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Re-listing: I Think It's Cheating--What Do You Think?

For Sale Signs
AP
For Sale Signs

There’s been a lot of talk in the blogosphere lately about the phenomenon of “re-listing”, and so it behooves me to weigh in. “Re-listing” is when an agent takes a property that’s been sitting on the market a bit longer than one might like and removes it from the market, only to “re-list” it days or even minutes later as a “fresh” listing.

As homes sit on the market longer and longer these days, it’s a tactic that many real estate agents say is legal, helpful, and really a no-brainer.

The problem is that despite all the news of the housing downturn, for some reason buyers still like to see “days on market” under 30 before they’re willing to step in. Anything above that is a turn-off. There are ways to find out, if you know where to dig, what the total days on-market has been, but the average real e-surfer probably doesn’t know how.

I sent an email over to the National Association of Realtors to see what the “official” position there is and got a prompt response from Walter Moloney in the public affairs office:

"NAR doesn't have a policy on relisting.

However, the fact that a home has been relisted is something most agents with full MLS access can readily see. That information should be readily available to clients, e.g., working with a buyer's agent."

I called a few agents, none of whom would let me use their names, but the consensus is that yes it happens, yes it fuzzies up the math, and no they don’t consider it cheating because it’s legal.

I beg to differ. Here’s my opinion (which I’m allowed to give here on the blog because it’s a blog, not my other job as a business journalist on CNBC): That’s rot. It is cheating. It’s one thing to change the perception of a home by staging it, dressing it up a bit, but fudging the numbers of “days on market” is just as bad as leaving out the fact that the basement floods periodically. There’s a reason that number is there, so people can gauge interest and understand if that home is correctly priced compared to its neighborhood comps.

I’d love to hear what you think. Take the poll and write into the blog andwe’ll post some opinions this afternoon.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com