sellers. Buyers can rate the different features of the home, and can upload their own photos and videos, alongside those of the sellers.
Allowing homeowners to actively participate in the sale of their houses is a slippery slope, but that’s not stopping one brokerage from inviting sellers to tinker with the property listing.