Everything Old Is New Again

Peter Coy

"Everything Old Is New Again" isn't just a song; it's a real-estate sales strategy. When properties sit on the market too long and get stale, some agents yank them briefly, then put them back on the market. Depending on the jurisdiction, this gets them to pop up on the "hot sheets" of new listings that are seen by agents and, in some cases, by the buying public.

Everything Old Is New Again

Check out my article on this from the print edition of BusinessWeek.

The rules on relistings vary since they're set by the local Multiple Listing Services, of which there are over 900 in the U.S. Some are quite lax. Others are tightening up. A common reform is to keep a "cumulative days on market" odometer running even if a house is temporarily off the market, so agents who bother to pay attention can see that it's not really a new listing. But even in the MLSs with strict rules, some evasion seems to be going on. One trick is to tweak the address or property ID on a relist to fool the computer into thinking it's a new property. That trick can usually be caught, but not always right away.

This is clearly a hot-button issue for both customers and agents. Yesterday the widely read Housing Panic blog mentioned my article and very quickly got 30 comments. Last September, Glenn Roberts Jr. of Inman News blogged about it and was swamped with responses from real estate folks--some of which were of the "What's the problem?" variety.

The blogosphere has been onto the relisting trick for a long time. I can't vouch for all of the following blog mentions because I haven't checked them all out, but they're worth a click.

First, I have to thank Frank Borges LLosa, the tech-savvy owner of FranklyRealty.com in Arlington, Va. He found me a slew of examples of apparent DOM (days on market) manipulation, although I wasn't able to mention any of them in my article for lack of space. He wrote about relistings on his blog here and here.

The first I knew about this was from reading this item in the Southern Maryland Housing Bubble News blog. Here are some other delicious items from Marin County and Irvine, Calif.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.