Here is news coming from the east coast that the State of New York is considering — mind you, just chatting about — regulating online real estate ads placed by agents. The focus is on third party ads such as Zillow’s “Premiere Agent” whereby an agent buys an ad on another agent’s listing. That is, the on line publication/portal,  Zillow or Realtor.com, displays a listing. You would think, or at least I did when I first discovered this process, that only the agent who is actually contractually listing that home would be allowed to advertise next to it, right? I mean, who knows the listing better than the actual listing agent?

Wrong: any licensed agent can buy the spot for lead generation.

I learned of this process when I first started writing about real estate listings at D Magazine. I’d surf the web looking for homes, amazed at how many beauties I could find out there. I’d find one, then move over to see who the listing agent was to call for more information and photo permission, etc.  Nine times out of ten I called someone who was not listing the house, and knew nothing about it for my editorial purposes. Surely they were sorely disappointed I was an editor, not an online millionaire from New Zealand wanting to invest in Dallas real estate. This bugged me — because I’d have to scroll forever to find the actual agent — until I learned what was going on. Right from the getgo, I said, I don’t think this is fair to the consumer. If they are really interested in a property, why shouldn’t they or their agent have direct access to the listing agent, not a go-between?

Apparently the state of New York thinks the same thing. (more…)