Industry Insight

Listing ownership: Whose grass is it anyways?

by Kevin Hawkins on July 23, 2015

“Who owns the listing?” appears to be a never-ending debate in real estate, despite a recent court case that certified the broker owns the listing and the MLS can protect it. Somehow there remains this belief among some incredibly intelligent people in the industry that real estate agents do the work, so they own the listing content. They do not. This has never been the case, and unless an agent becomes a broker/owner, it never will be. A listing was, is and will be owned by the broker/owner and not the agent. Whose grass is it? Think about your grass.  You hire a landscaper to come and cut your grass.  The landscaper takes care of your grass. He weeds your grass, he waters your grass, he fertilizes your grass, and then he cuts your grass and hauls away the clippings. Your landscaper does 100% of the maintenance and care of your grass. Real estate agents do exactly the same thing. Instead of grass, they cultivate ongoing relationships with clients that they often brought to the brokerage (watering, fertilizing and weeding) and secure the listing of these clients and close these deals (cutting the grass and hauling away the clippings). Both the landscaper and the real estate agent are independent contractors. But does anyone ever say that the landscaper owns the grass? The real estate agent may have done 100% of the care and feeding of their clients, but they do not own the listing that this relationship produces. The broker owns the grass Just like a landscaper can’t come in one day and start cutting your lawn into sections, dig it up and sell your lawn as sod to someone else, an agent can’t “take their listings with them” if they jump ship to another brokerage. A real estate listing is not transportable by an agent. An agent can’t transfer a listing from one brokerage to another without the listing broker’s permission. Otherwise, the listing remains with the originating brokerage, because the agent is an independent contractor (or an employee is some rare cases) and that work product is the brokerages, not the agents. Agents: It’s a good thing it’s not your grass The landscaper is pretty happy with the fact that they don’t own the grass, because if someone slips and falls on that wet grass and sues, he or she is going to sue the homeowner and not […]


As we end 2014 now is a great time to sit back and reflect on the best ways to help prepare your organization for the inevitable evolutions and revolutions we may experience next year. Do you sometimes feel like your Board of Directors and key staff are out of touch with what’s really happening in the real estate industry today? Do you sometimes feel a bit isolated and would like to know if other organizations are facing the same challenges you are? Is your organization suffering from stifled and cumbersome decision-making? Here’s what can happen when an organization is out of touch. They can delay decisions because they seem difficult or controversial causing the organization to fall behind or lose its competitive advantage. Instead of responding to the waves of change, organizations can be torn apart by the jaws of defeat. MLSs and Boards that do not stay close to trends can enforce outdated rules and regulations that hinder member success. They can make decisions in isolation of the needs of home buyers and sellers weakening the relationship of their members with the buying public. Worst of all, a Board of Directors that does not stay in touch may not even know it is out of touch if it does not reach out beyond its local community to see where the real estate industry is going. When conducting strategic plans we hear from brokers and board members that their organization is out of touch with today’s reality. So how do you get your board in touch? You can pay thousands of dollars for several of your board members to attend industry events. Many of these events can be very valuable for the content that is presented and the networking and peer to peer learning. The CMLS conference and the AEI conference are two great opportunities for MLSs and Associations to get in touch. WAV Group is now offering another method for staying in touch with trends and learning from progressive MLSs and Associations around North America. We call it the WAVes of Change™ Series. This exciting new online program allows every one of your Board members and department heads to keep in touch on the ever-changing trends in our business WITHOUT leaving home. This quarterly live webinar will include exclusive, early looks at WAV Group research as well as the ability to learn from industry experts about technology trends, consumer […]