Quill Realty, the only non-MLS brokerage in Seattle, is committed to providing consumers with alternatives to the traditional cooperative broker model.
SEATTLE, Nov. 6, 2015 — Since July, Quill Realty has been the only real estate firm in the Seattle area that isn’t a member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Quill sells homes for a total commission of 2%, rather than the 5-6% of the traditional MLS system.
The traditional system has been in existence for more than a century and remains dominant today. It is founded on the notion that brokers must work cooperatively. Accordingly, a seller hires two brokers. The listing broker places the house on a proprietary “list” so all brokers know it is for sale. The selling broker “sells” it by finding a buyer. Typically, each broker is paid 3% of the final sale price, for a total 6% commission paid by the seller.
This system made sense 100+ years ago, but it doesn’t make sense today. Thanks to the internet, there is no longer a proprietary “list,” and buyers find homes themselves. Second, in the 1990’s states enacted “buyer agency” legislation. So today, the law requires brokers working with buyers to, in most instances, represent and work for the buyer, regardless of who pays the commission. In other words, sellers pay for a service they no longer need, and buyers get professional representation at sellers’ expense.
“Nobody disputes that the cooperative MLS system has value to sellers,” says Craig Blackmon, Quill Realty’s founder and Managing Broker. “It’s just not nearly the value it used to be, yet commissions remain essentially the same.” Meanwhile, buyers are poorly served by a system where they have no control over the fee paid to their broker.
Quill is committed to promoting viable alternatives to the MLS. One benefit of MLS membership is access to a set of forms drafted by attorneys for use by real estate brokers. This allows brokers to practice law to the limited extent typically required by a residential sale.
Today, Quill Realty is making its own limited set of proprietary real estate forms available to all real estate professionals free of charge. This allows brokers to operate outside of the MLS if they choose to do so. Buyers and sellers will have the option of hiring an attorney to assist them with the legal aspects of a transaction. And attorneys will be able to more efficiently assist consumers if they have easy access to relevant forms.
Quill won’t make these forms available to consumers directly. “The sale of a house is a legal transaction worth hundreds of thousands of dollars,” notes Blackmon. “Real estate professionals should be involved.” By making these forms available, Quill hopes to grow the non-MLS market to give consumers a real option to the 6% commission that no longer makes sense in the 21st Century.