As a consumer, I seek to keep myself aware of services offered by brokerage firms across the county. It’s a bit of a passion of mine. A story run by NBC caught my eye: “New Real Estate Technology from Homecast Empowers Home Sellers to Sell Without An Agent.”
As I browsed through it, my stomach began to churn a bit. First off, they seem to talk about being a technology company, but most the article talks about how they advertise listings on third party listing websites – specifically Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia, but also on the MLS. They offer to represent sellers (seemingly as the broker for the sale) for the low rate of $799. The article does not mention the name of the brokerage name.
In my experience, you need to be a real estate broker to “distribute as a Featured Listing to the MLS”. So I tried to find out if this person is actually a real estate broker. I reached out to the Association of Realtors® and found that Joe Lashinger is not listed as a licensed broker or agent. Checking with an MLS, I learned that Mr. Lashinger works for the Broker at Picket Fence – and that they did not have any listings as of the time of this article being written. To me, it kinda sounds like a paper brokerage.
When I checked the other sites like Trulia I found Joe listed as an Agent for Homecast – which is weird, Joe does not appear to be an Agent and Homecast is listed as a team with no broker.
On Zillow, there is not agent named Joe Lashinger but there is also a team called Homecast with no agents which has no listings, and no sales in the last 12 months.
As you might expect, there is no information about Joe or Homecast on Realtor.com that I was able to find.
What’s a consumer to do?
So here is the rub. First of all, shame on the media for publishing information about Homecast without investigating the claims and considering the risk that they could be leading the consumer toward. Secondly, I hope that firms like Zillow and Trulia will expunge the data from their servers.
Is this something that should be reported to the State Department of Real Estate?
Do you think that this type of effort for Disruption in Real Estate should be punished by the Department of Justice?