Question Details

Jim Olive, Real Estate Pro in Key West, FL

How do "non-realtor" agents find properties?

Asked by Jim Olive, Key West, FL Wed Jan 23, 2013

Okay, maybe a dumb question, but I'm curious. The real question is access to resources. I'm not sure how an agent who is NOT a member of an association gets widespread access to the properties on the market. As a member of the Association, I get full access my local MLS, which is where almost ALL the inventory is cataloged. Not sure what others would have to show you if they can't get in the MLS?? I visit Craig's List and FSBO venues, but there are very few homes (by comparison) in those venues. Very curious...

Help the community by answering this question:


Last year, I actually saw an "agent" come up to the door of a rental with a newspaper circled with the address of the property. Even more strangely, the listing agent had actually given her the lockbox code. Here's a hint folks - if your agent finds your rental in the newspaper, you probably aren't getting a lot of service for your money.

Oh, and for those agents who don't want to pay MLS fees, FYI, I'm not giving you my lockbox codes, you'll have to wait for an in person appointment so I can check you and your client out personally before giving you access to my client's property.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2013
That is BS Ann. You could probably be sued. If an agent is licensed with the state they have been background checked , fingerprinted , tested and licensed and they have the exact same fiduciary duties to their clients as you do. THe only difference with a Realtor is that they pay fines and fees to the Board. That doesn't make them any more honest. As a matter of fact if you are refusing to show your buyers' properties to prospective buyers who are with licensed agents YOU are not holding up your fiduciary duties to your buyers and they should be told ablout it.
Flag Sat Jun 14, 2014
You can check with the secretary of state and see if they are an actual business as well as with the licensing association from your state. Just ask for their business and actual names and what city they're from. They can probably print it off for you as well. They have a real estate license, just like a Realtor does.
Flag Sat Apr 19, 2014
I don't understand that as well. I was talking to my accountant( first time buyer) and she said that her friend who has no license is looking for a house for her.....??? I don't really understand how it will work at the end. Yet, she took my card.
No license= no responsibility. Would you hire any other professional( lawyer, doctor, nurse, roofer, plumber, etc.) without license ?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
I was surprised that your association allows non-Realtors MLS access. Amazed!! Appraisers and lenders and inspectors can be associate members of the Board Of Realtors and get access to lockboxes and the mls, but they must be associate members here. Anyone wanting access must join the Board in some manor.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
Hi Tim, Every MLS office may have their own set of rules. I know of agents in my area that do not belong to any REALTOR® Board but are members of the MLS. Most appraisers in my area do not belong to a Board but have access to the MLS in order to perform their work. They do not have access to the lockboxes as agents or owners allow them entry into the property.
Hope this explanation helps!
Flag Wed Jan 23, 2013
Hello Jim,
I know that my local MLS does not require a licensed agent to be a REALTOR® (member of NAR) or join a local Board of REALTORS® so they have access to all the listings. They just need to pay the MLS dues. That being said; each state may have different rules.

Best wishes!

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
There are lots of non-Realtor out their.
They serve a microscopic, insignificant segment of the real estate market place that embraces the characteristics of 'specialization.'
They get their stuff from Zillow and the other rogue web sites.

If you are looking for specialized real estate to buy or have a quirky one to sell, a below the radar agent may be exactly what is needed. For instance if you are looking to convert a horse barn, chicken coop or church to a home. MZ may be the ticket to success. The REALTOR resouces of the Mulitple Listing Service does not lend itself will to finding chicken coops.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 15, 2014
You people are not too informed. The Board of Realtors is just a "racket" to try and monopolize the industry from legally licensed agents s mwho won't join their club and recite their oath. Look I swore my oath to the state when got background checked, fingerprinted, took the licensing courses,, passed the state test ,I signed for my license and E& O insurance.. I certainly don't need to swear to some club who just wants my money.As far as getting access to the MLS, it is very easy nowadays. Just google it. Lastly, if a Realtor decides he doesn't want me to show his property, that's fine. I wonder what his client is going to say about his Realtors' "code of ethics" when he is informed that his Realtor is turning away qualified buyerse , accompanied by a STATE approved and licensed Real Estate Agent just because he wants to protect his own selfish interests, without regard to the interests of his client..Last time I checked, that's not what is meant by "fiduciary duty", which, by the way, we had drilled in our heads by the State when we were licensed. NOT the Board of Realtors.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 14, 2014
So you don't have access to electronic lock boxes? Are listing agents supposed to drive across town to let you in to homes you cannot access because you have decided not to pay for membership and become a Realtor? And then they should pay you commission too? So you save money by not paying the same dues we have to pay and thereby transfer that expense to those of us that actually do pay our dues? We have to spend our time and gas money doing that part of your job that you don't want to pay for? Help me understand all this please. Am I just looking at it wrong?
Flag Mon Jun 16, 2014
Non-Realtor agents still have licenses and still are official businesses if registered with their state.

I am not a Realtor because I just started on my own and literally cannot afford almost $2000 in start up fees for the MLS access.

I have a license, I have insurance and I am an official LLC with my state.

All of this can (and should) be verified on your state's Professional Licensing Association site as well as the Secretary of States site.

In Indiana you can verify a professional license at:

And a business at . This doesn't mean a company is not a real company even if they are not on here, but it helps. This is more for taxes and their benefit, than their clients.

When I was a Realtor, I often had to show homes outside of our local MLS and had to do the exact same thing as I do now. Call and ask for all the 'paperwork' to be emailed to me, pick up a key or get a lockbox number. No different.

I appreciate the training the MLS and Realtor gives and hope to join it as it will be easier for me, but it's not possible right now as I literally just started this past week.

Hope this helps.

Leslie A Howard-Redweik
Broker Owner
@Home Indiana Realty LLC.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 19, 2014
Leslie, that's a tough position to be in. I hope you're able to find the means to succeed in real estate. But congrats on the baby! I have a 3 year old and I can fully understand why you had to take a few years off from work. Your priorities sure change when you have a little one. I wish you luck.
Flag Mon Jun 16, 2014
To explain also... I had taken time off to have a baby, so no income for 2 years. However I keep up on continuing education even beyond anything necessary.
Flag Sat Apr 19, 2014
You are really in-tune with the typical citizen user of aggregate websites.
The story that should be told would be of a citizen entering a fantastic restaurant, seated in a VIP position and handed a menu with every other page containing only the category but no items.! What is shown very likely appears good, but should not all of those blank pages drive them nuts? Make them suspicious? Worry regarding what they are missing? What about those specials?
That is the aggregate website experience professionals need to convey. If you are looking for homes to buy on aggregate websites, you should just tear out have the pages of the menu, because what you will really like will either not be shown, gone or a pure fabrication. When you only see 50% of what's REALLY available, you must know that you are operating at a real disadvantage. When you want to buy or sell a home. such a handicap rarely proves beneficial. So, dear buyer or seller, if you are serious, you need to put away the things of children.
There are many, many, situations where agents who are not Realtor can do very well. If that agents response to the questions, "How much will it cost?" "How long will it take?" meets or exceeds the expectations of the consumer,,,,they are good to go!
Then, every time I read a Realtor type the words "Code of Ethics" I cringe. It's like shouting 'fire' in a theater. Folks instinctively flee from the source of those words and those associate with them. You would think, as a group of capable professionals we would understand how to leverage the aggregate website situation to serve the buyer and seller and the profession better. Instead we see 'Code of Ethics' and 'this data is from the MLS' repeated WAY too often..
It appears from my observation, most are more comfortable with fueling the complaints rather than garnering the courage to drag into the sunlight, the deception that lurks in the shadows.
1. Aggregate websites steal YOUR data and make money from you.
2. Non-realtor professionals see opportunity in the public confusion to neutralize the 'Realtor" advantage.
3. Realtors stand by becoming the proverbial 'innocent' bystander.
What will you choose to do this day?

Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, Fl
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 24, 2013
Yes, I was referring to a licensed agent that chooses not to join the Association. And, while I embrace the code of ethics just as I embraced the honor code I lived by as a cadet and officer in the military, I am not so naive as to believe that MOST REALTORs do NOT. There are many, many who simply sign on to that preamble language because it gets them into the club, and the membership has it's privileges. Where I live and work non-members do not get access to MLS. Without MLS, I would imagine life would be pretty arduous for an agent using Trulia/Zillow/ My MLS is loaded with tools and is FAR more accurate than any of the aggregate websites. I'm also very interested to hear that in some areas you can buy MLS-only memberships. Very interesting...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
It may surprise you, but here in NYC, we don't have a true MLS. REBNY (The Real Estate Board of NY) is our board, but we do not belong to NAR and therefore are not "Realtors." We do have a listing system, with several different portals, and different companies use different versions. There are also a growing number of public/consumer websites that list properties, some more reliable than others.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
Please clarify.
Your question is regarding a licensed real estate agent who has elected not to become a member of the Local MLS. Is that correct?
Inna, thousands of times a year a citizen will purchase a foreclosure, fix it up and put a fsbo sign out front. Some of them are successful selling these homes. Selling or buying a home through a real estate professional is but ONE way to accomplish this. What you are failing to recognize is the business model most real estate agents use have them working for tips, while non-licensed folks, investor types, are working from a profit business model. Gigantic difference. These folks are much more agile in the solutions they can provide. Also, they are very adept at baiting the 'lease/option' trap.
A real estate consultant would be well advised to have such a knowledgeable individual on their team of resources.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
Current studies show 80% of potential home buyers start their search on the web. This should not surprise anyone - generational studies prove Gen X & Gen Y research EVERYTHING before they make a move. As REALTORS, there is more to us than providing MLS information. We have our Code of Ethics (the 100th anniversary is this year, 2013) and in the Preamble of our Code it states "The term REALTOR has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations. No inducement of profit and no instruction from clients ever can justify departure from this ideal." People can find anything on the internet now a days, but when they need a professional...that's when they call a REALTOR!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
mzeene, since you have such strong feelings about this how about you just give us a link to the statute that says we have to give access to a non-Realtor agent. You'll solve all this mess quickly and easily.
Flag Mon Jun 16, 2014
THat is BS. Just because you pay money doesn't make you any more Professional. It just makes you an Agent who is joining with other agents to try and monopolize the industry, keep new agents out and "price-fix" commissions.
Flag Sat Jun 14, 2014
I was the same person the day before and the day after I walked into the local Board of Realtors, paid my fine read an oath of about a couple paragraphs with a room full of people and got a pin to put on my lapel. Nothing majical happened that day to make me more honorable than the day I tested and passed my state license. That is ridiculous. I finally wised up and stopped paying that racket my hard earned money and the BEST part, is I can feel good about saving my clients money on commissions.
Flag Sat Jun 14, 2014
That is a great question.
And you posted it right here on a aggregate real estate website. There is a perception from the public that the data appearing on aggregate websites IS FROM THE MLS. Many real estate agents actually repeat this as though it were true. The majority of real estate professional remain silent or truly do not know.
If the public can be convinced to believe this to be true....Trulia and Zillow are receiving the MLS data...then who needs the MLS?
A 'non-realtor' can easily convince a homeowner. The 'non-realtor' can then call the broker if they need to get additional real estate data. Be very aware, we are the ones creating the environment for this business model, 'non-realtor' to succeed by our silence.
We do have choices.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
Hi Jim,
Another note on the subject: appraisers can be members of the MLS and they are not REALTORS®.

Hope this helps clarify.

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013 is the National MLS and all associations feed to is also free to the public, therefor non-Realtor licensed state agents can preview properties on this site. This may be the answer to your question...possibly.

Hope this helps,

Josh Barnett, Realtor
Metro First Realty
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
They don't! Or they only do sign calls and newspaper ads, which are pretty much non-existent. I guess they could use Trulia and Zillow but without the MLS they are pretty much useless.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 23, 2013
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