Is It Legal To “Leverage Listings”?

Is it legal to advertise someone else’s real estate listing?

As I read my last e-mails, I noticed that Inman News was sending out a newsletter about a lawsuit in progress regarding copyright laws.
That article caught my eyes instantly.

The answer to the above question is both, “Yes & No”.

Let’s start with “No” and why not first:

No, it is not legal to advertise someone else’s listing unless there is written acknowledgement from:
a) The Seller authorizing his “Exclusive Agent” to engage other agents to market the listing outside the Exclusive Agent’s area of expertise;
b) The Broker and the Exclusive Agent establishing that they have the permission to allow other agents to market the listing outside of the listing’s jurisdiction
c) The provider of photographs or written advertising material who in general owns the copyright of his pictures, if applicable.

Then, of course, comes the “Yes:”

a) If you use the GMA™ copyrighted agreements* which were created to allow someone else to advertise the Exclusive Agent’s listing. These agreements provide:

• The Seller’s authorization to his Exclusive Agent to market and advertise his listing to the world
• A professional service fee arrangement, which defines the split if another agent brings a buyer or brings another agent who has a buyer for the listing (“an Intermediary referral”)
• Permission for the other agents to use copyrighted photographs and written advertising material.

*Only available if you have a GMA™ Certification or are a past I.R.E.S. Member, if you have taken the training and passed the test, and if you are current with your GMA™ Membership if applicable.

The question rephrased: Is it legal to advertise someone else’s real estate listing?

Even if the original listing Agent’s name is mentioned?
Even if the original Listing Agent’s Brokerage is mentioned?
Even if there is an agreement between MLS and allowing IDX or any other systems to use the information regarding a certain or all listings?
Even with the “reciprocity law” that was created to allow other companies to use other companies’ listings, with the mention of the original Brokerage and Listing Agent’s name?

My answer would still be NO unless the Seller agrees to allow other agents to advertise his listing in his listing agreement.

Of course, if the Seller were asked, he would surely answer, “Yes” to the question:
Can the listing be advertised outside of the local MLS?
But the question typically is not asked and the Seller is signing an Exclusive Listing Agreement. The word “exclusive” means exclusive to one agent.
So unless it is clearly specified in the Listing Agreement, it is presumptuous to pretend that the Seller has given authorization for his listing to be seen everywhere.

Just put yourself in the Seller’s shoes for one moment.

His million-dollar property in Hawaii is on the market. Yes, he does want global marketing, but does he want his million-dollar mansion to be seen on Craig’s List?
Or with an agent from a small office that has nothing to do with luxury properties?
What about on just anyone’s web site?

If I am the Seller of such a million dollar listing and have listed it with XXXX Luxury Realty, I really do not want it to be on someone else’s web site, even if that web site is in the middle of the world. That is not why I signed an “Exclusive Listing Agreement” with a high-end brokerage firm.

– What happens when the listing goes to another brokerage?
– If the listing is sold?

Unless the Agent has the necessary agreements and a certain structure in place, the listing will still be on such web sites and the new buyer will not be a happy camper.

So the solution is clear: Become a GMA™ Agent and use the agreements that were created for the GMA™ Certified Members.
You will become a “Global Agent” and use Global Marketing Agreements allowing your Seller to give you the authorizations you will need in order to “legally market your listings to the world” and “legally borrow or share listings

Remember that real estate agreements have to be in writing!

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